This week we’re strapping on our figure skates and chatting with Rocker Skating’s Jackie Wong to suss out who will be on the podium for all events in the figure skating competition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
First off, Jill discovered (a couple of weeks late) that Project Runway had an Olympics tie-in, with former skaters and broadcast buddies Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir stopping by the runway to be guest judges for a challenge.
You’ll be able to catch the winning look during the pairs short program at Beijing 2022.
We always love having Jackie Wong of Rocker Skating on the show to discuss figure skating. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you should — his live tweets during competitions are so fast and on point!
We started our conversation with a leftover beef from PyeongChang 2018, namely gaming the points system. Yes, her program was lovely, but Alina Zagitova’s program won with a little help from math:
Will history be made at this Games with a 3-time gold medalist? It’s been done before. Gillis Grafstroem has done this on the men’s side:
Sonja Henie has done it for the women:
And Irina Rodnina has done it in pairs:
We talk about the big names that we’ll likely see at Beijing 2022. Here’s a look to help you get familiar with them:
Alison adores ice dancing, particularly for the prescribed rhythm dance, which this season is “Street Dance Rhythms, (such as hip hop, disco, swing, krump, popping, funk, etc.), jazz, reggae (reggaeton) and blues.”
We’re impressed that figure skating judges know about krumping, but do they know krumping? Or will this competition go the way of 2009/10’s original dance: folk dance, which produced this jaw-dropping performance from Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin:
Our TKFLASTANI Charlie White and Meryl Davis interpreted this theme better with their Bollywood-inspired performance:
Who does Jackie think can contend for a podium spot at the Olympics? Check out these performances and see if you agree with him:
Nathan Chen (USA):
2-time defending gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN):
Shoma Uno (JPN):
Mikhail Kolyada (RUS):
Let’s start with the Russian jumping machines:
Kamila Valieva (RUS):
Alexandra (Sasha) Trusova (RUS):
Rika Kihira (JPN):
Can the Americans break through?
Alysa Liu (USA):
Bradie Tennell (USA):
Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN):
Anastasia Mishina / Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS):
Vanessa James/Eric Radford (CAN):
Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN):
Katie McBeath/Nate Bartholomay (TKF) (USA) – They’re a new pair and it shows, so they may not make it to the Olympics, but we love seeing how a TKFLASTANI is doing!
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA):
Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA):
Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS):
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA):
Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (JPN):
Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN):
In our Atlanta 1996 history moment, Alison uncovers the origins of a broadcasting style we’ve come to loathe.
Our winter TKFLASTANI athletes are in high gear, and we’ve got results from biathlete Clare Egan, bobsledder Josh Williamson, speedskater Erin Jackson and moguls skier Bradley Wilson. Plus there’s news from hurdler Dawn Harper Nelson, race walker Evan Dunfee, pairs skater Meagan Duhamel, Charlie White (who’s on this podcast) and the dulcet tones of Jason Bryant.
In our other Games news updates, a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 is official, Tokyo 2020 has happier news about its budget, TBach sighs about the “problem childs” of the IOC (boxing and weightlifting), and LA 2028 announces its sports program, including what could happen to modern pentathlon.
Thanks so much for listening, and keep the flame alive!
Episode 217 – Jackie Wong
[00:00:00] Jill: Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely cohost Alison Brown. Alison. Hello. How are you?
[00:00:38] Alison: I am feeling very underdressed.
[00:00:41] Jill: How so?
[00:00:42] Alison: I think I need some flesh mesh and some beads and possibly some satin gloves.
[00:00:50] Jill: Who is wearing that these days?
[00:00:52] Alison: The Russian girls.
[00:00:54] Jill: Oh, that’s right. This age of figure skating will be known as the glove era, won’t it?
[00:01:00] Alison: 15 year old, Russian girls who jumped like crazy and wear gloves,
[00:01:08] Jill: But they are a site.
[00:01:10] Alison: Gorgeous.
[00:01:11] Jill: Yeah, I will say that. Kamila Valieva. I was watching her in preparation for this week’s guest interview. Oh my gosh. She is just beautiful to watch.
[00:01:21] Alison: And she wears gloves.
[00:01:23] Jill: I hope she sticks around for more than one Olympics because–
[00:01:26] Alison: Don’t count on it.
[00:01:26] Jill: I know. I know. I know, but we are talking figure skating today.
And do you know what I happened to watch last night in relation to this topic? Project Runway from a few weeks ago, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were on. Where was our group? Who I thought our group would be on this.
[00:01:45] Alison: No one told us! Were they doing some kind of figure skating costume? Cause they’ve done that before on Project Runway.
[00:01:52] Jill: It was make an outfit for Tara and Johnny to wear, and they are going to wear it, the winning outfit, on the broadcast for the pairs short program.
[00:02:05] Alison: Oh, well, that’s something to keep an eye on for, right?
[00:02:08] Jill: Yes. And it was lovely. It was, it’s a white, so it’s very nice.
[00:02:12] Alison: Don’t spoil it now that we haven’t seen it!
[00:02:14] Jill: You can get it on the you–. If you’ve seen it. If you’ve looked at our Twitter feed, you’ve seen it cause I definitely posted pictures, but it’s very lovely. I will say that. So that’s interesting. I kinda just noted to myself, see if you can go to pairs short program, see out,
[00:02:34] Alison: See an outfit in person. Yes!
[00:02:37] Jill: Get story on what they had to do to outfit between then and now.
[00:02:42] Alison: Make it much shorter for Tara.
[00:02:50] Jill: Ah, anyway, we are talking figure skating today and before we get to this week’s guest, we would like to give a shout out to our patron of the week. This week, we are featuring a gold metal patron Stanley Yang, and Stanley is great. Stanley told us a long time ago that he will relisten to the daily coverage. At least for PyeongChang he did. I would love to know Stanley, if you’re relistening to Tokyo. Whenever you need an Olympic fix, listen to a daily episode. So we really appreciate Stanley and his support of our show. And if you would like to be a Patreon patron of the week, check out patreon.com/flamealivepod.
Patreon is for people who make a contribution to the show every month. And we really do appreciate that because it helps cover our operating costs. We understand that ongoing contributions are not viable for everyone. So we have more options for one-time donations at flamealivepod.com/support. So thank you, Stanley.
Okay. This week’s guest, we are so excited to have back on the show. Jackie Wong from Rocker Skating. Jackie is a figure skating analyst and really the figure skating analyst in the skating world. He is amazing and what he does and can really pinpoint everybody’s competition within seconds.
[00:04:09] Alison: His memory also goes beyond his own experience, which is, makes me feel less old.
[00:04:17] Jill: So we sat down to talk with Jackie about what the upcoming figure skating competition looks like for Beijing 2022. Take a listen.
[00:04:26] Alison: Well, Jackie Wong, thank you so much for joining us again. We talked before Pyong Chang, so we’re going to do a little Beijing preview.
[00:04:35] Jackie: It’s been a while.
[00:04:36] Alison: It’s been a while and a lot has happened between then and now. The big news this week though, is Grand Prix final has been canceled because of travel restrictions to Japan. So how is that flying in the figure skating world?
[00:04:52] Jackie: It’s not. It’s not, I think it’s not because everybody felt like there was some sense of normalcy going on this season, even though there are still travel restrictions, right?
There’s still quarantines. There’s still all that kind of stuff, but the season has more or less gone on as it generally has in past years. And so, this felt like a, somewhat of a jarring pause to everything. And look, I don’t, I think even in the bigger scheme of things, right, it’s still a small competition compared to lots of other things.
And, everybody’s bracing for the info that’s going to be coming out about the new variants. And so, it’s a lot of precaution and, and, I think it was canceled mostly because of travel restrictions. It was less about anything else, right? So, that’s what it is. The national championships will more than likely go on as planned, and it would take a lot to cancel the Olympics. And I know there was a, there’s a lot of chatter about like, oh, are the Olympics going to get postponed, or are they going to get canceled or whatever, but I it doesn’t feel like we’re there. And also, if you look at any of the, quote unquote playbooks that they have for Beijing, it is very restrictive in the sense that it’s they really are trying to create an entire cordoned off zone for the Olympics, for everybody who is coming in from outside of China to go to the Olympics. Like literally as a journalist, I will fly to a hub from which I will take a plane that is specific for the Olympics to go into Beijing and then have all this stuff be completely Beijing specific.
