Although it seems like they just started, the snowflame has been extinguished, and the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics are over. We cover the final day of competition as well as the Closing Ceremonies – how does this show stack up to the rest?

Sports on today’s schedule:

  • Para Alpine Skiing – Men’s slalom
  • Para Cross-Country Skiing – Relays
  • Para Ice Hockey – Gold medal game

Red Envelope campaign!

Small tree with lots of red envelopes hanging from its branches.

It’s the last day of our 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 Paralympics, 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 – we’ll have a new regular episode out later this week! Until then, keep the flame alive!


TRANSCRIPT

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

Beijing 2022: Paralympics – Day 10

[00:00:00] Jill: Ni Hao and welcome to day 10, the last day of 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, and through the plexiglass, I see my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, ni hao. It is the magical hour of vacuuming!

[00:00:40] Alison: They are right here. They were concerned that they were ruining what we were doing but we are so excited to see them tonight because tonight’s our last night. It is our last night in the media center. It was our last events today. You’ve been very emotional today. I have not been. I’ve been kind of overwhelmed, I think, by all of it. So I think it’ll hit me a couple of days from now of this whole experience.

[00:01:04] Jill: I know, but we got to the workroom much earlier than we usually do. We heard the vacuums and we were like run, get this stuff set up because they are booking through this place.

[00:01:14] Alison:  They are done with us.

[00:01:16] Jill: Well, they’re not done with you and me because we gave them pins and everything.

[00:01:21] Alison: They were so happy to see us, I think because they haven’t seen us all week. And we wanted to say goodbye. I mean, all day, we’ve been saying goodbye to our, our volunteers that we’ve worked with and the different people we’ve met. So that’s been, it’s been so much fun.

[00:01:33] Jill:  It has, it has. I did a lot of crying. I just, as I’m pulling stuff out of the bag to look for things, I found much more Kleenex which is good. I thought I had like half a pack of Kleenex to get me through the ceremony. Thank goodness it was short.

[00:01:50] Alison: It was a very quick ceremony. Not cold. My toes are fine. It was much warmer than it was for opening. We were getting a little chilly at the end, but a nice chilly, like you should be cold when you’re at an outdoor stadium at the end of March.

[00:02:03] Jill: Yes. Yes that is very true. And I got to say, I have three other lap blankets and a big scarf that I used as a, as a fort here. Did not bring any of those.

[00:02:16] Alison: Well, thankfully the swag bag we got tonight, had another lap blanket and a hat. So you had some resources available to you.

[00:02:29] Jill: So yeah, we, uh, we do have some action today before we get to all of the stuff. We might have some announcements to get the train out to Zhangjiakou. They might say this like every five minutes. They get snippy after, after a while, it’s pretty much like, oh, Hey, the train to Zhangjiakou is leaving in. And there’s one train left to get these people back out to the mountains. So they keep announcing, please take your stuff and go to the bus. And, and those announcements will get closer and closer together as we get closer to the time.

[00:03:02] Alison:  Right. And these are live announcements. These aren’t recorded. No. So the, the woman who’s doing them gets more aggressive as the time for the train, or the bus to the train gets closer and closer, like take your belongs and get on the bus.

[00:03:21] Jill: So, yeah. Uh, we sadly, we have start with a feed beef.

[00:03:25] Alison: Yeah. Listener Meredith says her mother only watches the broadcast. She doesn’t have Peacock, she doesn’t watch streaming and she’s run into a real problem. Over the past few days, only seeing repeats of events where Team USA athletes medal. So she’s not seeing any new events.

She’s not seeing the events where Team USA doesn’t win a medal. And it’s, it’s really frustrating. And I thought it was funny. It was Olympic Channel is showing week-old FIS world cup races, and replays of Olympic events under the banner “Return to Beijing”, to which I say, we’re still here. There is still events happening NBC, and various cable channels that you own. Show the curling, show the different hockey matches, they’ve been good sports. I mean, you got good stuff here.

[00:04:16] Jill:  Yeah. And then it’s really frustrating. And we’re sorry that this coverage kind of happens. I mean, it’ll be amazing. The return to stuff that you’ll see on Olympic Channel in the near future, and you can’t see new events, you can’t see anything that we don’t do well on because I still don’t understand why the power that be think that we want to watch anything that doesn’t have an American athlete in it.

[00:04:42] Alison:  Good sports is good sports. I mean, they show football games in cities where it’s not your team. You know, you have a Monday night game, you have a Sunday night game that they think is going to be of national interest. Why wouldn’t we want to see the gold metal curling match?

[00:05:00] Jill: Right. Right. All the premier league stuff. It’s not even from our country.

