What Olympic and Paralympic thoughts were on your mind as we closed out 2021? We take listener calls and have a ton of fun chatting with you about:
- historical Olympians we’d have loved to interview
- what we’re looking forward to at the upcoming Winter Olympics
- how to console the Olympic widow or widower in your life
- how our plans and packing lists for Beijing 2022 are coming along
- what happened to ice sledge racing in the Paralympics
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and likely contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.
[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 co-host Alison Brown. Alison, hello. How are you?
Alison: I’m feeling a bit like Dr. Toni Grant. Do you know who that is? Okay. When I was a kid and I’d be driving around with my mother, on the radio she would always have Dr. Toni Grant on and she was like one of the first radio call-in psychologists, sort of like a proto-Frasier. So that’s who I’m channeling today.
Jill: Well, let’s hope. Let’s hope you have too.
We are taking calls today from listeners and we do have one from Listener Dan that we’ll start off with, because Dan was traveling today and he really wanted to chat with us, but we made some time for him previously, but we thought, we figured out that we could take calls. And we were like, Hey, let’s talk to the listeners because it’s fun to get to geek out with each other, but it’s more fun to geek out with you.
So we are taking calls. The phone lines are open. We’ll see if anyone joins us, but, while we wait for somebody to call in, we’d like to give a special thanks to all of our Patreon patrons for providing financial support to the show and keeping our flame alive. Do you want to be a Patreon patron of the week? Take a look at our different levels of support and very cool bonus gifts at patreon.com/flamealivepod. If you would like to give us a one-time holiday bonus or say happy Olympic year to us, we have lots of options for one-time donations. Check out flamealivepod.com/support for all of them, including PayPal, Venmo, Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi.
Did you see, I meant to say, put this on the show sheet because I saw this on LinkedIn. Have you seen this information about the Olympic world feed project led by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage?
Alison: I have not.
Jill: Okay. So this is a group that, and the project is trying to acquire more than 3000 hours of content missing from the AV archives of the International Olympic Committee. And they’re talking about trying to get international TV footage from the games from 1956 to 1988. You know, because they gave the TV rights away and they didn’t have their own broadcast of them. So now they’re trying to get all of that footage. So they say they’ve gotten about 60% so far. They’re almost there with Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972. But the big get that they just announced was Sarajevo 1984.
Alison: Wait, they didn’t have Sarajevo footage? How is that possible?
Jill: No. My guess is because when they sold the TV rights, and this is something, this is again, when, once we’re done with Beijing and we have like a little bit of time before Paris, I would love to talk to these people if we can to find out more about this project. Because my theory is that when they sold the TV rights, they didn’t do any of the broadcast themselves. So all of the television stations own that footage.
Alison: Right, because in the US that would have been ABC.
Alison: So the idea is rather than the IOC owning the rights ABC kept or did not keep the footage. I mean, I assume they kept most of the footage, but this is all like videotape probably.
Jill: Right, or film.
Alison: So things get destroyed, things get lost.
You know, what I remember from that Olympics on TV was the woman who was the host. You know, the Bob Costas, it was a woman for that. And I can’t remember her name, but she had the most amazing sweaters every day. She had a different classic-1984, fuzzy sweater. Now I’ve got to look up her name.
Jill: But, one of the things with getting the Sarajevo footage, it took three years to do this and they had to track down different broadcasters in different countries because Sarajevo was part of Yugoslavia. In the meantime, there was a huge war. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia broke up into different countries. So they had to go track down these tapes in different countries who potentially had them. They eventually found 64 tapes in the offices of the, of Radio-Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was the same building that had been the international broadcast center at the games.
Alison: So these were just tapes, like buried in the basement.
[00:05:00] Jill: Yeah, yeah. In the archives or where, wherever. So they said they were still in good condition. You could still see the scars of war on the building, but now the footage has been digitized and the IOC has it in its archives and the Sarajevo Olympic Museum, which reopened in 2020, after three decades of being closed because of the war. They also have use of the footage.
Alison: Kathleen Sullivan was the daytime host. That’s what I remember. Because I would have watched a lot of it during the day and that’s why I remember her so clearly. And she had a great little eighties bob and her fuzzy sweaters, but that was a beautiful Olympics. That was an end made so much more, bittersweet, is not the right word, but, almost painful as a memory because of what happened so soon after, you know, obviously the collapse of Yugoslavia and then what happened to Sarajevo as a city was so devastating.
And so many of the, you know, we joke a lot about white elephants in different Olympic cities. That one was a tough one because it wasn’t that they were white elephants, it’s that you had a war. And so many of them were destroyed. And I think at one time they were using the stadium as a hospital, you know, like a field hospital. So that’s one of those things where it, that’s probably one of the most heartbreaking post-Olympic stories of our lifetime.
Jill: I would agree. It’s really sad. And it, that’s like you say, with the white elephant stories, it always bothers me when you see, oh, look at all these Olympic venues today and see how the Olympics is such a, you know, such a money waster.
And inevitably they show many pictures from Sarajevo and there’s not much that you can do about a venue. Like I can see, can you just see Juan Antonio Samaranch like waving a white flag, please protect our Olympic venues. Don’t shoot them up. You know, it’s a war going on. This is going to happen, unfortunately. There, we should look and see what’s going on there now, because I remembered the luge and bobsled track had been covered in graffiti, but people were using it like as a summer, maybe a summer thing, or at least riding bikes down it for fun.
Alison: So like a skate park. Are we going to put Dan’s question at the beginning? Because I had a follow-up answer to one of his questions.
Jill: Oh yeah. Let’s talk about that. Yeah.
Alison: Well, thank you so much for calling in. I’m glad we could make this work.
Dan: Yeah, I do too. I’m very excited to ask my question and say hello.
Jill: I said what’s on your mind, Dan.
Dan: So if you could interview any athlete from the past while they were competing who would want on your show and why?
Alison: Now I thought about this a lot because you did mention this in the Facebook group. And the hardest thing for me to answer about this is because like the athletes that I would love to talk to, you know, we all know I’m obsessed with Nadia. I’ve talked about Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, and I’ve talked about other skaters, is when they were competing is not when they were the most interesting, like, I think they got a lot of depth later, but someone who I think would have been very interesting when she was competing is Wilma Rudolph, you know, our, one of our favorite Tigerbelles because I think even at the time she was very aware of what she was doing and how, what an impact she was having both on the sport and on society in the United States. So she’s one who I think during her career would have been a good interview for.
Dan: That’s actually who came to mind for me.
[00:10:00] Jill: So I did pick a winter and a summer and because you can’t, I can’t choose. For summer, we are sticking with Tigerbelles and I am going with Wyomia Tyus. I read her autobiography or memoir or whatever you want to call it earlier this year, it’s called, I believe it’s called Tigerbelle and it’s excellent. One of the better athlete-written books because she does have a lot of self-reflection in there, but she spoke her mind. She had a nice wild streak to her and she was subversive in her own way, even though that went unnoticed and I would love to have noticed her own protests or even noticed the fact that she was the first person to repeat as hundred meter champion.
So then I think she would be very interesting to talk to. And on the winter side, I would like to talk with, and I would have loved this even at my age when this was, would be Calgary 1988 Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, because when it was ‘88, I loved Eddie and thought his story was fantastic.
It would have been so interesting to see the spectacle and kind of get, I want to interview him maybe a year later because a lot of that stuff would have died down and just see that real struggle at the beginning to get into the Olympics, then this crazy high, because he captured the imaginations of everybody and then probably a very big low, and everybody would have gone.
Dan: Totally. I’m excited that Eddie the Eagle is on our movie club. I haven’t seen it yet.