And, there is no going outside of the bubble. Right. And so, plenty of testing and all that stuff. So I, they’ve thought a lot about that. Is it full-proof, it’s not foolproof, are there going to be COVID cases? I’m sure there are. But the whole point is that they don’t do anything, basically outside the bubble.
Anyway, that’s a long-winded explanation of how the figure skating world’s feeling and how I feel about the whole thing.
[00:07:03] Alison: Okay. Before we go discipline by discipline, we always talk about these scored events and how complicated the scoring system and figure skating is extremely complicated. So for people who are not used to watching figure skating, can you do the absolute 101 version of understanding the scoring system?
[00:07:24] Jackie: I can, but will I do it well? I don’t know.
[00:07:29] Jill: You just, all you do is try because then you get points anyway, right?
[00:07:35] Jackie: I mean, You have done a great job of, encapsulating the system right there.
So the system, right, like, back in the day, the system was two scores and it was out of a 6.0, and, there were some rules about the deductions and what you needed to do and all that kind of stuff. And then you get two scores. Easy to understand, but also very much obfuscates, a lot of the things that are happening within the actual thing for you to do all this stuff. And it comes down to two scores that nobody can kind of justify. It’s very, uh, it’s very weird.
And also probably just a little bit disconcerting if you’re figure skating, you’re trying to figure out what’s going on. But what the IJS, uh, the ISU judging system, which has now been around for what, 20 almost 20 years,
[00:08:22] Alison: 20 years. Yeah.
[00:08:23] Jackie: Which is kind of crazy. And there’s still people calling it the new system, like what the new system, the idea is that it quantifies what you do a lot more, and it has. It — every kind of significant element, so jumps, spins step sequences lifts so forth are assigned a base value. And then that base value is a proxy for how difficult That element is relative to everything else. And then that base value is then plus or minus based on how well something is executed.
And there’s a whole rule book on, like, what does it mean to execute something well? And what does it mean to execute it poorly? But you know, the, for lack of a. encyclopedia on it, it’s, you do a thing. It is scored based on how well it’s done. All those scores are added up and that becomes your technical score.
Then you got your program component score, which is the the new version of what used to be the artistic impression or presentation score, which is composed of five different components: skating skills, transitions, composition, performance and interpretation of music. And those are all scored supposedly individually based on what you actually are seeing in the programs. And then all of those are averaged out. You get a program component score, you add the technical score and the program component together, and you get a score for your program. And then you have two programs, short program, free skate. Then you add both of those scores and then you get your final total.
That’s how that’s figure skating judging works.
[00:10:02] Alison: I mean, the one easy thing for viewers is that the person with the highest score wins. So in terms of that, but how you get that score is not the simplest thing.
We’re going to start with ladies because the scoring for Jill and I made us mad, in PyeongChang. Especially Jill got very angry at the gold medalist Alina Zagitova, because she put all her jumps in the second half of the program to get the bonus.
[00:10:31] Jackie: It’s all math..
[00:10:33] Alison: She was totally working in the system. So for the ladies specifically, have there been changes made to prevent that same sort of working the system?
[00:10:42] Jackie: There has. I mean, it’s a system. It’s a system based on base values and arithmetic.
And so any kind of system like that, you can game it. And when you have things like bonuses, you can game that, right? When you have things like one jump is valued higher than another, you could figure out what, how to maximize your scoring potential and minimize your risk, right? Like that is mostly kind of how people like to go at it.
And since they’ve changed that it used to be that any jump that was done after the halfway mark in a program, you get a 10% bonus on. And now it is up to three jumping passes after the second half. So if you decided to do an Alina Zagitova program from 2018, the only ones that get bonus are the last three jumps that are there.
So that’s kinda how that works. And it has changed the layout of programs for sure. I would not be surprised had the rules continued the way that they were, that more and more skaters would have back-loaded their programs. And what’s interesting about that is. Back in the back of the old days of the, before IJS, there were skaters who would do things like backload their programs because it was harder, but they were doing it in such a way that kind of the entire program. It wasn’t like they were making the first half of the program, easy per se.
It was still a program. And then they back-loaded some jumps at the end of the program. And then now I think Zagitova ended up doing things in the first half of the program that were actually much easier and allowed her to save energy, which changes the way that back-loading actually works, because the idea of doing a hard jump later on is that you’ve done some other hard stuff at the beginning.
And so you’re more tired. And yes, you are more tired after you do a couple of step sequences and a couple of spins, and then you do a whole bunch of jumps, but. It’s not this to the same extent of as if you had done a bunch of jumps and then done a bunch of harder jumps at the end. So, there’s a little bit more of that. Like you, where you see some of that like Shoma Uno’s doing some quads in the second half, Nathan Chen’s doing some quads in the second half. You are seeing some more of that balance and, that, 10% bonus actually gives some people an advantage and that’s it, the 10% bonus also gives some people who may not have the highest difficulty, a way to inch back closer because they’re putting some of their harder jumps that they can do in the second half so that they can get those bonuses.
[00:13:27] Alison: So speaking of Alina Zagitova, who is not coming back, which of the next 15 year old Russian jumping machines will be on the podium? Since we have a choice of like 600.
[00:13:38] Jackie: Are we on to podium predictions already?
[00:13:41] Alison: You know, can anybody beat any of these Russian girls? They’re not even women. I mean they’re children.
[00:13:47] Jackie: I mean, you could say that about Tara Lipinski. Right?
[00:13:50] Alison: I have a big, I have a big thing about these girls being too young, so I am not discriminating against the Russians.
[00:13:57] Jackie: Yeah, I mean, if everything goes, as we think it’s going to go, it’s going to be a Russian podium sweep. There are a couple of skaters out there who could potentially spoil that podium.
And one of those skaters has not been skating all season because she’s injured. So Rika Kihira who has had a history of triple axles and a bit of a history with the quad salchow has been injured all season. We have not seen her skate yet. Potentially at Japan Nationals we’ll see her.
She was, of all people potentially the one who had the best chance of spoiling that podium. If Alysa Liu can somehow figure out how to skate cleanly in her jumps, very, very outside. Um, But yeah, I mean, it’s hard to imagine, right. Because I think, Jill, when you were talking about earlier, you get points for trying.
Yeah. You do get points for trying and one of the things that the system has tried to change is the fact that when you fall on a jump, you really should get deducted a whole lot more than you used to and it does, like the penalty for making mistakes is larger now than it used to be.
But it’s still not large enough such that like, if you are doing a quad and you fall on it, you get 50% of your base value. Right. And then you get another one point off. And so it’s still somewhat the equivalent of a triple jump that is done cleanly. So, the, the math is not perfectly right.
But it, this was also a reaction to, if we go a little inside baseball, a reaction to the fact that at the beginning of the international, the ISU judging system mistakes and falls for difficult stuff was too penalized. And so what happened to a lot of people was they would go and do a quad toe and they would almost land it.
And then they would basically get zero points for it after all the things that happened. And that also didn’t seem fair. Right? Like you’re putting yourself out there to do something that nobody else is doing and you’re being penalized for it because you almost landed it, but you didn’t. Right. So it’s a lot of that.
There’s been some interesting discussion on, the skating Twitter of the world that the sort of gymnastics way of doing execution scores and penalties and stuff may be a better way to do it. I don’t know. It’s not perfected. And I, think.
The more that the sport goes beyond what the original people were thinking about it being right. Um, The original with people were founded it as the women did a lot of triple jumps, right? As the men did, maybe one quad and now 20 years later, the men are doing multiple quads, and the women are doing quads and triple axels, and the way that it was originally set up and it’s changed since then, but it’s still that same kind of the same foundation.
And so at the rate, the way that it was originally set up is not working in the way that it’s supposed to.
[00:17:03] Jill: Yeah. Cause I think for the, some of the more casual viewers, when they see people fall a lot and still get–I’m calling them participation points, You know, and that, that does better than a clean program. It’s really hard in a casual viewer’s mind to justify, like, why does this person who fell on half of their jumps do better than somebody who’s skated cleanly on? Oh, you know, triples instead of quads.
