Jill has one of her best days up at Zhangjiakou, thanks to para snowboard cross in-house announcer Oscar, and it’s Alison vs. the Mountain in Yangqin. Who will win?

It’s only natural to want to visit all three of the venue clusters here at Beijing 2022. Jill went to Yanqing ahead of the Olympics to check out the Alpine and sliding venues. She never went back during competition because the amount of transportation involved in getting there never really coincided with the Olympic schedule.

For the Paralympics, Alison decided to see if the trek was easier. SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t, but thanks to a random taxi, she made it back to Beijing (otherwise, she might still be riding the gondolas). She saw the Super Combined competition, which had been moved up a day due to the weather – during the Olympics we dealt with cold and high winds; during the Paralympics, things are warming up a bit too much for Alpine skiing

Jill went out to the Zhangjiakou cluster to watch para snowboard cross. Bonus of snowboard cross during the Paralympics is that there are multiple classes, so Jill had triple the number of races of one of her favorite sports. Even better was the in-house announcing team, an American who was great about pointing out interesting details about the sport, and a Chinese announcer named Oscar who brought so much enthusiasm to his announcing, you couldn’t help but have fun the entire day.

Both Jill and Alison ended the day at the last session of wheelchair curling, which had one of the loudest crowds we’ve heard at the Games.

Today’s sport schedule includes:

  • Para Alpine Skiing – Super Combined
  • Para Cross-Country Skiing – Men’s 20K Classic and women’s 15K Classic
  • Para Snowboard – Cross finals
  • Wheelchair Curling – Round Robin Action

RED ENVELOPE CAMPAIGN! This show does cost money to produce, and while our listeners have been extremely generous in supporting us through the Kickstarter campaign that got us to Beijing and also through Patreon patronage, we’re coming up on 2 ½ years until another Olympics, so to celebrate the Lunar New Year, we’re asking for donations of at least $8 — in China the number 8 is a lucky number symbolizing good fortune —  to help us get through to Paris 2024. Go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate.

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


Please note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and may contain errors. Please use the audio file as the official record.

Beijing 2022: Paralympics – Day 4

[00:00:00] Jill: Ni Hao fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to day four coverage of the Beijing 2022 Paralympics on Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always, I see through the plexiglass. I am joined by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, ni hao. How are you? Did the mountain get you today?

[00:00:28] Alison: The mountain got me today. Oh, the mountain definitely got me today. So should I tell you this story just right here?

[00:00:36] Jill: Yeah, I do want to note for the record, it is the magical hour of vacuuming. So you may hear them in the background, but the ladies are coming.

[00:00:43] Alison: Okay so I decided to go to Yanqing today and see some Alpine skiing. One train, four buses, three gondolas, and four and a half hours later,

[00:00:54] Jill: Yes. Sounds about right.

[00:00:56] Alison: I got to the mountain.

[00:00:58] Jill: Hence you know why I never really tried to get to Alpine skiing.

[00:01:01] Alison: It was unbelievable. And I get there and all the races are postponed for about an hour.

[00:01:12] Jill: For what? Did they say why?

[00:01:14] Alison: They may have before I got there, but I didn’t ask at the press office. Okay. Watch the racing. The racing was lovely. We’ll get to that when we talk about Alpine, but now it’s time to go home. So I get in the first gondola. It’s fine.

Now I’m going to transfer gondolas and there’s nobody there to direct me. So I don’t remember which way I went. So I went in a gondola, wrong gondola. So when I get to that spot, there’s nobody there. I was like, okay, this is not right. So get back in the gondola. Now go down to the spot where I was getting another gondola. Wrong gondola. I ended up at the top of the mountain at the athletes’ start. This is definitely wrong. I am not supposed to be up here, so I just stay in and go back down.

[00:02:03] Jill: Did you look down the mountain?

[00:02:05] Alison: I didn’t get off the gondola because I knew I was in the wrong place and I didn’t want to get in trouble for being where the athletes were supposed to be. So get back down.

I don’t know where I am supposed to go. Finally, I see two volunteers and they’re carrying boxes and I run over them. And I’m practically in tears at this point because I was starting to get a little scared, like what is going on? And I don’t see anybody

Jill: Because the gondola is just one part of the getting home processes.

Alison: And I said, I’m trying to get down to the athlete’s village because I have to get back to Beijing and I don’t know where to go. And these two sweet, adorable teenagers said, oh, that’s where we’re going, come with us. So we get in the gondola and when we get in the gondola, we scared the poor, Team Sweden photographer, who was already in the gondola.

And he was like, oh, hello, come in. And I was so flustered. I proceeded to tell him my entire story of what happened with the first three gondolas and he was very sweet about it. And we were all chatting and they really made me feel better. And we ended up taking pictures together because that gondola ride down is like 20 minutes.

