Jill and Alison with the Magical Vacuumers!

Beijing 2022: Paralympics – Day 2

Release Date: March 6, 2022

Category: Beijing 2022 | Podcast

It’s the first full day of Paralympic competition at Beijing 2022. Jill and Alison scope out the Beijing venues and games, Alison almost can’t find her way out of the Ice Cube, and we make friends with the magical vacuumers!

If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you’ll know that Jill and Alison have been recording it at the end of the competition day. Well, early into the Olympics, Jill walked into the Main Media Centre, and these two women were vacuuming the entire press workroom, which took ages.

Jill didn’t have much choice because the show needed to be recorded, and she had to get at least a few hours of sleep each night. So she just dubbed it “The Magical Hour of Vacuuming,” and worked around it.

The Magical Vacuumers have become essential characters in our experience of the Beijing 2022 Games, so much so that Superfan Sarah and Wildwood Cookie Co. made a cookie especially for them!


An iced sugar cookie with an edible ink drawing of a vacuum cleaner on it.

Magical vacuum cookie for Magical Vacuumers!

We’re still getting used to the Paralympic schedule for the Main Media Center (MMC), which means tonight we did not have the Magical Hour of Vacuuming, even though it really should have been the hour. However, the Magical Vacuumers were in the press room, so with the help of Magical Volunteer Interpreters Jessie and Zane, we were able to tell them how much we appreciated their work during Beijing 2022 and what they meant to the show (not quite sure that translated, but that’s fine). We also gave them our pins, so they’ve got the full Keep the Flame Alive experience!

Jill, Jessie and Zane explain to the vacuumers that they are magical.

Explaining to the vacuumers that they are magical!

Jessie and Zane also stop by the podcast for a quick hello, so listen out for them!

Sports on today’s schedule:

  • Para Alpine Skiing – Downhill. Paralympian v. the Mountain. Who wins today?
  • Para Biathlon – A big day for Team Ukraine
  • Para Ice Hockey – Some shocking score differentials
  • Wheelchair Curling – Our TKFLASTANI Steve Emt gets started

After the show, there’s extra tape from when Jill went to the Torch Relay this past Thursday. Duane Kale, International Paralympic Committee VP took the second leg, then chatted with some members of the press. This was at the same time as when the IPC released a statement changing their stance on the status of Russian Paralympic Committee and Belarus athletes. The day before, the IPC allowed them to compete as neutrals. During the relay, it reversed this decision and terminated the athletes’ ability to compete. Take a listen to how this played out throughout the afternoon.

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!


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: Paralympics – Day 2

[00:00:00] Jill: Ni Hao and welcome to day two 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 Jars. And through the plexiglass. I see my lovely cohost, Alison Brown, Alison Niihau. How are you?

[00:00:24] Alison: I am rebelling and I am not wearing my mask at the moment. But I am keeping my bottle of soda close to me. So if I am questioned it just because I am actively drinking.

[00:00:39] Jill: All right. Well, that’s a good forward tease to some news I have later. You know, it’s late in the workroom here. It’s 11 o’clock. When we came in it was the magical hour of vacuuming, but we did have to eat dinner. I needed to have some solid food. And so we went to get dinner. And when we came back, it was no longer the magical hour of vacuuming. However, we have told the magical vacuumers about you. So and lovely Super Fan Sarah sent some cookies. So it’s a complicated story to try to tell our poor volunteers, Hey, we had this website and you hear the vacuum is every day. And now people in the United States know them, but we made friends.

[00:01:23] Alison: We made friends and we got through the point that we were saying thank you to them. Yes, and we appreciate them. And we gave them the cookies and we have pictures, which we’ll post in various places on the website at, rather on the Facebook group. And I’m sure you’ll post them on Twitter. So to the fans of the magical vacuumers, they know your love.

[00:01:44] Jill: And they do have pins. So if you are wondering, we gave them pins. We gave them some cookies and I think they think we’re crazy, but that’s okay. That’s all right. They’re not wrong. So as always, what officiating or volunteer job would you like to do today?

[00:02:00] Alison: So I want to focus a little bit on the volunteer jobs I’m seeing now that I’m here. Okay. So one of the things they talked about in the press conference today is that there are 9,000 volunteers for the Paralympics. There are only about 700 athletes. And yet we still need all these volunteers. And in this press conference, I saw two sets of volunteers that I would like to be a part of. The first set being the ones who hand out the transponders so we can hear the non-English translations in our ear. They have a fantastic system that involves numbers and post-it notes and about seven people. A whole bunch of cranky reporters and they managed to keep them all happy. And then the second job would be the girl who wipes off the microphone with the sanitizing wipes between each reporter’s question.

She is so ready and sometimes the person starts to step away and she goes to stand up and then they ask a follow-up and she just sits back down.

[00:03:06] Jill: She is right there on the spot. It is very impressive, very nice. Taking the job seriously. I’m going to take the job that you noticed that I would love to do today.

This is at wheelchair curling and they have volunteers who place the stones and also help take stones that are no longer in play and get them off to the side. And the stones, if you curl, you know, that the stones are numbered and they have to go in a specific order. So they keep them all nice and in order. They wipe off the bottoms of the stone before they deliver it to the curler. I would love that job.

[00:03:40] Alison: That is a very high level volunteer job in terms of being involved in the field to play. Usually that would be an official’s job. And yet it seems to be volunteers that are doing that, which is great. Because they’re really getting in on the action.