[00:05:05] Alison: On an up note, for the UK listeners who’ve been watching Channel 4, we have seen Ellie Robinson and Billy Munger all over the place. We got to talk to Ellie Robinson a little bit, because I’ve been very excited about her hats. They are both working incredibly, incredibly hard. We of course have not seen any of their covering, coverage or reporting, but from what we’re seeing of how hard they’re working and how seriously they are taking this, I bet it is fantastic. And Ellie Robinson is gorgeous and her hats are adorable. Whatever she’s coming across on TV, her charm is not fake. We gave her a pin.

[00:05:45] Jill: She wasn’t quite sure what to do with you though. You were very much fan girling her. It was very cute. And, but I, I mean, it’s great to see. The coverage that Channel 4 has done and the work they’ve done to hire people with disabilities. I know NBC has hired a bunch of people with disabilities to come to commentate on Paralympics. So hopefully this trend continues and hopefully we see people with disabilities commentating non-disabled sports as well. Agreed.

All right. Last day, what officiating or volunteer job? What do you want to do?

[00:06:17] Alison: So surprisingly, I do not want to be part of the closing ceremonies though I did love the I will, spoiler alert, I love the closing ceremonies tonight. But tonight was the gold medal hockey game. At the end, the USA won. Again, spoiler alert. If you didn’t see it because you’re in the United States and they don’t show these things. And of course the players throw gloves and sticks and helmets all over the ice. These two poor volunteers had to go on the ice and collect all this stuff. So this poor girl is teetering on the ice. She’s just in her shoes and she’s got four helmets, some sticks, a few gloves. She put a glove on at one point, just kind of holding everything. So I was going to go out there and help her out.

[00:07:02] Jill: I am surprised you don’t want to be the carpet rollers because we talked about, especially in the figure skating competitions, they ran stuff like clockwork. They did rehearsals of these medal ceremonies and at the gold medal hockey match today, they had issues with laying that carpet correctly and unrolling it.

[00:07:24] Alison: They were unrolling the carpet, for Andrew Parsons to present the medals and for Team China to come out because they were not in their sleds and they could not unroll this properly. It had been rolled up crooked and they were trying to realign it. It was a disaster. And I knew if I had gone out there with the carpet rollers, I would just be like, fine. Let me do it. Must I do everything myself?

[00:07:52] Jill: And that would lose your cult status as a minor internet celebrity podcaster.

[00:08:00] Alison: My fans would be horrified that I wasn’t standing there giving them autographs

[00:08:04] Jill: That is correct.

[00:08:06] Alison: And hugs and photos where I give the peace sign.

[00:08:11] Jill:  I will keep it at hockey. Well, it could be hockey, it could be curling because the, they have an in-house entertainment person and during breaks or intermissions, they come out and they talk to the audience kind of, and do fun games. And one of them is the freeze dance.

And so they turn the camera on someone. And they play music. And then at some point the music stops and you have to freeze. And first off it’s always a miracle, because this is a universal, it’s always a miracle when somebody is looking at the jumbotron and realizes that it’s them and continues to look in the right direction at the camera, not up at the jumbotron. Then, you have these two silhouettes of guys dancing and they’re mostly like doing the bird kind of thing. They’re waving their arms and then you’ve got this freezing ice graphic that closes in on the person they need to freeze. And sometimes the audience member can freeze well, sometimes they can do it well, sometimes they can’t. They’re super excited when they’re on the jumbotron. But the in-house announcer is like “dance and freeze.”

[00:09:27] Alison: And she continues to say other things that we of course can’t understand, because it’s in Chinese, but so much of what she is saying is universal. Yes. So that we don’t understand any of the words and we understand everything she’s trying to do. And that’s, that’s a great job.That’s a lot of fun. She’s really good.

Jill: And gets to hang out with Shuey Rhon Rhon.

Alison: Because always during the second intermission, there’s always a dance with Shuey and some graphic drumming and yeah, she gets to talk to him a lot.

[00:09:57] Jill: Okay. And by graphic drumming,

[00:10:01] Alison: There is a graphic of a drum and you have to pretend to be hitting the drum on the jumbotron. And occasionally, Shuey will do that with his head.

[00:10:09] Jill: It’s awesome. All right. We have the last medals got handed out today. First off is para Alpine skiing. The mountain won. Let me just say the mountain won.

[00:10:22] Alison: The mountain has won Beijing 2022. Top of the medal stand is the mountain.

[00:10:28] Jill: We had the men’s slalom competition today. For the standing competition, gold went to Arthur Bauchet from France. Silver went to Liang Jingyi from China and bronze went to Adam Hall from New Zealand.

[00:10:44] Alison:  Go Silver Ferns.

