It’s Day 15 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and as the Games winds down, news about the Kamila Valieva situation keeps brewing, thanks to TBach’s appearance at the IOC daily press briefing. That didn’t tamp down the action on the field of play though, as more medals are on the line for TKFLASTAN today.

Sports on today’s competition schedule:

  • Biathlon – Women’s and men’s mass start
  • Bobsleigh – Two-Woman heats
  • Curling – Men’s bronze medal match; women’s semifinals
  • Figure Skating – Pairs short program
  • Freestyle Skiing – Women’s ski halfpipe; men’s ski cross
  • Ice Hockey – Men’s semifinals
  • Speed Skating – Long Track – Men’s 1000m

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Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


TRANSCRIPT

Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, please know that it is machine-generated and likely contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.

Beijing 2022: Olympics – Day 15

[00:00:00] Jill: I am your host Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, ni hao. How are you?

[00:00:15] Alison: I don’t know what day it is. Apparently.

[00:00:21] Jill: Well, we’re near the end. How about that? I don’t know what day this either. I have a “you are here” little post-it note in my daily calendar and I have to move it every day to let me know what day it is.

[00:00:31] Alison: Oh, I haven’t done my health, my daily health monitoring. So I got to do that too.

[00:00:36] Jill: Oh, you better do that too. Oh man. Okay. So I have a beef right off the bat. I came into the Main Media Center and I’m in the press room. My favorite desk is open. The vacuum is going to start any second. And the vacuum commences and last night it was the Ukrainians that stopped it. And tonight it’s the Italians who stopped it. And the guy looks at me and goes, I can’t work with this.

And I said, it’s the magical hour of vacuuming.

[00:01:06] Alison: I will translate that for you. I don’t know any of those words yet in Italian, but I will, I will get them for you.

[00:01:13] Jill: Yeah. Get on Duolingo to put that in the lesson, man. But there is some vacuuming further away. I don’t think it’s going to show up here. It’s definitely not going to be the vacuuming that goes by. They’ll probably be sweeping again. Thanks to the Italians. You might hear some Italian in the background, they get a little loud, but that made me very sad and made me very angry because now we depend on the magical vacuuming to have a good show.

[00:01:40] Alison: It’s true. We’ve posted pictures of the magical vacuumers. People now want a vacuum pin. I can’t wait to meet these vacuumers. I just feel like, I should bring them a gift.

[00:01:56] Jill: You know, I thought when you kind of came over, we’d just be like, oh, well, we’ll tape in the hotel room because we are not dependent on Internet access to tape. And now I think we just have to tape here in the media center so that we can just have vacuum.

[00:02:09] Alison: Visit with the vacuumers and the sweepers until the Ukrainians, and then Italians do that no, these people are friends.You just calm down.

[00:02:21] Jill: I know. I don’t think they know that. I don’t think these people know that they’re our friends. I think they have no idea how much we care about the vacuuming that goes on in the media center.

But anyway we have a little followup file today. We have from a Book Club Claire wanted to mention, we keep talking about Canadian drum. We are not talking about the chef de mission behind the drum. So it was easy last time for Tokyo because it was Marnie McBean, who was a TKFLASTANI. This time it is Catriona Le May Doan, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in speed skating. And she was also one of the cauldron lighters for Vancouver. And remember how in Vancouver, they had the, that contraption. It had multiple arms and they all started on the floor and they got lit and then they were supposed to rise up into a formation and hers would not move.

[00:03:18] Alison: Yeah. They had a malfunction of the cauldron lighting arm, but that cauldron, unlike our cauldronette was really beautiful, but Catriona lost out on, on lighting the cauldron. And so now they’ve given her a drum a consolation prize.

[00:03:33] Jill: Well, they, they let her, they, remember at the closing ceremony, they brought her out to light it again.

That was just, it was a very, very good moment. Showed a lot of good humor. She appreciated that.

[00:03:44] Alison: Very Canadian.

[00:03:45] Jill: We also have some followup file on the Valieva situation at well, no, I was looking at why we did not start while the vacuuming had commenced was I was busy trying to read the China Daily today and trying to translate it.

So we got the China Daily American version. The cover is Shcherberkova and there’s a little mention in like the day’s wrap-up of who won. Just the podium. And what happened that no mention of Valieva. In the Chinese version, there is something about the drug storm that happened this week. And I didn’t get to it yet. I’ll, I’ll keep working on it and try to see if there’s anything else interesting. But they have mentioned the drug situation because she is one of their three, I think they call them the Matryoshkas over here. And you had to know what happened to the third Matryoshkas, because you, you would hear about the other two.So there is some mention of what’s what’s happened here. I don’t know how extensive it is, but it’s very subtle. I would say.

