Mingliang Zhang CHN reacts during the Wheelchair Curling Gold Medal Game between Sweden and The Peoples Republic of China at the National Aquatics Centre. Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, Beijing, China, Saturday 12 March 2022. Photo: OIS/Bob Martin. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Beijing 2022: Paralympics – Day 9

Release Date: March 13, 2022

Category: Beijing 2022 | Podcast

We’re at the penultimate day of the Paralympics, which means we’re at the medal rounds of the team competitions. We’re also saying good-bye to our volunteer friends at the venues—and in Alison’s case, that means taking pictures and signing autographs.

Sports on today’s schedule:

  • Para Alpine Skiing – Women’s slalom
  • Para Cross-Country Skiing – 10K/7.5K free
  • Para Ice Hockey – Bronze medal game
  • Wheelchair Curling – Gold medal game

The hockey game was pretty thrilling – China vs. the defending bronze medalists, Korea. China didn’t even compete in para ice hockey at PyeongChang 2018, so the fact that they have a competitive team has been a very pleasant surprise.

The crowd was really into it, and we got to hear all of the music that’s special to the Chinese team one more time. We also saw a lot of penalties piled on top of each other – including a scary one for hitting a player in the neck with the pick end of the stick.

In the end, China got bronze, and everyone was really thrilled about it. Korea goes home without a medal and four years to work on upping their game.

China also had a great day at the Ice Cube, as its vocal team (and vocal supporters) won the gold at the wheelchair curling tournament. The game was really different than most of the games we’ve seen at these Games, and really, the first half was one style of play, and the second half was a different style of play. Really interesting, and the crowd loved it.

We’ve said our farewells to the Ice Cube, and there’s just one more event we’ll be able to attend before the Closing Ceremonies. Our time in Beijing is almost over, but there’s still a lot to take in.

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!


Photo: OIS/Bob Martin. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC


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.

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

Alison: Ni hao, and we have not mentioned that this plexiglass is branded Beijing 2022.

Jill: It is. The entirety across is branded. On the sides we just have some notes on how to use the Wi-Fi, but yes, it’s, it’s very nice.

Alison: It’s very snazzy.

Jill: Second to last day.

Alison: I know, and my first medal ceremony.

Jill: Nice. But it’s, it’s a little, like, I got a little emotional today. Because I’m like, oh, this is the end. And it’s sad. And it’s happy at the same time because you’re like, oh, we, we made it. We did it. For us, we get to go home. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen home.

Alison: Me, not so much, but still it’s a long time.

Jill: But then at the same time, you’re like, oh, but I’ve been in this fun sports bubble. And now I got to go back to reality. So.

Alison: You have been in the warm embrace of the closed loop.

Jill: And now the closed loop is going to say we’ve had enough. Take all your belongs and get off the bus, which is the actual announcement. They finally put announcements on the bus, maybe sometimes in the last week. And you don’t know when you’re going to get those either.

Alison: Each bus is different, just like you don’t know if you’re going to get a putt-putt bus or tonight we had runners.

Jill: Oh, it was great. I have to tell you, I, in this moment I had a chug chug yesterday. So it wasn’t, it was in between a putt putt and a runner.

But they have put announcements on the bus and the translation is so cute because it does say you know, this is a stop. Please take all your belongs and get off the bus. It’s great. I just love that, it’s English is much better than my Chinese, so I don’t, I’m not complaining.

I was on a chug chug yesterday after curling and I was in the front of the bus because we had enough people where there were standers. And I did not realize there was a line. Okay. So the, the driver’s totally plexiglassed off ceiling to floor, all plexiglass. You can’t get anywhere near them. And there’s actually a taped line about two inches back from that plexiglass on the floor.

I had not noticed it until I crossed over. Because I wanted to know since it was a chug chug, maybe I could see the speedometer and see how fast we were going. Not quite, but I think the driver noticed me because he kept changing the view of the camera from the door in the back to the one that was by me. And I don’t think he liked me noticing how much it was. And that’s when I saw the floor. And I said, I think I will step back and let him do his job.