[00:17:30] Jackie: Yeah. Well, and that’s the thing, right? Like it is the fact that quads are just exponentially harder than triples, just as triples are exponentially harder than doubles and doubles are exponentially harder than singles, putting a quad toe to your feet and stepping out of it is still more impressive than landing a triple toe. And that’s a thing that I think the casual viewer doesn’t quite appreciate the difference in, the level of difficulty. I do think I just, I don’t think there are enough, there’s enough of a range of penalties for different types of mistakes.
I think that’s where it breaks down. You know, a step out is, in a lot of senses scored, not that dissimilarly from, a fall or, that kind of thing. I mean, it is scored differently, but it’s not as large of a range as I would want it to be. So, I think that’s where the disconnect comes from.
Um, I do think that there is that notion of like something done incredibly well versus something that’s done like just kind of barely eked out. I think that also comes into play as well. And the perception of things is different. I mean, I think about, you, you hear about earthquake magnitudes on TV, right?
And you’re like, this 6.4 magnitude earthquake is actually much, much bigger than a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. And you don’t actually understand what that means. It’s kind of the same thing with quads versus triples and triples versus doubles.
[00:19:02] Alison: Okay. Speaking of quads, let’s talk about the men. Speaking of earthquakes, which is pretty appropriate, big matchup again, is going to be Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu , which was leading up to Pyeong Chang, what we thought the big matchup was going to be.
And Hanyu so–
[00:19:22] Jackie: I actually don’t think that was the case. Um, uh, I, I never thought that Nathan going into Pyeong Chang was kind of like, I think there’s been some rewriting of history of him being like the heavy favorite who ended up like, falling. He wasn’t a heavy, favorite.
He was someone to watch. Yuzuru Hanyu was also someone to watch in the sense that he hadn’t really been competing all at all year that year because of the injury. Right. And so there was a lot of, like, you could have seen anybody from Yuzu to Nathan to Shoma uh, to Javi, to Boyang like all of those skaters had a chance.
And I, I never thought about that competition as a head to head. I do think that this one coming in has become much more a head to head because of what’s happened over the last four years. But it’s also, you know, we’ve been thrown another wrench of Yuzuru Hanu injuring himself once again.
[00:20:22] Alison: Same injury.
[00:20:23] Jackie: Yeah. Same injury on the same ankle. This is the third time it’s happened. And he is not getting any younger. So, I hope to, all the, all those skating deities out there that he can get back into a good enough shape to be able to contend for that third Olympic gold, but it’s not going to be easy.
So we’ll see what happens at Japan Nationals, if he ends up competing there.
[00:20:47] Alison: Nobody’s ever won three, right?
[00:20:50] Jackie: Nobody’s ever won three, that’s correct.
[00:20:51] Alison: I didn’t think so. Who else should we be watching in the men’s competition?.
[00:20:56] Jackie: So, so you assume Nathan and then Yuma Kageyama is one person we have never really talked at while we haven’ttalked about- the three of us because he didn’t exist in the minds of figure skating fans four years ago.
You know, he was a rising junior a couple of years ago. and now he’s coming in as the reigning world silver medalist, and that’s the reigning world, silver medalist ahead of reigning bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Like he beat Yuzu at a major competition. And he is the only skater this year, only men, men skater this year to win two Grand Prix events, which is also something to be hold. I think he’s had some jitters this year as kind of a new a newly minted favorite, if you will. He’s certainly a podium favorite. You know, we’ll see what happens with him.
Shoma Uno is back, the Olympic silver medalist. So he will be likely vying for one of those.
And then, a bit of an outside surpriseish, Vincent Zhou, who earlier in the season looked like he had, kind of conquered some of those under rotation demons that he’s had over the past few years. And then at the last competition that he was skating in kind of somewhat reverted back to some of that under rotation and, the fact that just basically takes them out of podium contention.
Right. So, we’ll see what happens with that. He was 6th in Pyeong Chang lest we forget that was a thing. And so I think if you look at the realm of men’s skating it’s, those five. And you might want to add, Mikhail Kolyada in there, but he’s also just not been the most consistent this season.
[00:22:32] Alison: How many quads are we going to see in the long program for the men?
[00:22:37] Jackie: Like total ever?
[00:22:38] Alison: No. I mean like per pro per program how many would you see on the podium programs?
[00:22:44] Jackie: I think we will see at least four, so–
[00:22:50] Alison: and four different. I mean, it’s not like they’re all doing quad toes,
[00:22:54] Jackie: Right. And another thing that’s happened since the last Olympics. So Nathan at the last Olympics repeated quad flip and quad toe in his free skate. This time around, since the last Olympics, you can only repeat one quad in your free skate So, overall you can repeat two jumps, right?
And, or two quad or triple jumps and you, and one of them can be a quad, not both of them. So a lot of skaters are repeating a quad and then either repeating a triple axle or you know, maybe repeating a triple toe as a combination kind of thing. So, so that’s the difference, right? Nathan does have the opportunity to do another six quad program, but that would mean he would do five different quads.
So the toe, the sal, the loop, the flip and the Lutz, and he’s done all five of them in competition .He had a layout at skate America where he could have done that, but he popped two of those jumps. So he only did four quads in that program.
[00:23:55] Alison: Only four. What was he thinking?
[00:23:58] Jackie: Yeah. But yeah, if I look at what Yuzu could be doing, what Shoma could be doing, Yuma, all of them have potentially uh, at a four plus quad regimen or repertoire that you could see
[00:24:15] Jill: Speaking of not allowed to be doing stuff. When I was doing my research today, the commentators talked about how quads were not allowed in women’s short programs. Are they allowed in men’s short program?
[00:24:25] Jackie: Yeah, they are. This is what I mean by the system being designed at a certain time, for a certain understanding of what the sport was.
And this happened to, and like in the nineties, there was a time when men couldn’t do quads in their short programs. And I think it was the late nineties where that started happening. And so who knows what’s going to happen with the women um, in the future, but.
If you want to call it a, well, it’s not a technical program anymore, but if you want to talk a couple of call it a short program and have it be actually like technically based, maybe you should let people do the most technically difficult things in a short program. And then maybe you should let people not do as much stuff in the free skate. I don’t know.
I, by the way, I’m going to correct myself here. There was someone who’s won three Olympic gold medals, and that was Gillis Grafstroem 1920, 1924, 1928. And then of course, Sonja Henie 1928, 1932, 1936. So there is precedence there just hasn’t been precedent fairly recently. Irina Rodnina also won three.
[00:25:43] Alison: With two different partners!
[00:25:44] Jackie: Two different partners. That is correct.
[00:25:47] Alison: Actually. It’s funny, you mentioned her because Jill and I have talked about her. It’s a name I, bring up for some reason frequently, why she’s in my Pantheon of people I talk about, I don’t know, but yes, she was famous for me from 1980 in Lake Placid and, winning there and the, you know, the heartbreak kids and Tai and Randy and Jill just looks at me like what? I wasn’t watching figure skating when I was seven. And I’m like,
[00:26:15] Jackie: I mean, I mean, I remember the name very well. I never, ever watched Irina Rodnina’s skating, but I know that name well, because a lot of people talk about her back in the nineties during, ABC’s Wide World of Sports. So that’s how I know the name.
[00:26:32] Alison: You’re making me feel old, Jackie. So speaking of pairs, since we’re talking about Irina Rodnina, we’ll go to her event. So the pairs event is now at the end of the Olympic program for the first time in my memory.
[00:26:45] Jackie: Yes.
[00:26:47] Alison: Why? And how’s this going to affect the competition?
[00:26:51] Jackie: So the last competition of any Olympics generally and this is, I have no evidence to back this up the only, just like a pattern recognition kind of thing, but like the last event generally is the quote unquote marquis event.
Usually it’s the women and that’s just been, you know, I think schedule wise, especially if you think about back in the day when like the U S TV was much bigger in the world or figure skating, right? Like. U S women’s skating was the thing. And, NBC probably wanted that to be in that last spot.