[00:04:53] Alison: We also need to talk about IOC president Thomas Bach, who we affectionately call T Bach, had a press conference or came to the daily press conference today.

[00:05:04] Jill: Yes. Today was the day that T Bach was coming to the daily press conference.

And he started off with the Valieva thing. It was really interesting. He was not at the event. He watched it on TV, which I think was a better thing, because he got to see, remind me of the coach’s name again. I can’t say it yet.

Alison: Eteri Tutberidze

Jill: Yes. Thank you. Her reaction to Valieva’s performance and he felt so bad for Valieva, that she’s 15.She’s had a horrible snap in her performance. You know, just devastated and to come off the ice and to see her coach treat her like that he was not happy.

[00:05:53] Alison: So the fact that the IOC president did not attend the women’s free skate was in and, in itself news. That is an event. The IOC president attends pretty religiously.

Jill:  It’s funny that you say that because one of the reporters asked about. And he kind of brushed it off saying, I don’t know if I went in Pyeongchang or Sochi either. So I don’t know. I don’t necessarily attend all the events.

Alison: It was purposeful. And the people that it mattered to noticed, and T Bach being as diplomatic as he is, he wasn’t going to make a scene about it, but people noticed and the people that mattered, noticed, and T Bach, we’ve been watching him for years. He is extremely fluent in many languages. He is very, well-spoken, very intelligent, does not lose his temper in press conferences. This press conference struck me because all of a sudden, as he started talking about Valieva’s coach and how she’s been treated, his accent got very heavy. He started stumbling for words in English. And it was, other than the time when he got so angry at the weightlifting federation, probably one of the only times I really saw him get emotional in a press conference and angry. And I was so happy to see it because that gave me hope that as I was saying earlier in the games, this may be the moment where the IOC gets a spine because personally T Bach was offended by Tutberdize’s behavior. And I don’t know if T Bach has children, but at that moment, you know exactly what kind of dad he would be. And to him, it was, you are responsible for this 15 year old child. She is going through as horrific a situation as can happen to an athlete. And she comes off the ice and you berate her. You don’t embrace her. You don’t protect her. You don’t shield her. He was just disgusted with her whole entourage. And I love that that came through in the press conference. And I hope that means we’re going to see some real change. He admitted there’s been discussion about minimum age and he says, you know, we can’t tell the federations what to do, but this is I think, is the breaking point for the IOC to say, you know what? We are going to put some rules in because you guys can’t seem to do your job.

[00:08:41] Jill: Yeah, it was really interesting to hear him so obviously show that they wanted to fix something and we don’t see the IOC doing it. Usually. It’s oh, this is not our problem. This is a Federation problem? Oh, this is not our thing. It’s a government problem. This is not our thing. It’s a WADA problem. They’ve got to deal with it. This is one time where I’ve seen him wish they were in a position that they could make the decisions to fix it. And he knows that they can’t because yes, the Federations govern the age limits. So now they have to work with all the federations. Would, you know, a lot of sports. Now there’s a lot of, a lot of federations to work with. Even though there’s an association of federations that they can probably go through. There’s a lot of stuff to do there. They can’t deal with the doping situation that they are so angry about in allowing Valieva to participate in this competition because their hands are tied with CAS. The Court of Arbitration for Sport made the ruling. They have to abide by that ruling as much as they don’t want to. Because as he said, this is the law. We have to follow the law or else there’s no sport, really. There’s no Federation, there’s no sport. There’s nothing. So we don’t like the decision, but we have to live with it.

And then also with the doping situation, you know, they can’t do a whole lot to govern it because that’s not their jurisdiction, but he said we’d like to see governments do more, which made me wonder if they like what the US has done with the Rodchenov Act which goes after people who have adversely affected American results in sports competitions, or maybe specifically the Olympics, but it’s that.

[00:10:38] Alison: The Rodchenkov Act covers more than just the Olympics. It’s any international competition. Yeah.

[00:10:43] Jill: Good.

[00:10:44] Alison: Which is funny because the IOC and the United States don’t often get along very well.

[00:10:51] Jill: I know!

[00:10:53] Alison: But I am hopeful that the IOC is recognizing it gets the blame for everything. It gets the blame for things the organizing committee does, it gets the blame for CAS. It gets the blame for WADA. It gets the blame for federations. So just for their own reputation and the Olympic movement, you’ve got to start having a spine and saying, I don’t care what the federation’s rule is. This is the Olympics. We are the International Olympic Committee. And we are saying, no. I hope.

