We’re getting into winter mode, so it’s time to explore some of the winter sports ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. On this episode, Paralympic hopeful Michael Murphy joins us to talk about his sport of para Alpine skiing, and more specifically, how his class of sit-skiing works.
Find out more about Michael at his website and get information about his book When I Fell: How I Rerouted my Life and Found Strength in a Severed Spine.
You can find his book in our bookshop.org storefront (purchases through this link support the show).
Jill also shares her stories from her weekend volunteering at the US Masters National Long Course Championship meet, as she got to pull out her stopwatches and cross off an officiating/volunteer wishlist item from our Tokyo 2020 list.
Plus, we have news from TKFLASTAN, a look back at the incredible judo tournament at Atlanta 1996, and Coatesy goes rogue!
Tune in, and you’ll find out what historical Games we’ll be looking at next year!
Links to other items of note from the show:
- Kelly Brush Foundation
- Challenged Athletes Foundation
- High Fives Foundation
- Spire Institute
- Arizona State University’s Humanities Week
- “The gender trap” – The Guardian
- Our merch store is open again!
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo: Courtesy of Michael Murphy
Please note: Although we try to make sure this transcript is correct, do know that it’s machine-generated and may contain errors. The audio file is the official record of note.
Episode 209- Michael Murphy – Para Alpine Skiing
Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?
[00:00:41] Alison: I am very jealous. You got an official polo shirt.
[00:00:45] Jill: It’s not a polo shirt. I didn’t get an official polo shirt, but I did get to check off one of the things that was on the officiating or volunteer jobs. we would do list from Tokyo 2020. And now I think we should compile those lists and make them happen because I did not expect to get to do this, but I did.
[00:01:04] Alison: That’s actually a good idea. I will make a full list and this will be our officiating slash volunteer bucket list.
[00:01:11] Jill: Sounds good! All right. So what happened was the US Masters Swimming Nationals, Long Course Championships was in the Cleveland area. It was at the Spire Institute, which has, or had some affiliation as a USOPC training site because you see the signs still on the highway, but you do not see any kind of affiliation within the Institute itself. But it is a big complex. They have a beautiful Myrtha pool.
So they had the championships there. Masters swimming is anything after I think 18. And you can just swim. There were people in, I believe their eighties swimming. And there were people who were relatively old, who were swimming in their first meets ever.
[00:02:00] Alison: Oh, that’s fantastic!
[00:02:02] Jill: Yes. So it’s very exciting. And I volunteered for it through the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. And one of the jobs that they were looking for volunteers was backup lane timers.
I don’t know why. This was the one that was the hardest to fill. They were constantly looking for lane timers, apparently during the whole thing. Other, other jobs got filled quite easily but who wouldn’t want to have a stopwatch in their hand?
[00:02:25] Alison: I was going to say, I think this is that you need to understand your love of stopwatches is not normal.
[00:02:33] Jill: It is normal to a very select group of people.
[00:02:37] Alison: And they were all standing at the end of those swim lanes.
[00:02:40] Jill: I’m not sure those people are, but the roller derby people …
[00:02:44] Alison: Did you bring your own stopwatches?.
[00:02:47] Jill: Yes, I did. Because you cannot trust what the they’re going to have on the other side. So yes, I brought my own stopwatches it was a four day event and I volunteered every day. I could only do half days. So in the first two days I did the 7:00 AM to noon shift. And then the second two days I did like the 12 to four. So, I did bring my own stopwatches because I have Oslo stopwatches. And they had the Sportline. Their Sportlines were actually quite nice, but my Oslo stopwatch is rounder. It fits my hand better. And the buttons are a little more tactile and the space in between the mode button and the start button is perfect for resting my finger and on the Sportline, it’s a little narrower.
That said, I did tell the guy handing out the equipment– we got a stopwatch, they had clipboards and pencils for everyone. And– I know, heaven.
[00:03:39] Alison: Did you get a whistle too, because then that would have been it.
[00:03:42] Jill: No. Oh, don’t get me started. They need the Fox 40s over in swimming. They’re using pea whistles, and they don’t work very well. So, the, the guy handing out his stopwatches, I said, I’ve brought my own. He’s like, oh, you’re a professional.
But my first day timing was 1500 meters.
[00:04:00] Alison: And as we know from Tokyo, 1500 meters is at least one commercial break
[00:04:05] Jill: And if you’re 71 and doing the entire 1500 meters as butterfly–
[00:04:14] Alison: Oh, dear.
[00:04:15] Jill: –It will take maybe 20 minutes longer than the last person in front of you in the heat. They were not happy. They got off schedule on that one. But 1500 meters also meant you got a bell!
[00:04:27] Alison: Did you get to ring the bell?
[00:04:30] Jill: Yes. Oh my goodness. It was so exciting. It was just like a 1500 meters. How do you keep track of it? Well, we had special paperwork for this. We had usually you had paperwork where you just wrote down your time because what we were as volunteer lane timers, we were the redundancies in the system.
So when the swimmer hits the touchpad, that’s the official time. Then you have a plunger in your hand. So it looks like you’re playing “Jeopardy,” and you have that button in your– I know, so two in one dreams right there. And so when the swimmer hits the wall, you hit both your plunger and your stopwatch at the same time.
And the stopwatch is your third mode of redundancy. So if all else fails and that happened like right away, somebody didn’t touch. Right. And they went to my time like, oh, this is the one where I am off. Not, not horribly. Cause it took me a while to figure out where to start timing.
But , every session I got to say, my stopwatch matching the big board, at least once a session.
[00:05:28] Alison: That’s because you are a professional.
[00:05:32] Jill: That’s right. So yes, we got to ring the bell. The paperwork was you kept time, every, lap, so that helped you keep track. And then it said bell lap for the bell.
And you had to ring the bell from the flags to the flags. So when they hit that five meters to go flag, you rang and they flipped and you kept ringing it until they hit the flags again.
[00:05:51] Alison: Oh, so there’s a whole technique for the bell ringing.
[00:05:53] Jill: Yes. Whole system. The next days were sprints and things like that. Found out that if you’re timing prepared to get wet, because you will.
And I switched after day two. I switched from pants to my little officiating skirt. I mean, I got to pull almost everything out again, my officiating skirt, my officiating shoes, my black socks until I had to switch to white socks ’cause I didn’t have any more black socks that were clean. Oh my goodness. It was great.
But day two rolls around and we’re in faster events and Oh, we were doing IMs. So the stroke judges were more on our sides looking to make sure that the swimmers touched correctly.