[00:03:57] Jill: They get in on the action. The minus of this job is that you not only have a mask, you also have face shield and you have to wear gloves. And I think my poor little hands would not like the gloves very quickly, but you are doing a very valuable job. Very true. All right.

Follow-up file time. I finally remembered today that I didn’t put the tape from the torch relay from the other day onto the end of one of the episodes. So it’s going to be at the end of this episode, what you will be hearing is vice-president Duane Kale in the mixed zone after he handed off the torch and finished his leg of the torch relay. When he was doing the torch relay, that is when the IPC released its statement saying that RPC and Belarus were terminated. So it’s kind of interesting to hear him talk around the situation. And it’s also interesting to hear the different journalists. So we have a mix of Chinese journalists and international journalists, and you can hear the different lines of questioning on what was important to each faction that day.

[00:05:01] Alison: And because it is Duane Kale it gives me the opportunity to say, go Silver Ferns.

[00:05:08] Jill: That is correct. It’s going to kind of cut off abruptly after Duane is done. You’ll hear a little bit with, Philip, one of their media people, and then when he gets into, well, this is on background. That’s when I turned off my tape. So that’s that and hopefully you’ll find it interesting. And it was an interesting time to be there. I will say that.

[00:05:31] Alison: I got here just in time for the chaos and I, my head is still spinning from it because in the press conference today, obviously there were still questions about it. When are the Russians leaving? When are the Belarusians leaving? Has there been any communication? So it’s still an evolving situation.

[00:05:52] Jill: Yes. A little bit of followup file from the opening ceremonies. We heard from Listener Dan who liked the Paralympic ceremonies better than the Olympic ceremonies.

[00:06:00] Alison: And today at the press conference, as all these people are gushing over the opening ceremonies, I kind of felt like I went to the wrong show, so we do what we can.

[00:06:12] Jill: Yeah. And, but I think he, one of the things he liked about it was that it was obvious that they had a different budget. And that made them be a little bit creative with that. And I think in the creativity, they found different kinds of groups to feature. And that was cool because that’s not something we see every day in America because they, different musical groups with impairments don’t often get featured a lot. So that’s kind of nice that you see this and go, maybe I can find this in my own country. So, okay Dan, I get it, and you know what, I’m with you on like the virtual reality stuff that they popped big money for, I’m sure in the Olympics, when for showing your viewers on TV something cool that we couldn’t see in the stadium that I’m not sure if that’s worth it.

Moving on to feed beefs. Oh no. So this is also a followup file kind of thing. I was chatting with listener Harry on Twitter and he is in the UK. So channel four is their Paralympics provider. So many commercials. So they cut to commercial during the waltz, they cut to commercial when the flame arrived, but he also said the flip side of that is that channel four shows way more coverage of the Paralympics than the BBC ever did. I guess you got to be grateful for what you get.

Alison: You got to pay for that.

Jill: Yeah, exactly. That is very true. You do have to pay for that. So you went to a press conference today. I want to hear all about it because there was another followup thing. There was a big gaff from Andrew Parsons at the opening ceremony, which I did notice on the jumbotron.

[00:07:50] Alison: Yes. You noticed it. He was saying all the thank yous to the host nation. And he referred to it as the Republic of China, rather than the People’s Republic of China. That’s a big problem because the Republic of China is Taiwan.

So at the press conference today, IPC spokesman, Craig Spence very quickly in his opening remarks said President Parson wishes to express his apologies and deep regret, he got caught up in emotion. It was a slip of the tongue. He meant no disrespect and clearly he didn’t, it was, we’ve all been in a public speaking situation and skipped a word.

[00:08:55] Jill: Yeah. And this was clearly supposed to be in the script because they would show what the script was supposed to be on the jumbotron. So when I, because I kept watching that because they were pretty small if I was looking in the middle of the stage and I didn’t want to, and turning to look at the monitor for me was kind of awkward. So it was just more natural to look at the jumbotron. And I would read along with the speech and like, huh, we forgot people’s. That’s interesting

Alison: And not his first language.

Jill: Correct.

[00:09:15] Alison: And I mean, not that he’s not fluent, but you’re, he was very caught up in the emotion of the moment and it’s, we’ve all done it. I mean, we’ve do it on the show all the time and we’re not even caught up in emotion.

[00:09:18] Jill: Right. And I wonder if, because it would show the speech in both English and Chinese. So I wonder if that, it was even noticed by people in the stadium if they did not speak English. And I wonder if, because they may have given a copy of the speeches to the translators for local television. Did they translate it from that way? I don’t know, but that was a little, not something you want to do, unfortunately.

[00:09:50] Alison: I think it was a minor kerfuffle and nobody asked any questions about it. It was, he apologized, moving on. Let’s talk about other things. And it was not a contentious press conference this morning at all.

They had Shen Chen, who was the director, there. And he talked a lot about the inspiration and bringing people together and using the different disabilities. And it did make me want to go back and rewatch it on television because we talked a little bit about this last night, was this produced for TV and actually worked better as a television production rather than in-house?

So I’ll be curious when we get home and take another look and maybe it will feel more cohesive with the explanation, even though we had the guide, it’s a very different experience when, as you’re doing each segment, someone is telling you, okay, this is what you need to look at now.