Alison: Okay. Jill is not excited.
Jill: I am not.
Alison: So a little behind the scenes discussion. So Fran and I were on a call and waiting for Jill for whatever reason. Jill was late that night. And so Fran and I were picking out the movies for next year. And when Jill joined us, we were, Fran and I, were very proud of ourselves for having come up with the slate for 2022.
And when we told Jill, she was like, we’re not doing Eddie the Eagle. We’re just not. And Fran and I were like, no, no, no. We’re so excited about this. We haven’t seen it. No, no. So I’m kind of excited to watch this, now knowing that Jill does not like this movie and why. I’m kind of curious to find out why, but we don’t talk about it ahead of time. We try very hard not to talk about the books and the movies before we record. Because a lot of times we’ll say to each other, save it for the show, save it for the show because we’ll have whole conversations and then realize we never put it on the air. So I would just have to wait like everyone else to find out what Jill actually thinks of the movie.
I know. Not that long. It’s our first movie.
Jill: Well, no, you won’t have to wait because the second you start watching it, maybe five minutes, you will totally understand. Now I will say that if you are a Luddite, like me, look for it on your cable stations, on your DVR right now, or whatever on demand, because it has been on again. And so we recorded it. So I don’t have to try to find it later.
Dan: Ok, hot tip. I love it.
Alison: Now you had a second question, Dan, right?
Dan: What sport do you think will surprise you the most in 2022 at the Beijing Winter Games? And, this can be a person, whatever you want.
Alison: I’m going to say something really specific and I am not tooting our own horn here. If Erin Jackson comes away with the gold, in the 500 especially because she’s been skating so well, I think speed skating is going to, and Erin herself is going to capture the American imagination. 1, because speed skating is a simple sport for people to understand, whoever goes the fastest wins. Okay. We can get, Americans can understand that they don’t, there’s nothing complicated and American speed skating is hit or miss. You know, sometimes we’re great. Sometimes we win nothing and she is African-American. That still has a tremendous amount of resonance, especially in winter sports. And she’s also got that thousand watt smile that I think if NBC captures her correctly, she could, but only if she wins and I am not putting pressure on her at all, because, you know, obviously speed skating is very, things happen and she has been skating really well, but Americans only care if you win a gold medal, but so speedskating.
I’m going to say speed skating. And Erin specifically could be a real breakout star. And I hope so because I love her. She’s such a fantastic person and an incredible athlete. And what she’s done over the past quad is amazing. So I think that’s a little bit of hope mixed with expectation. Um, so yeah, I’m going to put, I think speed skating. If the Americans do as well as I think they’re going to overall, we may see more interest at least in the United States.
[00:15:00] Dan: That would be cool.
Alison: I would cry. We know I would cry. Let’s be honest. It doesn’t take much, but if she medals at all, I mean, I’m not a gold, everyone who listens to the show knows I’m not a gold or nothing. If she like does a personal best and she medals at all, I’ll be just a disaster. It’s a good thing I won’t be in Beijing for that. I mean, I’ll be like, I’ll embarrass her.
Jill: Well, I’ve already heard from Listener Erica, because I have to credit her for saying it first she thinks that Erin will be the darling of the Beijing games.
Alison: So Erica and I came up with this independently, but we she’s just, she’s so charismatic, but she’s actually kind of shy, which makes her even more charming.
Jill: Right. And she’s smart. That’s the other thing. She’s going to give you very thoughtful answers to questions and interviews and has a lot of poise that a lot of other athletes don’t, especially younger athletes who don’t have, or people who are coached a lot in media. So that’s also what Erin is good for. I’m very excited for her prospects. I just, she’s had a great breakout season, right when you want it to.
I think I am going to be surprised by big air and I am looking forward to going to see it. We haven’t really talked about big air, but, I wish we could, I don’t know why. It’s one of those, like, it’s one of those new sports. It couldn’t be along the lines of slopestyle where I don’t love slopestyle because I don’t get it. I think maybe if you saw it in person, you could see the difficulty in doing it, but it’s just not something that interests me. But I think big air in this venue that they built on an old steel factory site. I believe, don’t quote me on that one because I didn’t quite do my research. It’s kind of all lit up and it’s this huge hill. That’s probably made out of scaffolding and it just looks very cool. So I think that’s going to be a lot of fun and there’s a lot of energy in that venue.
Alison: What I hope is not a surprise in Beijing is how bad COVID is. I’m hoping that is not the story that comes out. That’s the thing that keeps me up at night.
Dan: I feel like NBC has already done the COVID storyline and they are not going to want to engage with it.
Alison: I’m more thinking, just not even so much engaged as a story, but just it happens and athletes are testing positive and, you know, nevermind on a personal level, you know, one of us, you know, especially Jill, who’s going to be there longer, gets sick or something like that. That like, that’s what I remember from Beijing is like, oh, that was COVID. Because I don’t remember that from Tokyo, we had so many other things happening and so that’s, that would be the bad. So if we have a good surprise and a bad surprise, that would be kind of my very bad surprise, my very mixed-up, no good surprise Olympics.
Dan: How long are you guys going for?
Jill: I am supposed to arrive in Beijing on the, January 30th, and then we come back on March 15th.
Dan: So that’s a long time.
Jill: That is a very long time. What are you looking forward to the most? What do you think is going to be most surprising?
Dan: I was not prepared to be asked any questions.
Jill: Well, you know, we can’t not interview people.
Dan: Yeah, I think, I don’t know. People are going to really sit down and enjoy and watch. Like a lot of people now are like fairweather winter Olympic fans. So I think after Tokyo, I like did this six months ago. I hope more people tun in. And capture the American attention on it.
[00:20:00] Jill: I hope so. I mean, NBC is certainly showing the commercials, although they’re still showing summer Paralympic commercials, which is not great.
Alison: You know, I think the fairweather Olympic fans get a bad rap because, you know, it’s very hard, especially for the winter sports. It’s very hard to follow a lot of these sports that are based in Europe. And I know Jill and Ben bend over backwards to be able to watch biathlon. To see luge or bobsled, or even cross country skiing or downhill skiing during the world cup season is really hard. And if people only watch it during the Olympics, I think that’s great. Yeah, because at least they’re seeing it at the pinnacle, you know, we’re watching the best of the best and they’re enjoying it.
And I know some people can kind of gatekeeper stuff like that, and I’m very anti-gatekeeping of anything and especially sport and especially being a, so you’re a fan for two weeks, every four years. That’s amazing because these kids deserve that, you know, they deserve to be the focus of the world’s attention, even if it’s only for two weeks, every four years, because they are amazing and what the dedication and the time and the effort and the sacrifices matter. And if they get their 15 minutes of fame and we love them and we put them on cereal boxes just for a month, that’s better than them getting ignored.
Dan: Very true.
Alison: And I get to sound smart for a couple of weeks, every few years. And people, it’s really funny. And I don’t know if Jill has this experience, like all of a sudden this Christmas, I know that I am going to be the center of conversation. People are going to be asking me all kinds of questions. Like, Ooh, is China going to happen? Are we boycotting Beijing? What’s happening? And all of a sudden I’m like the smartest person in my family, which does not happen any other time. So that’s cool too.
Dan: I have to say, yeah. You two helped become that person. Like when I started listening I very much thought I was that person in my family. Uh, yes, I am the Olympic expert in my social circles, thank you very much. What do you need to know?
Alison: Fantastic. We’ve done our job.
Jill: Well, Dan, thank you so much for calling. We are so glad we got to talk to you live.
Dan: Thank you so much.
Alison: Thanks so much, Dan, happy new year and happy holidays.
Jill: Okay. Bye-bye.