[00:03:15] Jill: It’s a long ride,

[00:03:16] Alison: 25 minutes. So we bonded by the time we got down. And then this lovely Swedish photographer said to me, do you know how to get to the bus? And I said, no. And he said, okay, I’ll walk you to the bus. So then I said goodbye to my two lovely teenage Chinese volunteers and the Swedish photographer took me to the bus. He put me on the bus and said, this is the bus that will get you to the transfer station. I said, yes. I remember that. So now we’re already about an hour plus into this Odyssey, I get to the transfer station. There is nobody. There was one man on the bus with me. He gets off, he gets on another bus and that bus takes off.

There is no volunteer. There is no buses. There is nothing.

[00:04:00] Jill: And you are at Banquan Service Center and for the listeners, this is a highway rest area that has been closed off, requisitioned and closed off for the purposes of Beijing 2022. You see the rest area building, you can go nowhere near it. I did notice when I took the cross bus, they have now like a lounge, which is in like a tent for I think people who miss buses because it gets cold.

[00:04:31] Alison: Right. Okay. There’s nobody there. And what we discovered on the way up was the shuttle schedule on the My Info is wrong. So, what I have is not matching what I’m seeing on the signs. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. I don’t.

And I see a volunteer all the way on the other side of this massive parking lot that is the Banquan Service Center. And I just run. “Excuse me, excuse me.” And she looks rather taken aback. She was standing by the taxis and I said, I’m trying to get to Beijing and I don’t know where to go. And then all of a sudden I realized there were these two people with her and the woman says, we go to Beijing, allons-y. And she says, we’re going to Beijing come.

So I was like, oh really? Okay, thanks. So I get in the taxi with them, They were riding back to Beijing, put my stuff in the trunk, climb in the backseat, three of us were in the backseat. We are totally over stuffing this car. There’s only supposed to be one person or two people, and we are three in the backseat and then the volunteer sits up front.

It turns out these two people are part of the forward team from Paris 2024 and I’d like crashed their visit to Yanqing. And this volunteer is not the roadside volunteer. She’s their special French speaking handler.

So I’m trying to push myself up against the door of the back seat to take up as little space as possible because there’s this beautiful French woman whose both thighs are like smaller than my calf and this very tall French man. And they’re just rapid fire talking with one another. And then the their volunteer jumps in, in French. I don’t know where we’re going. We’re going back to Beijing. No idea.

Because they started to ask me, where do you want to go? And I was like, if you’re going back to Beijing, it’s fine. You know, I didn’t want to cause any trouble. And so the girl turns around and she says, we’re going back to the hotel. Is that okay? Because the car can’t take you anywhere. Right. And I said, if there’s a shuttle, I’ll figure it out. She’s like, oh yes, there’s a shuttle. You can take the number three back to there. She was fantastic.

So we’re driving back to Beijing and all of a sudden I noticed the driver. He looks like Odd Job from the James Bond movie, Goldfinger. He’s even got the round black hat on and he is driving like we have seen the bus drivers drie. Except, this is the taxi and we are flying all of this backseat.

So I am hanging onto the door handle because I don’t want to slam into my lovely French woman, who was so kind enough to share her taxi with me. And she looks at me and, and I didn’t know French people actually do this, but she goes, “Mon Dieu!” I started to laugh, you know, nervous laughter. And she looks at me, she says, “Don’t worry. We will get back alive.” I’m thinking, sweetheart, this is like the fourth time today I thought I was going to be dead on this mountain.

We get back to the hotel. I thank them profusely. I give them pins. They give me a Paris 2024 pin. It was lovely. I gave the volunteer two pins because she didn’t know what to do when I had approached her and it all worked out.

So I had the bag of pins in my hand and I walk, I don’t know what shuttle I’m getting on. Figure it out when I get over to the stop. So I had the bag of pins in my hand, and one of the men standing at the bus stop says, “oh, you’re prepared.” And I said, “oh yeah, these are my show pins.” So we start chatting a little bit.

And the woman who’s with him says, “are you going to curly?” And I said, “yes, but I have to take the shuttle back to the MMC.” And she says, “no, come with us, we’re going to curling.” So from this hotel, there was a shuttle directly to curling. So then I get on the bus with her because she decides she’s going to take care of me.

And I’m, it turns out I’m with the forward team of World Para Hockey. There’s 20 of them going to curling, going to cheer for their respective teams. And they’ve just adopted me and brought me and said, oh, we’ll get you to curling. because then I told them how she said, oh, we’re from World Para Hockey. I was like, “I love you. I’m going to every game I possibly can. I’m having so much fun.” So then they all started talking to me. They all got pins. I got a World Para Hockey pin.

I get to curling in one piece, go in the wrong door, got yelled at by the volunteer because I was walking with them and I almost walked into the the Paralympic family door and he’s like, “no, no, no.” I said, “oh, I’m sorry, I’ll go to media door.” Then I couldn’t find the media door, find another volunteer. And I’m like, “please tell me, this is the media door.” He said, “yes.” I got in. And that’s how I got back from Yanqing.

[00:09:39] Jill: Did anyone help you find the bathrooms?

[00:09:42] Alison: I found the bathroom all by myself today at the Ice Cube.