And so we’re in China. Chinese pairs are their best skaters, and that is the only discipline where China has a chance at winning a medal. And so, China, as the host decided to make their marquee event Paris. So that’s my, thinking of it. I mean, it’s always been that the last event is the marquee event.
[00:27:51] Jill: Interesting. And that makes sense. And I was going to ask . what China’s chances were, but traditionally pairs is where they started putting their efforts, right?
[00:28:00] Jackie: Yeah, that’s right. So for the Chinese team, what’s interesting is that they started really in the women’s event, which again, Lu winning bronze in 94 and their pairs program didn’t really become a thing until the two thousands. And so since then, right, since they they started getting big the past 20 years of Chinese pairs have, that’s been kind of the biggest source of, I think national figure skating pride, if you will, because you’ve got Shen and Zhao, you’ve got Pang and Tong, you’ve got now Sui and Han being perennial favorites, right?
Like they’ve been around for quite a while. They’ve won multiple world championships, all that kind of stuff and Sui and Han are coming in as the reigning silver medalists after leading in the short program in Pyeongchang and then ending up second. Right? So, there’s a lot to be said about them wanting to be back here in Beijing, in their home country, winning the gold and that’s something that, we saw what 12 years ago whenShen and Zhao won gold in Vancouver.
So they have a very good shot. I think right now in pairs, it’s probably Sui and Han versus Mishina/Galliamov, who up until probably 11 months ago, people were like, they’re not even going to make the world team. And they ended up winning worlds last year, like the surprise winners. And now they are very much having the momentum within the Russian team.
[00:29:34] Alison: When we were talking about Pyeong Chang, I remember asking you, historically the Russians have been so good in pairs and in Pyeong Chang, it was like the Russians were not even going to be that much of a factor. And yet that seems to have switched again. And the Russians have come back very strong on the pair side.
[00:29:53] Jackie: Yeah. They’ve got three pair teams that could potentially win it. And you know, that’s three out of three, which is not bad. I mean, frankly it is it’s the three Russian teams, the two Chinese teams. That’s probably what you’re looking at in terms of the podium. Like looking at kind of having the best chances of getting there.
It has been interesting the last few years watching the Russian pairs because they have a lot of depth, but they have also developed a good bit of inconsistency among even the top pairs. And so it’s been interesting to see them not dominate, even though they are some of the best pair of skaters in the world.
And I think that’s a Testament to just how hard pairs is. You haven’t traditionally seen as much consistency across the board there.
[00:30:43] Alison: I’m curious about one of the newest pairs from Canada being Eric Radford formerly who skated with one of our people, Meagan Duhamel and Vanessa James, who was skating for France two years ago, and they’ve come together.
And how is that going over in the figure skating world?
[00:31:03] Jackie: I think there are different people thinking different things about this pair. I mean, th the pair itself is very new. I mean, they paired up what in like March or April of this year. And so it takes time to gel. It takes time to learn each other’s habits.
It’ll takes time to learn how to compete with each other. And so you’ve seen them, even though the two of them as pair skaters are really good. You’ve seen the two of them just have be off sync in competitions. Right. They’re popping jumps or they’re falling on stuff, or, the throw isn’t quite right.
Or they, come out of a lift, you know, all that kind of stuff that happens. And I think there are a lot of people who saw this partnership and was like, yeah that’s, it’s going to be a great partnership, but you know, it takes time for two people to learn how to skate with each other.
And I don’t know if they’re planning on just this season and going for them to just go back to the Olympics and experience that again with each other. Or if they’re planning on skating more, I mean, they both had basically retired before the season and decided to give it another shot.
So, we’ll see what happens. They’re just, they’re not they’re not anywhere near a hundred percent right now in terms of being a pair quite yet. And they got another two months to figure it out. Frankly they got another month to figure out how to skate well enough to make it to the Olympics.
They are still one of the favorites to get one of the two spots in Canada. But it’s, that’s not a given quite yet.
[00:32:34] Jill: Speaking of new pairs, how is Nate Bartholomay doing with his new partner?
[00:32:39] Jackie: Nate Bartholomay is doing well has with this new partner they haven’t figured out how to kind of compete with each other quite yet. Katie McBeath was a former singles skater who got into pairs new. Right. So, besides the fact that you have to figure out how to skate with each other, Nate has to figure out how to skate with somebody who’s never skated pairs before. And so that, that has been a learning curve for both of them. I’m sure. They’ve got some potential, they’ve got some great elements. They just haven’t gelled quite yet, as much as kind of Nate and Deanna gel led much more quickly.
And Deanna also was a former singles skater, right. And also formers face single skater who hadn’t competed in a very long time and then came back to compete. And now Deanna is skating in Canada with Maxime Deschamps. So there’s a lot of that there. I don’t expect Nate and Katie to be in the mix for an Olympic spot this year.
But you know, I think they’ve got potential if they can keep at it.
[00:33:39] Alison: Okay. This is what I’ve been waiting for our whole conversation to talk about is ice dancing. And here’s why I’m so excited about ice dancing this season. It feels like there’s at least six or seven couples who have a really good shot at the podium and probably three or four more that have an outside shot.
When was the last time in ice dance, if ever we couldn’t name the podium?
So that’s why I’m really excited about it this time.
[00:34:07] Jill: He may be able to name his to podium.
[00:34:10] Alison: Well,
[00:34:11] Jackie: I mean, you’re right though. I mean, I think the, there is a lot of depth and there’s a lot of depth from teams with very different styles. And I think that’s, what’s so exciting about it too, is that you’re, depending on what your preferences on what you want to watch in terms of choreography and, just like who the skaters are and what they kind of, embody, right? Like everybody has their favorites. And I think that’s the exciting part about it. And like you said, I, I agree with you, seven teams could be on that podium. I think out of those seven teams, probably five are who I would call favorites.
But sometimes you just don’t know. And with ice dance, there’s just so much, you know, we talk about not understanding quite the magnitude of one thing versus another, right? Like in ice dance, it’s even more difficult because there are no jumps to compare to. And when someone doesn’t hit the right edge, people might not even see it. Right. And they’re like, what’s a why was that level two instead of a level four step sequence, right. People will see it if somebody falls out of of a twizzle, right? Like that’s the easiest thing for people to see. And that’s why twizzles get such an ovation is because we were like, oh my God, it’s done.
Yay. We’re done. And that’s people keep calling it like the quad of figure skating. It’s not the quad or sorry, the quad of ice guys. It’s not the quad of ice dance. It’s just the one that you’re able to see the best. There, there are plenty of other elements where it is just as difficult as doing as a twizzle sequence. You just don’t understand it as much.
[00:35:46] Alison: Okay, so the rhythm dance or the short program for ice dance is street dance rhythms. And I loved the description that the ISU included in this because they were like hip hop, swing, reggaeton, krump. I want to know who gave them those words. Cause you know, there’s nobody the ISU who knows what krumping is.
[00:36:07] Jackie: I just don’t understand how swing is part of that
So a swing and blues are both categorized as street dance in this rhythm dance, which is, I have no idea. Look, I’m all for the ISU trying to be hip and be like, Hey, we’re going to do like the street rhythm stuff and that kind of thing. But the thing that I have I’ve had a lot of trouble with is the fact that.
If you are going to ask people to do specific types of dance, you should have people who know that dance judge, how well that dance is interpreted. Like we’re not the only ones who watch some of these like quote unquote hip hop programs and be like, that does not look like hip hop or like, that’s just like, movements that look like hip hop.
Like there’s like, it’s like based on a true story, it’s not the true story. So, I love the fact that we are trying to do things that are different and more kind of sign of the times or whatever, but like, you know, you can’t tell me that a regular ice dance judge is able to tell the difference between good hip hop and bad hip hop.
And you can’t tell me that if we go elsewhere, right. If we like, look at what we did with folk rhythms in 2010 when they had the original dance, I love the reactions. When they had the original dance
[00:37:41] Alison: We’ve talked about that on the show, actually that competition.
[00:37:45] Jackie: Yeah. and you have, Tessa and Scott doing a really good flamenco, right?