Alison: So after we talked to Dan and I had given my Wilma Rudolph answer, of course, I spent the rest of the day thinking about what would have been a better answer because I felt like it was too American centric, so I wanted to come up with somebody not American.
And I decided that the other person I would want to talk to at the time of her competition would have been Vera Caslavska, who was the Czech gymnast from 1968, who did that silent protest of turning her head when the anthem of the Soviet Union was played. And number one, she’s a gymnast. So I would love to talk about gymnastics at that time. Two, she trained on tree trunks. So I’d love to talk to her about her insane training leading up to Mexico City because she had to go into hiding. And she seemed like someone who would have, you know, once she left Czechoslovakia at the time, of course, she talked. And she talked to a certain degree, but she would have been free to talk. And I think if we could have sat down for like 45 minutes and you’re like how we normally do an interview, not the quick, we would have gotten some very interesting insight from her.
Jill: So would you have wanted to talk to her as she was competing or when?
Alison: Yes. I mean, I would have talked to her anyway, but his question was specifically at the time of competition and just like, what was her mindset and not asking the question, you know, what are you thinking? But just to talk to her and see how she would have reacted in that time and in that situation, because she would have been so guarded and yet it always came through, you know, just that she chose to do that protest.
Jill: I wonder if you were watching if you noticed it, the protests.
[00:25:00] Alison: I bet the Czech press noticed and the Soviet press noticed. Probably Americans, if they even saw it wouldn’t have had a clue because they were so wrapped up in their own politics at the time. But I bet people who were closer to the situation saw it and caught it.
Jill: Right. Because the John Carlos/Tommy Smith protest, you get varying reports like, oh, it was held in this giant stadium. People didn’t really notice at the time, but the photograph is what really catapulted that protest into something else. Although then with the help of time, you do hear different stories.
Alison: Right. And there wasn’t film, right? Isn’t that what Harry Blutstein told us about the Vera protests? There was no film of that. There wasn’t necessarily any dramatic pictures and certainly they wouldn’t have been published in the Soviet Union or in Czechoslovakia.
Jill: Right, right. There is a new ceremonies channel on olympics.com. Have you seen this too?
Alison: I have seen nothing. I have been in knee deep in end of semester and holidays and Beijing planning. So if it doesn’t fall into one of those three buckets, it does not exist in my world right now.
Jill: So apparently an olympics.com they have a ceremonies channel now with the, some of the most iconic opening and closing ceremonies nonstop.
Alison: So basically you can watch the Archer from Barcelona over and over again.
Alison: Oh, and that means I could see the ski jumper from Lillehammer.
Jill: Oh, right.
Alison: I love the ski jumper from Lillehammer. And also, I remember from Lillehammer and I wonder if this is like a fever dream, because I haven’t watched the Lillehammer opening ceremonies probably since it happened, but were there like little elves that came up from the ground?
Jill: I believe so, because that was part of the lore of the region.
Alison: The little elves coming up from the floor. But I do remember that the Norwegian royal family arrived in a sled, like in a horse-drawn sleigh.
Jill: Which is very classic.You know, it’s the kind of thing you want to see.
Alison: You want to see the Norwegian family arrive in a horse-drawn sleigh. You don’t want to see them coming on. Like what are those things called? You don’t want to see them arriving on a snowmobile. Well, I guess you could.
Jill: Hello, this is Keep the flame alive.
Rosie: Oh my gosh. I got you guys. This is so exciting. Hello Jill. Hello Alison.
Alison: Hello. Who is this?
Rosie: Hi, this is Rosie in Vermont.
Alison: Hi Rosie. It’s so good to talk to you.
Rosie: So fun to hear your voices. I’m so used to listening to it off my phone. And now like hearing you over the phone.
Jill: Well, it’s nice to chat. What is on your mind, Olympics or Paralympics?
Rosie: Okay. I have a serious issue that I need y’all’s opinions on because I feel like you’ve probably experienced some of this too. So I met my now husband right after Sochi ‘14 and we got married right before Rio 2016. He never saw me in Olympic mode during our courtship. And then it was like, I told them I was a big Olympic fan, but he did not realize like what he was in for until the Rio games. And he was like, oh, you literally spend the entire time watching the Olympics. I’m like, yeah. And he has not been thrilled with that.
And like, things got a little testy this past summer during the Tokyo games. Like it was our first time with a kid. And like, he was like a little annoyed that I just had always put the TV on and I was always watching. So what do you do when, like you don’t have a supportive spouse for your Olympic binging?
Alison: How old is your baby?
Rosie: She is almost two.
Alison: Okay. So the first thing I will say is start training her now, because then you will have a partner in crime and he will just have to deal with it because then, when it’s, once it’s his child that’s involved, then he will become more understanding. So that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is, I am sure there is something that he is equally as obsessive about.
[00:30:00] Rosie: Not really. He’s like a really chill dude who like enjoys stuff, but not like to the level of like my Olympics obsession.
Alison: There’s gotta be something, there’s something that he spends a lot of time on that you may not even recognize because it doesn’t annoy you.
Rosie: Or maybe it’s not as concentrated.
Alison: Yes, yes. It could be spread out. So if it’s, you know, whatever hobby, so just kind of bring that up, that this is only two weeks and it’s all lumped together. It’s like the orange juice concentrate frozen in a can rather than the giant gallon jug. And if you say, if you add up all the hours you spend on this, it would be the same as that. It’s just mine is in two weeks time.
And then some of it will just be over time. I’ve been married for 25 years, and Jill is, what are you at Jill, 20?
Jill: No, not, not that long.
Alison: Not yet. You’re not quite, I don’t remember now. Oh, that’s right. Because you got married after Sarah was born. So you’re in the teens, but some of it is just over time, you will learn to accept these things. He will learn to accept it because he’s like, this is not going to be worth arguing over after a while. And that definitely happens. Things just don’t, you know, when you’re 25 years in or even 10 years in, as opposed to five years in, things just are less important. It’s stuff like that. And then it’ll also become a joke.
Rosie: That Rosie’s off, married to the Olympics instead of him.
Alison: Yes, exactly. It’ll become like, oh yeah. It’s Rosie’s two weeks of the year. And that’s what I do. And yeah. Then it becomes, he becomes the Olympics widower. And it’ll be funny. Now it’s annoying, especially with a two year old. It’s hard when everything is hard, when your kids are little, everything is hard. So that’s also a stressful time.
Rosie: I had a strategy for the upcoming Beijing games. Because I’m like all the Olympics, but the winter Olympics especially are like my jam. And I was thinking, I was like, you know what, maybe I’ll do some trading with him. And like one weekend or one night during the week, I’ll go to like a hotel room and like book myself in for like 24 hours so that he doesn’t have to deal with it. We don’t have to deal with each other. Because like, I, it was like really tough this summer. Because he was just so annoyed
Alison: Is he not a television person? Is that the problem that it’s always on?
Rosie: No because like we watch TV shows and stuff together. I think he was just annoyed. Because it was always on and I like wasn’t paying as much attention to him and I wasn’t like as actively involved in like watching my child, because he has summers off as a school counselor. So he was home the whole time and our daughter was home with us because she gets taken care of by the grandparents during the school year.
So like I was still working. Yeah. But I also like had my laptop on with whatever was playing like while I was working or in the morning or in the evening and I had it on and he just, I think, got annoyed. And you know, it also may be that like our marital time was also slightly affected because again, I was watching TV all the time.
Alison: Yes. Understood. Well, the good news is that for winter he will be working. So he’ll miss, you know, a good 12 hours of it. If your daughter is an insomniac, like my daughter was, you get to see things live when they’re coming from China.