[00:09:49] Jill: Yeah. Honestly, if that French woman had not said allons-y, you would probably still be in Yanqing, I bet.

[00:09:58] Alison: I know.

[00:10:00] Jill: That is amazing. Because you had said that you were having a bad day. You texted me and it was not good. And I was having a banner day up in the mountains. I was having so much fun and I felt really bad.

Then it was like, I’m not going. I’m not going back to Yanqing, I’m sorry. I, there was one visit done, and that was, I didn’t even go during the Olympics. I went ahead of time. It’s, in the Olympics was probably a little bit better, but I, I’m not going. I’m sorry.

[00:10:32] Alison: I did say to my lovely French woman, “please do a better job with transportation.” And she said, “we will try.”

[00:10:46] Jill: I’m not hopeful.

[00:10:48] Alison: I am just, I am so grateful to be back in Beijing. I’m so grateful that I didn’t die on the mountain. That somehow I found all these people who got me to where I needed to go. And I think I’m still in a little bit of shock.

[00:11:05] Jill: Wow. Wow. That is a story. Well, I’m glad you are back. I’m very glad you’re back. Did you happen to find an officiating or volunteer job you would like to do while you were at the mountain?

[00:11:16] Alison: I would like to be the very special handler for one of these forward teams. Of course, I don’t speak any languages, so I’d have to be for Brisbane or LA, but yes and they can save some poor, crazy American woman who was trapped in the mountain because so apparently there is a, a handler who stays with teams,

[00:11:46] Jill: dedicated translator type thing, and that’s pretty nice. That’s pretty sweet. I would like to be the snowboard transport up the mountain that takes athletes from down the mountain to the top of the mountain, because it’s a snowmobile driver. And the athlete gets on the back of the snowmobile, puts their snowboard in their lap basically and they chug right up. It looks like fun.

[00:12:06] Alison: And that surprises me because that’s could be a chatty job.

[00:12:11] Jill: I don’t think so.

Alison: If it were me, it would be a chatty job.

Jill:  Every job with you would be chatty.

All right. We have a little bit of the follow-up file. We were talking, we talk a lot about why is Italy wearing blue? Because this American thinks of Italy as red, white, and green, like the flag. But Listener Stefanie has reminded us that blue in Italian sports is famous. So it’s Savoy blue, which is the color of the House of Savoy, who, that used to reign in Italy. So it is the common color of national teams representing Italy. It’s the national soccer teams first color. And that team is also referred to as the blues.

[00:12:49] Alison: And it is similar to how Netherlands always wears orange because their royal house is the House of Orange. Yeah. So same idea. I never knew this.

[00:13:00] Jill: I never knew that either. It makes perfect sense. I will have to get used to it because that does make sense. Because I have seen their football teams wear blue before, but I’d never made the connection. So that’s good to know. Thank you, Stefanie.

We do have a feed beef from the other day. Thank you. This is from listener Patrick from Chicagoland. He doesn’t know if it’s the OBS feed or the NBC feed, but with Alpine skiing and snowboard cross, they show the beginnings of the run and then skip to later in the run. And he thinks for Alpine skiing, it’s about they’re missing like 20 seconds. I know what this is now. And for snowboard cross, it can be nearly 50 seconds. So you see part of the run and all of a sudden it’s 20 seconds into the run. But you only moved a second in your life. It’s like, they’ve sped it up.

[00:13:51] Alison: I think it’s, having been on the mountain and almost dying there, at least on the slalom course, there is a section that is curved and they probably just don’t have a camera there.

[00:14:05] Jill: I was wondering that as well, so that could be an explanation. We had some other ones in our Facebook group that you can check out, but if you are watching and hoping you see an entire run, but it feels like it’s been edited as it goes. It’s a little disconcerting.

All right. Action time. We started off today with para Alpine skiing. Wasn’t on the original schedule, moved up to today because of the weather tomorrow and also for Thursday, apparently. So they moved up a lot of stuff.

[00:14:36] Alison: It was very warm up on the mountain. When I was outside I didn’t even have my coat on. I was just in my sweater.

[00:14:41] Jill: Wow.

[00:14:42] Alison: Until the sun dipped behind the course, then I was like, Ooh, maybe I should get my coat, but I, no gloves. No hat. Coat open. Yeah. Nope. There was no wind up there today. At least not at the bottom of the course, however, yes, the mountain did win today.

[00:15:02] Jill: Well, I wonder if they’re moving up races one or two days, what does that do to your mental game? And how did you know if you thought, oh, I’m going to get a couple of training runs in and all of a sudden, you’re not getting those training runs in. And this again is a course that many athletes are unfamiliar with. So how does it work with you?

[00:15:26] Alison: The sit skiers seem to have the most trouble with the course and the most sliding out. And I think that could be because of the snow. The snow is not snow.  The snow is ground up ice. It’s not even like shaved ice, like an Icee. It’s like rock. It’s weird. It’s very rocky. You know, I was able to walk on it and, and when nobody was looking, I’m like picking it up and getting a feel for it. And it wasn’t icy like a nice ski course. You know, when you get up in the Alpines, they have those courses where they talk about the skis can cut into the ice. This is ice that I think if you go to cut into it, it just gravels.