[00:10:47] Jill: And, in this race, 26 finished, 18 did not. It was brutal. But it wasn’t as brutal as the sitting class, in which 16 competitors finished, 23 did not including Jeroen Kampschreur from Netherlands who in the 2019 world championships, he swept gold in all five events. He could not finish this race.

Please take your belongs. Get to the bus.

All right. So in the men’s sitting slalom, gold went to Jesper Pederson from Norway. This is his fifth medal of the games. He is the most successful para Alpine skier of these games. Silver went to Niels de Langen from Netherlands and bronze went to Rene de Silvestro from Italy.

And in the vision impaired class, which most of them got down. Gold went to Giacomo Bertagnolli from Italy with guide Andrea Ravelli. Silver went to Johannes Aigner from Austria with guide Matteo Fleischman, and bronze went to Miroslav Haraus from Slovakia, with guide Maros Hudik.

[00:12:42] Alison: Another Aigner medal.

[00:12:46] Jill: I know. They did so well these games.

[00:12:47] Alison:  And Johannes was the flag bearer in the closing ceremonies for Austria.

[00:12:55] Jill: Which is really nice. In para cross-country skiing, we had relays today. We had the mixed relay, four by 2.5 kilometers. This race is one standing woman, one sitting woman, one standing man, and one sitting man. Gold went to USA. Silver went to China and bronze went to Canada.

[00:13:15] Alison: Oksana Masters, seven for seven at these games. Medaled in every competition that she participated in. She is the most decorated American cross-country skier, Paralympic or Olympic, male or female.

[00:13:32] Jill: Wow. That is just, she is just incredible. And considering that she just went to Tokyo seven months ago.

[00:13:39] Alison:  And then had to switch to a completely different sport. I remember, I remember in Tokyo, she was talking about, one’s a push, one’s a pull. But her body still had to change. Her focus still had to change. She went from Tokyo to the snow tunnel and it seemed to have work. I may move into the snow tunnel.

[00:13:59] Jill: I hope she gets to take a nap now.

[00:14:02] Alison: She needs a nap.

[00:14:04] Jill: And…

[00:14:06] Alison: Canadian Collin Cameron and his biceps got another medal. I think he actually is now even pulling the short sleeves up more, to look more jacked, to look more jacked. The Canadians had a lot of fun in this race. Natalie Wilkie got another medal, so they were really celebrating that bronze.

[00:14:26] Jill: Excellent. And then we had the open relay, four by 2.5 kilometers. Explain this race to me.

[00:14:34] Alison: I don’t really understand this race completely myself. Okay. It is four segments. Somebody’s got to race to every segment. It can be sitting. It can be standing. It can be vision impaired. You can, it seems like you can have any combination of gender and class. And for example, Canada had only two athletes racing, and each did two segments.  So I am very confused by this open relay. Some had four athletes, some had all men, some had different combinations. So this is something we got to look into much, much more to understand how this setup is.

[00:15:17] Jill: Okay. Yeah. That sounds like really strategy is involved there. So gold for this went to Ukraine. Silver went to France and bronze went to Norway. That means Grygorii Vovchynskyi won Ukraine’s first and last gold medals at these games. Nice way to bookend it for Ukraine. Tough. I mean, they did phenomenally well overall, but under such tough circumstances.

[00:15:48] Alison: So do want to mention before we get off Ukraine. We had speculated concerning where they were going after the games and yesterday in the press conference, we did not mention that specifically Andrew Parsons and Craig Spence both said, because the question was asked what is happening to the Ukrainian athletes? And they said for the Ukrainians safety, we are not saying. We are supporting them. We are making sure that they are safe and cared for. And that’s all we’re going to say.

[00:16:18] Jill: So it’s good that the IPC is looking out for them and we wish them safe travels. And I can’t, there’s nothing to say that just what they have to go through and what they’re going home to if they can go home So you’ll be in our thoughts and we’ll do what we can to support you.

So in this race, this was Brian McKeever’s from Canada, his last opportunity to get the overall best number of gold medals or medals in the Paralympics and Canada finished fourth, I believe. And they, as you said, they only had two athletes skiing, two segments each. That does not seem like a good strategy.

[00:17:03] Alison: I don’t understand, like I said, it could be because they had four athletes skiing the mixed

[00:17:09] Jill:  and didn’t want to go back to back

[00:17:13] Alison: Right. So that may have been, we’ve got more athletes who can do the mixed, we’ve got a better shot in that race. And then these athletes can just throw their hats into open and see what happens.