Rosie: Thankfully she sleeps really well.
Alison: You are a lucky woman.
Rosie: She sleeps until like six. Yes, yes. We did a lot of sleep training, but yeah, I do. She didn’t mind having the summer games on, she was like interested in it, but also kinda not, you know, she was a year and a half old. Like it wasn’t cartoon, she didn’t care.
Jill: You’re in Vermont so she is already cross country skiing. Correct?
Rosie: Just about we, I had her out, we got a bunch of snow over the weekend, so we’re out sledding. And I do like already have, like, my town is talking about setting up a biathlon course, like we want to do a cross country trail, and then we want to teach, there’s some people in town who want to teach the shootings. I’m like, oh, we can get her started in biathlon real early, get her a college scholarship.
Jill: There you go. Well, okay. So if she already is getting into the snow stuff, the Winter Olympics might be more of a draw which is a good thing for her. I would also, I also have a husband who, even though he contributes and is very, very supportive of the podcast, also likes attention. I feel your pain because probably around day 12, the annoyance really starts coming through. So I would make these, put reminders on your phone to ask your question, ask your husband questions about how he’s doing and what’s going on in his life.
[00:35:00] Rosie: So I was also thinking of like having like an hour, like a designated hour where like, I just turn everything off now, unless something really exciting is going online at the time. You know, like we can eat dinner, have our time. And then like, be like, okay, it’s time for the Olympics to come back.
Alison: Well, this will actually, the China time difference will actually help you because like at 6:00 pm, there’s usually not much. I don’t think there’s going to be much on that’s live, so that will work.
See, it’s so funny. It’s like, you know, the difference at my point in life where we’re just like, oh, we’re going to have a conversation. Haven’t after 25 years, we’ve talked about everything?
But yes and having, I mean, it’s, so the idea of getting to introduce your daughter to all this stuff is very nostalgic to me and sort of like, oh, you get to do this. And that’s such a fun thing to do, to introduce kids, to doing sports and watching sports and sharing something you love with them. And that’s so special. And that’s really wonderful.
Rosie: I really hope like I get that with my daughter, you know, she’s still like, she’s so young, like again, not showing tons of interest in it, but like the Olympics has been like, really, I was like in middle school when I got hooked during the ‘02 games and like, you know, it’s just been such a fun part of growing up and always having something to look forward to. So yeah, like I want to like pull her into that world with me. Do you have anything beyond just like having them on when she’s watching them and trying to get her involved in sports for like getting her as obsessed as I am?
Jill: What if you made her little medals? Like take the, I mean, we have Christmas ribbon coming up, if you celebrate Christmas, take some, gift wrap, make little circles, and then she can get on the podium when the podiums are, you know.
Rosie: I love that idea. That’s so fun.
Alison: You know, one thing I’ve learned from my daughter now that she’s an adult that she remembers, is that she remembers me being excited about it and talking to her about it. And it was fun for her to see me excited about something. So it’s not even, it seems like it’s less about the big things and more about the little shared joys.
Like when I think about my own childhood, what got me excited about the Olympics was, you know, me and my mom and my sisters all sitting around the little black and white television, watching them together. And my mom explaining things to me and that’s, yeah, it’s just, it’s sheer time. And the shared events. But I would like a medal too. I would like a little handmade medal as well, if anyone wants to make one for me.
Rosie: I dressed up as McKayla Maroney for Halloween a few years ago, made an actual medal, made the silver medal. I’m gonna see if I can pull mine out.
Jill: I would also recommend, or I would also recommend as someone with no children can give parenting advice. Maybe a special snack, start thinking about a special snack that only comes out during the Olympics. So you only get the snack every two years.
Rosie: Oh, maybe we could do like Olympic jello or something, like do the Olympic rings.
Alison: I will let you know, my Olympic, I will warn you, go very small with your Olympic rings because I have now tried, I think three different times to make Olympic rings in jello and they just don’t set properly. So I think I just need to make like little circles, like the Japanese ones from the original, from Tokyo ‘64.
Rosie: Just get the cups of the different colors and position them, then there you go. You just have the ring.
Rosie: You learn to get real, real creative when you’re a parent and you’d have to go.
Alison: Oh yes.
Jill: All right, Rosie. Well, thank you so much for calling in. Good luck. Keep us posted.
Rosie: This was great. Thank you so much for all the work you do on the podcast. I really enjoy it.
Alison: You’re welcome. Thanks Rosie. Happy new year.
Jill: Hold on. Wait, we did have a call coming in. I figured.
Jill: Hello. This is Jill and Alison from Keep the flame alive. Did you just call on us? Hi, who is this?
Nick: This is Nick from Missouri. How are you all?
Jill: How are you?
Nick: I’m good. I teach for a living and I’m on Christmas break.
Alison: Fantastic. How has it been going with COVID for you and your protocols?
Nick: Fine. I teach at a college. Um, it was, I had one student go out. That’s it.
[00:40:00] Alison: Excellent. I’m glad. I’m always relieved to hear that people are being okay and getting through the semesters.
Jill: So what is on your mind, Olympics or Paralympics?
Nick: Well, I had a thought the other day. And when you guys said you were taking call ins. They released the opening ceremony information for Paris, and I thought, what is LA going to do to top that? And do you guys remember the rocket man?
Alison: Oh, yes.
Nick: I think that the technology might be good enough that they could link the two stadiums with rocket man.
Alison: Okay. Wait, when we’re saying two stadiums?
Nick: Well, because they haven’t really, they don’t really know yet, but they’ve got to use the Coliseum, but they have new Sofi Stadium.
Alison: Right. So you’re saying have two sites and then have people going back and forth for opening ceremony.
Nick: Yeah. They don’t know what they’re going to do for opening ceremonies, but what are they going to do to top Paris so they could drone it, but I think they could do it with people. It probably won’t happen now that I mentioned it.
Alison: Okay. Here’s what we really need to get. We really need to get Celine Dion on a rocket and have her singing as she’s going between the two stadiums. Let’s ratchet this up.
Nick: I think piloting and singing at the same time would be too much for one person.
Jill: No, she just lip syncs. It’ll be okay.
Alison: Yeah, it’s fine. Or maybe, you know, bring it to the next generation. We’ll do like Cardi B and, and Megan Thee Stallion. And they could like swap stadiums. I know. I’ll take it to the next level. You know that Nick?
Jill: Yeah, it’ll be interesting. Especially with LA 2028, having so much time to put this together. Like when do they even start thinking about it or do they wait until they say, oh, wow, this is what they’re doing. How do we, how do we top this?
Alison: And it being LA
Nick: It is going to be harder and harder to top what Paris is doing, it’s like nothing else. And LA doesn’t have a river, so what are they going to do?
Jill: Well, stop traffic. They can block more traffic off. Yeah. I don’t know. It’ll be interesting. Especially with the age-old issue of opening ceremonies costing a fortune for a lot of people and every host city trying to one up the next one. And how do you do that?
Because, well, Beijing is going to spend what they’re going to spend and that those ceremonies are going to be phenomenal. Paris has the boat, I mean you have a river, so the boat thing will have a cost because you have to get all these boats, but it will be in a way fantastic. In a, and in a way that I think is cost-effective. I hope. But yeah, I mean, how, I don’t know, it would be fun to be a fly on the wall in the room where they just start throwing ideas out and seeing what happens.
Nick: Yes. I always thought that they needed to have certain, you know, you have all these athletes and the athletes representative, they need to have a spectator one.
Alison: Oh, a spectator representative.
Nick: Yeah. Like you guys are all of us who listen to you to go out there and say, Hey, you know what we really need to see? Or, you know, what’s really disappointing in the past.?