[00:11:07] Jill: And knowing where to focus because again, you’re in this very big space for something, when it’s on TV, they’re focusing at the right things that you should be noticing. So there’s that

Alison: Which was totally not the little box of flame.

Jill: It was totally the little box.

Alison: That was a fantastic discovery.

Jill: Moving on to today’s action. We start with para Alpine skiing.

Oh, do you want to say hi? Come say hi, we’re taping. Yeah.

[00:11:25] Zane: We’re seeing you are working now.

[00:11:27] Jill: Yeah. Come and say hello.

[00:11:35] Jessie: My English name is Jessie.

[00:11:38] Zane: My English name is Zane.

[00:11:40] Jill: Zane and Jessie have been very helpful in explaining to the magical vacuumers what we were trying to do earlier on

[00:11:55] Alison: Putting into action.

[00:11:56] Jill: Yes. Let’s start with para Alpine skiing, whoa boy, the mountain today. There’ve been high winds here. So, I honestly can’t remember yesterday, but, we were talking with somebody about the weather. Oh no, I was talking with this New York Times reporter about the weather and, so it was getting warmer, but in the spring it also gets very, very windy here in Beijing. So it was extremely windy on the mountain and the mountain had it’s way with a lot of people.

[00:12:26] Alison: And we were surprised at how steep this course continue to be. You know, we weren’t sure if they were going to reset it for the Paralympics, but it is still crazy steep.

[00:12:39] Jill: Yeah, it’s a tough course. And there is one really specific turn that really tends to get people. Because they keep going. The momentum takes them kind of into the fence and they have to make a really kind of wide left turn to stay on the course. And a lot of them that you see them go off the blue, you know, outside of the blue line and they have to work really hard to turn, to stay in the course and stay within the flag.

[00:13:03] Alison: I was getting myself in a little bit of trouble in the media because I am clearly not jaded enough to be here.

[00:13:12] Jill: No, no, you aren’t. Not yet.

[00:13:14] Alison: Because we were watching this, we watched on the feed and I kept yelling at the screen. Oh, get back in the course, get back in the course.

[00:13:23] Jill: And you know, it was really quiet today in the workroom. Everybody is out and about doing their thing and there weren’t many people to at least hear us talk back to the TV. It was nice.

[00:13:34] Alison: There were a couple who looked at me. And I want to say, and I had this experience today in hockey. I’m looking at these people going, this is exciting. What is wrong with you?

[00:13:46] Jill: They’re beat down. It just becomes normal.

[00:13:48] Alison: But Alpine did give us our first medal of the day.

[00:13:51] Jill: Oh, yes. Okay. So we started with the women’s downhill vision impaired. Gold went to Henrieta Farkasova from Slovakia with her guide Martin Motka, who, and that was the first medal of these games. So that was very exciting. Silver went to Zhu Daqing from China with guide Yan Hanhan and bronze went to Millie Knight from Great Britain with guide Brett Wild. Two out of the eight skiers did not finish and Martina Vozza from Italy had a bad crash.

[00:14:25] Alison: Yes. She was taken off the course in a stretcher. Have not been able to find any update on her condition.

[00:14:32] Jill: Oh boy. Well, I hope she is doing well. And also we will notice what the number of entries in the women’s game, if you know a woman who is a disabled get them, take them skiing. We need more Paralympians. We need more female Paralympians.

Moving over to the standing course where one of nine did not finish.This was the most successful race for the women. Gold went to Mollie Jepsen from Canada, silver went to Zhang Mengqui from China and bronze went to Ebba Aarsjoe from Sweden. And in the women’s downhill sitting, this is I think, sitting on both sides just got wiped. If you made it down the mountain in the women’s downhill sitting, you got a medal. That’s how rough this course was.

[00:15:17] Alison: I think I wonder if the winds affect them more being lower to the ground.

[00:15:27] Jill: It could be. And then, and they’ve got a big kind of contraption on one ski.

[00:15:31] Alison: Right. So is it tippy?

[00:15:33] Jill: Yeah, so I don’t know. That’s a good question. Maybe we can find that out. Gold went to Muraoa Momoka from Japan. Silver went to Anna-Lena Forster from Germany and bronze went to Liu Sitong from China and yes, the other four women in the competition did not finish.

And over on the men’s side for the standing,  gold went to Arthur Bauchet from France. Silver went to Markus Salcher from Austria and bronze went to Theo Gmuer from Switzerland and they did good. They only had, they had one did not start, but everybody finished.

For the men sitting downhill, they also had nine out of 25 did not finish plus a did not start plus a disqualification. So this was also a rough one. Gold went to Cory Peters from New Zealand.

Alison: Go Silver Ferns

Jill: Silver went to Jesper Pederson from Norway and bronze went to Taiki Morii from Japan.

[00:16:38] Alison: You’re going to see a lot of Japanese names. There was a lot of Japanese Alpine racers, which we don’t see in the able-bodied categories as much. And I thought that was very interesting. I mean, they certainly have a winter sports tradition in Japan.

[00:16:59] Jill: Yes.

Alison: But not Alpine

Jill: But not that you think of, but maybe on the para side, that’s where they’ve really taken. And I ended up, I apologize. It could be Morii Taiki and I’ve decided not to do the traditional last name first pronunciation, but I’ll probably flip that at some point.