[00:11:29] Jill: I do too. It’s hard. When you have sports, there’s multiple ones where age limit becomes the factor and you’re talking about women’s figure skating. Women’s skateboarding or skateboarding in general. I think both sides are young. There’s a lot of freestyle skiing that has very young people in it. There is gymnastics. Women’s gymnastics is notorious. But it’s understanding like, how do we change the rules? Because the spotlight, we, we love to highlight, oh, look how young they are, they’re prodigies and, and look what they can do. And it’s amazing. And for figure skating in particular, it’s the fact that these girls are so young that they could jump as much as they can. And they’re pushing the limits of jumping, but nobody is, well, not enough people are saying this is not good for their bodies and holding them back. Meanwhile, there are, you know, 13 year olds who are scoring points that would podium at world championships, and they’re not allowed to go to world championships and they think that’s unfair because look at what I can do.

[00:12:41] Alison: I’m hoping that when the ISU, the International Skating Union comes out with its new code of points after this world championships this year, they’re addressing a lot of these issues because the reason these Russian jumping machines have been able to achieve what they have is because of the way the point system is set up, the quad earns you so many more points than a triple and so many more points than a very difficult spin. And so many more points than the beauty and artistry of your skating, that you can have a program like Trusova, which was miserable to watch. All she did was jump and she still is a silver medalist and that’s always been a problem. I mean, I recognize that there’s always been the push and pull and figure skating between technical and artistic skating. But the code of points right now is so out of whack. That, that may go a long way to fixing the problem. As in gymnastics, things with the code of points where girls couldn’t be 75 pounds anymore and get the points. They had to be bigger and stronger. So, hence were usually a little bit older. So if we change the code of points, will you naturally just get a more mature skater because those points will be rewarded.

[00:14:06] Jill: It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Maybe I can ask around a little bit about this because having been on the inside of a federation, I would imagine, I don’t know when the code of points would get released for figure skating, because they’ve probably been working on it for the better part of a year or two, at least.

So is this something that the code of points comes out in after the season is over in the late spring, early summer? And because people have to, to get their programs ready for next year and they have to build them towards the new code. But if you need to put in an age limit or something that brings the ages up, how quickly can you do that in this next code of points? Because federations move slowly. I can tell you that too. Stuff takes awhile.

[00:15:02] Alison: But TBach is mad.

[00:15:05] Jill: He’s mad. Well, and we’ve seen with modern pentathlon when you need to you can move in a hurry.

Okay, let’s move on to what officiating your volunteer job you would want to do.

[00:15:18] Alison: So Bing Dwen Dwen has been making his appearances all around Beijing, all at the different venues, and he has these great handlers with him and we’ve been seeing lots of videos. So not only do I want to be a Bing Dwen Dwen handler, very specifically, a couple of the handlers did dance battles with Bing Dwen Dwen.

Most importantly, a lot, because there’s been so much snow and, and it’s been so bitterly cold and there’s been some ice patches Bing Dwen Dwen has taken some tumbles of late. So we need handlers who can keep Bing Dwen Dwen upright.

[00:15:57] Jill: I’m cutting in here because the magical broom and dustpan is out. Thanks Italians.

But I understand. Bing Dwen Dwen visited the Main Media Center today. Oh, it was very exciting. He came down to the press workroom.

[00:16:11] Alison: There was a restock I heard of 2000 Bing Dwen Dwen dolls at the pop-up shop, the main pop-up shop.

[00:16:21] Jill: Not surprised. The line here was so long. I probably shouldn’t have videoed it because I couldn’t really take an accurate picture. It’s just really intense. And there were, I saw Bing Dwen Dwen on the shelves. Like they were there, but I, I figured that these are people who are leaving and they will reach I’m hopeful that they will be restocking the shelf again, and that it will include Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon. I should probably ask, because Shuey Rhon Rhon is not there right now, but what if people come in and they’re like, we want Bing Dwen Dwen too.

I’m going to start asking. Now I’m worried. Because I don’t have time to stand in line like that, or, and it’s just been impossible for me to get here, like an hour before the store opens to stand in line too. But we shall see.

For me, I really was drawning straws here. I was really worried. I was not going to have a job. And then I stayed in the figure skating venue very long after the competition was over tonight. And I saw the rehearsal for the Panda ceremony. So they flat out rehearse it, full rehearsal with volunteers who come out and they wave and they get on the podium and they pretend to hand them, they give them, there are blue ribbons in they’re tiny, I don’t know what they are, but they actually had medals because they’ve practiced putting them on. And then they just, they had imaginary flowers that they gave out, the whole thing. They, then they came off the podium, they walked down in front of the photographers that would have been there and then they walk out. It’s fantastic.

[00:18:04] Alison: So you’re going to be a gold medal stand in performer.

[00:18:09] Jill: Exactly. Exactly. I have a video. It will go on the Facebook group because what happened was I saw the soldiers first with the flags and I thought, Ooh, what is this? And they came in and they had three Chinese flags. And again, it was no flag pole, so no flag flick, but they practice that thing like three or four times. I’m not kidding you. And they did the flags on and I was like, what’s this? And then I heard other, and I looked to the other side, I’m like, wait, they’ve got the rugs out and the podium out, what’s going on. And then they started doing the whole little ceremony and it’s really, it’s kind of funny how they do it.