Jill:I like that idea.
Alison: I’ve always wondered who’s going to be the host city that’s going to bring it back down. Who’s going to say, and I thought Tokyo might have done this, but they were a little too far in when COVID hit, who is going to turn around and say, you know what, we’re going to simplify the opening and the closing ceremonies and bring it back to focusing on the parade of nations or focusing on the ceremony of it.
And, and that’s certainly not going to be LA because that’s just not LA’s modus operandi. I mean, it’s not, that’s not what LA is. So, and given who’s already, I mean, maybe Brisbane could do that. And that would be part of their aesthetic. But I don’t know. Yeah. It’s because you can’t, like you were saying, you can’t keep going bigger and bigger and bigger.
And the winter is always a little bit scaled back just because it’s smaller and colder. So there’s certain things you can’t do in the cold, but yeah, it’s at what point do you literally have rockets getting shot off? And we have to say, wait a second. We have, we have gone. We have crossed the Rubicon here. We have gone too far and we’re losing the point.
[00:45:00] Nick: You know, LA is going to go all out because just production value of Hollywood in the vicinity.
Jill: I wonder if there are, I don’t want to say fights, but like the angling to try to get to be a part of this. I remember when Chicago 2016, when Chicago was bidding for 2016, every professional service firm was trying to do some kind of pro bono project with the Olympics. They were trying to do some kind of pro bono project with the organizing committee in hopes that Chicago would win. And then there would be kind of follow-on work and they’d be involved with this super prestigious event. I can only imagine that in the capital of show business, how much different directors or producers are trying to get their fingers into this, the ceremonies, both the opening and the closing.
Nick: Well it’s, I mean, NBC Universal in their possession, I guess you could say of everything Olympic, you know, that’s where that’s going to go.
Alison: Interesting. Yeah, Walt Disney will not be involved this time over at ABC as they were in ‘84. Do you have a favorite opening ceremony moment?
Nick: Yes, the cauldron lighting in Barcelona.
Alison: We were just talking about that and you could not hear us, but we just were mentioning the Archer from Barcelona because I think that’s Jill’s favorite.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I got to visit, I visit the, I visited the stadium in 2019 and the people I was with, it was like, we’d have to go up to Anjuica. And they’re like, okay.
Jill: What is that area like now? Because I visited there in 1999 and there was a lot of, oh, the, it was the middle of summer, but the pool was drained because they didn’t have the money to run the pool. But what is it like today or two years ago?
Nick: Yeah, I can remember walking up that hill and I knew we were close to where the swimming stadium was and we could not see inside, but I could hear some kind of event going on. Like there were spectators cheering for somebody. So I don’t know if it was diving or swimming or what, but I could hear things going on. And then there was some kind of, I didn’t ever determine what it was and didn’t have the time, but there, the gates to the stadium were open and you could get into the main stadium and get a good look of the whole field. And they had lots of flags and temporary banners and things set up. Like I wondered if anybody would have stopped me from going down on the track, but I didn’t try it.
Alison: Oh man. Be bold. Nick, be bold.
Jill: Is there an Olympic city that you have not yet visited that you would like to see?
Nick: Good question.
Alison: Yeah, we ask good questions. That’s what we do for a living.
Nick: I mean more modern ones that I can remember in my lifetime, I’ve been to a lot of them. I mean, not to the Olympics, but I have been to those cities, like, I don’t know. Barcelona was on that list. And then I took that one off.
Alison: Well, I have not been to any, pretty much any of them. So this will eventually when we can travel again, that’ll be, we’re hitting the road. Yeah. I gotta hit the road. I got to go see places. I’ve been to Lake Placid and Montreal, and that’s pretty much it. I’m very, I’m not very well traveled.
Nick: I have been to Berlin, Barcelona, Sydney, Atlanta, LA, Salt Lake, London.
Alison: Now you’re just showing off Nick.
Nick: I always went for something else. And then if there was an Olympics nearby, then I made sure to see that.
Jill: There you go. Because I mentally checked off most of those. I mean, I’ve been to London, but not to Olympic stuff. So now that they’ve had them in 2012, I think there’s going to be a little bit more available to see.
[00:50:00] Nick: That park, I went to the Olympics in 2012 and was in that Olympic Park. And I went back to London in 2019 and I made a point to go visit. So I made all the selfie stops at the rings and the agitos and all those things. And it is a well-developed park. Well used, lots of, lots of things. The aquatic center still there, still used the stadium is now used for soccer. The velodrome still exists. The gardens and parks. That’s the main thing is the green spaces that were created over there.
Alison: Nope, no white elephants. We were talking about that earlier. So that’s really good.
Jill: All right, Nick. Well, thank you so much for calling in. It has been so much fun to talk to you and we were going to do this again, so, you know, be on the lookout.
Nick: Great. Well, thank you for producing your show. It’s what I look forward to every week on my drive to and from work.
Jill: Oh, thank you so much, Nick.
Alison: Thank you so much Nick. Happy new year.
Jill: Hello. Thank you for calling Keep the flame Alive. It’s Jill and Alison. Who is this?
Patrick: Hey, this is Patrick from Chicagoland.
Jill: Patrick from Chicagoland.
Patrick: I thought it was on Wednesday, and then I saw the Facebook post and said, like, oh, I need to call.
Alison: Here we are. Oh Patrick. It’s so nice to talk to you. How are you? How’s the, how’d the move go?
Patrick: Well, good, good, good. Yeah. I just woke up like five minutes and was mixed up. I see. Oh, today, not tomorrow.
Alison: Well then, I’m glad I posted the reminder if for no other reason just to talk to you.
Patrick: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Oh, so it’s good talking to you guys too.
Jill: What Olympics or Paralympics thing is on your mind?
Patrick: Well, I’ve thought about this and what question I wanted to ask you about Beijing. How worried are you guys about traveling over there?
Jill: How worried? Very.
Alison: Yes, that’s very, yeah. I’m worried. Jill’s going to be there much longer than I am, but still I’m worried just whether it’s actually going to happen because the travel arrangements have been so, so very difficult and are still not done. I’m worried that we’re going to make a mistake in some of our pre-planning because they’re being so strict and we’re going to get to the airport and literally not be let out of the airport. I’m worried one of, or both of us, are going to get sick. I mean, that’s, we got to be realistic. It’s a lot of people coming from a lot of places. So we are very worried.
And not only are we very worried, but I will tell you the story of when I told my mother that I was doing this. When I tell both my parents, my mother, God bless her, was just like, I don’t know if I’m allowing this, but I am not okay with this. You can’t go. And I’m like, Mom, I’m a grownup. I have a grownup child. You can’t tell me no, but yeah, this is, yeah, this is yeah. Yes, mothers are like that. It is very, very scary and very stressful. So yeah, we are definitely not downplaying it. And then when we get there, are we going to be able to do our jobs?
Jill: That’s the other very worrisome thing. Could you repeat that? Sorry, I couldn’t hear it.
Jill: Oh, that I am. Yes, I am, worried is not the right word, but I am concerned that I will not be able to control myself and maybe I can do it because I do have an officiating background and I’m very good at having resting officiating face. Because I think when, when I go to the Olympics, the priority for me is going to be going to the events where our team TKFLASTANIS are. And that will be very hard not to cheer for them. And it will be also very hard not to make a total fool of myself if I get into the mixed zone and be all gushy gushy over who knows whom and act like an idiot, but, and we’ve done that before and we’ve gotten okay results so maybe it’ll work.