And then you have Meryl and Charlie doing a really good Bollywood that actually was choreographed with people who knew what Bollywood was and like that was all that kind of stuff. And then you’ve got Domnina and Shabalin doing that Aboriginal thing that was a, you know, whatever you want to call it like who says these ice dance judges are experts at these types of dances.
If you’re gonna do that, if you’re going to make a specific style of dance, a requirement I think it’s really important for there to be people who actually know these things, to be able to judge how accurate they are. Because otherwise it lends itself to it being based on a true story.
And when that happens sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s not
[00:38:37] Alison: Okay. So let’s name names about this season’s rhythm dances. Well, we’ll even stick with the good. What are some couples that are really doing some good, interesting street dances that we can look out for?
[00:38:50] Jackie: I mean, Gabby and Guilaume,, so Papadakis/Cizeron probably one of their I would say iconic dances. It’s a very different look at what you would consider kind of, uh, street rhythm and the way that they use different types of influences and have worked with different types of choreographers to get to where they are now with that rhythm dance is, is pretty amazing.
Like it’s not just, kind of two people trying to do hip hop, right. And it’s, it’s something that is very much them and they’ve kind of made it their own.
actually, I think Chock and Bates with their Billie Eilish program is actually really good. They also don’t, they aren’t trying to be kind of cool and Billie Eilish in, in a lot of senses, right? Like they are very true to the music and what they’re trying to interpret with the pieces of music that they’re doing. And they bring really interesting creative elements to it. And I think those two are two of the ones that I really enjoy the most.
[00:39:53] Alison: Is there anything on the level of the Russian Aboriginal?
[00:39:57] Jackie: No.
[00:39:58] Alison: Thank goodness.
Okay. This is the discipline I’m going to make you pull a podium.
[00:40:03] Jackie: Yes.
[00:40:03] Alison: And you, And you better pull the right gold medalist here.
[00:40:08] Jackie: Whoa.
[00:40:11] Alison: Jill knows who I want to win. So we’ll see. We’ll see how you do, Jackie.
[00:40:15] Jackie: I mean, podium for me Papadakis/Cizeron, Sinitsina/Katsalapov and then third is the one that I have the biggest trouble with, because I, do think it’s down to Hubbell/Donohu, Chock/Bates and Gilles/Poirier, and all three of these teams have medalled at worlds Gilles/Poirier being the most recent with sort of the momentum, right?
Like last year was the first year that they, they got on the world podium, they got the bronze. But I do think there’s something to potentially Hubbell and Donahue taking this. And for me, I think the fact that the Grand Prix final is not happening is actually a momentum stopper for Chock and Bates.
Because if you look at Skate America, they were a couple points, not, I don’t think even a couple points behind Hubbell/Donahue and of all the programs out there this season. I do think their free dance has the most creativity and is most outside the usual ice dance box. Um, Not that there are a lot of cookie cutter kind of programs, right.
But a lot of skaters are doing the things that they’re really good at. Papadakis/Cizeron are doing something that they’re very good at, which is insu lar classical kind of stuff, right. Sinitsina/Katsalapov same kind of thing. Right. Classical and then sort of making it some kind of cool and new and then Hubbell/ Donahue really in some ways, going back to some of their roots of this sort of, cool kind of off the beaten path, sort of music, but still recognizable.
And I think both, all three of those teams are doing something that they’re comfortable with. Chock and Bates are also doing something that they’re comfortable with, but they have made a comfort out of being different. They had a program that was about, a snake charmer and a snake last year.
Right? Like in this year they have an alien and an astronaut. Right. And they’re sort of making, they’re making a career out of non-human programs, I guess, that they’re doing, which is a breath of fresh air, to be honest with you. I mean, there, there’s just been so much in figure skating history in pairs and an ice dance at this heteronormative, like, two shall skate as one and it’s a man and a woman, and the woman is an extension of the man.
Who’s the, blah-blah-blah like it just the fact that there are so many programs now that are breaking that like weird heteronormative normative stereotype is something that I’m very excited about, that I’ve been excited about in ice dance and also in pairs. But. Not doing something human is also also breaking the box quite a bit.
[00:42:58] Alison: That’s one way to avoid the gender binary.
[00:43:01] Jackie: Yeah, exactly. Like we don’t know what gender, this alien is just an alien.
[00:43:06] Alison: And they’re all lovely couples.
[00:43:08] Jackie: Yeah, they are.
I mean, they’re great people, really great people.
[00:43:12] Alison: It comes through.
And then that’s also what makes me get so excited about ice dance this year, because you can’t feel bad about any podium you end up with it as long as Papadakis and Cizeron. Right. win the gold,
[00:43:25] Jackie: I think the interesting about Papadakis and Cizeron is this happened in Pyeongchang where they had Moonlight Sonata and it was a very insular program, and it was a very South Korean audience, because obviously it was in South Korea and like, it’s the most hardcore figures skating fans who have money, who can go to these things. Right? And so you actually, I remember watching their program, in Pyeong Chang and the ovation that they got after they skated that free dance, which they skated really well was really muted, especially when compared to Tessa and Scott, where they had this bombastic movie, Moulin Rouge and like the audience who may not know figure skating as well could sense the like, outward passion that they had.
Whereas Papadakis and Cizeron were inward passion and there. the audience was like, I don’t know what to do with this. And the fact that in Beijing, it’s at least at this point going to be an all Chinese audience, domestic, Chinese audience, that’s going to be in. Also, who the heck knows with what happens with with the pandemic, whether, maybe they will actually pull the audience from it, right.
Like how that’s going to affect everything. I really don’t know.
[00:44:43] Alison: Agreed. Okay. Before we leave you Jackie, anything else that we haven’t talked about that we need to keep an eye on for
[00:44:50] Jackie: Like I said the X-Factor of this weird, it’s going to be a weird pandemic Olympics.
I don’t think people are thinking about that as much. Right. As a, as an X factor. And I think it actually re will have an effect on the skaters, whether there’s going to be an audience is going to be a part of this. You remember hearing Yuzuru Hanyu talk about the fact that there was nobody at the Stockholm worlds and he felt that that was just strange, right?
Like he’s somebody who feeds off of the audience, whereas something that somebody like Nathan doesn’t necessarily need an audience to have, an all out kind of passionate skate, like he just kinda does it. So I don’t know. It will be interesting to see how the pandemic affects this.
And then also, if other things kind of happen over the next couple of months in terms of people’s preparation, in terms of injuries, in terms of any of that kind of stuff, I mean, we’ve got multiple potential Olympic medalists, right. Podium favorites who are on the sidelines right now, Yuzu, Rika, Sasha Trusova who we haven’t talked about, Bradie Tennell, not that she is a she’s necessarily a an Olympic favorite, but you know, definitely a favorite to get on the U S team.
Right? Like those kinds of things are X factors there. And so, you know, we’ll see how it goes. The season has been full of injuries and maybe it’s just availability bias or recency bias, but it feels like it’s more than usual, especially among the top scale.
[00:46:23] Jill: Does it have to do with just the level of difficulty you’re doing now?
[00:46:28] Jackie: No, I don’t think so. I think every four years, this is where you wanna peak. This is where you want to bring out all the difficulty. And so I think that’s part of it. I, you can’t really it’s correlated. But I don’t know if you can necessarily have causation in there, but it’s certainly correlated with what that,
[00:46:48] Alison: Okay. Here’s the soft ball to end with. What’s the team podium.
[00:46:55] Jackie: I love that you call that the softball. Okay. So, so the Russian Olympic committee is going to take gold. And then it’s probably going to be the U S
[00:47:07] Jackie: And then this is not a soft ball as you think it is because it really depends on how Japan comes in because the new kind of rising stars of Paris, figure skating is Japanese Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kiha ra are like, they’ve kind of burst on the scene.
The last couple of seasons. They are legitimate, like top five, top six, if they can swing it kind of a pair. But also, they’re still fairly new, right? And in the past, Japan has always had strong single skaters. And the pairs have been their weak points and dance has been something of a weak point.
Right. And so now they’ve got A more competitive pair. They’ve also got a more competitive dance team. We haven’t talked about Muramoto and Takahashi. Daisuke Takahashi potentially going into another Olympics. But if you look at the way that the team event is scored and the way that the math works with pairs and dance, which actually gives the lower teams in pairs and dance a higher contribution to the final score than the lower single skaters um, it’s all kinds of math that we have to talk about.