[00:18:48] Alison: When they were practicing with the flags, what flags did they use?

[00:18:54] Jill: Three China.

[00:18:57] Alison: There aren’t even three Chinese teams in the competition.

[00:19:01] Jill: I know. Oh, it was fantastic. That was such a, it was, it was a delightful way to end the evening. Oh, how are things going with our fantasy league?

[00:19:14] Alison: Well, we seem to be stabling out on the podium. We, I think this is where we’re going to end up. RAF Q is at 320. FF Chelsea IC is 316. Monkeycat is 315. Schollestan is close. He’s at 312. I had two bad days in a row, so I’ve slipped to 26th. Jill you’re at 55th.

[00:19:39] Jill: Okay. I haven’t done it in days. I’m sorry. I keep forgetting. You want, I keep running for the bus.

[00:19:45] Alison: You have DNF-ed on this course.

[00:19:48] Jill: I, yeah, I, I pretty much have DNF-ed. And next time I will get them next time.

Sadly, we have another positive test. This is from Lidiia Hunko from Ukraine. She is a bobsledder. Let’s see, she’s tested positive for a steroid and that’s means she’s been suspended from competition. She can’t participate in the games in any way. And that is sadly unfortunate.

[00:20:19] Alison: And two women bobsled started today. So at least they caught it right when they started.

[00:20:25] Jill: Well, she’s a monobobber.

[00:20:26] Alison: Oh.

[00:20:28] Jill: So that’s probably where they, they got it. So her event is actually over already.

[00:20:34] Alison: Doesn’t affect the podium or anything. So that’s good.

[00:20:36] Jill: No, she actually placed last. So this is kind of like add insult to injury here. So that’s not a great thing. Again, we don’t like hearing the doping tests, the doping positives, and it’s just, it’s not a good thing.

But we had some really good action today. So let’s get to it. We will start off with biathlon. It was the mass start for both the women and the men, because the women’s was rescheduled to today because of bad weather.

It was really cold out in the mountains yesterday. Today still cold because everybody was wearing their mole skin. But my goodness, this woman’s race was something. I didn’t get to see it. I got to watch it. I got to track it on my computer though. And nobody shot clean. Each of the podium winners missed four targets throughout the events.

That’s huge. Yeah. So I think the wind must have been a factor. The wind looked to be a factor in the men’s race too, because I did get to see some of that. But for the women, gold went to Justine Braisaz-Bouchet from France. Silver went to Tiril Eckhoff from Norway and bronze went to Marte Olsbu Roeiseland from Norway. For the men…

[00:21:56] Alison: Wait before you go to the men. So again, Roeiseland killing it. She’s unbelievable, but I’m also, I’m thrilled to see Tiril Eckhoff because she really struggled with her shooting in the relay and to see her bounce back a couple of days later. That’s, that’s really nice. The other thing I wanted to mention, we have buried the lead about biathlon, about the selling point on biathlon.

You love biathlon. I have grown to love biathlon. Biathletes are gorgeous. The women are stunning. The men are all buff and handsome. How is this? We need biathletes on calendars. We need them on posters. This sport needs to be the biggest thing in the world because one, it’s a great sport too. Two, it’s super fun to watch. And that doesn’t seem to be enough to get it traction in the United States. Let’s just sell it as how gorgeous these people are.

[00:23:04] Jill: Well, you know, it’s, it’s a shame that we don’t have fans here. There are some fans in the stands, but the fans, they have been given flags and they have to wave their flags and clap. That’s, really what makes biathlon super exciting is the cheering for every shot. And you know when they’ve got their favorite person in, because the cries go up all the time. It’s fantastic. And we just, we’re really missing that atmosphere here in China. We’ve missed it last year on the world cup circuit, missed it in several spots on the world cup circuit this year. So it’s, it’s really been strange to not have the traditional biathlon fun crowd. Side note on Tiril Eckhoff, she is a knitter and has her own knitting patterns that she sells.

[00:23:51] Alison: Well, she needs to not cover that gorgeous blonde hair of hers. She is stunning. I guess she’s been covered. So today I actually saw her face. You know, they’ve been wearing a lot of the face coverings and I saw her and I’m thinking, have I not seen this woman’s face? Like she is strikingly gorgeous.

[00:24:10] Jill: The vacuum’s getting closer,

[00:24:14] Alison: The Italians will say non e’ buona.

[00:24:19] Jill: They can suck it up.

[00:24:22] Alison: Well, it is a vacuum.