[00:16:08] Jill: Oh interesting.

[00:16:09] Alison: And slides out. A lot of the sit skiers were sliding out.

[00:16:13] Jill: All right. We have super combined happened today. So the men’s super combined sitting gold went to Arthur Buchet from France. Silver went to Santeri Kiveri from Finland. Yay. And bronze went to Adam Hall from New Zealand.

[00:16:29] Alison: Go Silver Ferns. There were a lot of Silver Ferns in the house. There were flags, there was a Silver Fern flag. Nice. I yelled “Go Silver Ferns!” At the Silver Ferns and they sort of looked at me like I was nuts.

[00:16:40] Jill: They should have loved you.

[00:16:42] Alison: I know.

[00:16:42] Jill: Maybe they looked at you, like, why would you know that? We don’t know who you are.

[00:16:47] Alison: It’s probably true.

[00:16:47] Jill: Okay. All right. And the in the men’s sitting category gold went to Jesper Pedersen from Norway. Boy, this is a name that’s getting to be familiar. Silver went to Jeroen Kampschreur from Netherlands and bronze went to Niels de Langen from Netherlands.

In the vision impaired class, gold went to a Giacomo Bertegnolli from Italy with guide Andrea Ravelli. Silver went to Johannes Aigner from Austria, with guide Matteo Fleischmann, and bronze went to Neil Simpson from Great Britain with his brother, who is his guide, Andrew Simpson.

[00:17:22] Alison: You can hear the guides.

[00:17:24] Jill: Oh really?

[00:17:25] Alison: Yeah.

[00:17:26] Jill: Oh, what are they saying?

[00:17:28] Alison: I couldn’t hear. Well, the one I could hear the most of course, was the Italian and the Austrian. So I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I don’t know those words yet, but I could hear them and other guides as well.

Just, I think it’s, you know, guidance. Some of them, depending on how the skier is doing, get more emphatic, but as they’re coming through, you can hear them.

[00:17:51] Jill: Oh, that is very cool. In the women’s super combined standing, gold went to Ebba Aarsjoe from Sweden. This is her first gold medal. She switched from able-bodied to para skiing three years ago, and now has a lot more confidence in her abilities because she’s like, oh, I’m really good at this.

[00:18:15] Alison: She was adorable when she, because I saw her come through and the athletes were very, very close to us. They were not separated from us. So I was just like, “congratulations!” Tiny. She’s a tiny little thing.

[00:18:31] Jill: Silver went to Zhang Mengqiu from China and bronze went to Alana Ramsey from Canada.

In the women super combined sitting, gold went to Anna-Lena Forster from Germany. Silver went to Muraoka Momoka from Japan and bronze went to Liu Sitong from China. Again, very familiar names on this podium.

And then in the vision impaired class, gold went to Henrieta Farkasova from Slovakia with her with two, she had two guides. The first one was Michal Cervan and he was the guide for the super G, and then Martin Motyko did the slalom. And the reason she had two guides is because Michal got a knee injury a month ago and his knee is not good enough for the slalom. So she got another guide to help her with that. She is the defending gold medalist. So she wins again. And this was her 11th Paralympic gold medal. We’re starting to see the stories of athletes who are winning, like they’re in the teens and high teens, gold medals or medals of the Paralympics. And it’s so impressive.

Silver on this went to She Daqing from China with guide Yun Hanhan and bronze went to Menna Fitzpatrick from Great Britain with guide Gary Smith.

[00:20:00] Alison: So the one thing I do want to mention is up on the mountain, I was not the only one having issues. This is the Paralympics. There are wheelchairs. Wheelchairs and snow do not mix. You would think they would put paths down. Some places they did. Most places they did not. No. So there were actually two people who got stuck. And the gondolas themselves, as I saw people in wheelchairs getting on, it was barely wide enough to fit the wheelchair. So nobody else could get on with you.

[00:20:36] Jill: Did they have to stop the gondola to let them get off? Or, I mean, how–

[00:20:40] Alison: They didn’t seem to. They just expected them to roll quickly in a line.

[00:20:49] Jill: Wow.

[00:20:52] Alison: Accessibility was definitely problematic up on the mountain.

[00:20:56] Jill: Oh, that’s tough. That’s tough. And I’m not sure a bus went up that way. There might have been one, but if there was one,

[00:21:00] Alison: There was one, but these buses were accessibility problematic as well.

[00:21:09] Jill: Hmm, that is a shame.

Moving over to para cross country skiing, we had today the men’s 20 kilometer classic for standing and vision impaired. And then also the women’s 15 kilometer classic standing and vision impaired.

The men, the standing class, gold went to Kawayoke Taiki from Japan. Silver went to Cai Jiayun from China and bronze went to Qiu Minyang from China. And for the vision impaired class, gold went to Brian McKeever from Canada with guide Russell Kennedy. Two guides, oh two guides. And also his second guide was Nishikawa Graham. Brian, you might know from a Super Bowl commercial.