The defending gold medalist in this event was Andrew Kurka from the USA. He finished fourth. So during the training run an hour before the race, the wind blew him into the fencing and he was hurt. But he raced anyway, he got fourth. Then he got an x-ray and he found broken, that he had broken his humerus and a thumb. So he is out for the rest for the games at this point. It is very disappointing. So he’s sad, but he, you know, fourth and the broken bones, not bad.

[00:17:43] Alison: I’m a little concerned about going to the mountain tomorrow. If the wind is blowing these very large strong people into the fence, I might need to like tie myself to a tree like the coaches.

[00:17:57] Jill: Okay. And then finally, in the vision impaired category for the men’s downhill gold went to Johannes Aigner from Austria. Silver went to Mac Marcoux from Canada and bronze went to Hyacinthe Deleplace from France.And that was a one out of 10 did not  start. But everybody who started made it down the mountain, which was impressive.

And I mean, when we were watching this, I don’t know if you’ve seen this at home, but if you haven’t like try to dial it up, because it is pretty incredible to see how fast these skiers are going, they’re going still like 60, 70 miles an hour and the even vision, visually impaired. So when I could see, there’s my feed beef.

I have a feed beef and we don’t even, we can see this stuff in person, but the feed will like show the speed for just a couple of seconds and then they’ll cut away. Like just, can you keep the speed up there so I can see how fast they’re going? Because some of these people even visually impaired, because you would think that would be a little bit slower, because you’re dealing with a guide and they’re communicating with you on what to do. And they’re still going 50 miles an hour. Which is, I don’t know, it’s close to 90 some kilometers. And then you’re just like, what, how are you doing this?

But I was talking with Ben. And I said, you know what? I wonder if, when you’re visually impaired, because the other senses get heightened. If you feel it so much more, feel the air and feel the sensations and it’s super exciting.

[00:19:30] Alison: I mean, all downhill racers are adrenaline junkies in one way or another. You don’t get into this because you like a, you know, a slow stroll around the park. So just because you’re visually impaired, that doesn’t counteract the adrenaline junkie.

[00:19:51] Jill: No, but I do wonder if they feel it differently than somebody who has sight.

Let’s move over to para biathlon.

[00:19:54] Alison: This was a fun race.

[00:19:55] Jill: It was a fun day. It was a banner day for Ukraine who had really great shooting, lots and lots of clean shooting. They got seven of the 18 medals available today, including three gold medals. And they are so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish and what they’ve been able to show their country. Well, during today, just alone.

We will start with the the sitting category, today was a sprint, so it’s a six kilometer sprint for the women. Gold went to Oksana Masters from the US, this is her seventh winter medal. It’s her 11th Paralympic medal overall. Surprisingly it’s her first gold in biathlon because when she was in Sochi in 2014, she went the wrong way on the course. And she was in the race for the medals, went the wrong way, lost and was out of the whole medal race. And then in Pyeongchang, she wasn’t in peak race form. That’s what she said in her little quotes thing today. And we remember maybe not being in peak race format. Like they bionicly taped her together.

[00:20:59] Alison: I remember her arm. I think it was held together with tape. It’s like the guy’s foot from the basketball in the Tokyo Olympics. My ankle, my ankle’s sprained, my foot’s falling off. Just tape it back together. She kind of did the same thing in 2018.

[00:21:18] Jill: Yeah. And but did not do as well in biathlon as she did in cross country. So now she has gotten her gold. We saw this race on the feed and she was just ecstatic when she realized what she had accomplished. And that was really fun to see.

[00:21:31] Alison: She was so much faster in the range than everybody else. I mean, she, her time was dominant, but not out of reach, but her shooting was so beautiful to watch.

[00:21:44] Jill: So in this race, silver went to Shan Yinlin from China and bronze went to Kendall Gretsch, who was also a Paralympian in Tokyo who won gold in triathlon. She also races, will race, cross country here. She had said in one of the Team USA stories, she’s like, oh, well, you know, it was really crazy being in Paralympics so soon after Tokyo and feels very different than Tokyo conditions today and I’m trying to channel how warm I was there. I’m like, oh boy.

[00:22:16] Alison: Right? Because Tokyo, all leading up to Tokyo was the heat, the heat, the heat. And here it’s warmer now than it was. But we saw, we still saw some mole skin come out today.

[00:22:28] Jill: We did. We definitely did. So. Yeah, it’s, probably a little chilly up for these racers. For the men sitting, six kilometer gold went to Liu Zixu from China, which is the first winter Paralympic gold medal for China. Silver went to Taras Rad from Ukraine and bronze went to Liu Mengtao from China.

In the women’s standing six kilometer, gold went to Guo Yujie from China. Silver went to Liudmyla Liashenko from Ukraine and bronze went to Zhao Zhiqing from China.

[00:23:04] Alison: So if you feel like we’re saying China a lot, we are. And as Craig Spence noted in the, he’s the IPC spokesperson, this morning before some of these races had even been run, at that point in the day, China had one more Paralympic winter, Paralympic medals today than it has won in it’s entire history. So before the games we’ve questioned, oh, I wonder if China’s put a lot of effort and resources into winning Paralympic winter medals. Clearly yes.

[00:23:39] Jill: For the men standing six kilometer, gold went to Grygorii Vovchynskyi from Ukraine. Silver went to Marco Meier from Germany and bronze went to Mark Arendz from Canada and in the visually impaired classes for the women, gold went to Oksana Shyshkova from Ukraine. Silver went to Linn Kazmier from Germany and bronze went to Leona Maria Walter from Germany. For the men, it’s a Ukrainian sweep. This is just really incredible.