So I’m chatting with them while swimmers are on the other side of the pool and just asking them what they’re looking for and things like that. And you remember in the book, The Suspect we read about Richard Jewell, how they made kind of a big deal he was law enforcement wannabe?
[00:06:48] Alison: Yes.
[00:06:49] Jill: Okay. So in the movie Richard Jewell, based on that book, Paul Walter Hauser plays Richard Jewell and. I talked to my second person and I hear Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell’s voice in my head clear as a bell: I’m in officiating too.
And then I stopped asking questions.
[00:07:11] Alison: Yeah. But you were there with your Oslo stopwatch,. and everything was under control.
[00:07:16] Jill: Oh. And all was right in the world for a weekend.
Good time. So yes, we have to keep going on this because there are more opportunities to cross stuff off that list, I’m sure.
[00:07:25] Alison: I’m feeling pressure now.
[00:07:27] Jill: No pressure, no pressure.
[00:07:30] Alison: Maybe I’ll just throw some crystals on my rug here, spin around with a ribbon and go pick them up.
[00:07:37] Jill: One thing I am worried about when we go to Beijing is we’re going to be like asking all of the people on the sidelines. So what is it that you do? ‘Cause it looks really cool!
[00:07:47] Alison: Because here’s the one thing we’re going to run into because there will not be any foreign volunteers.
[00:07:53] Jill: Oh!
[00:07:54] Alison: I’m assuming have they made that they haven’t made the announcement official, but I I’m going to throw it out there and say there aren’t going to be any non-Chinese volunteers. So let’s hope we can communicate.
[00:08:10] Jill: Maybe, but there’s going to be at least somebody who can interpret stuff because they will have interpreters there and maybe they’ve got expats from other countries, living in China for various reasons who will also volunteer.
[00:08:23] Alison: With any luck, we’ll meet George from the UK, who’s in China for some reason. And he’ll explain everything to us.
[00:08:30] Jill: Right, right. Get the ambassador’s husband or something like that. All right.
All right. Before we get to our interview, we would like to introduce our Patreon of the week. This week our patron is the dulcet tones of Jason Bryant. Jason is one of our dedicated Patreon patrons and their financial support really does keep the show afloat. .We are grateful to Jason for so many reasons.
[00:08:58] Alison: I know. He’s part of the family at this point, and he can say all the speeches, all the announcements.
[00:09:06] Jill: Yeah. Tell us how to pronounce all the names.
[00:09:09] Alison: Oh Lord, that’s helpful.
[00:09:11] Jill: So Jason, thank you so much for your support and for being a patron. If you would like to know more about being a patron too, you can find out at Patreon.com/flame alive pod,
Time to get to our interview. And it is time to get in winter sport mode. So we are hitting the slopes with Paralympic Alpine skiing hopeful Michael Murphy. Michael is a sit skier, and he talked with us about how his sport works. Take a listen.
First off, Michael, thank you so much for joining us. Alpine skiing. We know it’s go down the hill as fast as possible, but what are some of the rules beyond that? Like what kind of parameters do you have for Alpine skiing?
[00:09:58] Michael: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I really appreciate it. I’ve been listening to your episodes of the last few weeks and it really is getting me excited for the ski season. I love the idea of keeping the flame alive because as you say, a lot of people it’s just every four years, but for so many athletes, it’s not every four years. It’s a constant grind.
So I’ve really enjoyed uh, some of your recent podcasts. So I appreciate you having me on to talk about a little bit of a para Alpine skiing. There’s a lot that goes into it, and I’m still learning a lot of this myself. I’ve been competitively racing for around four or five years now, so I’m still learning a lot of the little nuances of race day, of when you’re in the course and what parts you need to focus on and where you can lose time and where you can win and lose a race type of thing. But would you like me to start sort of when you’re at the top?
[00:10:53] Jill: Yeah, start at the top of the hill and let’s work our way down.
[00:10:55] Michael: So I’m just picturing myself up in the race start area with all teammates and competitors And it starts off with with I forget the name of the people who go down the course and they test it out and test the timing out. And usually goes by sort of the discipline of your disability.
Um, as a sit skier, we’re at a serious disadvantage because we’re always at the end. Usually you have your blind athletes doing first. Usually your females go first and your blind athletes and then your less physically impaired, so to speak. Um, Usually a lot of the standing athletes go first maybe somebody with a CP or they might be missing a limb.
And then it sort of gets to the sit skiers at the end. And by that time, the course is so ran through and rutted. You have to accept the fact that the course you’re going to be on is not going to be smooth. And of course you have all the weather variables depending on the day, but you just have, like, our coaches teach us, you have to be good in the ruts. You have to learn how to just ride them out and just deal with them because that’s the skiers. Like I said, we’re going up to the very end. And so who knows what the course will be like. And usually it’s not great. Sometimes it is sometimes not. It also depends on what race you’re at, how many people are in the field that day.
Forerunners. That was the word I was blanking on a minute ago.
So when you’re at the top of you’re, like any sport you’re loosening up, you’re trying to just get yourself in the right mindset. Some people listen to music. Some people are doing their TheraBands just to loosen up their shoulder muscles. Just getting into the right mindset. Some people don’t like to talk to anybody. Some people are jabber boxes and they’ll talk about anything and everything. And some people just want them to just shut up.
[00:12:50] Jill: What are you? Are you a jabber box? Are you shut up please?
[00:12:53] Michael: I’m right in between. I don’t care really if people are talking. I’ve always been the type where I can get along with everybody. I can get my mind right in any sort of situation. But I’m moving around. I’m constantly pushing back up the hill with my, with my outriggers, just to work on my biceps, my forearms, my triceps, to make sure that they’re firing on all cylinders, not getting cold, but I love that race atmosphere up there at the start.
Everybody’s kind of in a good mood. If it’s not downhill day, cause on downhill day, everybody’s a little bit more serious because the speeds are severely increased. Um, but if it’s like a slalom or a GS or a super G the atmosphere is always really fun. Cause everybody and especially in the para Alpine community, it’s such a small community, so you really just have fun up there.
And so depending on where your standings are and where your times are from the season or race before, that’s what kind of order you go in. As a newer athlete recent years up more towards the back, just because I’m competing with guys who have gone to the Paralympics and who have won Paralympic medals and I’m not a Paralympian, I’m a Paralympic hopeful.
And so which was one of the reasons why I appreciate you having me on the podcast because. The stories and the guests that you all had are amazing. So important to also see the other side, to see the ones who are still working to get there, who haven’t necessarily made it yet, but they’re with the right coaches, they’re training with the right teammates.