[00:21:58] Alison: With his brother.

[00:21:59] Jill: Oh, nice. Nice. Not, hey, I missed the Super Bowl, so I don’t know the commercial.

[00:22:04] Alison: Well, the commercial is about how Brian and his brother Robin was his first guide. But Robin has retired. Brian’s 41.

[00:22:13] Jill: Wow. Oh yes. I was reading. He’s slowing down a little bit.

[00:22:17] Alison: Yeah. This is probably going to be the last go around for him.

[00:22:21] Jill: Yeah. But not before he picked up his 14th Paralympic gold medal.

Silver for the vision impaired classic went to Jake Adicoff from USA with guide Sam Wood and bronze went to Zebastian Modin from Sweden with guide Emil Joensson Haag.

In the women’s 15 kilometer classic vision impaired race gold went to Oksana Shyshkova from Ukraine with guide Andriy Marchenko. Silver went to Linn Kazmaier from Germany with guide Florian Baumann and bronze went to Leonie Maria Walter from Germany with guide Pirman Strecker.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about our red envelope campaign. This show does cost money to produce, and you have been extremely generous in supporting us through very many various campaigns and Patreon offerings that we’ve had. But we’re at the end of an Olympic cycle. So that means two and a half years until the next Olympics, which is usually when we get a boost in listenership. So we’re doing a little fundraising to get us through to Paris 2024. And we are calling it a red envelope campaign because we’re celebrating the Lunar New Year here still. So we are asking for donations of at least $8, because eight is a lucky number here in China symbolizing good fortune. And that, those funds will help us get through to Paris 2024.

Please go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate. If you feel like the show has meant something to you over the past couple of weeks.

[00:23:52] Alison: And you know, Paris 2024 is going to be best Olympics ever.

[00:23:57] Jill: It’s going to be something. I tell you that it will definitely be something.

[00:24:00] Alison: Allons-y

[00:24:03] Jill: Okay, let’s go to para snowboard. Oh my gosh. I had the best day. And I am so sorry that you had a bad day because you have to, whatever’s next, bank slalom. Get there, get there, get there. You will have fun. Weather, probably mid to upper thirties. It was balmy. I needed gloves, but I did not need gloves for a little bit. And my hands got a little cold at the end.

But it was very comfortable up there today. Stuff was starting to melt. That was great. Starting to get a little greener up in the mountain. Noticed that. I took the train with our photographer friend, Mark Edward Harris, whom you all will meet in an upcoming show. We snuck into the first-class cars on the train. They recline a little better, reclaimed wood footrests. Like it’s nice there. Yeah, they’re really nice.  I got to say  it was really nice.

So, we both went up to the snow park. It’s the only park left open in the freestyle area over in Genting Snow Park. And this would be like park C or park D. I don’t know what they call it, but it’s right next to the slopestyle and the half-pipe areas.

So when you go, the first one you come to is moguls and aerials. And then you kind of go around a corner and up a little hill, and that’s when you get to slopestyle and halfpipe and the snowboard area.

[00:25:27] Alison: They let you walk?

[00:25:29] Jill: No, of course not. But you can walk from the venue to the venue media center. Because there’s like one venue media center for all of these, for the three that are clumped really close together. It was a little hard to find. I too, got a little lost in all of the scaffolding and various pathways you were supposed to and not supposed to take. It was kind of like going through a maze. And I kept hitting the end bars that told me I went the wrong direction, but then I found a lot of people to trade pins with along the way, which is great.

Listener Angela had mentioned in the Facebook group, she did not know that the half-pipe was steep as it was. Oh my gosh. It is steep. That slopestyle course is so steep, it is scary looking. You can hardly see the Great Wall stuff at the top because it’s got these really steep jumps all the way down. It was impressive.

The snowboard cross course, tame comparatively. When you kind of look at it, you don’t really see a whole lot from where you are. And so you’re watching most of the race on the jumbotron. So you start seeing things about halfway through, I would say you see a curve and then they kind of disappear again and they come back and you see, of course you see the last big jump.

The course for Paralympics has been made a little less difficult than the able-bodied one because they want to make it as fair as possible for all impairments. So the jumps are not going to be as big, but it’s safer for everybody. And you’re every, all the impairments are on the same course because they’re just going back to back. So you have to do it all at the same time. Top part of the course is is called the Wu Tang.

[00:27:15] Alison: The Wu-Tang course.

[00:27:17] Jill: So that’s where all of those little like mesa things are, and they really have to jumble around. People were getting stuck in the Wu Tang. We’ll get to that.

Oh my gosh. If this Olympics didn’t have COVID protocol, this whole area would be the biggest party and the only good thing about that is that not having all these people there is that buses could actually get through. Because it’s a little two lane road and you can really just walk all along. There’s hotels right there and it just, it would be just so fabulous and so much fun.