[00:24:13] Alison: I got pretty excited when I was putting this down.

[00:24:15] Jill: So gold went to Vitalii Lukianenko who is a repeat gold medalist from 2018. Silver went to Oleksandr Kazik and bronze went to Dmytro Suiarko.

The gold medalist, Vitalii, he said that the other two are like his brothers in sport and his brothers in life. They’re very, very close. And he was so proud that they had Ukrainian podiums today because just how important it is for their country. And I wonder how the news is getting to Ukraine about this and knowing that there’s still a place on the world stage and that their countrymen are doing well.

Alison: I hope we get to see those medal ceremonies on the feeds. If we don’t get to go, would it have been?

Jill: It would’ve been Zhangjiakou but I don’t know when those medal ceremonies are. We’ll have to start looking those up. All right.

Let’s take a quick break to talk about our red envelope campaign. This show does cost money to produce and while you all have been extremely generous in supporting us through our Kickstarter, the campaign that got us to Beijing and also through Patreon patronage. And thank you to the patrons who have signed up during the games. We really appreciate your ongoing support, but we are coming up on another two and a half years until the next Olympics.

So to celebrate the Lunar New Year, we’re asking for donations of at least $8, because eight is a lucky number here in China, and that will help get us through to Paris 2024. Go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate. And thank you again to everybody who’s contributed so far. Your contribution, the contributions really helped because some bills are coming due. And, what you’ve been able to give us is allowing us to cover those bills. And then we’ll also be able to support publications that we use that are free, but we should really be paying for them because they are in the same boat as we are. So we’re hoping to be able to pay it forward a little bit as well. So thank you so much for everyone and if you’re still on the fence, flamealivepod.com/support.

Moving over to para ice hockey.

[00:26:22] Alison: This is what I did today.

[00:26:23] Jill: Yes. This is what you did. We were both at the first game, which was USA versus Canada. And then you went back for Slovakia versus Italy.

[00:26:32] Alison: Yes. So the USA/Canada game, you would expect, being that it’s the rematch of the gold medal game from Pyeongchang, to have a lot of energy, to have a lot of life, to have a lot of people.

Nope. Stadium was empty. I mean, not even, there was maybe one or two Canadians, one or two Team USA people, very few reporters and just, it was a good game. I mean, the play was excellent. Team USA looked really, really sharp and good and gorgeous puck handling skills. But it was okay.

[00:27:07] Jill: Yeah. And it was really hard and I bet it’s sadly, I bet it’s not surprising for them. I bet they play a lot to no audience. So this is probably another day at the office for them. Like you said, USA just looked really sharp. Canada, I was surprised at the score differential. USA beat Canada, five to zero, and they outshot them with shots on goal 26 to nine. That just shocked me because the intensity was there the entire time and just Canada could not get any shots off. A lot of stuff was, were there a lot of play was down by the Canadian goalie.

[00:27:54] Alison: It just didn’t, it’s a Canadian, Canada couldn’t get going. And what was so striking was when I went back for Czech Republic and Italy, there was a nice Czech contingent. There was a nice Italian contingent and they were loud, both of them. It was great. So there was a lot more energy in the room. There was a lot more excitement. It felt more like a hockey game. And here’s what I’ve been saving. There is a stuffed animal that hangs out on the bench of the Czech Republic. I couldn’t tell what it was. So I asked a Czech reporter. He did not know. He had never noticed this.

[00:28:34] Jill: Good for you.

[00:28:34] Alison: I know. So he was going to text somebody and then the person he texted said, I don’t know what it is. We think it is likely a lion because that is the national, a double tailed lion is on the crest and that’s the national animal, and it could, it could have been. You know, from a distance, I said, is it a wolf? Is it a bear? I couldn’t tell. So it could be a lion, but I will continue to investigate the Czech stuffed animal because they also won 5-0. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of the Czechs.

[00:29:05] Jill: Wow. Wow. Interesting. But as we discussed before we get to the third game in the series today, sled hockey is filling a hole in your heart where wheelchair rugby lives. And I would, I would agree this is so much fun to watch. It is really great. And you just go, but the puck handling alone is just incredible. And the passing the puck when, especially when they pass underneath a sled and it is just the coolest thing ever.

[00:29:40] Alison: Yeah. Jack Wallace passed today twice underneath the sled right in front of us. You know, we really could see it very well. And wow. I was looking at it just saying, who is this kid? And really, really great play.

The pizza coats from Italy are gone. They were just wearing black and blue today.

[00:30:02] Jill: Okay. I’m hopeful that they will be there. I like them.

[00:30:06] Alison: But then came, what I thought was going to be the least exciting game of the night, Slovakia and China. It was insane. Stadium was as full as it could be, loud, flags waving. Such an aggressive, physical game. Very different play. So the Chinese have a Russian coach. And they are not a finesse puck handling, high skill. They are smash mouth, heavy shots, heavy body checks, go after it kind of team and they just absolutely overwhelmed Slovakia seven, nothing.

[00:30:48] Jill: Whoa.

[00:30:49] Alison: And the shots on goal. I don’t have the statistic in front of me. It had to be something even more than the US-Canada. The poor Slovakian goalie was just getting hammered left and right.

[00:31:06] Jill: Wow.