[00:55:00] Alison: I have no fear in terms of being at the events. And because I figured, you know what, there’s going to be so few people there and especially because I’m going just for Para that whatever cheering I do will be appreciated because we’re, I mean, we’re going to be when you’re there, you cheer for great performances.
It’s not just who you’re fans of. I mean, obviously we’ll cheer for our people the most, but so I’m not actually worried about that. I am a little concerned about the mixed zone area because that’s, you know, where you’re with other press and you do have to be somewhat professional, but on the flip side, we’re all human and we’re all going to be excited for them who, you know, if someone’s had a great performance, I don’t think anyone’s going to look down on you and say, oh my God, that was fantastic. That was great just as a fan to watch because ultimately anyone who’s doing sports press loves the sport. And if they look down on me, I’ll just be like, look, I’m older than you. Leave me alone. I’ll smack you with my wooden spoon.
Jill: Yeah. It’s the whole, like, not only is it the, I mean, it’s, the whole trip is very layered in that it’s, you know, COVID, it’s going to China and not being familiar with how to travel to China, a completely different culture that we’re trying to navigate and get used to, without knowing a ton of the language, be honest, got to work on some Mandarin. But the other thing is navigating the culture of the Olympics, especially media who have been there 12 times, 10 times, all the, you know, everyone starts with time number one, but it’s trying to figure out and adapt to, okay, what are the processes here? What’s the protocol? What do I have to do? How goofy can I be? Because I will inevitably say something weird, but that I think we just had to roll with it and just be like eyes and ears open and listen first and talk later kind of thing. But, well, it’ll be fun. It’ll make every other Olympics and Paralympics easy to do. I hope, I hope they let us back in. That’s the other thing. Will they let us back in?
Patrick: It’s almost like a warm-up trip for Paris.
Alison: Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. I’m glad our first is a winter because it is so much more manageable. I’m sorry it’s during COVID, which makes it so much less manageable. You know, we are not jaded press. None of our interviews and the people who we interviewed very quickly figure out that we are not your regular interview.
So we’re not going to change who we are just because we’re there, but we have to be appropriate to the situation, but there’s no way I am not cheering. I mean, we’re not allowed to cheer. We can clap and I will bring something appropriate to, you know, one of those little slappy hands or something so that I can do that because you know, we’re still us and that’s still what we do. And that’s still the point of the show is that we are fans first. So I don’t want to lose that either, but I also don’t want to get us arrested in China.
Jill: Right. Or, not upset, but like make waves with the wrong people so that we don’t get invited back. Because I think if, if hopefully the pandemic will be at bay and tamped down by Paris, that will be an extremely hard Olympics to get credentialed for. So if we do a good job here, maybe that makes us more likely to get to Paris. I don’t know, but if we don’t, even if we don’t get credentialed for Paris, I think we’re going to probably do the same thing that we tried for Tokyo. I don’t know. Alison, we haven’t talked about this about both of us going, but like Ben and I would like to go to Paris just to see the games, regardless if we don’t get credentialed. So it’ll be, we’d put in place the plans for Paris at a minimum, what we wanted to do for Tokyo.
Patrick: What, what are you looking forward to besides like watching our team? Like any other, like, if not part of our team, any other athletes?
Jill: You know, and another listener called and asked what we were looking forward to too. I really want to see big air live. I think that’s going to be very cool. Even if Alex Diebel does not go, I love snowboard cross, and I want to see that live. I would, I’m, there’s so much, I’m looking forward to, as honest to Pete, it’s one of those, like what can the schedule possibly accommodate? But we haven’t covered a lot of the downhill skiing elements as much as we’d like to, but we’re working on it. So I’d like to see some Alpine skiing and see that element as well.
I’m curious about halfpipe. I’m curious in the way that we have heard mention that halfpipe is hard to train because there aren’t many Olympic halfpipes around the world. And I would love to understand what makes an Olympic halfpipe an Olympic halfpipe. And why isn’t that the standard maybe for other halfpipe competitions. So, and there’s a lot to see.
[01:00:00] Alison: So the two big thoughts I have is, other than figure skating. I’ve never seen elite level, winter sports in person. So this will be, and I’ve never seen parasport in person. So this would be first on both levels. And because I’m going to have the experience of, I will be home for the Olympics and there for the Paralympics. I’m curious to see how the facilities and how things look on TV for the Olympics. And then when I get there, how does that compare to what the in-person experience is. So that will be interesting to experience and obviously interesting to share with all of you to say, oh, on TV during the Olympics, we saw X, but now that I’m here, it looks either exactly as I expected or totally different.
So I’m glad we’ll be able to do both. So it’s going to be, it’s going to be a crazy month. Jill and I will not, Jill and I have never worked together not in the same time zone. Yeah. That’ll be fun. So this is going to be some, some interesting things and it’s, I’m so glad we get to do this and I’m so glad we get to do it the way we’re doing it.
And it’s going to be a crazy adventure for both of us, even though I’m staying here and she’s going for part of it, that in and of itself is going to be kind of wild. I expect we’re going to find out, we’re gonna find out and it’s really going to be Jill driving the bus because I’m home. So if things go wrong for me, that’s fine. If things go wrong for her, that is a very much different and more serious situation. So if she tells me I need to get up at three o’clock in the morning, I will get up at three o’clock in the morning.
Patrick: Well it’s no different from Tokyo. I mean, you guys were here in the US, because you were on Tokyo time.
Alison: Yeah, the difference was we were both working on eastern. You know, we were both here. So, you know, if we did something in the middle of the night, we were both doing it in the middle of the night. So it felt normal. This we’re going to be functioning so, you know, and we were both watching it. Jill’s going to be living it and I’m going to be watching it.
So this, we’re going to have to navigate a whole new portion of our relationship. To be honest, it’s going to be a new adventure. It’s like, we’ve been married for five years and now we’re, you know, doing, you know, one of us is going back to work or something. It’s just, it’s going to be interesting.
And then we’re going to be working together remotely in the Para for those two weeks, you know, kind of living in a hotel room, which we’ve done for conferences and things, but not to this extent. So I’ve already said to Jill, if she has any issues with me to please work them out now. We’ll discuss them. Now we’ll call the therapist in so that when we’re actually in this high pressure situation, that it doesn’t all come leaching out and, you know, divorce papers get filed after Beijing.
Jill: I’m very grateful that I am going to get to go a few days ahead of the games, which gives me, like I was thinking about, okay, the first day, how long does it take me to get to the press center? What can I do at the press center? How long does it take me to get back to the hotel room? Is the hotel room going to be an optimal place for us to record? Or am I going to have to go to the press center? Because we have different levels of internet access due to the Chinese government and how they manage the internet in that country, you know? And likewise, how long will it take to get to these outer locations? Because there’s three different sites. So how long does it take me to get there? A lot of these events are at nighttime in Beijing, so do we tape there? Do we tape coming back or do we tape on the train? How is it going to work? What kind of recorder do I bring?
[01:05:00] What kind of mixer comes with me? I keep thinking like, oh my goodness, I should buy an extra microphone. I had to buy extra cables just in case something goes and breaks on us and we have, need to have that. And, then when we’re together recording, we’re not used to recording together in the same room. It really, it’s a little more stressful actually, because people often wonder, like, how do you record when you’re far apart? And like, oh, we’ve got this nailed down. We’ve been doing it so long, but when we’re together in the same room, it’s like, okay, how do we set up the microphone so that they don’t bleed onto each other? And our different tracks pick up each other’s voices, because then you get an echo and there’s all kind of little technical stuff to do.
Patrick: So sometimes it’s easier, sometimes when people are the different rooms because they have different sound levels when people are the same sound levels. I’ve experienced that.
Jill: And you, you, you work in radio, you know.