And for me, those coaches and teammates are some of the best in the world. I train out of Winter Park, Colorado with a team called the National Sport Center for the Disabled. And it’s one of the programs in the country where, when it’s the off season for the Chileans or the Kiwis down in New Zealand, they come to Winter Park.
So they’re training year round, and so I get to train and race with people from Team Great Britain. Team Chile, Team Japan, Team Australia, Team New Zealand. If I get to be friends with all of these people, but they’re also teaching me amazing things and teaching everybody else the little nuances of the sport and what to do and how to get there.
And so even though I’m a Paralympic hopeful, I put myself in the right place, and I’m surrounded by the right coaches and the right teammates. And so this is the people I’m surrounded with or surrounded by up at the top in the starting gate or as your sort of one racer goes in. And you’re hearing all the beeps and the countdowns, and you’re watching the race officials and you’re keeping an eye on the course and slowly one, one after another leave, the starting of the starting corral and the numbers dwindled down.
And these are the people that I’m watching go ahead of me, these amazing athletes with so many different disabilities. And as one goes, and then another, your heart rate starts to flutter. You’re start to get the nerves start to build up, but it’s a good thing. Cause as, um, so many athletes have told you those nerves mean you’re about to do something very important and meaningful to you and it’s not just something, oh, I’m just going to breeze through and go down the hill.
So those nerves and butterflies are going as you get closer and closer to the start and then you’re in the starting gate. And for some people it’s kind of easier to get to the starting gate as, as a high level T nine paraplegic, I have one of the least functions of a lot of the people around me.
I have my top two abs, but very little, versus some of the sit-ski athletes I’m with, who they have all of their abs or can move some of their legs. Sometimes I’d like to shake a fist at them, jokingly jealous, a little bit of jealousy, like, yo, can I have some of that ability please, to help around some of the gates.
[00:16:52] Jill: But on the flipside, you only have to develop a two-pack instead of all 8.
[00:16:56] Michael: That’s true. Only have to work on the two-pack. The rest of it does what it wants depending on what I’m eating on any given week or if I’m in sport or on vacation, but it’s amazing how those abs really come into play. And we all talk about and share our experiences about having the different levels and different disabilities.
Some guys can get out of their wheelchairs, stand up, walk over to their sit ski, some guys can’t. But that’s where you get your different factors come in and in the time differences based on percentage of time and whether you’re an L2, L1 or 10-2, or a 12 -1. And I won’t really go into what constitutes what you get. Cause that there’s some controversy in that as well. Some people think it’s not a great system, what sort of, what are other options? But suffice it to say is that the idea is to, it’s a golf, handicap, golf to put everybody on the same level.
But anyway um, So when you’re in the starting gate, I’m just hearing it, I’m hearing those beeps in my head, in the countdown. And then just the nerves are just at such a heightened level. And your focus is- it’s almost like tunnel vision. Once that gate goes up and you push out, once you get around that first gate, you’ve settled in. And I try to describe it to my parents. Sometimes just the hyper focusness of it. I’m just in my own little world, nothing else matters. I don’t hear anything else except the snow and the ice underneath my ski, as you’re looking a couple of gates ahead.
And you’re keeping your chest in your eyes focused downhill, trying to remember what your coach has worked on as you were doing the inspection. I had a time with all the other athletes. To see, you know, which parts can I gain time on which parts do I need to really put the hammer down and not lose time?
I mentioned places where you can win and lose a race and the flats, like you mentioned when you’re in the air, you don’t, you don’t want to be in the air for very long. Luckily I don’t really do a lot of the jumps, so I’m not, there’s very few times where I’m catching a lot of air. It’s the flats where you can lose or win a race.
That’s what I’m hearing my coach’s, Eric Peterson, I’m hearing his voice in my head and I’m picturing the hill that I train on. And as you get down the first grade and then you reached this flat section, you reallky just want to put the hammer down because that’s apparently where you really lose– you can lose a race, essentially.
But there’s so many other things you want to think about, but you also don’t want your mind to be racing. You almost want it just to be going through it smoothly, but you’ve got to think about each gate. All right. Am I taking this one high? Am I coming at it low? Where am I starting my turn?
Where am I coming out of my turn? How am I going to hit the apex of the turn to slingshot me around? So all these little things are going through your head at the same time. You’re trying to just run the race. Whereas it’s in practice, practice is where you want to think about all those little tiny variables but human nature, you think about them anyway, and sometimes you have to block them out.
And then you’ve got to ride those ruts that are formed by all the other athletes going ahead of you. I’m speaking as a sit skier. So there’s so much that just goes into it. And it’s so much fun to watch, to be a part of. it’s just a fun spectator sport too. Especially if you’re at a right venue where you could have spectators easily watching your race.
And we’re getting real close to that time of year again, where it’s time to battle the cold which can be tough for a paraplegic who doesn’t regulate body temperature well, so there is another variable when you can’t feel your hands and your fingers. When you’re sitting in that starting line.
So yeah, that’s is there any other little aspects of it?
[00:21:01] Jill: Michael, we have just broken the tip of the iceberg. When you have ruts in the course, what does that do? Does your ski get trapped in there? And it’s harder to get out of that when you’re stuck in some line, and that may not be the line you want to be in?
[00:21:17] Michael: Typically if all the racers ahead of you are doing the right thing, that divot, that sort of V-shaped divot it should be right where you want to go around the turn but each athlete has to approach it differently based on their ability level, their comfort level. So you could be outside of the rut and then you enter it at the wrong time and it could bounce.
You jam on your shock and it just ejects you out of the race course, and boom, you’re done. You’re somersaulting out of the course and your race is over type of thing. But if you can hit the apex of the turn and you can find that, that divot, so to speak that arcs nicely around the turn. You can just hit it perfectly and settle in and you just ride it smoothly and it just slingshots you round the turn and then out of it.
And then you can get back on a flat ski and turn it over for the next turn. It’s a divot essentially, but if it’s really bumpy, you can easily just eject yourself based on the shock setting of your monoski. And again, that’s just talking as a sit-skier with essentially a motorcycle shock underneath the bus.
Yeah those divots they get, if it’s really warm, they can get really massive and just big divots, especially in slalom.
[00:22:40] Jill: For downhill, how fast do you end up going? Let’s say it’s a fast day. It’s not super, I imagine slushie makes the course slower.
[00:22:48] Michael: Which is why even in non para Alpine, they ice the course, which to me as more of like a, still on a newer side, and I’m not, I haven’t been doing this for a dozen years.
Like some of my buddy, it just seems crazy at times that they literally want to ride on a sheet of ice. And just, I’m sorry, when you see the Lindsey Vonns do that back in her heyday, and you know that the edges of their skis are just razor sharp to dig into that ice. But the speeds. I mean, Some of my buddies they’ve gotten up to this 50, 60 close to 70 miles an hour.