[00:31:07] Alison: To the point where it wasn’t fun anymore. I mean, if you’re a China fan, it was probably great fun, but as a hockey fan, it was uncomfortable saying, “Oh God.” And you could see the Slovakian team trying to buck up their goalie and it just was not happening. Fight broke out because, I know, a Chinese player slid into the Slovakian goalie. Oh, and you never touch the, I mean, you don’t touch someone’s goalie. So one of the Slovakian players just clocked him and then two Chinese player came back.

So it was, but what was really intense was the entire stadium went quiet. You know, at an NHL game if there’s a fight, everyone gets loud and crazy. Everybody went quiet and just waited for the umpire to stop yelling at everybody.

But yeah, it’ll be actually very interesting if the US does play China at some point, because you will really see two very, very different styles of hockey.

[00:32:17] Jill: Interesting. That’s going to be fun if it happens, and I think they’re in different groups, so it’ll be who gets out of that group. Interesting and, big start for China. So maybe they’ll go far, who knows.

Moving over to wheelchair curling. We had two sessions of round robin play today. Reminder that wheelchair curling is only eight ends compared to stand up curling, which is 10. So in the first session it was, Sweden beat Switzerland nine to two in seven ends. Canada beat China, seven to three and seven ends.

Slovakia beat the USA nine to three, which we came in a little bit late for this game. And, Slovakia had scored six points in the first two ends, which really the US had to come up from behind. They made a little bit of a gain, but just not enough. And that was another seven end game.

And then Norway defeated Great Britain, seven to five. Great Britain has a bunch of fans here who would be cheering them on because that’s going to be a factor in the second one.

So in the second session, Latvia beat Korea, eight to four. Great Britain beat the US 10 to six. This was a heartbreaker because the US was ahead. They were ahead three to nothing. Then Britain came back with three points in the third end then the US got two then the British answered with two, but the US got another one. And then the British answered in the last two ends with two and three and they just waltzed away and it was really, what was really crushing because, we see our TKFLASTANI Steve Emt there, and we haven’t really made contact with him yet. And I didn’t want to try to go to the mixed zone because we had to get back and tape, but I didn’t want to talk to them after a two loss day. And, but he was like Mr. Positivity on the team until like the last couple of end, like really the last end you could see that, oh, a couple of their shots didn’t go so well. And that was, that was really frustrating for them.

The last game was Canada and Switzerland. Canada won that eight to four. I was there for the beginning of the session. They do have the bagpipers again.

[00:34:31] Alison: Excellent.

[00:34:32] Jill: And lining up with the bagpipers was Shuey Rhon Rhon. It was so cute to see him on the feed because I looked at it he’d been down in the workroom.

Okay. So I got in trouble in the workroom because I decided to eat at the desk and a happy volunteer came by with the no eating COVID sign and showed me if I wanted to eat, I had to go to the little lounge area that they have set up and they have these lounges set up for us and there’s usually snacks and water and I was working. So I was just trying to eat at my desk while I worked and that was verboten. So I had to put my food away. And I was working way. And then I looked at my clock, my, at the clock and like, Ooh, I got to get upstairs. And I see the OBS feed countdown from 30 I’m like I got 30 seconds to get up there and I hear the light show going on. And then I’m like running into the press tribune and caught the end of the bagpipes.

[00:35:32] Alison: So wheelchair curling is happening in the Ice Cube. So today was my first trip into the Ice Cube. What an impressive building.

[00:35:40] Jill: It is very cool. Isn’t it?

[00:35:41] Alison: It is smaller on the inside that I anticipated. There was much less seating than it looked on television, especially in 2008, but what a gorgeous facility. And I can see why they found a way to repurpose it because you sit in there and it just looks very clean, very modern, very pleasant to watch a sporting event in it. And I almost want to say it feels fresh, which is interesting for a building that’s 14 years old. And yet when I was sitting there watching curling, it was bright and cheery and not like sitting at an old dull stadium.

[00:36:24] Jill: Yeah, I would agree. And, you can see the cube effect from the, bubbly kind of thing in the ceiling. That’s really cool. I wonder if, I mean, it took a long time for them to repurpose the venue to become the Ice Cube. I wonder if they would be able to learn how to do that more quickly, but I bet it’s not like putting a basketball floor over a hockey rink and suddenly you have a two sport venue and this would be an odd two sports to combine, but you would have to take the curling rink off in order to get the swimming pool. And the swimming pool really is something you can use year round.

[00:37:02] Alison: So the one part of the Ice Cube that is not very pleasant is the downstairs area before you get to the workroom, where the media bathroom is. I got lost. So the, yeah, so this is, this’ll be our inside baseball story for tonight.

All of the media is separated. We have a separate entrance. We have separate bathrooms. We have separate seats. So we never mix with people outside the closed loop. We never mix with the spectators. Whenever we have contact with the athletes, it’s only in the mixed zone with a distance. In all the other buildings that I’ve been in so far, the signage has been very, very good. I knew exactly where to go or it was, oh, you go, it was always pretty clear.

This was not. So I asked the volunteer, where is the bathroom? I had to go downstairs. I went downstairs. There is no signage. And it’s all these exactly what you would expect the basement level of a sports building to look like, very narrow quarters. And they’ve been subdivided to keep us in the closed loop so that on other sides of these corridors are other people.So the corridor isn’t even the proper width of a corridor. I finally found the bathroom, was very happy. There was toilet paper in the stall. This time I was prepared though. I looked. I came out and I could not remember how to get back. And there was no volunteers in the basements. So thankfully this volunteer also had come down to the bathroom. I traded her for a pin and then asked her for directions. I paid for my directions with the pin.