[00:17:25] Jill: Okay. Yeah. We will look into this race and figure it out before Milan Cortina, for sure.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about our red envelope campaign the last day here. Although the donate button will still be open for a little while, because it’s going to take us a little bit to get home. It does cost a lot of money to produce the show. We know how generous you have been in supporting us. We’ve had a Kickstarter campaign that got us here. We’ve got patrons from Patreon who support us year- round, but we’re coming up on another two and a half years until the next Olympics. And we’d like to be able to do more with this show. So we need a little support to make that happen. We’re wrapping up our celebrations of the lunar new year here in Beijing. So we are asking for donations of at least $8 to help get us through to Paris. Eight is a lucky number here, symbolizing good fortune in China. So we hope that you will. If, if you enjoyed the coverage of the week, if you enjoy the vacuuming ladies, please consider supporting us. You can go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate.

[00:18:32] Alison: And thank you so much to every who has donated so far, who became Patreon patrons, and even everyone who’s joined us as listeners, we have had so much fun.

[00:18:41] Jill: Exactly. And if you can’t support us financially, tell a friend about the show or shout it out online for us and help find more of our people help find more of you to make this more fun.

And you can’t get too teary because I may have found Kleenex, but that doesn’t mean I know where it went. It’s in my pile of stuff.

Para ice hockey. Alright, so para ice hockey. I want to go back and talk about Slovakia because they were the seventh place team. That was huge for them. They have, they don’t have many players in the country because it’s the time commitment and the travel commitment is too much for most people. So it’s really tough for them to get players. They said, you know, look, the USA picks 20 guys out of a hundred to be on their team. We got to pick 14 out of 15. That’s what, that’s the pool we have to work with. So getting to the Paralympics was a huge success for them in the first place. They did win a game against Italy. So they were thrilled. That game and all their games were broadcast live on TV in Slovakia. They’ve gotten some interest. They’re getting requests for like interviews and come and speak to us. And can we have some autographs? So that is awesome. And hopefully there’ll be able to get more players and recruit more and have a better team over the next cycle.

[00:20:00] Alison: And we saw the Slovakian players at all the games of the medal rounds and in other games. So they were using this opportunity to learn a lot and talk to other players and talk to other coaches and just see a lot of great sled hockey. So fantastic to see the sport grow in more countries and develop more programs. That’s the point.

[00:20:22] Jill:  Right. Because as we talked about, there’s a huge difference between first and second and the rest of the playing field. And hopefully we can see some of that playing field rise more after the coverage that these games have gotten. Hopefully it’s gotten more coverage in more places.

I’m going to say it’s a little louder in here right now. We have more people coming in and, but they’re also breaking stuff down. So at the end of every row of tables, for the most part, are monitors and they have pulled the Panasonic boxes out and they are going to be breaking down these monitors. We’re going to be losing our feed.

[00:21:00] Alison: Finish the show quick. They’re going to put us in a box if we sit here too long.

Okay. So gold medal game USA beat Canada, 5-0. The score does not reflect how close this actually felt.

[00:21:17] Jill: Yeah. The first period was really close. There weren’t a lot of shots on goal. It was a lot of back and forth. And then the US started scoring.

[00:21:25] Alison: And kept scoring and kept scoring. Though the shots on goal were 20 to 16.

[00:21:31] Jill: Which was very close, but it was like, Canada’s just, there’s a, we had a higher percentage of shots going in. Five goals. And two of them came back to back. It was so quick.

[00:21:44] Alison: Canada just couldn’t get traction, couldn’t get any momentum going, but this was a much different game than the first USA-Canada game. That shots on goal was 26 to nine. Yeah, that was a real blowout. And something that we noted was the level of play in this game was so much higher than anything we’ve seen previously in the tournament.

This sport needs to grow beyond USA and Canada. There needs to be a lot more development put into the European teams, the Asian teams. The seeds are there like Slovakia, like what we saw from China. And I’m hoping at least by 2030, maybe even a little by 2026, we’ll see a little bit better competition in the lower rounds.

[00:22:37] Jill:  Yes I hope so. So it’ll be, hopefully there’ll be good. You have a note about the USA goalie.

[00:22:43] Alison: Yes. So, Jen Lee became the starting goalie this time around. He’s been back up and, to the famous Steve Cash apparently. And he actually matched a record of Steve Cash’s. He did not allow a single goal the whole tournament. Wow. 33 shots on goal. Perfect. Hundred percent save percentage. According to our TKFLASTANI Taylor Lipsett, who has done the announcing on NBC, he is only the second starter to ever do that in the Paralympics. Steve Cash in 2010 being the first.

[00:23:17] Jill: Wow. That is really impressive. And yet USA just had a great tournament. They were of course thrilled to win gold, but it’s a lot of hard work.

[00:23:28] Alison: Canada was devastated. We noted that on the, during the medal ceremony, that was hard to watch because it reminded me very much of the American women in the hockey tournament, because you’ve just lost the biggest game of your career. And now you get a medal and you can’t enjoy that medal.