Alison: And take your belongs and get off the bus. One speedometer I did see was on the train yesterday and it hit 350 kilometers per hour. And for all of us non-metric Americans, that’s in the 215 to 220 miles per hour category.

That is very fast and it doesn’t feel like it. So I highly recommend if you ever get yourself to China or Japan, get you on a bullet train, because it is amazing. What an experience.

Jill: Yes they are. And it doesn’t stay there for very long, but man, you’re just flying. The whole trip is, is weighed. The bus ride to Zhangjiakou is about a good three hours plus a little bit. And the train ride is 50 minutes. It’s incredibly fast and train is brand new. So it’s lovely. The snow dream crew, that, mans it is lovely.

Alison: And you don’t feel it. What was so strange to me was looking out the window. It doesn’t feel like things are going by so quickly. I mean, when I’m on a regular train at home, I know when it speeds up and I don’t know if it’s that things are further away than I think they are so that my depth perception is skewed, but that in and of itself was just an incredible experience.

Jill: We’ve got some more follow-up file. You also saw something else on the train. That was very exciting.

Alison: Yes. So I happened to wait to get off the train, noticed a panel on the side, across from the bathroom that was marked as a doping sample storage. So, I don’t know if it was intended that athletes would be on the train and they can get sampled at any time so they wanted to have any area or if they would be transporting samples down from the mountain to the labs in Beijing. I don’t know but interesting little detail on the snow dream express.

[00:05:00] Jill: You have another follow-up

Alison: I think all the follow-up is me today. I forgot to mention when I was up at Alpine that there are these blow up pools for lack of a better word. So imagine a blow up kiddie pool turned upside down sideways. Photographers are on the course behind these.

Jill: So they don’t get run into?

Alison: Yes. So remember you were saying the other day about a skier went off the course and into a camera man. That was for a broadcast camera. These are still photographers who are up on the mountain and they’re in two or three different spots with these big white, and they’re white so they kind of blend into the mountains so I guess not to be a distraction to the skier and it took me awhile to figure out what was happening until I got a little bit closer. I went up the side. Nice. I was allowed to be there. It was a press area. And I saw it was these floppy padding.

Jill: Wow. That is interesting.

Alison: And then speaking of skiing, we talked about the Aigner family yesterday, who has collected a whole set of medals of many colors. And we were a little confused about who went with who. So the youngest sister, Barbara and their brother Johannes are the twins.

Jill: Babsy and Hansy

Alison: Which makes sense. And then the two older sisters, Veronika and Elizabeth are the ones who work together as skier and guide.

Jill: That’s good. And we will need to keep them straight because the younger ones are like 16 years old.

Alison: Yes. And we may be saying some names again today.

Jill: Sounds good. All right. What officiating job or volunteer job would you like to do today?

Alison: I realized, I don’t think we’ve talked about the magical vacuumers over at curling.

Jill: Not during the Paralympics, no.

Alison: And I finally saw them.

Jill: And?

Alison:  I’m going to be a magical vacuum at curling. They’re the ones who maintain the rugs. But I also would like to be, we’ve talked about the humidification. Someone’s got to fill those humidifiers. I could walk around with a watering can and fill those babies up. I would love that.

Jill: Speaking of those, I do have a couple of pictures. We had a different angle today of the systems.

I’m sorry, we got so into ice and it’s so exciting, but just feel like we’re geeking out a little, little too, like, oh, there’s another thing with the ice. So we got a better picture of the humidifiers that are about that, that sit on the floor right behind the barrier of the field of play. Then there is also this, a long blue thing that runs the entire length of the field and it is located just underneath the stands and it’s just got holes coming out of it everywhere. And there’s air coming out of there too, because spoiler alert, there are flags around today because China was in the gold medal game and somebody had their flag in front of one of the blowers and it fanned the flag.