[00:39:01] Jill: Not bad, not bad. So interesting note about China because they came out in blue uniforms in the opening ceremonies, which was very jarring, I would say. They are wearing blue uniforms here at curling, also extremely jarring.

And they are also yelling when they make their throws as if there are sweepers there. Because there’s a lot of hard, there’s a lot of just yelling in general at the stones to do their will. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

[00:39:32] Alison: Yeah. So unlike in able-bodied curling, there’s no sweeping. So there wasn’t a lot of yelling. There was some communication. There was talking because they’re still figuring out the strategy and aiming, but there wasn’t any of that sweep, sweep, hard, hard, except from the Chinese. And it was very disruptive.

[00:39:54] Jill: It was very odd. And it’s interesting because I think wheelchair curling is much more difficult than able body curling because not only do they have to get the stone where they want on their own power, but they do it without sweepers. And the sweepers really helped the curl when it’s not curling the way you want. So having that just from the far end, all the way down to the house is pretty impressive to get what they want to do. And you see a lot of missed shots. I am, I would imagine low-level wheelchair curling, beginning wheelchair curling is probably more missed shots than made shots. And what we’re seeing is just so impressive. And I really appreciate being able to see this level of curling because it’s, this is tough.

[00:40:41] Alison: And there was some fun takeouts today where we just sat there and I’m still learning curling in many ways. And even I was looking, oh. Something would happen and you just could see, you don’t need to know anything about curling to know that that was not easy to do and just knock the stone exactly where it wanted to be.

[00:41:03] Jill: Exactly. So speaking of curling, how is our TKFLASTANI doing tomorrow?

[00:41:09] Alison: Okay so tomorrow Steve Emt and Team USA will be back on the sheet against Estonia.

[00:41:15] Jill: That will be an exciting, new team to watch. All right. We would like to thank today’s collectors Ean Teague and Kaori. Or wait, it could be K-ory, cause I don’t know how much I can Americanize this and get away with it because I would say we’ve been saying Kaori and I’m sure it’s Ka it could be Karee.

[00:41:36] Alison: I can’t make that sound with my mouth.

[00:41:38] Jill: So Kaori, you’ll have to let us know.

[00:41:42] Alison: And she knows we love her.

[00:41:43] Jill: Yes, definitely.

[00:41:45] Alison: You know, who else we love is our mascot for this week, who is Riza. Riza Hawkeye is named after an anime character from Full Metal Alchemist. And I don’t think I know what most of the words I just said mean, and special thanks to Claire for sharing Riza with us this week and for supporting our Kickstarter campaign.

[00:42:06] Jill: Well it’s anime. So it has to be cool. And I’m sure Riza is as cool as her namesake.

[00:42:13] Alison: Well, there has been discussion about her eyeliner game.

[00:42:19] Jill: Well, that will do it for this episode. Tune in again tomorrow for more competition from Beijing. We are going to try to go to the mountains tomorrow. So we’ll see how that works.

[00:42:32] Alison: Keep me in your thoughts. I’m going to try and dress warmly enough and while you’re doing that, please celebrate the games with us 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 also email us at flamealivepod@gmail.com or call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s (208) FLAME-IT.

[00:42:57] Jill: And yes, I have stocked up on sticky heat pads and I will be bringing them all with me just in case. So we will catch you back here tomorrow. Thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.

[00:43:11] Duane Kale: I think you were there. We saw their reaction to the decision. People were very, very vocal. At the time the board made a decision with which we thought was right to the sport and separating politics from sport, we believe there is no mix .

[inaudible] and they’re going to be competing. And I think the best thing that we can do is to be able to show peace in sport and the power of sport. And as I say, separate sports and politics. Um, it’s probably important for you to know that there has been a news release in the last 10 minutes. And you may just to brief yourself on that. There are some changes that have occurred.

[inaudible] A successful games? What do I expect? Um, as indicated here, what we are expecting is to have wonderful venues for our athletes to showcase brilliant sporting performances. And we could not be more delighted with the venues that the Tokyo, sorry, Japan, Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee have arranged and have in place for our athletes. They will showcase some amazing sport.

[inaudible] It’s not so much about how I feel. We made a decision yesterday based on what we saw the situation is in removing politics in sport. Clearly in the current environment, things are escalating very, very quickly. And as I just indicated, you may want to see there is a new media release, press release by the IPC, and there is a very different decision and the decision has changed very much from the reaction that we’ve seen from our members. And we are a very open, transparent, democratic organization and it is important to listen to our members and we have. So I will let you go and read that.

[inaudible] That’s one of the things that we use to showcase is our athletes on the world stage demonstrating what an inclusive society, and accessible society can look like. It’s shared and it’s not just shared, it’s shared with everybody in society, not just to protect your seat. It’s arguably the most important thing we have right now with what is going on in the world. And we have to leverage this opportunity to show them.

[inaudible] Have I met with them? Um, not the athletes they arrived in yesterday. They are exceptionally tired from a very long journey. Um, they are now getting settled into the village. I think our president Andrew Parsons is meeting with the head, the president of the Ukrainian Paralympic committee today. Um, and I suspect he may get the opportunity to meet the athletes as well, but we’ve allowed them some space. They’ve been on a long journey and coming out of a horrific situation and we just need to give them that space to get them the right, in the right frame of mind.