So we met actually one of the Canadian photographers on the bus on the way back. And she was saying that she hopes that once they get home and they feel that Canadian love and respect and appreciation, they will appreciate that silver medal a lot more.

[00:24:03] Jill: I hope so as well. Gold went to USA. Silver went to Canada and bronze went to China.

[00:24:07] Alison:  Medal ceremony was happy and sad. You know, we said about the Canadians, of course, China winning the bronze. The crowd went nuts when they came back out. All the volunteers wanted to take pictures with them. They’re big stars, which is great.

The funniest moment for me was that USA is all lined up. They’re doing the bronze medal over to the right. Then they’re doing the silver metal to the left. And there’s Jack Wallace trying to explain to the other players how they’re going to give the medals to one another. And you can see him miming this and, and doing the actions like, dude, you turn to the player to your right and you put the medal on him. And the guys around him could not understand this. They were like, don’t we put the medal on ourselves and he’s like, no, we’re teammates, you put it on each other. It was really funny.

[00:24:56] Jill:  That is funny because I was busy watching China, which halfway through, they switched from putting them on themselves to putting them on teammates. And, and that was the shift. And Andrew Parsons was giving out the medals here and he was just a little confused because he had to go, he went back to, he gave one and the guy gave it to his teammate. And that was when Andrew Parsons was going back to get another tray of medals, comes back to them and it’s like, wait a second. I gave you your medal. I gave you, you have one and you don’t and then they had to kind of mime. No, no, no. Give it to me and I’ll give it to him. And then he, he figured it out.

[00:25:30] Alison: He lost his place in the line. It was really cute. And did you know this about the numbers?

[00:25:38] Jill: You know, it makes sense to me.

[00:25:39] Alison:  So I never understood how they knew how to line up so that when they announced the names of the whole team as they’re giving the medals. They’re saying the correct name because they line up in their numbers on their jerseys order. How did I not notice this before? I feel so stupid.

[00:25:57] Jill:  See and special to anyone in roller derby. It’s numerical order, not alphabetical order. Right? I’ll tell it to you later. Because then that will make your head explode. What I have to say, which is about how we number stuff in roller derby.

[00:26:16] Alison: So that was the last medal awarded of the day. And as we said, IPC President Andrew Parsons gave that medal and seemed very excited to, to do that as well.

19 countries won medals at this Paralympics. China topped the metal table with 61 medals, 18 gold. Ukraine was second on the medal table, 29 total. Did you just hear that? 61 to 29, that is huge. 11 gold. And Canada was third with 25 total and eight gold. And we’ve had controversy in the past of how you count on the medal tables, total versus gold. This doesn’t change. This top three is the top three. So keep it simple.

[00:26:59] Jill:  That is good. It was hard saying goodbye to all the volunteers at hockey.

Alison: We’ve grown very attached to those girls.

Jill: And then I started crying and they were like, don’t cry. And then they started give me stuff, so that I would stop crying. It was so funny, but I got some good stuff. Thank you volunteers. I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t mean to take their stuff, but it was just like, I’m a sad, they’ve been so sweet and so nice. And they’re always there. Happy and they want to talk to you and it’s fun. And you get to learn a little bit about China.

[00:27:31] Alison: And incredibly helpful. Yes. I just, when we need something, they are there and I cannot say enough about these volunteers.

[00:27:41] Jill: Right. And it was also fun at this one because, you know, in the beginning, everyone was pretty guarded. And there they’re friendly and helpful. They’re doing all the helpful stuff, but then you talk with them a little bit and that’s when you start getting, oh yeah. Michal, the Czech guy he’s really cute. It was because again, they were like, is Michal coming?

[00:28:00] Alison: All the girls had a crush on Michal. It was so sweet.

[00:28:02] Jill: It was sweet. It was sweet.

So, then closing ceremony, we actually got there much earlier than I’ve ever been to a ceremony. So we saw some of the last rehearsal of the final number, which is very exciting. I started crying, didn’t even, we didn’t even need the show for me to start going. They had tympani. I was so excited that they were having drumming of some sort. I will say I was, I liked it better in rehearsal.

[00:28:36] Alison:  Well, that may have been just because it was unexpected and exciting.

[00:28:43] Jill: No, it was because the music was louder than the drums. You couldn’t hear the power of those drums. And that disappointed me because they were just phenomenal.

[00:28:54] Alison:  I loved everything about this closing ceremony.

One of the things we complained about with the opening ceremony was, the lack of a theme, and this had that record theme and the idea being that you are recording memories. And here are all the memories we’re putting on the record. And when they first played music, when they first took out that giant needle, which was very exciting during her rehearsals where suddenly we’re sitting there and you said to me, what’s that giant contraption? And we’re watching. And I jumped up and said, it’s a record needle. They’re doing a record theme. It sounded like music box music, which made me think, oh, everyone’s grandmother has a music box. So it fed into that memory theme.