Alison: Right. And then we also have the issue of, we’re just, we’re used to seeing each other on camera versus being in the same room and the body language is different and the facial expressions are different. So that’s, you know, we have,
Patrick: It did make it easier though. I think you, yeah, you see each other, there’s a different energy.
Alison: It’s definitely different and that’s what makes it harder because it’s different. It’s not what we’re used to. And it’s funny, just talking about what we, what we need to pack for equipment. We had a whole conversation a few days ago about what clothes we were bringing. We suddenly realized, well, what, do we need something cocktail? You know, do we need two coats? So that the layers of what we’re worried about go from, are we going to get COVID and die to do we need a cocktail dress? I mean, it is kind of all over the map as to where our heads are getting ready for Beijing.
Jill: Right. And you know, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski kind of joke about, well, they don’t joke because it happens. They bring like 15 suitcases full of clothes because they have different outfits for every performance. Like, I literally think I’m going to have a suitcase of nothing but like N-95 masks because we have to bring our own supply. All of the, you know, first aid stuff just in case, because we don’t know what’s going to be available to us in the stores. It’s a little intense to kind of think about, okay, when do I start packing? And you know, I’m going to have a little room that’s just going to be staged for this is the packing room now and start making lists.
And, I, you know, I, I traveled a lot, so I got used to being able to pack kind of a small suitcase, smallish suitcase for a couple of weeks, but I don’t know how to pack for a six week trip that involves a lot of gear.
Patrick: Is there going to be a washer dryer available?
Jill: Yeah, I think our hotel does have laundry or hotels do have laundry, so, or laundry service, so that will help, but then you also had to think, okay, how long is it going to take them to do laundry? So how many buffer days of clothes do I need? And you know, I, it’s going to be an interesting experience and we’re going to learn pretty quickly, I think like, okay, you packed too much or you didn’t pack enough.
And luckily for me, I get Alison coming over so she can bring anything I’ve forgotten.
Patrick: So what’s going to happen between the Olympics and the Paralympics?
Jill: Well, and I, that’s a good question. I have to stay there because if I come home, you have to go through all the protocols to get there again. So it doesn’t make sense for me to come home and try to do these. We have to do like a 96-hour test, a 72 hour test for COVID. You have to fly from a specific city. So it doesn’t make sense to go through all those hoops again, to come home for literally about four or five days. So I will stay in the hotel I have for the Olympics for a few extra days. And then I move to the hotel that we have for the Paralympics a little bit earlier than what we had anticipated.
And I think the media center will be open 24 hours. I think I’ll try to get to the venues if I can to see the transformation from the Olympics to the Paralympics, because they’ll have to put a, you know, you take down the rings, you put up the agitos, the Paralympics allows for advertising. So we’ll start seeing that go up and just kind of understand, okay, this is where I need to be for the different events for the Paralympics and kind of prep for that. And just think about how it went and what we’ll need to do.
Patrick: How far is where you’re going to be like skiing? Is it hundreds of miles away?
Jill: It will be far away. I think there are buses that will go there as well as the high speed rail. Well, Patrick, thank you so much for calling and we’ve really appreciated. And we’ll talk to you soon. Happy Olympic year.
[01:10:00] Patrick: You’re welcome. Happy Olympic year. big year. Okay. Bye-bye.
Jill: Hello. This is Jill and Alison from Keep the Flame Alive. Who’s this?
Meredith: Hi, this is Meredith. How are you?
Jill: Hi Meredith. What Olympic and Paralympics stuff is on your mind Meredith?
Meredith: I was like, and I don’t know if any of your previous callers have discussed this or not, but I would like to talk about the fact that there are not enough sports in the winter Paralympics.
Meredith: They’re just, yeah, there just aren’t that very many. And I was doing some research and I know that they did a lot of sledge racing in previous Paralympics and that has sort of, they haven’t had that in the last few and I believe it’s just because maybe it wasn’t popular in enough places or there was a lot, there seems to have been a lot of changes and going back and forth on the type of sledges that they used.
But at any, eventually they started using the same type of sledge that they were using for ice hockey. But it does really seemed like when the ice hockey came, you know, like when the ice sledge hockey came in, that the sledge racing kind of went out at about the same time. So I don’t know if there, you know, what the problems were that made them kind of drop that sport.
The other thing I was thinking about was, maybe, maybe this could be the entry point for cross country running to really become like, maybe we can bring it in for the Paralympics and then if it’s popular enough, it can move to the Olympics too.
Jill: Interesting. I’m curious about the sledge racing as well because you have a venue that does short track speed skating, unless they convert that to a hockey venue. Why can’t they use that for sledge racing? Because I don’t know enough about this to know like, oh, would a long track venue be too long or would they prefer racing in something like a short track venue? But that’s something to look into. I know they’ve been trying very hard to get bobsled into the Paralympics and they just don’t have the, the participants.
Meredith: You don’t have critical mass yet. Do they? Yeah, that really does seem like a very obvious, very obvious sport that, that we should have in the Paralympics. But I think you’re right. I think a lot of these sports, it’s just a matter of getting enough participants from enough different countries that it’s, you know, that the IPC will get, say, okay, all right, you got a legitimate sport here. Come on in. You know?
Alison: I think the biggest problem with Winter Olympics and then carrying over to Paralympics is obviously you have limited access. How many countries get snow? How many countries have ice rinks? So you have that one. So right off the bat, the Winter Olympics has less participation than the Summer Olympics.
Then you have the added problem of the winter sports equipment tends to be much more expensive. So when you think about what’s in the Summer Paralympics — running, swimming, basketball — these are pretty easy entry sports. So that to put together, to put together a wheelchair basketball team at your local Y is kind of a nothing in terms of added expense to add a para,
Meredith: You need chairs that can’t, that are a little more maneuverable.
Alison: Right. Exactly. But you know, people who are in sports with disabilities, you can start wheelchair racing with your wheelchair. You don’t need to have the fancy wheelchair. Whereas if you’re doing para bobsled, you’ve got to start with a bobsled that’s equipped for athletes with disabilities. That’s a very, very expensive entry point.
Jill: Right. And even like cross country skiing, you’re putting a chair on two skis or you add a biathlon rifle into the mix. It just gets expensive.
Alison: So you’re not going to have the very widespread participation on the grassroots level, which then feeds into the elite sports. But I totally agree. I would love to see para speedskating in some fashion you know, you’re talking about the sled racing, because that seems obvious.
[01:15:00] Meredith: I think was the sledge racing was the option, it was the sort of the analog to speed skating, because they did it seated in sort of something, you know, either on a sledge or eventually, you know, in a bucket. But that sort of was the analog. It could encompass a lot of different varieties of disability.
And I’m wondering also if that’s it, if they’re looking at new sports and saying, okay, you need to be able to accommodate this variety of different abilities within this sport. So like, can your sport, because cross country running, for instance, that that would accommodate, like track and field, it would accommodate people with specific disabilities, but there isn’t really an analog for wheelchair racing in cross country running, probably because of the types of obstacles that they’re trying to cross, you know?
Jill: Right, right. But I am now, now I got something on the list that I’m going to toy around with, because why isn’t there more speed skating? Because if you look at like athletics and para athletics, you have people that are missing upper limbs. How does that not translate to speed skating or a little bit of, what was it, whatever Nick Mayhugh’s class was with, you know, you could translate that to speed skating, I would think, don’t know, but that’s something to look into and Paralympics being smaller. I am hopeful that we will have access to start asking these questions and trying to get to the bottom of this.
But I, you know, I do kind of think that this is going to be a turning point Paralympics because of the amount of TV access that they will have.