Alison: It’s like a massive fan flag for the stands.

Jill: Well, it could be, but I’m sure it has something to do with keeping the air in the perfect temperature for good ice. So, we’re going to stick with curling. I don’t know if we’ve talked about this, but I, after befriending the Omega timer man, I would like to be a curling timer. They have a whole setup that’s got boxes. It’s got electronics. There are commands being called out like last rock on bravo sheet bravo. I do love it. I do love when you have this whole system down and at a patter, a set patter just runs like clockwork.

Alison: Seriously. It runs like clockwork, and as a timer.

Jill: Yes, I will go with that.

Alright. IPC had a press conference today. So this was the big president’s press conference with Andrew Parsons and our Mr. Craig, Mr. Craig Spence, the spokesperson for the IPC. And they talked a lot about how good the games were, because this is the, what do you think of the games? And they have been very pleased with the games so far and are very, I really got the sense of that they were very hopeful that this would be a momentum change or a point of change for disabled people in China.

[00:10:00] Alison: I also noticed that we got a very different Andrew Parsons today. And I think the last time we saw him was at the announcement of barring Russia and Belarus. That was a very exhausted, very nervous, very tense, Andrew Parsons.

And today he was so exuberant and so joyous and was excited to talk about how fantastic all the competition had been, how joyous the athletes were, how successful the hosts had been. Clearly, Craig Spence has never been on the bus from Yangqing, but overall, and we talked about this after the press conference, that the competition was very good.

And the competition stuff, if you just look what happened on the field of play, we saw some great stuff and some very exciting matches and some very exciting races. Sure there was lots of logistical issues that we could talk about and we will talk about it once we’re home and we’ve slept and, and can really parse that out. But from the IPC’s point of view, they’re seeing more participation, more viewership, more excitement surrounding athletes with disabilities. And that’s what they want to see.

Jill: Exactly. Exactly. The other big announcement from the press conference was the election for the Athletes Commission happened, and there are three seats that are open.

They filled two of them. Because third place is a tie and they have to have a runoff. So the new athletes elected to the athletes commission are Birgit Skarstein from Norway. She’s a cross country skier. And Josh Dueck from Canada. He is an Alpine skier. The third seat is still to be determined because there was a tie in the voting between Mitch Gourley from Australia who’s a skier and Rico Roman from USA who plays para ice hockey.

They were very upfront that we can’t talk about Russia and Belarus. We know you’re going to have questions, but please don’t ask because there’s probably going to be legal action and we can’t talk about it. And we’re going to give you the answer that we can’t talk about it.

Alison: Don’t waste your time.

Jill: Yeah. Right. I like it that they said that. I mean, they said similar things in the IOC press conferences. It’s just in a different way. I just think the way Craig Spence carries himself and it’s just more matter of fact and he’s more relatable, I guess.

Alison: Yes. Well, so is Andrew Parsons. Yes. I mean the cutest thing that Andrew Parsons said in this press conference was he talked about being Latin American and that he hates, hates the fist bump. He wants to hug everybody. And I said, Andrew Parsons, I will hug. I’m cool with that, but that’s the kind of president of the IPC that he is. And I think that trickles down.

Jill: Yes. It’s a very different tone and demeanor that we have here at the IPC. And we’ve said that before, but we, we really like it. It’s very refreshing.

You got to ask a question.

Alison: I did. That was fun. I was terrified. Because I didn’t want to sound stupid. And I, I know I was worried, you know, it’s Craig Spence and Andrew Parsons that I haven’t met them yet. This was kind of the first time I’ve ever spoken to them really.

Jill: Okay. We have to pause here because there’s not magical vacuuming. There’s a magical mopping on the floor with, it looks like a wet mop, but it’s got to be dry.

Alison: No it could be wet to get the stickies.

Jill: Oh, gotcha. Gotcha. Okay.