And all the callbacks to not only the opening ceremonies, but the drumming in 2008, I thought that was a connection as well. And I loved the symmetry of that. You had the ballroom dancers come back. You had the same children’s choir come back. You had the combination of the disabled and the able-bodied dancers dancing together. And I just, the theme of the passing of time, I thought had an incredible power to it and felt like a closing ceremony.

The time has passed. We have recorded memories, and I also felt there was something distinctly Chinese about the way it was done, the choreography, the costuming, the drumming, which made me feel like it was the Beijing Paralympics closing ceremony, which is what I always want from both an opening ceremony and the closing ceremony.

I want a ceremony that you can’t get any place or any other time. And this felt like this is this particular moment in this particular place.

[00:30:47] Jill: Yes, I would agree that record theme was strong and it worked really well with projection mapping. They could do a lot with it and it was really great how they brought back so many elements of other bits of the opening ceremony and even the Olympics opening and closing, like we heard that snowflake song for the fourth time. They got their money’s worth out of that one, but it was really well done. The only thing I would have wanted was more.

[00:31:15] Alison: It was very quick. We were not even there an hour for the actual program. They did not have the athletes march in.

[00:31:24] Jill: I didn’t like that. I, I felt like, I don’t want to say I’m sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised that the thinking was, well, this will slow things down and we want to get stuff out. It’s still a little chilly. It’ll be cool. We want to get the show going and people have to get the bus to Zhangjiakou.

[00:31:42] Alison: And on the one hand, that’s the most joyous moment for the athletes, but it’s very boring for the spectator.

[00:31:48] Jill: Right. And, but we got to see it for the Olympics and the athletes stuck out there a little longer, but it’s, it was really a bummer that the Paralympians also couldn’t get that same kind of joy and celebrating on the stage, on the world stage. They celebrated in the world’s seats.

[00:32:06] Alison: But they were having a grand old time over there.

[00:32:08] Jill: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, but the camera couldn’t focus on them. So that was a bit of a bummer.

[00:32:16] Alison: Andrew Parsons speech, all trite and forgettable. But in Andrew Parsons fashion, genuine.

[00:32:25] Jill: Yes. It’s always funny. When he starts talking about passion, he gets passionate and he, he just gets that passion with him and the passion of the athletes and the Paralympic movement. And in China, thank you so much, China. And then, then he goes back to, and these games will show the world the power of sport.

[00:32:48] Alison:  He did go off script very, very briefly. Just one line when he was talking about the International Paralympic Committee staff. He added a line saying, I don’t remember his exact words, but you are amazing. You are fantastic. Something to that effect and that just added to it, which was lovely.

And what was very funny, and we both laughed was when he first started the speech, he made a point of accenting the word People’s Republic of China, almost making fun of his own mistake in the opening ceremonies, having misspoken missing that word.

And I think that speaks so much to the Andrew Parsons we’ve seen this whole games. Very self-effacing, recognizing his own humanity, his own foibles, but using all that passion for this Paralympic movement that he believes so strongly in and wants to see grow.

[00:33:47] Jill:  Speeches are speeches. This one was not very long. Neither was the organizing committee president’s. But they were all very much, thank you so much. It basically like we did it. Oh my gosh. We, we managed to pull this off. Everything was safe. Paralympic Committee has done two games in seven months. Beijing pulled off a big feat with these games and we all need to take a breather.

[00:34:15] Alison: So I think we’re all going to nap for a couple months. Then they did the volunteer thank you.

[00:34:20] Jill: Yeah, they did volunteer thank you and video. And they had the athletes commission new, the two new members that had been elected. They came out and presented things to the volunteer representatives.

[00:34:30] Alison: That was the, that was the part of the ceremony that got me a little bit, because we’ve gotten so attached to all these volunteers. And they’ve been, we joke about these kids, but they have worked incredibly hard. Always with a smile on their faces and always waving at us and saying good morning and saying hello. And I think they’re genuinely enjoying this experience, which makes it even more fun to work with them.

[00:34:55] Jill: Exactly. And we know that they had to go through quarantine to get into the closed loop. They have to go to quarantine again to get out. So they’ve worked really hard. This has been kind of a slog at times for them, but it’s also been a really great opportunity and something exciting. And I hope that, you know, the several weeks that they’ve been here have been a lot of fun for them too.

[00:35:16] Alison:  Only down note of the ceremony, Milano Cortina’s presentation.

[00:35:25] Jill: Started off okay. The, the singing of the national anthem, beautiful. The flag raising, issues. Yes. So what you did not see, because I think this turn, you know, they, they focused on the singer. Of course. I missed that flag flick. I saw the, the Chinese flag when they did the anthem. Saw that flick. Did very well with the flick. This flag flick.