Meredith: I hope so. Yeah. Well, yeah. Well, I think it could be really amazing, but then I thought, and I don’t know, maybe, maybe because of where I was during the Tokyo Olympics, I’m not sure, but it felt like the Tokyo Paralympics there wasn’t as much, there was a lot, a lot of coverage. There was an astounding amount of coverage. There were still sports that really received almost nothing, even in the Paralympics.
Alison: Absolutely. Yeah. Very frustrating and not good coverage.
Meredith: No. And I mean, there, it was interesting, you know, on the episode that just aired you were talking about changes that they’re thinking about making to the shooting, the formats for the shooting event, so that there would be a semifinal.
And first of all, I 100% agree and you cannot compare two semifinals. Like they’re going to have different shooting conditions. Like they’re just, I mean, you just, and I really feel that the finals format that they have right now is extraordinarily exciting to watch. If you have somebody who can just tell you even a little bit about what’s going on.
Shotgun is, the shotgun sports are always the most exciting, because it’s just so obvious. You can tell if they hit the target or not. And if they hit, they get the point. And if they didn’t then because you know, a lot of times they’ll get eliminated. But, and I know that, I know that like rifle, you know, air rifle isn’t as exciting as some of the other sports, but I mean, I had a good friend who competed in five different metal competitions and I didn’t get to see her compete once.
And they weren’t even using all of the technology that’s actually available. If you watch the world cup circuit, they have live targets, five scoring targets that are available for you to watch. You know, they didn’t, they didn’t even use that during the Olympics that I, that I could see. I mean, we would have been able to follow the earlier stages much better if they even use the technology that was available to them that we use in every other international competition.And they didn’t either, I don’t know if they didn’t have a contract for it or what, but they just didn’t use it.
Alison: Lazy. I think it’s that they’ve, I think NBC falls, especially NBC in the United States. I can’t speak to other broadcasters because I’ve never been in another country when the Olympics were being broadcast. But NBC seems to, we’ve been doing it this way for 25 years and so we’re going to keep doing it this way. There’s a lot of momentum in a particular direction and not, because they’ve invested literally billions of dollars, are they really in a position to let’s be creative and just throw something against the wall and see if it sticks.
That’s kind of a rough place to do that though. I think they would be better served and we as fans certainly would be better served if they just tried some different things, make it more interesting because it’s different. Even if it fails, I think it would be like, okay, at least we got to see something like the heart rate monitors. What was that for, archery? That was fantastic.
Meredith: Yeah, that was fascinating. Oh yeah. And actually Japan is known for doing a lot of different things with the way that they broadcast sports in their country that are just very different from the way that it’s broadcast in other countries, in terms of like the graphics that they use.
I wish we could have seen the Japanese broadcast of the Olympics. I think that would have been really interesting. Maybe we have some friends in the Facebook group who can tell us about that.
[01:20:00] Jill: Yeah. You know, because I saw, I think it was a Japanese broadcast or a Japanese video. I was watching some figure skating and somebody had done like a tracing over the ice of where, just a line, of where the skater went and where the jumps were. And it was fascinating to look at. We just, we don’t get to see that in the United States and that’s,
Meredith: and sometimes they’ll show you speed, as well as the ice coverage. Sometimes they’ll show you like the height. They’ll do a replay on a jump. They’ll tell you the height and the trajectory of the jump. So you can see how high they went and how far, and that’s not really part of the judging system right now, but you have to wonder if it’s coming.
Jill: Right. right. Yeah.
Meredith: But it’s interesting to the fans.
Alison: Okay, so Meredith I know you’re a big figure skating fan as am I, but you, you are more serious in your pre-gaming because on the Olympic season, I try not to watch a lot of the competitions leading up to the Olympics because I want to be, not surprised, but I want to keep it fresh. So what is the one program so far this season that has, that you can’t wait to see on Olympic ice?
Meredith: Oh, that’s hard.
Alison: The correct answer is Papadakis and Cizeron. No, I’m kidding.
Meredith: I love Papadakis and Cizeron. I can’t wait to see them every time they come, you know, and I’m very, very interested to see, you know, because they canceled the Grand Prix final. There are a lot of skaters we have not seen go head-to-head yet, and we don’t know how they’re going to be ranked against each other by the judging panel. So that’s going to be really interesting in ice dance is one of those that I think that the grand prix final would have been incredibly telling for, just to see how they’re scoring and the Russians are coming up for the French.
Alison: Yes, there are.
Meredith: They are coming. And it’s going to be very interesting. There’s no doubt in my mind, just having watched all of the challenger series and the Grand Prix stops. There’s no doubt in my mind that Papadakis/Cizeron have the best skating skills and I don’t think they have their, like their best free skate this year. It’s really interesting to me.
I think that they’ve had free skates in the past that were more exciting for me to watch personally, but their skating skills are just so exquisite and amazing, but I don’t know. And it’s going to be a really interesting and exciting to watch. I almost can’t tell you what program I’m most excited to see yet, because we haven’t had national championships in a lot of the countries yet.
So like Japan and Russia, in Russia, they’re happening like this week, so we’ll find out who is on their Olympic team and then we’ll know, and in the US the national championship doesn’t happen until January, but I adore Jason Brown’s short program, and I love his free. We just found out that Mikhail Kolyada going back to his White Crow program. I adored that one last year, that honestly, that one might for me be if he, if he executes it well, that might be like the men’s free skate for me this year. So we’ll see, and we just haven’t, you know, there are Japanese male figure skaters who we literally haven’t seen compete yet in competitions, but they weren’t broadcast.
Jill: Are you sorry that there is not more krumping in the ice dancing this year?
Meredith: I’m sorry, this rhythm dance choice is the worst. What is with the ISU? Like how did they choose always the worst pattern for the Olympic year? I don’t understand.
You know what? Watch Smart and Diaz. They’ve got a really good, there are some really good rhythm dances out there this year. It’s just not the, maybe not all of them are from people we were expecting to see like the breakout for the dance. So watch Smart and Diaz. They are really, really good. They’re from Spain.
We were at, people are speculating. The problem is there are two really, really good dance couples from Spain and they only have one spot for the Olympics. So we have to see who gets selected to go, but it’s starting to look like Smart and Diaz.
Jill: All right. Meredith well thank you so much for calling and good to talk to you to talk with you and we will be doing this again.
[01:25:00] Meredith: Okay. And yeah, let me know if you come up with a really great winter sport for the Paralympics, or if you can find out from them, what they think is gaining momentum and what they’re working on, and then we can all start tuning in and watching and kind of give them our momentum too.
Alison: Excellent thought.
Jill: Excellent. Well, thank you so much. Happy new year.
Alison: Happy new year Meredith. Bye bye.
Meredith: Happy new year to you too. Bye.
Jill: Yeah, that was great. That was good. Well, let’s wrap up the show. There has been so much fun. Thank you all for calling in. I think we’re going to do another one of these, like right after the games, not necessarily the Olympics, but we’ll wait until after the Beijing is all over and we are back home and back on east coast time and we know a set time, and I know that my phone will work with the connection, with the equipment.
Alison: So many things we’re learning, so many things.
Jill: This was great. I’m, it’s so exciting to be able to talk with you and hear your thoughts on the Olympics. So on that note that we’ll do it for this year. Thank you so much for listening all year long and participating in all our different formats and, with us on the podcast for listening, for telling your friends for being a part of our social media sites, it’s been so much fun to hang out with you. And actually like we got to see in the Olympics and the Paralympics this year, that was, that was fantastic.
Alison: That was the celebration and we’re going to do it all over again in 2022.
Jill: Exactly. So get excited. All right, well that will wrap it up. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.