[00:24:29] Jill: Okay, let’s move over to the men’s mass start race. Gold went to Johannes Thingnes Boe from Norway. Silver went to Martin Pinsiluoma from Sweden and, and bronze went to Vlejtla Sjaastad Christiansen from Norway. And I got to see like the last half of the race. So JT was leading. The surprise was Scott Gow from Canada, who was in fourth after the third shooting.

And I was so excited to see Canada up there. And Scott Gow has had a pretty good season. And then and, and Quentin Fillon Maillet was second going into the fourth shooting and then the wind was going around. People were melting down right and left. It was just so sad. And you didn’t know if it was the wind, you didn’t know if they were amped. QFM looked a little bit of both, and that kind of just opened the door for Pinsiluoma and Christensen to slide right into the other two medal positions. And then the last lap was just, the distances were so great between the top three and the fourth and fifth that it was predetermined at that point, but an exciting biathlon competition, just like Pyeongchang, which was really cold. I’m not sure it’s the best biathlon competition.

[00:25:52] Alison: We’ll see what effect this has on future biathlons and the parameters that they put on for wind, temperature, time, which were all a factor.

[00:26:07] Jill: Very much so.

Okay. Moving over to bobsled, we had the first two heats for the two woman event. Standings. Whoa. I did not get to see any of this, but in the top is Nolte and Levi from Germany. Then second is Jamanka and Burkhart from Germany. Third is Elana Myers-Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman from the USA. Fourth is Canada’s  DeBruin and Bujnowski. And fifth is Kaillie Humphreys with Keisha Love and following up the leaderboard is Kalicki and Buckwitz from Germany.

I am very surprised because this is supposed to be Elana Meyers-Taylor and Kaillie Humphreys all the way. They’ve been leading the world cup circuit for a while. So what’s going, did you see any of this?

[00:26:58] Alison: Kaillie Humphreys had a lot of trouble in run number two. Yeah, the top three are all really bunched together. I don’t have the times in front of here, but even though Elana Meyers-Taylor is in  third, it’s kind of a toss up as to who’s going to pan out in runs three and four. DeBruin had trouble, but Humphreys had a lot of trouble in that second run. She’s not so far back that in the next two she can’t move up, but still. But here we go. Three Germans in the top six or seven.

[00:27:32] Jill: Wow. This’ll be interesting to see what runs three and four are like.

Over in curling, we had the men’s bronze medal game, which I did go to. This was a heartbreaker. This was really tough. It was Canada versus USA. Canada won eight to five in nine ends, and it just, there were a couple of shots that just didn’t go the right way or an end that didn’t play out the way they needed it to. And Canada’s lead then just kept building because they were ahead. Then, then the US caught up and the US got ahead. And then Canada just kind of leapfrogged over that. So it’s nice for Canada, tough for Team Shuster and our TKFLASTANI John Shuster.

[00:28:18] Alison: The Americans seemed frustrated and I’m wondering if that seemed that way in the stadium. Very early on, it just seemed like they, they weren’t in the flow of the match.

[00:28:31] Jill: You could kind of tell they were getting frustrated later on, as you, as I felt that sinking feeling that this is not going to end well, I think they were feeling it also.

[00:28:43] Alison: Because early on Matt Hamilton and John Shuster seemed very snappy with each other. And I don’t know if it was just the pressure. More so than they had been earlier in the competition. And it could be completely me reading into it, but I, I sensed a change in, in the way they, specifically those two, were communicating with each other because I don’t, I never noticed before any kind of snappiness is the only way I can put it. And I think it was pressure and frustration. And I mean, this is the bronze medal match. This is not a joke. And it just feels like the stress got to them a little bit.

[00:29:24] Jill: Right. And also with bronze medal, it’s not like the gold medal game because you win a medal either way. Here it’s you win something or you don’t. And I think it’s frustrating to not have a repeat or even get on the podium again.

[00:29:42] Alison: But I am going to say is that Canadian team was the team from 2006, they haven’t been back. And now are back.

[00:29:51] Jill: Good for them on that. So that’s a nice feel-good story for the way this ended for at least for the USA. So tough, tough game, but you know, they still pulled it. They still pulled out a pretty good tournament.

[00:30:06] Alison: You know what is a feel-good story?

[00:30:10] Jill: No, I don’t.

[00:30:11] Alison: The Japanese women’s curling team.

[00:30:14] Jill: Oh yeah.

[00:30:15] Alison: What a match this was. What beautiful, beautiful, beautiful curling. And it was so, in the women’s semifinals, Japan beat Switzerland, eight to six.

Switzerland was a heavy, heavy favorite, and the Japanese ladies just old it out and what joy they have on the ice and playing with each other. And I love when the announcers get excited. Because it just comes through. They definitely went a little Rowdy Gaines during this match because there were beautiful takeouts. There was some real threading the needle with the rocks. So if you have not watched the Japanese-Switzerland game and you’ve got some time, go back, because that is some really great curling and just really great team sport.