[00:35:49] Alison: There really wasn’t much of a flag flick for the Italian flag, which then proceeded to get tangled in the pulley rope. So the Italian flag never got to blow. It got tangled up, but to their credit, they then turned off the flag fan. So that both the Chinese flag and the Italian flag were laying limp because when the fan was on the Chinese flag was continuing to blow. And the Italian flag, just one little part was sort of billowing out like a sail and it was struggling to be released from the rope. So they just turned off the flag fan. Didn’t put the flags back on camera and just left it be and said, we’ll deal with this later.

Milan did a video presentation, which looked like the kind of presentation that you put together when at nine o’clock at night, you remember you have an assignment due the next morning. There was no thought, no originality, not a lot of money invested in it.

[00:36:57] Jill: No, I didn’t even, I have to say I did not even pay attention to it because it was like, oh yeah. Video athletes that you’re your typical Paralympians are inspirational athletes and that’s all they can do. Be inspiring because they managed to get out of bed today.

[00:37:10] Alison: There was nothing distinctly Italian. There was nothing about Milan. There was nothing about Cortina. It was nothing.

[00:37:19] Jill:  No. And where were those dancers? They made those dancers freeze at the Olympics doing that big dance. Why couldn’t they not bring them back?

[00:37:26] Alison:  I was saying, I, I don’t remember being disappointed by the Milan presentation. There was a lot to it at the Olympics. They couldn’t even be bothered here. And there’s so many of them here. They could have just put all those Milan people in the stadium and had them run around with Italian flags. And that would have been more exciting.

[00:37:48] Jill: Definitely. It was really disappointing, like you say, and upsetting and not a good sign for what is to come.

[00:37:58] Alison: Very concerned about what Milan is going to do with Para, not the Olympics. I think we will pull off the Olympics fine but is this going to be the return to the Paralympics are a forgotten stepchild and stuff’s not going to be compliant and accessible. And we’re just going to forget about it and run out of money.

[00:38:21] Jill: Right? Not looking forward to that.

[00:38:22] Alison: On an up note, these fireworks felt good.

[00:38:26] Jill: They felt good, still pretty short, but surprisingly longer than the first ones. So that was cool.

[00:38:32] Alison:  Did Beijing the letters in fireworks. Did 2022 in fireworks. And I caught them this time and that was very impressive. More pinks, more spark, not sparklers, fountains. So I loved the fireworks this time.

[00:38:50] Jill: They were much better. I would say. Nice note to go on, on very original with the Beijing and the 2022. That was very, very cool.

And what we haven’t talked about is the end. Okay. So we had the drum number and this is the drums that we’ve been talking about. That was the big number at the end. So the big, the snowflame went out and that’s when they had the big number with the tympani and the, I loved the, so they were around a clock. The projection mapping was a clock thing and the, there were 13 timpanists with the signifying, the 13th winter Paralympic games. Then you had a, there was one in the center and then there were 12 around so that they were the hours of the clock. And then you had dancers at every minute. So it was like, and they call it seconds because they did one kind of revolution thing and they did really cool falls and different.

I really liked that. And that’s when the projection mapping started going a little, not haywire, but it started getting fast. And I kept, I couldn’t figure out what to focus on. I really liked what the, those second dancers were doing and wanted to watch that. And the music got a little loud for me and I couldn’t hear the drums as well as I could in the rehearsal. And then they brought out everyone else which was a melange of entertainment.

[00:40:11] Alison: So they brought the dancers from earlier in the program with the very distinctive yellow costumes. They brought the ballroom dancers from the opening ceremonies. They came out.

[00:40:22] Jill:  And the ballroom dancers, one of them was in our hotel because he was waltzing in the parking lot this morning. I had to try not to just like go over and say, I will practice with you. I went to Arthur Murray, come on.

[00:40:34] Alison: That was fun to see him this morning. And we wished him luck and applauded him. I loved that number. I felt like I could focus better than I could focus in the opening ceremonies.

[00:40:47] Jill: That’s so interesting.

[00:40:49] Alison: And I think because it was what we were seeing was very much what I think the television audience was seeing. I think it worked very well as both an in-house event and a television event. We could really see those dancers performing. We couldn’t as much see the projection, but we could sort of see the projection just from where we were sitting because they give the press kind of the low seats, but I found it so cohesive and so complete. And we’re going to bring everybody back together for the big finale number.

[00:41:23] Jill: Yes. I agree with you in, in some of this, we’ll get to where I don’t agree, but I would say. You didn’t miss out by not having the projection mapping there.