[inaudible] I have not personally been around to meet them. I don’t personally have a plan to meet them, but I’d bet any one of the board will be absolutely welcomed and happy to meet with them. Um, but we don’t want to impose. Like all of our athletes, you know, and even the countries that we’re from, um, we don’t go and interact with our teams in the village. It’s important that we respect the protocols, the COVID protocols, and we maintain that distance from the teams within the village.

Um, if we happened to see them at ceremonies close by we might wave but we need to respect those protocols. [inaudible]

[00:47:57] Duane Kale: Um, well they’ve only really just started using the training facilities that are being used and it’s been hard, in some ways, here for all athletes is they have not through the world circumstances, being able to travel to Beijing.

And so they are now experiencing those venues. I haven’t had any feedback about those. Um, but I am aware from what we have seen and what we’ve heard from the Olympics, the venues are going to be great. And even though the sun is out and it’s quite warm, it’s too warm for a woolen hat. I know the snow conditions are going to be great. We’ve had that reassurance.

[00:48:39] Reporter: So only a half year from Tokyo to Beijing, Summer Paralympic to Winter Paralympics. So what does that mean to the IPC?

[00:48:42] Duane Kale: It’s been exhausting, absolutely exhausting. And it’s like, I liken it to, you’re a 400 meters runner. And you’ve just sprinted the last a hundred meters and we said, just run one more lap.

And that was the same. And you know, when Tokyo was delayed by 2020 to 2021, and then immediately around the corner here we are in 2022. Um, but we live for sport. We live for the Paralympics and while it’s been exhausting, I don’t think we’d change a thing.

[00:49:21] Reporter: Can you give us some comments about the closed loop management? What do you feel about this kind of a style?You know, we, we do sports here.

[00:49:27] Duane Kale: Yeah. I think it’s, it’s one of those things that we’ve just kept to put in place. Um, and it was leading into Tokyo. It was a very unknown situation as to how that can be done. Um, and so, you know, it’s wonderful to see how Beijing has looked at Tokyo and how that was managed and how that is applied now. You know the, the difference between the coronavirus, uh, sorry, COVID-19 from Tokyo to now is different again. Um, and so, you know, it’s, it’s nice to have you out in persons to be able to speak. Um, but the closed loop is working and we know it’s working because we see the numbers. Um, and that’s a testament to the way in which the organizing committee had structured this closed loop.

[00:50:20] Jill: Have other athletes and teams threatened to boycott the games because of the decision on, uh, Russia and or the RPC and Belarus?

[00:50:28] Duane Kale: People have certainly expressed their views on the situation and we are very transparent and open and we’ve listened. Um, and I can really only at this stage point you to a new media release that press release that has just come out.

Um, and we have listened to what members are saying and it’s very fast moving. Um, and, and it’s really, really sad that sport has been dragged into a political situation, but we understand that that emotions are very, very high. And when emotions are high, um, rationale is not always level. Um, and that’s not to say it’s right or wrong. It’s just the way it is. And we’ve just had to respond and react to the current situation. And we are hopeful that we will not see teams boycott. We think there is more to be gained by competing and showcasing to the world what sport does and how it can unite us.

[00:51:27] Jill: When did governing board realized that constitutionally, they could not do anything besides the measures that they took and announced yesterday?

[00:51:35] Duane Kale: Um, we, we probably had a sense leading into the meeting that, you know, there’s the constitution wasn’t written for a war. Yeah, that’s the reality. Um, and we looked for, you know, what are our options and at the same time, and looking for those options, we wanted to maintain the integrity of sport and our values and the principles of why we do sport and what it means and how we separate sport and politics.

But unfortunately we’ve been dragged into it, or politics has been dragged into sport, whichever way it is. We just have to deal with it, um, and react to what our members are saying.

[00:52:23] Reporter: What kind of energy do we want to pass?

[00:52:25] Duane Kale: What kind of energy? Very positive energy. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and the message of how we use sport to unite us, irrespective of where we’re from and what our beliefs are, religions, doesn’t matter. How do we unite through sport with this collective belief in shaping a better society? And that’s what sport is a unique platform to be able to do.

Reporter: So it’s not just bring the disables together, but all the people together just as the Olympic model sets, right?

Duane Kale: Yeah. It is like, please don’t think that I want to bring the Olympics and Paralympics as one event in saying that. They are too unique and have their own unique identity but they both, in that regard have a similar message around solidarity, bringing people together in a peaceful environment, um, respecting others and respecting others’ opinions and fierce competition.

Reporter: Okay, thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.


[00:53:50] IPC representative: The change he’s talking is, in the past 20 minutes, the Russians and the Belarusians have now been withdrawn from the Games.  Um, so they won’t be competing. Uh, so, um, President Parsons is about to do a press conference at half past. So yeah, the update, I think, I don’t think that I don’t think the Chinese media, I don’t think the Chinese media care.

Uh, but yeah, so this was our press release in the last half hour, which was, “We have declined RPC and the Belarusian athletes. So they will not be taking part in the Games. Uh, there was a very busy 12 hours. Not an awful lot of sleep was had. Our members kind of talked at length overnight and it became clear. Uh, you’ll see it, you’ll see everything in the press release. So you don’t, you don’t need to, you don’t need to quote, uh, but I’m just giving the background for you.