[00:31:05] Jill: Interesting. Okay. So that makes it difficult because I believe that the gold medal game, it starts at like nine in the morning. It’s traditionally very hard for me to get there that early, but I might try.

And the other semi-final, Great Britain beat Sweden, 12 to 11. This must’ve been some game.

[00:31:22] Alison: This was also, came down to the last rock and the Brits pulled it out. It was really, really a great game. And what’s funny is just like the Japanese have a Canadian coach. The Swedes have a Canadian coach too.

[00:31:40] Jill: Canada gets around. I mean, they are deep. So we have the bronze medal game, which will be Sweden versus Switzerland on Saturday after the men’s gold medal game and Japan and Great Britain will play for the gold on Sunday as one of the last events of the Olympics.

Moving over to figure skating. We had the beginning of the pairs competition. Tonight was the short program. The leaderboard right now is in first, Sui and Han from China and they got their highest short program score ever, which is great, followed by Tarasova and Morozov from ROC and they received a perfect score on their triple twist.

[00:32:22] Alison: I didn’t know, you could get a perfect score. They did.

[00:32:26] Jill: And third place we have Mishina and Galliamov from ROC and fourth is Boikova and Kozlovskii from ROC. Fifth is Peng and Jin from China and boy, the crowd was so excited when they get on the ice.

[00:32:41] Alison: They are a beautiful pair and I was a little disappointed in their scores. I would’ve put them ahead of the third Russian team. I think they were hampered a little bit by reputation in the sense of they weren’t expected. They’re good, but they’re not supposed to be better than the Russians. So I think that that played into it a little bit. But to me, the huge surprise was how well the American pairs did. So Knierim and Frazier are in sixth and Cain-Gribble and LeDuc are in seventh.

[00:33:16] Jill: Oh, that’s really good for where, we don’t have strong pairs right now.

[00:33:20] Alison: And they just both did really nice clean programs. Looked good, looked sharp, got the scores that they deserved, which was good, which is always a surprise. The pairs did not bring the crazy, the early pairs were ferry.

[00:33:36] Jill: I missed group one.

[00:33:37] Alison: Yeah, well, it’s just as well. It was not good on the early gates. It really didn’t get good until definitely the final group and the, the Americans and the Chinese and the, the second to last. Until you got to say these seven pairs, you could have skipped the whole rest of the competition.

[00:34:02] Jill: Knierim and Frazier were in the first group.

[00:34:05] Alison: Oh, were they? Okay. Because then I, I skipped. That was my fault because I was watching the American television for them and then skipped.

[00:34:14] Jill: So, so I will say in my skater enjoyment factor, there was a lot of underwhelming. There are some people that they really seem to like the program. There were some that didn’t.  Ghilardi and Ambrosini from Italy who did a very unfortunate Mambo Italiano. And it was just a fluke fall on not much of a move, just kind of a skating fall. And she just tanked her enjoyment and it just, yeah, looked tough. That one looked really tough for them to stomach through, but overall, like, yeah, you’ve got all the Russians who are technically very wonderful and they’ve got their ballet training and blah, but they were all still kind of blah. And you know, doing the very classical music. I don’t need to hear Swan Lake again.

[00:35:05] Alison: Oh God. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

[00:35:08] Jill: Honestly, if you ban the Russians for doping, you should just ban their music as well. For a while, just a while, just put a limit on it. We don’t need Swan Lake. Again, we don’t need a lot of these. There’s other music out there that you can use for awhile. And I know some of it’s lovely. I do like the Rachmaninoff piano stuff, but we got to pause that for just a little, little bit. Let’s get a little more creative with stuff.

But Sui and Han wowed me. Holy cow. He was so dynamic to watch. Most of the men in the pairs, most of the men tonight were not very dynamic to watch. He just was phenomenal in his artistic abilities and his technical abilities and they just, oh, so well matched. That was the performance of the night.

[00:35:55] Alison: So, what I love the most about Sui and Han is that they are, as you were saying, very physically matched. They are not of the giant guy, tiny little woman pair. They are very close in height. He’s quite short. And I, that’s a style of pair skating. That is a throwback. I mean, that’s what we used to see, Tai Babilonia – Randy Gardner in 1980 kind of thing, where the pairs really matched each other in size. And I think it brings the man to the forefront, which is what you’re talking about. That it’s not just here is this little doll that I’m going to throw around. It’s we are both equal partners on the ice. Look at us both equally, and they both, they did, I guess it would a tango. I’m not quite sure if that’s the right rhythm, but it was the, that, that kind of Latin rhythm and the fierceness that they both brought to that performance was so different, like you said, from everybody else. They’re just an absolute joy to watch.