Alison: So I asked about the new host city selection process that the IOC has totally revamped and how much say the IPC has in selecting a city because in our conversations we talked a lot about, oh, is that host city really appropriate for Paralympics and Andrew Parsons gave a great answer in terms of really giving the information.

And he said that the IPC has seats on the host city commission and that because it’s now a commission versus just a straight vote, they discuss things. So he feels like the Paralympic actually has more say than they did in the old system, which I’m glad to hear because that’s how the Paralympics are going to grow.

That they’re not the ugly stepchild that they get some say, because if a host city is inappropriate for the Paralympics, how is that going to move forward?

Jill: Right. With just because, Andrew Parsons is a member of the IOC as the IPC president. And he would just have one vote in the old system and it would have to be lobbying everybody to think about this stuff. And that’s not always a priority for everybody, but now there’s the summer host commission and the winter host commission and they’ve got a seat on each one and he’s one of those seats and somebody else who is very strong in the IPC is another one of those seats. And that I really do think that they get more accomplished as an organization by being in the room where the decisions are made.

[00:15:00] Alison: I know a lot of people were concerned about this host city selection going behind closed doors. But I actually think it’s a positive change because you get away from that real, very expensive host city selection process. And I think actually you get to hear from people who have something to say that’s important rather than just straight lobbying with steaks and gold watches,

Jill: Right. And a fancy presentation. And you get there and, oh, the stuff that you talked about, isn’t the truth, how often? And I think, I bet that happens with every bid. So we’re away from the glitz and the glamour of it all and needing to use consultants, which I’m sure consultants are not happy about this process, but I think, like you say, I think it’s, they talk more, there’s less money involved in putting together a bid and they get cities involved in the process. Even if they aren’t ready to host now, they work on them for years to get them ready to be a host city. So we’ll see how this goes for the next few. I mean, we just started it.

Alison: Right. Really Brisbane is the first one to get selected this way, but we’re going to have the 2030 before that. And that’s being selected this way.

Jill: Yes.

Alison: So we’ll see how this goes.

Jill: All right. Let’s talk about today’s action. Over at para Alpine skiing, we had the women’s slalom races today. In the standing class, gold went to Ebba Aarsjoe from Sweden. Silver went to Shang Mengqiu from China and bronze went to Anna-Maria Rieder from Germany.

Okay, so Ebba Aarsjoe did not know if she was going to race today. She didn’t know until seven o’clock in the morning. Because she got injured in the giant slalom yesterday, decided to race, won the gold. And she said, “maybe I’m a bit stupid I think, and I want to win. Maybe it was because it’s the Paralympics and at slalom, which is my most important discipline, but mostly because I’m stupid.”

Alison: She’s adorable. She was the one who I saw win up at Yangqing and she’s this tiny little Swedish girl, really beautiful, beautiful smile. You know, I got to say congratulations to her and she didn’t know where it was coming from. So she just sort of turned and she waved in my general direction. It’s like, thank you.

Jill: But she was clearly, she led both runs, clearly the outstanding performance of this event. So congratulations to her second gold of the games, like you said.

In the sitting class, gold went to Anna-Leona Forster from Germany, who was the defending gold medalist. So back-to-back, and she’s also the current world champ. So that is very exciting for her. Silver went to Zhang Wenjing from China and bronze went to from Liu Sitong from China.

And in the vision impaired, one and two go to the Aigners from Austria. Veronika and her sister Elizabeth won the gold. Silver went to Barbara Aigner with guide Klara Sykora from, they’re all from Austria. Bronze went to Alexandra Rexova from Slovakia with guide Eva Trajcikova. And that is a name we’ve also heard before.

Alison: Yes we have.

Jill: So, this is the eighth medal for the Aigner family at Beijing 2022. And Veronika has now equaled Johannes’ golden haul in the men’s vision impaired class. And Barbara said, is the one who said, “Hey, if I can do this, when I’m 16, just imagine what I’m going to be able to do when I’m 20.” So she is really looking forward to Milan Cortina 2026.