But if you look at all of that, Japan has a real clear shot at the bronze potentially over Canada. So that’s my podium. My long-winded podium.
[00:48:30] Alison: I love it. Well, Jackie, we could talk to you probably for another three hours. We could probably talk all day knowing us, but we will leave it there.
And I hope we get to talk after Beijing and see what happens.
[00:48:43] Jackie: Yeah. Thanks for having me on again.
[00:48:45] Alison: Thank you.
[00:48:47] Jill: Thank you so much, Jackie. You can follow Jackie on Twitter at rocker skating and check out his website, rockerskating.com. He is in the midst of his Rocker gear campaign. You can get gear and donations that help support his amazing coverage during the figure skating season.
Check that out at rockerskating.com/rocker-gear..
Uh, That sound means it’s time for our history moment and all year long, we’ve been covering the Atlanta in 1996 Olympics in honor, of their 25th anniversary. Alison, it is your turn for a story
What do you have, for us?
[00:49:24] Alison: It is my turn. And we’ve talked a lot about what we saw on TV, but how did it get there? So in the United States, the television rights were won by NBC in 1993. They paid 456 million within M very different numbers than we talk about.
Now. It was their third summer Olympics in a row. And this was at the point where they were awarding one Olympics at a time. And separately awarding summer and winter. So each time they would put it out to bid I’m sure for other countries as well, not just US rights. This obviously is specifically for US rights.
So ABC and CBS did bid. Their bids included cable. NBC’s did not, but then NBC came up with the pay per view, triple cast, which we have talked about before, where you would buy an additional three channels of access, but it wasn’t established cable stations yet as they have now. Right? So Dick Ebersol, who’s kind of a giant in American sports broadcasting came up with a new plan for this Olympics, where he was going to focus on storytelling rather than play by play.
So this is the first Olympics in American broadcasting, where you get the long athlete profiles, the focus on gymnastics and swimming to the detriment of, especially team sports. And the prime time stories were really about stories and not events and the sports. So this was the beginning of a lot of the things that we complain about of American Olympic coverage being, can we just watch the sports.
[00:51:12] Jill: Which is interesting because the stories h audiences connect with the athletes, especially ones that they didn’t see very often. And so that was really powerful. And people really liked that back then too. I remember just like, oh yeah, we liked these athletes stories and you saw enough coverage to make you happy.
I think now that because we have access to everything, all we want is sports,
[00:51:35] Alison: Right. I’ve read several articles that were referencing this Dick Ebersol revolution in the nineties saying now that that thinking, especially at NBC, because they’re the ones who brought it forward is now hampering their development because we’ve got streaming.
People just want to see the sports and all these kind of pre-packaged stories are dissuading audiences from watching.
[00:51:59] Jill: All right. Well, cause if you want to know about an athlete now you just go to their social media and you go what’s about themselves.
[00:52:05] Alison: Exactly. So in comparison, in 2014, NBC signed an agreement to to air the Olympics in the United States through 2032.
So multiple games for both summer and winter, 7.7, $5 billion.
[00:52:21] Jill: Wow.
[00:52:22] Alison: A little different.
[00:52:23] Jill: It’s always nice to hear the evolution of Mary Carrillo stories.
[00:52:32] Alison: Thanks, Dick Ebersol.
Welcome to TKFLASTAN.
[00:52:41] Jill: Yes, it’s the time of the show where we check in with our Team Keep the Flame Alive. These are former guests of the show. Big weekend for winter sports action. Starting off with biathlon, Claire Egan placed 26th in the sprint, 46 in the pursuit and 13th in the relay at the second week of competition at Oestersund, Sweden.
And now the tour moves on to Hochfilzen in Austria.
[00:53:05] Alison: I’m glad you had to say those city names. I got an easy one in this one. So speed skater Erin Jackson broke an eight year old American record and won gold in the 500 meters at the world cup event in Salt Lake City last Friday,
[00:53:20] Jill: That was like the first 500 meters.
She was also in the second 500 meters competition and did not do as well.
[00:53:27] Alison: She finished sixth. Okay. On the second race..
[00:53:30] Jill: But if I remember correctly the reason why she finished so low in that race is because she thought she was going to get called for a not a DQ, a false start.
So she hesitant, she waited a little bit longer and then got to a slower start. So that
[00:53:44] Alison: It’s 500 meters. You’d have no time to, to make up.
[00:53:47] Jill: Exactly. But man, she’s just crushing it this season
[00:53:51] Alison: So much fun to watch.
[00:53:54] Jill: The bobsled tour was in Altenburg, Germany this week. And Josh Williamson competed with Hunter Church in the four-man event. And they finished 21st. Sounded like a rough week there.
[00:54:07] Alison: This was a course that was taking out sleds left and right. Both skeleton and bobsled. There’s a whole compilation. If you search for it on Instagram of all the crashes from this weekend.
[00:54:19] Jill: Tour moves to Winterberg
[00:54:22] Alison: At the FIS moguls world cup event. in Ruku Finland, Bradley Wilson placed ninth.
[00:54:28] Jill: Very exciting. Hurdler Dawn Harper Nelson has a new TV show called “Hi I’m Dawn Harper Nelson,” and is streaming on Discovery Plus and Magnolia Network,
[00:54:39] Alison: which means we’ll get to see lots of little Harper.
Evan Dunfee is running for city council in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, likely running as an independent, and will be focusing on active transportation, affordable housing and climate resilience. He’s still planning on competing at world champs and the Commonwealth Games next year. Elections are 10 months away, and I would say he is probably not running for city council.
[00:55:06] Jill: The puns have already started.
[00:55:08] Alison: He has to walk and not let his feet go off the ground.
[00:55:12] Jill: Pairs skater, Meagan Duhamel performed with partner Dylan. Moskovicz at the Bryant Park tree lighting ceremony in New York city this past weekend.
[00:55:21] Alison: And if you want to see little snippets of that, On Ice Perspectives did some filming with the pair from Bryant Park as well.
Ice dancer Charlie White was on Polina Edmonds bot podcast, Bleav in Figure Skating.
And we will have a link to that in the show notes.
[00:55:37] Jill: Yes. I plan to listen to that because he’s going to talk about the new ice dancing school that he and Tannith have.
[00:55:43] Alison: We’re all going to enroll in and learn how to twizzle.
[00:55:45] Jill: Exactly. And condolences to the dulcet tones of Jason Bryant on the passing of his father Grover C Bryant Jr.
He’s got a really nice remembrance on his blog. So we will have a link to that in the show notes, Jason, we are thinking of you and your family during this time.
Oh Beijing. We have a boycott!
[00:56:18] Alison: And thank goodness. It’s not the kind we were worried about.
[00:56:22] Jill: Exactly. So there is an official diplomatic boycott. The United States officially announced that it would not be sending any government representatives to Beijing for the Olympics.
Australia has followed suit. New Zealand has already said that they will not be sending government officials, but that’s mostly for COVID reasons. And the UK is also not planning to send any ministers to the winter Olympics. Japan is mulling this over. And if we remember China did not send a high level of representative to Tokyo, so there may be a little tit for tat in that situation, but they’re still thinking about it.
China has already come back with, well, the U S wasn’t invited in the first place.
[00:57:13] Alison: I think we’re going to hear a lot of this kind of petty diplomatic, double-talk as long as the athletes are going and competing, we’re fine with your little games that you’re all going to play Mr. Government official.
[00:57:27] Jill: Right. Right. And although these governments have said we support our athletes fully.
And that’s really what the IOC cares about is that the athletes are supported, that the athletes can still go There’s been executive board meetings at the IOC all week. So there’ve been a lot of questions for T Bach and the rest of the crew over the rest of the crew, Christoph Dubi and Mark Adams, Christophe Dubi’s.
The executive director and Mark Adams is one of the press representatives there. And they’ve all basically said, diplomatic boycott fine. We don’t care. We’re not involved with politics. They can do whatever they want. We’re fine with that. Just as long as the athletes get to come and the athletes are supported. But we’ll see what happens if more countries jump on board with that and to see what China does in response, because they have said, especially with the U S. Boycott, they would have some unspecified countermeasures enacted in response to the US’ decision.