The music was great. The DJ was great. Anytime they would just be playing music all the time, except for right before the race, whenever it turned into a heartbeat sound, you knew that a race was about to start. So that was really cool. Apparently, I found out on the bus on the way back from the railroad station, there were break dancers at the beginning, and I missed them because I was wandering around trying to find the venue media center, which was also quite fabulous because they gave you pop and water. Usually you had to pay for this stuff and the, it had a wide variety of snacks. The Snickers were out, oh, I have a little chocolate bar for you that’s Chinese chocolate. And they had pears there for their fruit. I know!

[00:28:32] Alison: We’ve only seen oranges and bananas.

[00:28:36] Jill: Yeah, they have pears. So, you know, make sure you hit the venue and then the media center, and it’s really nice compared to biathlon. Biathlon is not bad for a temporary structure. This is also a temporary structure, but, it’s a harder, heavier duty temporary structure that’s two stories. Yeah. I mean, it’s heavier duty. So that was really cool if you like media center talk.

Okay, so, best part about snowboard, besides the competition that all the races were so, so good. The field announcers are fantastic. They really bring it. They work well together. Of course, you have an English announcer and a Chinese announcer. The English speaker is this American guy. I don’t know his name, but the Chinese one was called Oscar.

It was so great. Oscar was fantastic because sometimes, and the American was really good about explaining different things along the way. Oh, I’ll let you know some of the things I learned. But then he’d be really good about explaining some stuff and then giving Oscar plenty of time to say whatever he’s saying to the Chinese audience and there were times where the American guy would be talking and like a crash, a collision would happen up on the course. And you hear Oscar go, “whew.” That’s one time where he’s like the race was over and it was a really great race and he’s like, good job. Whoop, whoop.

He was so great, I loved Oscar. It was so much fun. And you just, the chemistry between the two of them, you can tell they were having a great time working together. And that was really fun. They just played off each other, even though, you know, it was just like, hey, but Oscar would take some of the stuff that the American guy would say the little nicknames of people and he would just say those and then speak Chinese. And it was just so it was so much fun to hear it. They were great.

So things I learned: if a run is under review for collision, or somebody gets cut off, what the judges or what the jury is looking for is, they’re looking for the angle of trajectory into the turn and blatant interference. So like if somebody accidentally, not accidentally, just suddenly kind of push you out of the way, because you can’t have your hands on other people.

And then the American guy started talking about like, well, back in the day, you could. And like, oh, I know how rule sets develop. Now you can’t do that anymore.

Alison: Keep your hands to yourself.

Jill: That’s right. That’s right. The blue lines on the course or the side ones are parameters to guide you. You don’t have to stay within them. So that is helpful to know.

When a border’s arms start rolling a lot, if they’re flapping their arms a lot, they’re trying to get, it’s a sign they’re losing balance. And I think he called it rolling down the windows, but then I forgot it right away. Oscar came on and said something.

[00:31:36] Alison: Well, that would make sense because it’s that old school motion of turning the window.

[00:31:42] Jill: That’s what I thought. And yeah, you can tell like every once in a while you’d see some flapping around like, Ooh, they’re gonna go, they’re gonna fall then maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t, or maybe they slowed down.

And when there’s a photo finish, and there were many photo finishes, they’re looking for the first body part to cross the finish line, not the board, the body part. Good to know.

Much like, I think your venue ceremony had this too, they just brought the snowboarders out in a line and said their names, and everybody cheered. They did not get their Shuey, but the Shuey Rhon Rhons were on a tray at the end. So they left the field and picked up their Shuey Rhon Rhon, which is kind of interesting, but I think they’re juggling a board and there’s usually a flag, so that kind of made sense. So we had a big day.

Here’s the other great thing about para snowboard – more classifications equals more races for Jill to love.

[00:32:45] Alison: There’s three classification for men, only one for women, just because the numbers of women in snowboard are low.

[00:32:52] Jill: Ladies, I will say this about every para sport, but ladies, let’s get on those snowboards because this is a fun event. I’m just saying there’s lots of opportunity, just saying.

So first we’ll start with the men’s upper limb final. This whole competition was stacked with Chinese.

[00:33:14] Alison: Every competition is stacked with Chinese.

[00:33:16] Jill: So we had quarter-final, semi-finals, a small final and big final for all of these races. There were six racers from China in the quarterfinal and the next largest contingent was from Italy. They had three in the quarterfinal.

So the entire final, big final was China. There were four racers. It was all China in the quarterfinals. They actually race individually for time and that’s how they get seeded. And then once the quarterfinals start, that’s when they get to deal with other racers on the course with them. So it was going to be an entire Chinese final and the American guy was just like, “Oscar, it’s all you.” It was great.

And the small final on this. There was a diamond formation of the racers at the top. The American guy’s like, “oh, when you have that, there’s going to be an issue.” We had an issue. Because I guess it just leads to more congestion or the weird spacing once they hit the turns and things like that.