Alison: She’s really looking forward to beating her sister. I understand that feeling given our fantasy game from the Olympics. Yeah. I’ve got to wait another two and a half years to try again. She unfortunately has got to wait another four. But she’s a lot younger.

Jill: There, there you go.

Alison: But that’s exciting. And that’s exciting because we’ve talked about, there’s not a lot of Europeans in this field. You know, the powerhouses that you see in the Olympics are not sending big teams to the Paralympics. We’re seeing different teams, which is great, but it feels like these traditional Alpine countries are not sending big teams and maybe with Austrian success they’ll put some more resources in so that your entire team is not coming from one family, which is, I mean, they did fantastic and they deserve all these medals, but Austria, come on, the Aigners can’t do this by themselves here. Or maybe they can.

[00:20:00] Jill: Well, you know, if you get more people, maybe they can start introducing team events. That would be kind of cool. So we will see.

Speaking of two and a half years until you can beat your sister again, it’s two and a half years until an Olympics, which means we’ve got two and a half years to try to cover our operating budget during a time in our listenership cycle that’s a low period. So we are having a Red Envelope campaign to help us raise money to cover these operating costs.

We know you have been so generous so far in supporting us through our Kickstarter campaign that got us here and through Patreon patronage that helps us throughout the year. But yeah, we were really hoping to be able to cover some costs and be able to do more with the show in the run-up to Paris. So we are asking for donations of at least $8 to help get us through to Paris. This is symbolic of the lucky number 8 that is a symbol of good fortune here in China. And as we celebrate the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. So if you appreciate what we have done for you during the games and hope you’ve had a better time enjoying them because of us, please go to flamealivepod.com/support to donate.

And if you don’t have the financial means, tell a friend. You’ve got to have some kind of friend whose family hates them for watching the Olympics and geeking out and they need, they need us. They need us.

Alison: We’re saving marriages. So something else I want to mention about the Red Envelope campaign. And I say this to the people who have sort of picked us up during the games, both the Olympics and the Paralympics. We are not going away. We continue to do shows year-round. So all these things, when we say, oh, put it on the list, put it on the list. Those are going to be shows that you don’t have to wait for 2024 then to hear.

Jill: Exactly. Every week sunshine coming from these mics.

Alison: Just keep me off the mountain and we’ll keep the show going.

Jill: Moving over to para of cross-country skiing. We had the 10 kilometer race today for the vision impaired and standing. And then it was a 7.5 kilometer race for the sitters. The men, Brian McKeever from Canada won gold with his guide Graham Nishikawa and this is medal number 16,

Alison: Gold medal

Jill: Gold medal. He also has two silvers and two bronzes over six Paralympics. He is now tied with Gerd Schoenfelder as the most decorated winter Paralympian, but he has a chance to beat Gerd.

Alison: He is racing tomorrow with Brittany Hudak in the open relay. So he has said he’s going to retire after these games. This is his last shot to break the record. I am so cheering for them tomorrow for that.

Jill: Exactly. Still in the vision impaired class, silver went to Zebastian Modin from Sweden with guide Emil Joensson Haag. Bronze went to Dmytro Suiarko from Ukraine with guide Oleksandr Nikonovych.

In the standing class, gold went to Wang Chenyang from China. Silver went to Benjamin Daviet from France and bronze went to Cai Jiayun from China. And in the sitting class, gold went to Mao Zhongwu from China. Silver went to Zheng Peng from China and bronze went to Giuseppe Romele from Italy.

In the women’s edition of this race, the vision impaired class, gold went to Lin Kazmaier from Germany with guide Florian Baumann. Silver went to Wang Yu from China with guide Li Yanling. Bronze went to Carina Edlinger from Austria with guide Lorenz Josef Lampl.

Alison: That means Riley, her guide dog, will be back on the podium.

Jill: Oh, yay.

Alison: Dogs belong in the Paralympics too.