I’ve never hit that speed. I’m sure I’ve gone over 50 easily, which is some of the speeds can be absolutely crazy. And then when you pair those speeds with a crash, just some of the injuries can be absolutely devastating.
I’m picturing Tyler Walker from maybe eight years ago, a former um, Team USA silver medalist who’s a double amputee. He just caught some air, I think, going down a downhill race in one of the Paralympics and just somersaulted, somersaulted and kept going. He had to get, I think. Medivaced out of there and I think he had a, pretty sure he had a concussion and was just in a dark room for about a week Alana Nichols, one of the most famed, accomplished female Paralympic athletes, she had a bad wreck a few years back that sort of put her out of contention to making what would have been her final uh, Paralympic appearance. Um, So some of the speeds can be, it can be really nerve wracking especially for the spouses and significant others of the racers who are watching and can only just sit back and watch and they see these crashes happen, or they see that YouTube videos of these crashes. And it makes them try to convince you to stop doing
[00:24:43] Jill: I am not surprised. How do the speeds compare in slalom, because that is more technical since you have tighter turns, but how much do you end up slowing down in that race?
[00:24:57] Michael: Um, I’m not sure if I could give you a mile per hour, but on the spectrum of the speeds.
You have your two technical events for slalom and your giant slalom, and then you have your speed events, your super G and your downhill. As a high level paraplegic with not a lot of abs, I don’t love slalom. Sometimes I like sometimes the idea of just colliding with the gates, as a former football player and baseball player just loves contact. I like hitting the game. That’s fun, but having to maneuver my big clunky rig, which we call them, we call our sit skis rigs. That can be tough at times. So typically your double amputees or your people with a lot more function, they typically do better at the slaloms. But the speeds are significantly reduced for slalom.
I have buddies who focus on the speed events, your super junior downhill and they just reluctantly, but grudgingly come out to training days when we know slalom is on deck for those days. But you can get up to good speeds in that too. You can get up to good speeds in giant slalom um, which some will say is the most difficult of the four, because it’s almost a combination of your technical and your speed, the giant slalom. So it, kind of, it really depends on the course. It depends on the caliber of the athlete. And it also depends on how much you’re willing to just absolutely attack the course and send it which the coaches say, you know, just attack, attack, attack, and just leave it all out there.
Just like any coach in any sport. So I guess it depends on sort of your mindset and how willing you are to just send it down a sheet of ice or send it down a slushie course. That’s sort of your technical versus your speed events
[00:26:49] Jill: Let’s talk about the rig.
[00:26:50] Michael: So I’ll start from the bottom up. So you have your single ski. that’s why it’s called mono skiing, sit skiing. You’re essentially on a single ski and the bottom of the rig, which can be made out of aluminum titanium with all your hardware in it, that encases your shock that you sit on and it absorbs all of your impacts. That clicks into the housing of your bindings, just like a typical ski boot. And then as you go off, it, it depends on the manufacturer, what design you have. But you’ll have essentially you’ll have a foot plate that you put that can you put your feet in and you really want to strap your, your feet in this and your legs and your body as much as you can.
And you’re sitting in a bucket that’s attached to all of this, this is metal in the housing of the rig. And I guess it depends on what type of equipment you have, but that can be made out of composite material that can be designed specifically to you. Just some people might not have legs, so they don’t need the foot plate, but for me, I have a pretty clunky rig and I’m I’m due to, to test out new ones.
But for me, in terms of the straps that are attached to the bucket and attached to the rig itself, I want to be strapped in as tight as possible. So if you think of a ski boot, if somebody’s going down a hill within their ski boots are loose, or they’re not completely strapped down all the way, you don’t have a lot of control. For me, I am strapped in as hard as possible from my toes. Then I have one around my knees. I have another, over my thighs. I have one at my waist and I have one kind of up around my top abs. Um, some people don’t need that cause they have all their abs, so they just need a lot less material.
But as somebody with very limited function, I need a lot of that strapped in because what I do with my shoulders, transfers down through my bucket, through all those straps down through the rig and it transfers into the ski. So my motions, when I’m trying to go from edge to edge and really work the ski that’s coming from my shoulders and my chest and what I’m doing up here versus maybe Andrew PERCA or somebody who can move their legs a little bit. They can push on the foot plate. If they get in trouble, they can use their abs to really sort of get them back where they need to be to prepare for the next gate, but essentially any skier, if you’re not strapped in tight, your movements are not going to transfer effectively down through your equipment and into the ski.
So there might be a delay if I’m loose in my abs, in my legs, both straps are loose, there’s going to be a delay of the responsive time, from my shoulders down through my body, through the rig, into the ski, and that delay can cost you precious seconds or completely mess up your run altogether.
[00:29:50] Jill: Okay. And that makes sense. That’s gotta be fun to put that on.
[00:29:54] Michael: Once you sort of get used to it, you can go through the process pretty quickly, but if my legs are having a tight day or they’re really spastic and they’re not, not responding to what I want them to do, my legs get severely spastic. The muscles can fire on their own. Some people have that problem.
And then that’s another variable when it comes to the factors. Every body, every disability and injury level is just a little bit different. Somebody can be a T9 complete paraplegic. Exactly like I am and they might not have the spasms, or it can be completely different. So that’s something that can be tough.
And if it’s a really cold day getting on to that ski from your wheelchair, hopping, transferring over into your bucket, getting your legs in, making sure you’re all square in your seat, that can be a tough process, which is difficult to do with big, heavy gloves on. So you’re doing a lot of this in the bitter cold sometimes without gloves, then you got to stop and you have to warm those fingers up.
And then some, sometimes when you transfer over into your bucket, you just completely fall over into the snow. And so then you have to start all over again. You got to transfer back up into your chair. You may need some help from somebody. And meanwhile, all of your fellow teammates are just giving you complete crap and just laughing at you.
So that’s, and it’s funny, but it’s frustrating too, cause it’s like, ah, I didn’t want to fall today. And then onlookers are like, oh my, oh, can I help you? Can I help you? And you want to tell them, I swear, I’ve done this before. I swear I know what I’m doing, but yes, I would love some help please.
So there’s so many variables that can go into just getting in. And then of course you to have your outriggers. Outriggers essentially are for balance, for pushing yourself around. And if you think of lofstrand, crutches, where you might see somebody walking where there’s a clasp around the forearms and their hands are holding onto a grip and it almost looks like single crutches in each arm, but that don’t go up to your armpit. At the end of those, you have little tiny skis that, flip down based on a string pulling mechanism where you pull the string in your finger grips, and it releases the ski down into ski mode, and then you pull the string and it brings it back up into non ski mode, which there might be little picks on the end of it to help push yourself across the snow, to go from your chair over to the gondola or the lift or something. And you might use these outriggers for balance if you get into trouble.