In other Beijing news, the Chinese men’s hockey team is going to stay in the games, according to NBC sports. Be curious to see how they end up playing.
[00:58:40] Alison: Please go watch a game for me.
[00:58:42] Jill: I will, hopefully I want to see,
[00:58:43] Alison: I want to know what that really looks like, because one, I don’t think they’re going to be airing those games in the U S
[00:58:49] Jill: I wonder if they do the same, everything will be streamed and you just find it on the good luck finding it, but it’ll be there.
[00:58:56] Alison: But yeah I’m curious to see what that team’s going to actually look like. Especially playing say US and Canada, right? Who, I mean, every country is going to have NHL players, but their teams are going to be majority NHL players.
[00:59:10] Jill: But China is going to be a team that has no. NHL players in their pool.
[00:59:16] Alison: I think they’re going to be the only men’s team who will have none.
[00:59:19] Jill: Right. I do kind of anticipate that this will be like a two o’clock in the morning game. With that you will see in the U S because they will, they would show a U us game. How could they not?
In one of the IOC press conferences that have been happening this week for the executive board meetings, they did announce that like in Tokyo, no athlete or team would be disqualified for having COVID.
If they have to have COVID or if they have COVID and have to withdraw from competition, they will not be disqualified for that. If they didn’t start competition, they will be considered a, did not start. And then if they’re midway through competition, the minimal minimum results will be protected considering what phase they’re in.
So if they qualified for the finals, but couldn’t make the final if it was like a final between first place and second place, they would automatically get a silver, but there would be two silver medals awarded because they would put a team in the finals to figure out who wins gold.
[01:00:18] Alison: this, as in Tokyo matters for world cup standings, and then additional world championship slots or future Olympics, slots those finishing numbers, don’t just matter for your ego. It matters for longer-term competitions.
[01:00:33] Jill: Christoph Dubi the IOC executive director for the Olympic Games said organizers are planning for the presence of spectators, but still have yet to determine capacity, which is amazing that they are. But, But he did say it’s getting closer and closer to the point where they have to make a decision because you can’t just flip a switch and turn everything on and hope that your system’s going to work well, but they have not made the decision yet.
They also have not made any special measures based on Omicron at this time. We’re still all waiting to see how the variant affects people and how it spreads to make some kind of determination on if there need to be special measures taken for the Olympics.
And then finally, snowmaking for the Alpine venues has started.
[01:01:19] Alison: Yeah, because as, we heard, I think I had last week, we were talking about it, that there just snowmaking in general has become a real problem for a lot of the Alpine events, not just in China, but worldwide because of climate change. So you got two months, China keep blowing snow out of those machines
[01:01:40] Jill: We have some Tokyo, 2020 news.
[01:01:45] Alison: That’s exciting.
[01:01:47] Jill: Kyodo News reported that the cost of the games is going to be 150 billion yen or $1.3 billion, less than expected.
Because even though they lost 90 trillion yen on ticket sales, organizers didn’t have the labor costs and outlays associated with having to have spectators. So they’re going to save a whole bunch of money there.
[01:02:10] Alison: That’s interesting. We never in all the things that we talked about, they’re going to lose money because no spectators, we never considered you don’t have a hot dog guy.
And that costs money.
[01:02:22] Jill: Right. So all of that labor they saved and now there’s going to, there’s unlikely to be an additional burden on taxpayers, which is good news.
[01:02:32] Alison: And also good news because Sapporo has been making the push for the Winter 2030 Games. They’re really putting together a serious bid and you need to get the Japanese people on board.
And this might help to say, even with the disaster. And I use that term sort of lightly, that became Tokyo 2020, we’re still financially okay.
[01:02:56] Jill: Yes. And that is very important. All right. On that note, we will call it a show.
Apparently we are not done this week. It is Thursday. And there was news coming out of the IOC today that is novela related. So it’s fabulous. And we had to talk to you about that. So today was the last day of the executive board meeting And they made some decisions and talked about what they’re going to put forward at the IOC session that will happen before Beijing, 2022.
You know, It’s going to be a good press conference. When TBach starts off saying, we will start with our two problem childs.
[01:03:39] Alison: That he actually said that and he said it with a sigh. Yes. It was like, I will talk about my two problem childs. Oh, like he hated doing this, but —
[01:03:54] Jill: yes. So the problem children are AIBA, the boxing federation, and IWF, the weightlifting federation, and they are still kicking and screaming like little children.
They are throwing the tantrum in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.
So the IOC had asked AIBA to define a roadmap, to ensure better financial situation, more credibility and better governance. They want increased transparency and sustainability and a diversify diversification in their sources of revenue.
So right now AIBA has a big contract with Gazprom, which is a Russian concern, and that’s going to cover them. For a covered their budget for a little while. I think this past year, covers it for another six months. Nobody knows what’s in that contract because that is confidential. I think I O C was not happy about that.
And that revenue stream is going to end in 2022. So what comes next? Don’t know. I
[01:04:58] Alison: Don’t know. And whenever you have money coming in from a single source, from a country that we’ve had significant problems in terms of violating doping rules, governance rules, it raises all kinds of red flags that I, he was just like, no, we’re not going to talk about that.
You don’t need to know.
[01:05:19] Jill: Credibility. They are still working on their referee and judging process. There is going to be another McLaren report,
[01:05:27] Alison: I mean, whenever the word McLaren and report is in the same sentence, you’re in big trouble, So then he never finds. Yeah, everything’s fine. He finds like, everything is worse than you could have possibly imagined.
[01:05:42] Jill: So, this McLaren report will look at AIBA’s competitions from 2017 through 2021, but know that. Professor McLaren was at a press conference on the 5th of November at the The AIBA world championships that were held in Belgrade.
And Hey, guess what four referees and judges were removed during the world champs, following the implementation of a new two phase vetting process. And that’s not good when you are at the world championships and you have referees and judges being removed
[01:06:19] Alison: Again.
[01:06:20] Jill: Yes. That’s not looking good.
So the issues are there’s supposed to be a lot of random selection in their processes now, and there’s not, apparently there’s still manual selection. There’s review processes that are poorly documented. It’s just not as free from human influence as it could be. And that’s really concerning to the IOC.
But on the flip side, it looks like Tokyo did a good job organizing the tournament at the Olympics because the majority of athletes and national federations were very happy with the process of the tournament and thought that it was clean and fair.
[01:06:58] Alison: Now, if I remember correctly, AIBA, was not involved in organizing that tournament.
[01:07:03] Jill: That is correct.
[01:07:04] Alison: This is definitely one of the times where I get very angry at the Titanic that is the IOC. Stop, giving AIBA more chances. It needs to be disbanded and a new Federation needs to be formed. Why are we still talking about this?
[01:07:26] Jill: Because all of these implementations take time and all of this sports Federation and diplomacy type work anywhere, it all take so much time.
[01:07:36] Alison: Too much at this point. We’ve let it go on too long. We need to blow it up, move on.
[01:07:42] Jill: The one glimmer of hope is that there governance issues could be fixed to the IOC is liking the AIBA board approved some measures that the third party investigator recommended.
Uh, So the board approved this and it will be voted on an AIBA Extraordinary Congress on December 12.
[01:08:06] Alison: How slow are we doing the 10 count on AIBA? I mean it’s —
[01:08:11] Jill: so if things are met to the IOC satisfaction, they could lift the suspension in 2023.
[01:08:18] Alison: In time for Paris, 2024. Boxing, as we saw in Tokyo can be run well, AIBA is not capable of doing it.
Therefore, we need a new Federation. Please. Professor McLaren, I know you agree with me.
[01:08:36] Jill: Well, who’s got it worse? The IWF.
[01:08:38] Alison: Oh yes, they do. And should.
[01:08:41] Jill: So there’s supposed to be new governance installed. They’re supposed to have new elections for their board. And IWF keeps putting this off and putting this off and it’s.
Guess who’s upset about it, the IOC. So they’re very disappointed about this instability in their governance. They want a confirmation that there will be no relaxation of eligibility criteria in their constitution, which has been another measure that they’ve passed, which we’ve talked about this before, where they’ve wanted to make a change to their constitution.