Jill: Did we talk about the podium? I mean, this has been in the group. Did we talk about this?

Alison: No. So, Carina has guide dog, Riley. When she won the gold medal in the other race, came on the podium with her and he didn’t quite know what to do. He knew it was great and he kind of was looking around and, and she said she wanted to bring him on the podium because he’s such an integral part of her life and an integral part of her training and her ability to race. So she wanted to share that with him.

Jill: And I saw a little bit of that and it looked like he wanted to be super happy and jumpy, but he also had his harness on, so he knew he was working and just couldn’t and you see, he did look a little kid-like, I don’t know what to do, but I’m working. I want to party.

Alison: Because he certainly can feel her emotions.

Jill: Yes.

Alison: He knew things were very amped up and I’m sure there was cheering and he was distracted, but those working dogs know how to work. Apparently Riley is a huge star in the village. Everybody knows Riley. Everybody wants to visit with Riley. So him being on the podium only seemed appropriate.

Jill: In the standing class, gold went to Oleksandra Kononova from Ukraine. Silver went to Natalie Wilkie from Canada and bronze went to Iryna Boi from Ukraine. And in the sitting class, gold went to Yang Hongqiong from China. Silver went to Oksana Masters from USA and bronze went to Ma Jing from China.

Alison: So we do have one more set of races in cross-country tomorrow. There is the mixed relay and the open relay. You may want to bet on Ukraine.

[00:25:00] Jill: Yeah. Besides Brian McKeever, that Ukraine and China, China’s got a really strong team.

Alison: I’m betting on Ukraine.

Jill: Over in para ice hockey, we had the bronze medal game tonight. It was China versus Korea. Things were pretty even until the second period. And that’s when, do you have the information?

Alison: So Shen Yu Fang from China, for lack of a better word, stuck a stick in a player, a Korean player’s neck.

Jill: Yeah. He had checked them into the wall and in getting out of that mashup for could, because what happened was he, he checked him into the wall. It was a pretty rough check. And the puck went to his one o’clock or two o’clock. So he went after the puck but was in doing so sticked the Korean player in the neck.

Alison: And we were not able to determine who the Korean player was. And I asked around the press tribune and nobody saw the number and we didn’t know the players well enough to realize who was on and off the ice. So we will, we will look into that and see how his condition was he was escorted off the ice. Scary additional step was when the paramedic from, or the trainer from Team Korea came on, he slipped on the ice and smacked his head. So we don’t know if he’s okay.

Jill: Right. It was, it was pretty scary.

Alison: But ultimately the Chinese player was given a two plus two plus 10, which we have never seen before. So he got a sticking penalty. He got a roughing penalty and then he got a 10 minute misconduct which was no joke. Team China’s coach, not happy to say the least, but what was interesting was that in the third period, a Korean player got a 10 minute misconduct.

Jill: Yeah.

Alison: And we have not seen a misconduct all tournament. And it’s not like there hasn’t been rough play, so I’m not sure if this was a team calling the game very tight, or if they saw stuff on the ice that they were trying to prevent from escalating. But that was two unusual calls. I mean, 10 minute misconduct is no joke.

Jill: And this is something to put on our follow-up file because even, I kind of thought it was going to be just a 14 minute. But after the four minutes, it seemed like there was still a player in the box, but they were full strength on the ice. So we are under the impression that the 10 minute misconduct just means that you can’t put this one player back on the ice for 10 minutes and he has to sit out the lines, but you can still play full strength.

So this is something to look into because it was a little confusing to us because like you said, we have not seen this, but for both teams to get penalties like that was really something. So it was a pretty chippy game. Once Korea’s one player went down with the neck injury, they really seemed to lose steam.

Alison: I don’t know if that was maybe one of their leaders or best players and it, it just seemed to shift the game.

Jill: Right, right. Because things were pretty close for a while, especially on shots on goal. China had scored a couple of points early, but then in the third period they scored two more. One was an empty net goal and they ended up winning four to nothing. So they were thrilled.