But yeah, that’s the other component to the rig when it comes to monoski and sit skiing and, and you’ll see a lot of other athletes with these outriggers as well. They might be standing athletes who might have cerebral palsy and they just need these extra little assistance.
And we call these four -trackers because they’ll be using skis on their feet and then have these outriggers. So they’re making four tracks in the snow. But essentially that’s sort of the last bit of the equipment that we use as a para Alpine skiers and sit-skiers, monoskiers.
[00:33:05] Jill: With those four tracks, do you also have to try to, as you go down and try to see the ruts for your outriggers as well, or is it just like there, and are those used mostly to keep you balanced?
[00:33:19] Michael: It can be a lot of balance. What you don’t really want to do is rely and lean on those outriggers, because if you’re leaning, if you’re making, I’ll just call it a left-hand turn, which we call a white footer.
If you’re making a left-hand turn and you’re leaning out over, and you’re putting all your weight onto that Outrigger, you’re not in the correct body position over top of your ski. So a lot of people, if they’re going around a gate, they’ll tuck that Outrigger and they’ll put it ahead of them to get as close to those gates as possible.
And there’s a ton of amazing sit-skiers out there. There’s videos of them going down the hill with just no outriggers at all. They’re free of outriggers because they have the abdominals to do it, they have the function to do it. And they’re also good enough that they have the technique that they can just go edge to edge and stay centered over top of the ski and within themselves where they’re not leaning to the left or leaning to the right and just getting out of position.
[00:34:25] Jill: Okay. I’m the money person. What’s this cost?
[00:34:29] Michael: Oh man. You don’t want to know.
[00:34:31] Jill: Oh, oh, because it’s amazing because like in parasports, everything is more expensive and the resources are severely lacking. So that’s one of the things like when we talk about education, it’s like, okay, what’s this cost you because it ain’t cheap. We know that, but what are we talking?
[00:34:49] Michael: You’re right. It’s skiing in general, if you’re an able bodied, that just that alone. And the joke is like for parents, like do not get your kids in ski racing, unless you just want to just fork away all of that cash.
And that’s not even the adaptive side of it. Some of these rigs can cost up to five, six, $7,000. That’s just the rig itself. Some even more than that, depending on if you have bells and whistles on it, or the type of material it’s made out of. And then of course you have the equipment of the skis itself or um, the tuning equipment, you might need to keep it up to par, up to snuff.
Luckily there’s a ton of amazing foundations out there that offer grants like the Kelly Brush Foundation, the Challenge Athletes Foundation, High Fives. We need more of those to help get more people in the sport, because whether it’s hand cycling, which was my first sport, or sit or adaptive skiing, or name that sport, and then it’s adaptive component, it’s not cheap.
And then you add all of just the lifestyle stuff that we need to live. All of my wheelchair stuff, all of the equipment at home, or maybe stuff to outfit your home. So even if you’re not an adaptive athlete, but you have a disability, that’s an expensive lifestyle.
I say lifestyle as if it’s a choice. It’s not don’t let me get that confuse anybody. And then if you really want to just get into recreational adaptive sports, that’s expensive, but then the competitive, adaptive sports with the disability you have the travel fees, your training fees, all of that adds up so very quickly. And a lot of people can’t stay in the sport because of that.
I’ve had friends who they’ve, they were at Winter Park with me for a few years and they have to move away with their fiance or their wife or their husband um, just cause of financial issues. And that’s tough. And so to really get to the pinnacle of the sport, the national teams, the Paralympic teams and if you’re not sponsored and if you haven’t really lucked into some grants along the way, it can be tough.
We’re also lucky that with our coaches, there’s a lot of hand-me-down equipment or organizations might just dump brand new skis in their box off with our coaches, and then we’ll buy it from them at a really reduced price. Like $150 for a pair of new Head, super G skis that would have been $900.
So being a part of a team like the National Sports Center for the Disabled and their competition team, it does have benefits in in that regard. But man, that’s expensive.
[00:37:41] Jill: Yeah.
[00:37:42] Michael: It is not easy.
[00:37:44] Jill: Okay. So do you have different skis for each event? Like they, they require different type of ski?
[00:37:52] Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:37:53] Jill: Do you ever go well, I only need one. Do I get a discount?
[00:37:58] Michael: It’s funny. A lot of people, if somebody who’s new into the sport, they’ll say, okay, go to your local ski shop, get to know them and say, Hey, do you have any pair of skis where one of them is busted? And the other one is just fine?
And a lot of them will have it. And so you can get that single ski for nothing, for free or at a discount. Yes, absolutely. But at the same time, if you only have one super G ski and on the day of that race, something goes wrong, you don’t exactly have a backup. So a lot of people, they will get the pairs because it’s important to have maybe your slalom skis that you train with. And then its other half that is dedicated to, to race day. Always know you have a backup in case something breaks on the hill. So you’re still going to have a lot of skis. You’re going to have the shorter ones for the slalom for easier quicker turns, the slightly longer ones for for your GS and then your super G, and then your longest skis that just seem to take forever to turn are your downhill skis.
[00:39:10] Jill: Why are they longer?
[00:39:12] Michael: Because you want more stability. If you try to go down a downhill course on slalom skis, you don’t have that surface area. You will likely crash just because of you don’t have the control or the stability. Whereas the longer ski gives you the stability to go at those higher rates of speed.
And then you slowly do a turn because– and here’s another thing about slalom, giant slalom, super G and GS, it’s the distance from gate to gate slalom gate to gate is really short. Then it gets a little farther apart for giant slalom and even farther apart from gate to gate for super G. And then the farthest apart is your downhill.
So you want, and you always want to go be going from edge to edge. You don’t want to sit on that flat ski. So you just, for downhill. You’re slowly rolling it on edge and you’re slowly making these big arcing turns for your super G and you’re in your downhill versus the slalom where it’s the quick turns one after another, and you’re really active in the turns.
So that’s why you need different equipment for each discipline because you can’t do– okay, you can, but nobody wants to do a slalom course on downhill skis. That’s just be ridiculous. It’s funny to watch people try. Yeah. That’s always fun.
[00:40:42] Jill: So speaking of the fast turns, how do you turn quickly? Like the mechanics of it? Because in my mind, I see people who almost lift their skis off the ground to do that turn, but you know, you’re in a rig. So how do you turn quickly?