That would make things sound like, oh, it’s okay to dope. Or it’d be easier to get by with doping in written into their constitution. The IOC wants an election stop it with the delays and they want a link between quotas and doping required. Or they are requiring a link between quotas and doping in the proposed qualification for Paris 2024.
So they will continue a strict monitoring of the IWF
[01:09:41] Alison: Boxing, I think we can save with a new Federation. I don’t think we can keep weightlifting in the Olympics and still consider the Olympics clean.
[01:09:56] Jill: Wow. That’s strong.
[01:09:58] Alison: I just don’t see it because with boxing, it’s not the athletes. The athletes are not the ones doing the cheating.
The athletes are not the ones. They’re the ones being hurt. They’re not the ones who are causing trouble in weightlifting. It’s top to bottom. You have so many athletes involved in doping. You have coaches, you have officials, you have multiple countries. I don’t see how you can save weightlifting with just new governance in the way that I think you can save boxing with a new Federation.
[01:10:38] Jill: The problem with weightlifting is you have a very old, Eastern European not mentality, but just style instilled in governance from my top. Top-down I think when you had the U S leadership with Ursula Papandrea was involved in the leadership, she was really trying to make changes. It was at the rest of the board were furious with her for trying to make the changes that the organization needed to stay in the good graces of the IOC.
Yeah, I kind of think this is another one where you have to burn down the organization, but I think if you started an organization with better leadership and clear expectations for, we will not tolerate doping in the sport anymore. I think there’s just too much tolerance for doping and. And I don’t know.
I just think there’s too much tolerance for bad behavior in the sport right now.
[01:11:34] Alison: Agreed. I feel like it’s baked in at this point though.
[01:11:38] Jill: Right? Right.
[01:11:39] Alison: I don’t see how we can save weightlifting. And I know that breaks your heart. And I know it breaks the heart of a L. I mean, there are some diehard weightlifting fans who say, how can you have the Olympics without weightlifting?
[01:11:52] Jill: I know. It’s a very pure sport. How much can you lift?
Can’t get much simpler than that, very curious to see what they’ll do. If they will actually put their foot down and say, Hey, we will take you out.
[01:12:04] Alison: Then you need the boxers to take out the weightlifters.
[01:12:09] Jill: The other big news today was the LA 2028 sport program that is being put forward. So it contains 28 sports. And it’s got most everything from Tokyo on it. From the five sports that Tokyo added to their program as their choice as host city, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing got put onto the LA 2028 program.
[01:12:35] Alison: I was confused. So please help me here. The way that they said that it sounded to me like skateboarding surfing and sport climbing are now permanent fixtures. They will just be. And LA. Still has the option of choosing additional sports.
[01:12:53] Jill: Yes. LA does have the option of choosing additional sports, but there is no more core sport program that we know and love. So there, I don’t think there are any permanent sports, but I think once you’re in the Olympics, it’s really hard to get out of the Olympics until you do something really dumb. Like AIBA, or you just fall so far in your level of participation, level of interest from the public. And engagement,
[01:13:22] Alison: Looking at you pentathlon,
[01:13:24] Jill: Right? So in this 28 sports that they’re going to do, they added in surfing and sport climbing and skateboard, plus all your favorites. Boxing and weightlifting and modern pentathlon Uh, They will have a pathway for inclusion.
[01:13:40] Alison: So basically they’re in pencil.
[01:13:42] Jill: Yes. Yes.
[01:13:44] Alison: Good.
[01:13:45] Jill: And then on top of this well, okay, so, AIBA, it has got to demonstrate it, fix their problems. IWF’s got to fix their problems that we talked about. UIPM, modern pentathlon. They said very different situation from boxing and weightlifting.
So what they have to do, they ha they dropped riding from the program of modern pentathlon. I think the IOC was happy with that, but they need to finalize its proposal of what gets to replace horse riding and the competition format. And your boyfriend Kit McConnell also said they have to have a significant reduction in costs and complexity and show improvements across safety accessibility, universality and appeal for youth and the general public.
[01:14:30] Alison: That to me says the. They’ve picked out the gravestone for pentathlon. They haven’t started carving in it yet, but
[01:14:40] Jill: Yeah, the writing is on the wall and, the athletes have to be a very central part of the review process.
So we also know that’s been an issue. A lot of the athletes have said that we’ve had no voice in this and they’re very upset. The UIP M Gratefully accepts the clear communication from the IOC executive board, which I love. Uh, they’re going to have the compelling, inclusive and fair format and they say, we’re going to do it. We’re going to make this happen.
[01:15:09] Alison: Okay.
[01:15:10] Jill: One interesting little tidbit. I noted on Instagram, there’s a group called Peak Pentathlon and they train pentathletes. They put together some data of the number of nations competing at the world championships in the sport from 2016 to 2021. And they looked at the senior modern pentathlon, the junior the Tet triathlon, and one that doesn’t have writing and fencing they looked at and these junior ones and they basically. They note that the most participation is in modern pentathlon.
How many nations compete and they say, this is not a sport problem, a horse problem. It’s a leadership problem. Yeah. But when you look at the 2021 world championships, which had in the last five years, the highest number of participating nations at the senior modern pentathlon championships, 39 nations. That is 30% of the federations in the modern pentathlon association.
[01:16:12] Alison: Wow. So it’s not even that modern pentathlon doesn’t have the structure in other countries, they just don’t have the leadership to build the participation, to have things happening.
[01:16:28] Jill: And Peak Pentathlon looked at some of the events and they’ve had, they’ve been trying to build laser run. And what Peak Pentathlon said was just like they, the UIP M says, oh, we have so many events, but you look at them. They’re not really competitions.
They’re showcasing the event, but they have to showcase the event in order to get people to know what it is. And so where is the, where are the competitions? Where can the competitions be? How much, how expensive is that equipment, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So I just think UIPM is in trouble
[01:17:01] Alison: When we were getting ready for Tokyo, we did the Tokyo 1964 versus Tokyo 2020 episode. And then we did the Paris 1924, 2024. I am so excited to do the LA 1984 versus LA 2028. Because number one, we both remember 1984 and that’s a much, it feels much smaller, I guess, because it’s within my lifetime. But if I do the math really fast in my head, that’s the shortest yeah.
Might be distance tensions between
the two. And yet I think it’s going to be such a huge difference for such a small amount of time. What we saw in 84 versus what we’re going to see in 28. It’s like a whole different
world. Right. And you can’t even compare 1932. I mean, we could do compared to all three, but just the difference in that first one versus the third.
yeah. It’s it doesn’t even exist, but 1984 is within our lifetimes. And yet we look at this event and they’re talking about the sports that are going to be in and going to be out. We could see no boxing, no weightlifting, modern pentathlon, so different. And then all of a sudden we’ve got, I mean, think about what skateboarding was like.
And surfing was like an 84. It was like the punk kids. And now it’s an Olympic sport. So that’s going to be a fun episode. Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. I know where we’re teasing it episode from like two years in the future, but still.
[01:18:35] Jill: Oh man. But modern pentathlon has until 2023. That is when they will decide this for program.
And finalize it. And they said they want to finalize it so early as to give federations and athletes time to prepare and plan. And I think that’s kind of nice in a way it does seem fairly long, but I think if you’re a Federation and you know that you’re going to be in, it helps you prepare it and looking at you skateboarding let’s get some more athletes up there.
[01:19:06] Alison: So I still have time to write all my letters, supporting softball.
[01:19:10] Jill: Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know. It’ll be interesting. I’d be interested to know what people think we’ll get into LA 2028. Consensus at our house might be lacrosse.
[01:19:21] Alison: If softball’s not there, I’m burning it down.
[01:19:26] Jill: All right. That is really going to do it for this week because I’ve got to get the show edited post. So let us know what you think about figure skating in Beijing and what sport you think will be included in LA 2028.
[01:19:40] Alison: We love hearing from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348.
That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Get at us on social at flame alive pod, and be sure to join. Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook
[01:19:59] Jill: Next week. We’ll have more stories from the Olympics and Paralympics. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.