There were so many interesting things to look at so much to watch and you got enough of the light feel and the clock theme was great and it looked really cool on TV. Not seeing it well in person didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the whole thing. But then when you got the mélange, when the mélange came in, the mélange of entertainment, you had dancers with ribbons who, you just got so excited about that.

[00:41:57] Alison: I am a sucker for dancers with ribbons.

[00:42:02] Jill: And they were in the front, front-center for us. Then on one side were the break-dancers which I couldn’t understand. You had the waltzers going around the clock in the middle. You had some other people, like many other groups around and the ribbons and the break-dancers were all I saw.

And then the projection mapping started having like kind of sparkles or glitter. It looked like, or flash and not flashes of light, but like squares of light that would spiral through. And they were spiraling where these break-dancers were and the, the light and the break-dancing, this just broke me.

[00:42:40] Alison: I felt like it was that overwhelming big finale moment of a Broadway show, where we throw everything and the kitchen sink out at you and we’re going to make you feel something. And I liked that for the closing ceremony. And again, we talked about all the callbacks.

The other thing I want to mention is we have hated on this snowflame a lot, but I think the way they extinguished it was beautiful because they dimmed the lights from outside in, so you extinguish the edges and it dimmed and it went out and it was a very beautiful, dramatic moment because we didn’t have a cauldron and we didn’t have a giant flame, but they use the snow lights in a really beautiful way to give that same effect.

[00:43:25] Jill: I would agree. It was, it was very nice. It was very moving, overall lovely ceremony. The one thing we did not talk about, you mentioned the performance with the arms and by that, we mean they were, they had costumes with neon green arms and they used the arms to make different shapes in their dance. And that was really cool.

[00:43:45] Alison: And I think that translated both on screen and in person, it was a differently impressive, but equally impressive.

[00:43:53] Jill: Yeah. So really nice. And I would say, I think the ceremonies were great because they were so cohesive and they really captured, they really nailed it with the theme. Good job Beijing way to go out.

So yeah, that’s it. We will pack up. We will, we’re going to spend a day packing.

[00:44:17] Alison: We will be leaving the warm embrace of the closed loop and having to say goodbye to all these lovely people.

[00:44:22] Jill:  Yeah. That’s going to be sad. It really going to be sad,

Alison: Don’t start crying.

Jill:  But no, I have to, I’ve been channeling my mantra. You get to go home.

[00:44:29] Alison:  Do you want me to really make you cry? I’m so glad I got to do this with you.

[00:44:46] Jill: Well, I’m glad I got to do this with you too, because we could not only have bus adventures, somebody else to talk toilets with.

[00:44:58] Alison: We have so many toilets stories that we have kept off the show. You think we’ve talked toilets on the show? It’s been a lot more going on. Well, you have so many things to tell all of you when we get home.

And we’re going to do a whole show of all the stuff that we didn’t even get to cover while we were here. We’d been writing notes everywhere at somewhere in the stack, in our hotel room are all these notes we’ve written ourselves, along with all of Jill’s lap blankets.

[00:45:33] Jill: Well, the nice thing, we have a collection of forts that we can bring to Paris.

[00:45:39] Alison: Yeah, because they won’t hand out lap blankets.

[00:45:42] Jill: No, they won’t have plexiglass, hopefully knock on wood that we won’t have to deal with the COVID for the next games.

[00:45:48] Alison: And more importantly, as I learned in the backseat of their taxis, their ladies have a very tiny, tiny lap. Their lap blankets wouldn’t even be the size of a napkin for me.

[00:45:58] Jill: That’s right. That’s right. Having it rough, so, uh, well, that’s going to do it. That’s wrapping up the show. We would like to thank our executive producers, our Kickstarter executive producers, Stephanie Oberlie and Ben Jackson.

[00:46:13] Alison: And for the last time, it’s our last day with mascot Theo. And you can follow Theo’s adventures on Instagram at @theodorepatton. Thanks to Super Fan Sarah for sharing Theo with us this week and for supporting our Kickstarter campaign. Thank you, Kickstarter campaign. And thanks to all of our mascots for Beijing 2022: Luna, Millie, Riza, and Theo.

[00:46:35] Jill: That will do it for these games. We are traveling home this week, but we will have a new episode on Thursday. Awesome. Film Club Fran will be with us for our discussion of Eddie the Eagle. So watch it up if you want to follow along with that. So we will see you then.

[00:46:55] Alison: And you can keep celebrating in the Olympics and Paralympics with us all year round on the show every week and on our Keep the Flame Alive Facebook group. It’s the place to hang out with us and our other listeners. Jill is on Twitter. I am on Instagram. Both are @flamealivepod. You can email flamealivepod@gmail.com or call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s (208) FLAME-IT.

[00:47:25] Jill: And zaijian from Beijing. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.

 

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