[00:40:58] Michael: It’s being dynamic in your movements. First of all, when I say dynamic, you’re not passively going through the course, you are active. And by the end of it, you’re out of breath. Just like any event you’re out of breath at the end, because you’re so dynamic and active. And with, for slalom, if you keep your chest and your eyes downhill, and you’re moving essentially your lower half, you can get out of one turn and into the next very quickly, or people like the Andrew Kurkas or people who can literally maneuver the rig so well, because they have a leg function, they can walk a little bit, they are literally jumping out of one turn, leaving the snow, and as they come back and make contact with the snow again, their ski is in the fall line and perfectly aligned for the next turn. And if the dynamic ability is that they have just to bounce from one turn to the next, essentially, it’s crazy.
I’m again, I’m shaking my fist because I don’t really do that. And I’m still sort of getting to a place in the last couple of seasons where I more enjoy slalom than I don’t, but it still can be very tough to do that. It’s just all about being active and dynamic in, in your ski, in the course and just not being, not passively attacking or going from gate to gate, essentially.
[00:42:23] Jill: When you start learning how to do this, do you just end up making really wide turns and then they get smaller and smaller, tighter and tighter as you learn?
[00:42:33] Michael: It’s important to have the right ski, depending on how quick of a turn you want and whether that ski is in good shape , how, how well you take care of your equipment and the edges.
If you have really sharp edges and you have an icy day, you want it to be able to hold onto that ice. And if you’re not taking care of your equipment, your equipment is not going to take care of you when it comes time to race or practice. So that’s another aspect of skiing and adaptive skiing is the time off of the slope in the locker room or at home waxing and edging your skis and doing all of the, the necessary stuff to prepare yourself, to get out and train a race.
Our coach always says, I think it’s the six P’s- is the prior proper preparation prevents piss, poor performance type of thing. That’s something we always, you always got to keep in mind if you really want your ski to work in your favor, whether you’re doing really tight turns for slalom or you’re trying to hold really high speeds during downhill,
[00:43:39] Jill: You’ve talked about edges a little bit. Do you always want them really sharp or is it going to depend on the conditions?
[00:43:44] Michael: I think you always want them sharp, but I think a more seasoned athlete who knows more of the technical aspects of the sport and knows more about the equipment they might say otherwise, depending on the condition. You also don’t want it too sharp. That’s why they have these little things to de-edge parts of your ski, because it might catch you as you’re going around a turn and it can be tough to get out of that turn. So sometimes there can be a downside of it being a little too sharp, depending on the condition of the snow.
[00:44:20] Jill: All right. What are you wearing? What do you wear on your lower body? Because usually people have ski suits that seem like they’re just not warm at all. I imagine this, none of this is warm.
[00:44:32] Michael: Some of them can be kind of warm, so for me as a sit-skier, I got the leggings on and I got the, essentially the ski bib overalls.
There’s like typical ski pants type of thing. Either some good boots or some really warm socks with some footies because I’ll have– a lot of people have a cover over their legs. And it can be for aerodynamics. It can help with keeping your legs warm uh, and it can also protect your legs from the gate when you’re hitting slalom gates.
If you, if you watch Alpine sit-skiers, they’ll have the leg cover on if they have legs. But up top in a race day, you might have the long Johns underneath on the top, but you probably have a race, a long-sleeve race suit on that. It can be thick, but for the most part, it’s pretty cold.
So when you’re sitting up at the top and the starting gate, you’re bundled up and then at the last minute you’re tossing off your jacket and then you have coaches or assistants bringing the jackets down for everybody. So yeah, it can be if the course is long and it’s particularly frigid day, once you get to the bottom, you can be shivering pretty good.
Absolutely. But for the most part you are, yeah. You’re wearing a racer suit depending on your level of ability, disability, what you have covered up or not covered up.
[00:45:49] Jill: And then helmet and goggles.
[00:45:51] Michael: Yep. Absolutely. Or you’ll have the face guard like a single chin guard if you’re doing slalom, just so you don’t break your nose when you hit a gate, so to speak.
Have you broken–? I have not broken. I have not broken my nose, but I’ve given myself a black eye going through the finish line. When right at the finish line, I it was a super G race a couple of years ago on my home mountain at Winter Park and right at the very end as you get to the finish line, it drops down into the finishing corral.
And I knew this because of the inspection that we go through maybe 45 minutes before the first forerunners go. But I wasn’t prepared when I caught a little bit of air on the lip. So when I went off on a flat ski, right through the finish line. I’d gone through the course. I was all excited. I hit the finish line and I hit that lip on a flat ski.
And I, I probably just got three inches of air, just not much, but just a little bit where I landed. I came down on an edge. And I’d completely just high sided and face planted a direct hit my nose, my face onto the hard compact snow. Did a couple somersaults and then just lay there for a minute until some guys ran over and you know, made sure I was okay.
But I had a really nice shiner that just looked really good and made for some really good pictures.
And of course it, it broke the goggles that I had on. So yeah, I wore that one as a badge of honor, but also as a great reminder, that even when you come to the finish, you are not finished. You have to really know every aspect of the course, where are the dangerous parts? Where can I get in trouble? Oh, there’s a little bump here in between this gate and that gate, be aware of that. I dunno if I was just excited to hit the finish line and didn’t think I’d catch air at that speed. When I caught just enough and I wasn’t paying attention and just landed on that edge and boom! Face plant, and I’ve got on video too, which is the fun to watch that one, but it was like I said, it was a great black eye. Really good learning experience though.
[00:48:03] Jill: Road to Beijing, what is the path for you this season? What do you have to do to qualify?
[00:48:11] Michael: I’m going to be completely honest with you. The chances are very small because I’ve essentially, I’ve had to push back my goals years. And so this is what I was talking about the road to make a Team USA, to make a Paralympics.
We see a lot of these amazing stories of the people who got the gold in the podiums on TV, but the people who may not have qualified for the final round or they came in ninth or 10th, their stories of getting to that place are as equally as inspiring as the people who got gold sometimes because of what they’ve had to go through.
And some people haven’t even gotten to that point yet, such as myself. I had a setback this past season where last season I have to sit out the entire season. I had a second spinal cord injury which I had to have surgery on this past March. And I had to essentially after my accident in 2007, when I fell off a roof um, they inserted 12 rods and a whole bunch of screws.