[00:37:07] Jill: Yes. So they’re firmly on top of the leaderboard and we’ll see how they do on their long program. I’m looking forward to that very much. One other pair that you noted, and I noted this as well because they also, they were one of the first ones to show real true enjoyment of their music and project from within their performance. And that is the German pair of Hase and Seegert. They had missed the team event because he had tested positive for COVID and he had to go into isolation. He’s come out of isolation in time to skate in this event. So they are thrilled to be here, thrilled to be able to compete. And they just showed it in their performance tonight.

[00:37:51] Alison: And they haven’t been able to train this whole time that he’s been in isolation. So they, like you said, that’s a, that’s a program worth noting just for the joy on both of their faces to be out there and skating and not be trapped in isolation. I mean, being in isolation is difficult for any athlete, but for a pair athlete, that’s gotta be the worst because your whole life is spent training together. You’re never alone.

[00:38:20] Jill: Yeah. And how much marking can you do? I like this. It’s tough.

Alison: I guess you lift the chair over your head while you’re waiting. I don’t know.  Flip it around.

Jill: If it’s a folding chair, you can open it when they have to do something like spread their legs, close it again, might be kind of fun.

Okay, we’re going to take a quick break to remind you about our Red Envelope campaign. This is a campaign we’re having to raise money to help the show continue on through Paris 2024. The, there are a lot of expenses that come along with this show and not just getting here to Beijing and being here in Beijing, but which was kindly funded by our wonderful Kickstarter funders, but we’ll have ongoing cost throughout the year to keep the podcast going and going into two and a half year buildup to Paris 2024. We’d like to do some new things, but they’re going to cost a little bit of money to do, and we need your help in making that happen. So we are having a Red Envelope campaign to celebrate the Lunar New Year. And we’re asking of donations of at least $8, which is a lucky number here in China, symbolizing good fortune. And that money will go towards our operating expenses to get us through to Paris 2024. Go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate, and all of you who have supported us so far, we really appreciate it. And you know, if you are on the fence, if you enjoy the magical hour vacuuming, because this is what we get in our free press room. Please help us out and support. And you know, the, the vacuums come on. Here they are!

[00:40:06] Alison: Channel your inner Chinese grandma and send us a red envelope.

[00:40:11] Jill: I know. I just I want to cheer them. They won’t even know. I’m just happy to have them around.

Okay, let’s move over to freestyle skiing. We had the women’s free ski half-pipe final today. Gold went to Eileen Gu from China. This is her third medal of the games. She is the breakout star. Just had a phenomenal day today. Silver went to Cassie Sharpe from Canada and bronze went to Rachael Karker from Canada. I have not seen much.  Oh, oh. Because I have to tell you about the replays here in China. Because when I go home to the hotel, I put on the TV to see what I can see and they do replays quite like the US does. I watched an hour and 20 minutes biathlon competition in like 20 minutes. I had no idea what was going on. And I like the sport.

[00:41:07] Alison: But then you saw Eileen Gu 427 times.

[00:41:12] Jill: Yeah, pretty much, but I’m, I’m not surprised and very well, they’re very excited about her here.

Oh man. Now we’re watching China and Korea do curling again. So, yeah. But anyway big excitement here in China for Eileen Gu and it’s exciting. She’s done really well.

[00:41:31] Alison: And every time she opens her mouth,

Jill: What does she say now?

Alison: I like her less and less.

[00:41:38] Jill: Really? What’d she say now? Because I don’t see that. I just see her in commercials everywhere. And I go, good for you for getting some coin.

[00:41:45] Alison: Her English language, I mean, obviously I don’t understand any of her Chinese language interviews. The English language interviews and the interviews on American television, and she absolutely has the right to be egotistical and impressed with herself. Just wish you did a little bit of a better job disguising it. And her lack of awareness for the privilege that she has is breathtaking.

[00:42:14] Jill: Interesting. Well, we’ll see how she does in years to come. Don’t know. Well, she could have a charmed life. She could go through a downspout or downturn for a little while. It’ll be interesting to see how her career develops as an athlete.

We also had the men’s ski cross. Today gold went to Ryan Regez from Switzerland. Silver went to Alex Fiva from Switzerland and bronze went to Sergey Ridzik from ROC. This is one I have not gotten to see yet. And you know how much I love ski cross. So I’m hoping that shows up on a replay.

Moving over to ice hockey. It was the men’s semi-finals today. Finland beat Slovakia two to zero, and then ROC beat Sweden. This was a game man. They went into overtime. They had to go into a shootout. The shootout took nine shots. And ROC won three to two.

[00:43:17] Alison: And it was very physical. It was very personal. You were talking the other day about the Chinese game, where a few fights almost broke out. There was, there was blood on the ice really, and not necessarily because people were fighting. Just the physicality of the game. Really took over.