Alison: First medal in sled hockey for China.

Jill: Yes. Crowd going nuts, not as big of a crowd as I thought.

Alison: But they were loud.

Jill: They, they were very loud. They were very excited. Lots of flag wavers, because what happens is that they’ll get people with flags on poles and wave them for the entire game.

Alison: I don’t, I think they may be switching off people.

Jill: Maybe. I think they’re strong. I’m going to give them credit for being able to do that for 20 minutes at a time or 15 minutes at a time.

Alison: Well, it’s never 15 minutes. It can be 25. It was about 25 minutes a period. It was a fast game.

Jill: One other thing that you don’t see because it happens pretty early and I don’t understand why, well, I don’t under, I guess if we had spectators in normal conditions, people would be in the arena to enjoy this, but the cheerleaders put on these red shawl type cloak things.

Alison: I mean, if we were in Japan, I would say they’re almost like Bolero style kimonos, but I realize we’re in China and that’s not the proper terminology, but that’s how it looks, these silk sweater jackets.

[00:30:00] Jill: Right? And then they have on these very elaborate head dresses that have these two giant feathers out the top that make them kind of look like they’re like have ram’s horns.

Alison: And the, when we say giant these, six feet long at least.

Jill: They’re very long. They’re very, very long. And they are very eye-catching and they do some sort of dance to like an opera song.

Alison: So this is based on the traditional Beijing Opera. So the costume and the music, and I think even some of the choreography is based on performances done at Beijing Opera.

Jill: It is very interesting. And it’s a shame that there’s not an audience there to appreciate it.

Alison: We appreciated it, but I did have to make a correction for myself earlier. I had totally butchered and didn’t even get the right consonants, the Team China coach’s name. So it is Nikolay Sharshukov.

Jill: The wheelchair curling tournament today, it was China versus Sweden. China won, eight to three in seven ends. Yes. This was a weird game.

Alison: Yes, because in the first half, I was gonna say at least the first three ends, when we’ve been watching curling, they set up these elaborate chess boards of stones and guards and, and who’s curling around this. Here they were just one team with throw stone. The other team would take it out. And they would just repeat that process. So there’d be no stones in the house and no stones on the sheet. And we were both very confused as to what the strategy was. And then all of a sudden we got these elaborate chess boards of stones.

Jill: Like after the halftime. Because they get a little break after four ends. It was just really bizarre because what would happen then is they kind of trade points back and forth a little bit with whoever had the hammer would get the last throw and they get the point because-

Alison: You could leave a stone in the house, if that’s all you had to do.

Jill: Yeah. So it was very strange. And then China really went to town, getting huge ends. They really set stuff up and just racked up the points.

Alison: And Sweden started making mistakes.

Jill: Yeah. And I did wonder because the back and forth, back and forth play that we did see, it was like, okay, who is going to make the mistake?

And somebody scores two, but the mistakes didn’t really start coming until the second half of the game. And, you know, you make one mistake and miss one takeout and that means the other team scores three, four points.

Alison: Which is what they did. They had one end with three, one end with four and then Sweden conceded.

Jill: Yeah. So Andrew Parsons was there to present the medals. And as was Kate Caithness from the World Curling, she is the head of World Curling. And you said immediately,

Alison: this woman must be a Scottish grandmother. She’s the head of World Curling, but she not only is a very lovely Scottish woman. She’s also an OBE and a very accomplished curler and a long time a leader of World Curling. So she is much more than her Scottishness, though that in and of itself would make me love her.

Jill: If you were watching this game and you watched the medal ceremony that went with it, what you did not see on the screen likely was it was flag city in the stands. Like we saw more flags and pictures, signs all over the place. And then once they won, three people came down with flags on poles, flags on flagpoles. One stood on each corner of the side where the medal stand was. So you wouldn’t see them in the shot, but they were behind them waving their flags throughout the whole ceremony. And then there was another flag across from them. So it would be behind the cameras, waving another flag. It was amazing.