So, gold, silver, bronze, all went to China. Gold went to Ji Lijia. Silver went to Wang Pengyao and bronze went to Zhu Yonggang.

In the lower limb one final, gold went to Tyler Turner from Canada, who just dominated this entire race. This was one, Mike Schultz, who is our next book club author, he is the defending gold medalist here and they were hoping he could win again. He just couldn’t get it in with the final, just Tyler dominated it at the end.  They’re just kind of, there’s just a little space and Oscar starts going, oh, Canada. Anytime. I’m like, I didn’t think it could get any better. I didn’t think Oscar could get any more fun and he just would whip it, whip out something, say something, he would just say something that just made me laugh over and over.

The American guy like knows most of these snowboarders he’s just been around. He talks to them all the time. So he kept calling Mike Schultz, Mr. Money, Monster Mike, and Oscar would too say Monster Mike and Amazing Mike. Chinese, Chinese, Chinese, Amazing Mike. It was the best.

So Mike Schultz has got silver and then bronze went to Wu Zhongwei from China. And everybody was just so happy to win. Like Mike Schultz, you almost couldn’t get him off of the ceremony because he was pumping his fist. He was so happy. It was great. It was so, so great.

Men’s cross lower limb 2, the race of the day was the small final. Lots of passing going on. And then all four of them finish really close to each other. There were a lot of them where one or two would be really close and maybe third and fourth place would be a photo finish or one would dominate and the rest would kind of trail, or the fourth person would have wiped out and just like, oh, I made it down the hill, I know, leave me alone. I lost, you know, that kind of thing. But this one was really cool to see, and it was really cool to have all four come down at the same time.

But the big final race, gold went to Matti Suur-Hamari from Finland. He’s a repeat gold medalist in this race. He was in third and he fought and fought and fought to get that gold. Then Tyler Turner comes out and just piles on him because they train together. And they’re like Team Unicorn.

[00:36:57] Alison: As does Ben Tudhope.

[00:36:59] Jill: Yes. So there’s just a huge pile of people. Everyone’s excited. And it just, it was so great to see Matti win again. That was a great race. Silver on this one went to Garrett Geros from USA and bronze went to Ben Tudhope from Australia. So yeah, huge pile-up. Everybody’s thrilled, you know, announcers are going crazy, that kind of thing.

And then on the women’s side, gold went to Cecile Hernandez from France. She had this massive start. And just forget it. Nobody could get close. People were hoping Brenna Huckaby would be, who was the defending gold medalist, hoped she could get up there. She did not. She ended up with a bronze medal and then Lisa DeJong from Canada won silver.

Brenna Huckabee was lucky. She was happy to get the bronze. Her semi-final was really tough. She got hung up on that Wu Tang and like basically stopped. Like managed to get up on one and just lost all momentum and was just way, way, way behind. Got second place to qualify and move on to the next round. It was amazing.

In the final, she had a collision with Lisa Bunschoten from Netherlands who finished fourth in the final. They were at the top of the course. They came off the jump at the same time, the backs of their boards hit and they stand differently. So one stands right. One stands goofy. So that just knocked them and they both fell down. So she had to work to get up and get that bronze. So I believe she was pretty happy with that after a collision.

So, hey, a great day up on the mountain. Then I went and got my, then I went and discovered all the free stuff. Oh my gosh. It was great. Snuck back into first class for the train home.

[00:38:50] Alison: I got a cab ride with two French people. Allez!

[00:38:53] Jill: Allez! So hey, it all ended good.

[00:38:58] Alison: We somehow made it back here in one piece to go to curling.

[00:39:02] Jill: Exactly. So, three sessions of round robin play today. In the morning, Canada beat US, seven to four. Estonia beat Latvia, six to five. Great Britain beat Switzerland, 15 to one, finished after 6 ends. Two four point ends and one five point end for Great Britain. Wow. What a blood bath really?

[00:39:32] Alison: And Switzerland is not having a good tournament.

[00:39:38] Jill: No, no, because they had a bad session in the evening was a  really tough one.

Second session of the day, Estonia beat Norway eight to three, and that ended after seven ends. China beat Korea nine to four, ended after six ends because China scored five points in the sixth end. Holy cow, all these games ending so early, that’s just unbelievable. And then Latvia defeated Sweden nine to six.

So then we get to the evening session, which both you and I were at, but we did not sit together because I did not want to hear about your no good, very bad day until now. So I snuck in, I knew where you were sitting and I knew if I kept low, you would not see me at all.

[00:40:21] Alison: I did not see you at all. I was like, are you here? What is happening?

[00:40:26] Jill: So China defeated Sweden, China defeated Switzerland seven to four, they had a massive eighth end. And they just they pulled it out at the end. There was a big crowd, there for a big COVID sized crowd for China and lots of yelling and vocal cheering across the sheet. So they had people on both sides and like one side would start a cheer and the other side would respond.

[00:40:55] Alison: Not the kind of cheering we’re used to hearing at curling.