And they fused my back together and right below where those fusions and the rod stopped for the last 14 years, the pressure on that spot has been building and it compressed my spinal cord to the point where last year, around this time, they discover it as a second spinal cord injury and change a lot of stuff in my body where my doctors and myself and my wife, and we decided that I needed to sit out loud all last season to get surgery, to extend the fusion of my back, to add more rods and screws, to release the pressure on that L one spot where it was, the vertebrae was pinching my spinal cord. So that has not only caused me to push back all of my goals, which were originally for Beijing 2022.
And now I’m looking at 2026 as I’m not even sure how my back is going to hold up because I haven’t been on a ski since last December and in the adding the variable of having a one and a half year old, which would require me to do all the things necessary to make Team USA and then to compete, requires me to spend a ton of time away from this little dude who I’ve just become so in love with.
So with the new back stuff, a new parent, it’s one of those things when you’re trying to be an elite level athlete, you have to factor in all these variables. And sometimes it doesn’t always pan out for somebody who has been working for so long to be a Paralympic athlete.
There’s so many stories of people who they hang up, the cleats, they hang up the skis, they hang up the equipment because of other priorities in their life. And I also don’t know how my back is going to hold up. There’s changes in my back that are different than before this recent surgery that I had.
So as I go into the season in November, I’m just feeling my way. I’m feeling my way around. I’m going to take it slowly because at 36 now with a father and trying to expand our family, I got to think of other things other than just myself. And the goal I want. So that’s another interesting storyline to so many Paralympic stories or Paralympic hopeful stories is all the, you might be right in the right place and you’re with the right coaches and teammates and you’re qualifying, and then boom, something happens where you have to adjust all of the goals that you’ve set.
So that’s kind of where I’m at right now. And it was tough this past season, watching teammates of mine get invited to the national team, make podiums and national championships for the first time. This last season, that was tough. That was really tough at times when I’m watching on my computer from the sidelines in my home in Denver.
So who knows what’s going to happen, but it’s hard to just say I’m done because I set my Paralympic goal back in 2009, 2010, when I was a hand cyclist, I don’t have a hand cyclist’s body. So I changed sports around 2015, but I still made that goal when I was watching reruns of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And I would see these people on the podium and I would recognize their drive and their abilities. I would see those same abilities in myself, which is why I set a Paralympic goal way before I was even in a place to be doing so.
[00:52:46] Jill: Thank you so much, michael Michael is also a motivational speaker and author of the book. “When I Fell: How I Rerouted my Life and Found Strength in a Severed Spine.” You can learn more about firstname.lastname@example.org. And whenIfell.com, and as with all of the authors on our show, Michael’s book is featured on our bookshop.org storefront.
Pick up your copy at bookshop.org/shop/flamealivepod and support the show with your purchases.
Ah, that sound means it’s time for our historical moment. And this year we are focusing on Atlanta 1996, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. All right. My turn to tell you about judo.
[00:53:29] Alison: You have been teasing this judo story to me for about three weeks. So and I did no research so that you will be getting my, and I certainly did not watch judo in 96. So this is, this will be my absolute hot take.
[00:53:43] Jill: Well, hopefully I will, deliver on this hot take. That’s what I’m really worried about. But 1996 was just the second time that women competed in judo at the Olympics. And just keep in mind, judo places are gold, silver, two bronzes, two for fifth place, two for seventh place because they have a double bracket system going into that.
So if you remember from Tokyo, judo is very unpredictable sport in terms of who you think will win. And Atlanta was no different. So women competed in seven weight classes and there is something amazing and or crazy about five of them. So we will run down the list.
In the extra lightweight we had in the gold medal match. It is Ryoka Tamura from Japan facing off against Kye Sun-hui from the People’s Republic of Korea, which we also know as North Korea. She’s in this tournament, she hasn’t competed internationally ever. And the PRK has not competed internationally in a few years, but the Judo Federation say, Hey, we’re going to give you a wildcard entry.
And Kye Sun-hui got that entry. Tamura is the defending Olympic silver medalist. She was the flag bearer for Japan at the Opening Ceremony. She has been undefeated in the last four years. So in the finals, these two face off. This is a match. The crowd is so behind Tamura, they are so excited for her, goes all the way to the end and Kye, pulls it out at the end. Snaps the 84 game winning streak. Takes gold.
Tamura goes on to be one of the few women who won medals at five consecutive Olympics.
[00:55:26] Alison: This is not equestrian where it kind of sport where you see people staying for five games.
[00:55:32] Jill: She won gold at Sydney and Athens and bronze at Beijing. She married a Yoshimoto Tani who was on Japan’s baseball team at ’96 and ’04.
Kye moved up in weight She continued her Olympic journey. She won bronze at 2000 and silver in 2004.
Also competing in this weight class, American Hillary Wolf, who you might know as the sister in the movie Home Alone.
And this is just one weight class.
[00:56:10] Alison: Can you imagine John Candy getting on the judo mat, especially since this is the extra light category?
[00:56:20] Jill: Moving on to the half light way class, this one was kind of as planned, but we actually have a, Keep the Flame Alive connection to this weight class and this event because Contributor Ben profiled American Marissa Pedulla for The Pitt News ahead of the Games. She was a student at Pittsburgh. She was a graduate student in the department of biological sciences. And I have a lovely article from Ben here that we’ll make pictures of, and share it on social, but yeah, he was pretty excited about that.
In the lightweight category Driulys Gonzalez from Cuba defeated Jung Sun-Yong from Korea for gold. Driulyis wone this med al two months after she fractured cervical vertebrae.
[00:57:05] Alison: Oh, okay.
[00:57:06] Jill: And there was a lot of controversial officiating, apparently.
[00:57:10] Alison: Really?
[00:57:11] Jill: Yeah, I know. So the one of Sun-Yong’s early matches had a bunch of controversial stuff which may have helped her advance to get to be in the gold medal, but Driulys won and it’s also one of those big time Olympians for Cuba.
In the half heavyweight, we’re, we’re looking here at Ulla Werbrouch from Belgium. Ulla, was also in ’92 games and she left the Olympics with a broken knee and a leg in a cast. She couldn’t compete for a year. She is facing off in the gold medal round against Yoko Tanabe from Japan. So of course, again, because this is a sport of Japan, the crowd is behind her.
Ulla scores early. Tanabe has to catch up and Ulla gets the deciding score with two seconds left on the clock. Right? So she went–
[00:57:58] Alison: Belgians and clocks,
[00:58:00] Jill: Right? First Belgian woman to win gold at a Summer Games.
[00:58:04] Alison: Really?
[00:58:05] Jill: Belgium had been in the Games since 1900.
[00:58:08] Alison: Belgium has a very long Olympic history. so this was the first woman. Wow.