Alison: But then there was one guy who ran the length like it was a college football game.

Jill: Right. Kind of like, oh, who’s the Canadian ice skater, male ice skater figure skater?

Alison: Oh, Keegan Messing.

Jill: Yes. So he would run with the Canadian flag in the stands during figure skating. And it was kind of like that, but they ran longer.

Alison: Right? Because they ran the whole length of the sheet, not on the ice though. You did have fantasies of Shuey Rhon Rhon coming out and doing a header and sliding down the ice, like a slip and slide.

[00:35:00] Jill: I so wanted to see that. It would have been awesome. I don’t think the ice team would have appreciated that. I want to mention what you did not see, because you went downstairs and ended up having to give autographs and things like that.

Alison: And you are not being sarcastic. I went downstairs to the work room. Well, actually I went downstairs to the bathroom. Let’s be honest here. And I came out of the bathroom.

Jill: And there’s some, there’s no platform to step down.

Alison: It was a safe bathroom. Thankfully there was toilet paper in the stall. All, all went well. And I come out of the bathroom and this is the last event in curling. We’re saying, we’re not going to be in the Ice Cube anymore. And when a couple of the volunteers saw me, they came to say goodbye, which then led several other volunteers to come. And then I had to sign things. I had to take a couple pictures. I had to hug a couple of people and I missed whatever you saw because my fans needed me.

Jill: And that’s totally cool. But if you were worried about the fact that they at the ceremony, they just got their medals and their flowers. When do they get their Shueys?

Alison: I thought of that.

Jill: Okay. So the medal girls, it is a group of five of them. Two of them lead them out and the other three are responsible for like setting up the trays on the table. They were at the entrance to the field of play with bags of Shueys. So when the contestant, when the contestants, come on down,

Alison: You win a gold medal and a Shuey.

Jill: Yeah. So when the, when the athletes rolled down the ramp and out to go back to the locker room, they handed them their Shuey Rhon Rhons then. So that’s, don’t worry about that. That’s all taken care of. The other thing that is the same group of girls was also responsible for taking the trays off of the table and they did it in formation. They walked out in time in a line, did their exact moves that they were supposed to do. Walked in front of the table, turned at the same time, picked up the trays at the same time, walked around, took them out, then had to come and do it again for the second row of trays. And nobody’s watching. Except for me. I don’t, I, maybe somebody is watching, but they did their job the way you’re supposed to do it.

Alison: I’m sticking around for hockey tomorrow. We got to see those medal trays come off.

Jill: That is correct.

Alison: So that’s tomorrow will be the last of the competition. Tomorrow is it.

Jill: I know. It’s bittersweet. We were both getting emotional at curling today because it’s just the end and yeah.

Alison: So we’ve got some cross-country, the gold medal hockey game, and closing ceremonies tomorrow.

Jill: Very excited. And we would like to thank our Kickstarter producer, J. Brian Carberry today for all of his support and all of the fun facts he gave us throughout these last few weeks of shows.

Alison: And we also have a mascot for each half of the Paralympic games. Today’s mascot, Theo. Theo has been to visit the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and met the Team USA spirit bear. We have not even been to the training center in Colorado Springs. We went to Lake Placid. I don’t know if Theo has been to Lake Placid. He probably has.

Jill: I would not be surprised.

Alison: He apparently is also a big fan of curling so he would have been watching tonight.

Jill: Well, thank you Theo. Thank you for being an excellent mascot. We get you for one more day. So that will do it for this episode. Tune in again tomorrow for the last date of the Paralympics.

Alison: But before then, keep celebrating the games with us on our Keep the Flame Alive Facebook group. It’s the place to hang out with our other listeners. Jill’s on Twitter and 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.

And be sure to send in any questions that you’ve come across during the Paralympics. When we get back, it will set up what we’re going to do for the next few months.

Jill: Exactly. We will catch you back here tomorrow. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.