[00:40:58] Jill: No, but the, they were so into this game, they were really into this game. It was, that was kind of cool, but I don’t know, if they’re not cheering for you and then you’d hear like a random “Go USA.”

[00:41:11] Alison: That was from the World Para Hockey people.

[00:41:14] Jill: Oh, nice.

[00:41:15] Alison: Because there were Canadians, Swedes, Hans who was holding the door for someone. I don’t know where he came from. Canadians. There were all 20 of them from everywhere.

[00:41:40] Jill: Wow. Wow. Slovakia beat Great Britain, seven to three. So I don’t know what happened of Great Britain’s magic from the first game, burned it all out.

Sweden defeated Canada, six to three, giving Canada its first loss. That was something. Because if they, Canada, was gunning for everything, but Sweden just had this, the whole game. That one ended after seven ends, they didn’t finish the eighthone.

And then USA beat Norway six to five. This whole game, I thought it was just going to be another down downhill for USA. And they came back in the last two ends and got four points in those two ends to win 6-2. Oh my gosh, this came down to the last rock. Yes. And our TKFLASTANI Steve Emt through two amazing throws in that last end to position the rocks where they needed to be. Really, I think Norway peeled one of them off. They had three scores and Steve threw two of these stones. It was just beautiful, slid in behind a guard. Oh my gosh. That was so pretty.

[00:42:37] Alison: And then Norway had the hammer and missed the shot.

[00:42:41] Jill: Yes. Yeah and you go, oh, are they going to be able to get two out because they really needed to get two or the three scores out? Oh, that was so good.

[00:42:51] Alison: And I don’t know if you could see it from where you were. Because I ended up sitting right by them

[00:42:55] Jill: Oh, you went over to the sheet.

[00:42:56] Alison: I went over to the sheet and Steve was patting the Norwegian skip on the back. Like, we should not have won that game and like, I’m really sorry, dude, that I just beat you because that should not have happened.

[00:43:12] Jill: But it was so good. It shouldn’t have, but it should have, if you’re, if you want to be on this podium, but I got to tell you, like, Steve is Mr. Positivity on this team.

[00:43:20] Alison: He is. It’s great to watch. It’s fun to watch.

[00:43:23] Jill: Yeah. So it’s yeah, he’s just all. But are we surprised? No, not really, but it makes me happy that he’s just like, let’s go, a lot of clapping. He does a lot of clapping, so that’s fun.

Standings in the round robin tournament are Canada is at four and one. Sweden is at three in one. China, Latvia are three and two. Great Britain, Estonia and Slovakia are two and two. Norway and USA are two and three. And Korea is one and three and Switzerland is one and four.

[00:43:53] Alison: So we’re a little more than halfway, but a lot can move around as we’ve seen so quickly with this tournament.

[00:44:02] Jill: Exactly. So what is Steve up to tomorrow?

[00:44:05] Alison: China.

[00:44:06] Jill: Oh

[00:44:07] Alison: World Champion China

[00:44:09] Jill: With the crowd behind them China.

[00:44:13] Alison: I think Steve would actually feed off of that.

[00:44:16] Jill: Okay. I, yeah, I, you know, maybe we’ll, if we go down to the mixed zone and find out if he goes through, I went down there tonight to give him his TKFLASTAN pin. He didn’t go through the zone. So I had to give it to the handler, but yeah that’s okay.

We would like to thank our Kickstarter collectors, Sean Callahan and John McLeod. Thank you so much.

[00:44:35] Alison: And we want to make sure you know about our mascot for this week of the games. Her name is Riza and she was adopted from the local humane society in 2016. So if you are looking for a mascot for your own family, please be sure to check out the animal shelters in your area.

[00:44:55] Jill: And that will do it for this episode. Tune in again tomorrow for another full day of competition. I believe I’m going back out to the mountains to see some biathlon and you will be stationed here in Beijing.

[00:45:07] Alison: I’m not leaving Beijing. I’m going to hockey. I’ll be with my friends from World Para Hockey. Hang out with the Czech bear. I did see my Czech friend at curling tonight. The Czech Republic doesn’t even have a team in curling, but he was passing through the Ice Cube. I was like, hi. I think he’s afraid of me.

[00:45:35] Jill: Why should he be afraid of you? Did he see his own behavior at the hockey game? Why should he look at us funny?

[00:45:42] Alison: He did get me the answer to the question. So I,

[00:45:45] Jill: Well, you know, we’re now, we’re friends.

[00:45:47] Alison: We did get a text about questions about hockey. We’re going to talk about that tomorrow because we’re going to talk lots of hockey tomorrow.

[00:45:53] Jill: Okay. Excellent. Excellent. Tomorrow is going to be a big day.

[00:45:56] Alison: And celebrate the games with us on our Keep the Flame Alive Facebook group. It’s the place to hang out with Jill and I, and our other listeners. Jill’s on Twitter. I am on Instagram. Both are @flamealivepod. You can email us at flamealivepod@gmail.com or call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s (208) FLAME-IT.

[00:46:23] Jill: We will catch you back here tomorrow. Thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.


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