[00:43:39] Jill: How did they clean up the blood or did they, they probably didn’t show that. I’m sorry I was not there now. Because I would have been all over, how are they cleaning up the blood?

[00:43:47] Alison: I did not see that, but considering that they wiped the sticks with the spray and the wipe, I would assume it would, or maybe the, ice maintenance people came out and had like, in their buckets, a disinfectant.

[00:44:00] Jill: Yeah. I don’t know now. Now question that, whenever we talk ice again, the question. Do you want to talk about the coach?

[00:44:09] Alison: Yes I want to mention this and when we watched the movie Miracle, we joked about how the, the way they portrayed the Russian coach from 1980 or the Soviet coach from 1980 was not accurate to how he really looked in real life. He was a very handsome man, but in the movie he sort of looked like  James Bond KGB agent, and all the coaches on the ROC actually do look like James Bond KGB agents. They all kind of talk into their lapels and talk behind clipboards. So I was saying too, that they just get the memo and be like, oh, you’re, you’re going to think of us like this, we do.

[00:44:57] Jill: Okay. The gold medal game is going to be Finland versus ROC and the bronze medal game will be Slovakia versus Sweden. So bronze medal is Saturday and gold medal is Sunday.

And finally, today we had more long track speed skating. The men’s 1000 meters happened and gold went to Thomas Krol from Netherlands. Silver went to Laurent Dubreuil from Canada and bronze went to have Haavard Lorentzen from Norway.

[00:45:30] Alison: Two things I want to mention. Now we joke about Sven Kramer, which comes from how the announcers say his name. Well, since Sven Kramer has been such a disappointment, they have adopted Thomas Krol and they say it was such gusto every time. Of course he wins. So they got to say, Thomas Krol 500 times.

[00:45:52] Jill: I’m almost sorry I couldn’t go to this one because the in-house announcer, I believe is Dutch. He’s from somewhere in Europe because he really, well, he knows is his speed skating, which makes me think he’s Dutch, but he also has an accent and it’s delightful to hear him because he’s very good about talking about splits and, and very educational as well as announcing what’s happening. So, I would be curious to see how he says Thomas Krol’s name.

[00:46:21] Alison: I hope he does it with half the gusto of the TV announcers. And then a little note on a Dubreuil’s race. In his pair was the Dutch skater Kai Verbij from the Netherlands. If you’ve been watching speed skating, you know, that they swap sides, they go from the inside lane to the outside lane and vice versa. And when they do that swap, the person coming from the outer lane to the inner lane has priority. And in their pair, usually the inner lane, because it’s shorter, is significantly ahead so you don’t have an issue of colliding. In this case, they did. They didn’t collide, but only because Verbij pulled up.

[00:47:03] Jill: Oh and he had to otherwise he would have been disqualified.

[00:47:06] Alison: Exactly. And not only would he have been disqualified, but in his interview, he said I would have been disqualified, but more importantly, I would have ruined Dubreuil’s race. So the respect for other athletes, which we’ve seen lacking in some places. And we know the competitiveness of the Dutch speed skating team and kind of their need and pressure to win. And yet they still manage to act like Olympians.

[00:47:40] Jill: That’s really beautiful to hear. I will say this. The one silver, very small silver lining to Team Shuster not getting to the gold medal match is that I will be able to go to mass start and watch the end of the speed skating competition. So I’m very excited to see that.

[00:47:58] Alison: And hear the in-house announcer.

[00:48:01] Jill: Exactly. Okay. What is going on with TKFLASTAN?

[00:48:05] Alison: Okay. So we’ve talked about John Shuster. We’re not going to dwell on the sad. Let’s dwell on the very exciting. Four man starts tomorrow, which means Josh Williamson will be in the sled. He’s pushing for Hunter Church and will be with Christopher Horn and Charles Volker. They are start number 13.

[00:48:25] Jill: Go Josh and team. We are so excited for you all. Okay. We would like to thank today’s Kickstarter Location Scouts, Beth Storrs and Claire Nettleson. Thank you so much.

[00:48:38] Alison: And a little visit today with our mascot for the week, our beautiful puppy Millie. And so yesterday, when I was going through some of our files, I had my little puppy, who’s an old lady now curled up next to me. And I said, you know, Lucy, you and Millie could have a playdate. And of course Lucy wanted no part of this because she’s an old lady and she says, I can’t deal with those puppies, but you know, Millie would be all over that. Because she’s a puppy and she thinks everybody is fabulous.

[00:49:12] Jill: That she does. She just loves getting to know you. And that just makes you feel good on the inside.

So thank you very much, Millie, for being our mascot this week, and that’s going to do it for this episode tune in again, tomorrow. We are getting to the end of competition. Thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.

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