[00:58:14] Jill: Yes. And then Belgium proved to be a heavyweight in this whole sport at Atlanta because they also had one of their athletes won silver and another won a bronze. You never hear about Belgium and judo.
[00:58:28] Alison: I don’t even know what to do with that.
[00:58:29] Jill: So then we get to the heavyweight category and this is where it really gets nutsy.
[00:58:34] Alison: I’m frightened.
[00:58:35] Jill: Well, there are two interesting stories out of this class. The first is the silver medalist Estella Rodriguez from Cuba. She lost the gold medal to Sun Fuming from China. Estella also tested positive for a banned diuretic masking agent. . But the IOC left her off with a reprimand and she got to keep her medal.
[00:58:55] Alison: Oh, how things have changed ish.
[00:59:00] Jill: So that’s not all from this category. Tied for seventh is Edinanci Silva from Brazil. And we are still in gender testing kind of era. She had to go to extreme measures to confirm her gender. She was clearly a woman, but discovered at puberty that she also had male sexual organs.
[00:59:24] Alison: Okay. So what does this mean for her competitive career? If she’s what we now are calling intersex?
[00:59:30] Jill: Well, according to my favorite book by David Wallechinsky, The Complete Book of the Summer Games said according to Brazilian newspaper paper accounts, three months before the games, she had an operation to remove her testicles and reduce the size of her clitoris. She is 19 years old at the time.
[00:59:49] Alison: How have we never heard that story before?
[00:59:52] Jill: I do not know. But there is an interesting article in The Guardian that has a whole bunch of athletes who were intersex or had mixed sexual organs like this. Silva went on to win two out of four of her matches at Atlanta. She went on to compete at Sydney, Athens, and Beijing.
At Beijing, she lost the bronze medal match and placed fifth. So that was her highest performance at an Olympics.
[01:00:16] Alison: Wow.
[01:00:17] Jill: Nutsy nutsy stuff.
[01:00:18] Alison: Well, it reminds us how long the Castro Semenya issue has been going. You know, this whole questioning of, are you, I mean, we’ve had stories even long before 96 that we’ve talked about, but even in an era where we were a little bit more biologically aware, a complex issue, and yet we try and make it so simple.
[01:00:44] Jill: Yeah. it’s a really challenging, so judo competition. Pretty amazing in 1996
We do have a selection for our historical games for next year.
[01:01:00] Alison: We have a winner!
[01:01:01] Jill: We do. Thank you to everybody in the Facebook group who have voted. Cause this was pretty contentious. We had five different choices.
[01:01:08] Alison: And I am surprised. Are you surprised?
[01:01:12] Jill: I am surprised. So next year our historical games will be Albertville 1992.
’cause we did summer this year. We wanted to do winter next year.
[01:01:22] Alison: And we’re already going to have an issue because I would pronounce it. Alberville.
[01:01:27] Jill: Oh yeah, probably we should be pronouncing it. Alberville.
[01:01:30] Alison: So before January we have to get, if we, we, you and I have to decide, are we going to use the English pronunciation or the French pronunciation?
[01:01:38] Jill: Oui yes, we, we do!
[01:01:43] Alison: Oh, the French jokes that are coming next year.
[01:01:47] Jill: Oh man. It’ll be exciting.
[01:01:50] Alison: I’m so excited about this one because we remember it, but we have holes. We were talking about it before the show and we have holes in this one.
[01:02:01] Jill: Huge holes. I mean, this was– a Alberville happened when I was on study abroad. I was in Vienna and some of my classmates, they did go to Alberville and I believe they saw bobsled. And I had decided not to go because it was on this bubble of, cashing in my Eurail pass. Which is good for like three months. And it was one of those, if I cash it too early, then travel after the semester is going to be really difficult. So I said, no.
And then I was in a living situation where I did not have access to TV and I had one friend who did, and we would watch the figure skating competition. So that’s really all I saw of Alberville.
[01:02:41] Alison: So we got stories, we got stories.
[01:02:43] Jill: Oh, my gosh. I’m going to have to watch like the whole opening ceremonies.
[01:02:46] Alison: It’s time for Magique. Well, coming in January retrospective of Alberville 1992, getting us in the mood for Winter Olympics.
[01:02:56] Jill: Exactly. So thank you listeners. This is exciting. I’m very much looking forward to it again.
Hey, did you know our merch store is open again? Well, you do because you put it together.
[01:03:05] Alison: I do, because I have been taking requests for designs. Yeah. So there is a welcome to TKFLASTAN design that is there. There was a request for a Chuck Aoki design, which will be coming soon. I believe. I’m trying to get some licensing squared away on making sure I’m not going to get in trouble for using his name.
So yeah, if people have anything, they want us to put together from things on the show, we are happy to put it on a t-shirt.
[01:03:38] Jill: Excellent. Excellent. We’ll have a link to this in the show notes and you’ll see it on social but we’re very excited to have merch again.
[01:03:43] Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN.
[01:03:50] Jill: Yes, it’s the part of the show where we check in with our past guests who make up our Team Keep the Flame Alive.
[01:03:56] Alison: Kelly Claes and playing partner Sarah Sponcil.Got to the quarterfinals of the F I V B world tour, st to April Ross and Alix Kleinman in that round.
[01:04:07] Jill: But good season.
[01:04:08] Alison: Very impressive. DeAnna Price served as grand marshal of the homecoming parade for her alma mater Southern Illinois University. And then she made an appearance on Sunday Night Football, which I did happen to watch live. And I was so confused. Because there’s DeAnna Price with all her enthusiasm, waving furiously at the camera and leading the crowd in chants.
It was great. There are clips of it on YouTube. If you want to go back and see the beautiful DeAnna Price.
[01:04:38] Jill: Oh, I will definitely be looking for that. And then next week is Arizona State’s Humanities Week. So this is when TKFLASTANIS collide. Book club author. Andrew Maraniss will be in a public virtual conversation with TKFLASTANI, Dr. Victoria Jackson on October 18th. And we will have a link to that in the show notes.
Oh, Beijing 2022 news.
[01:05:10] Alison: Coatesy going rogue! Coatesy going rogue.
[01:05:15] Jill: I cannot talk about this without just laughing. Because it’s what did you expect kind of thing.
[01:05:22] Alison: On so many levels. What did you expect them to say about this situation and who else would say it quite this way?
[01:05:30] Jill: So, yes John Coates, IOC vice-president was addressing the press in Australia. And they asked him about human rights in China vis-a-vis the Beijing 2022 Olympics. And he said that confronting a sovereign nation on human rights issues was not within the committee’s remit. Coates said that the IOC remit was only limited to ensuring that no human rights abuses take place within respect to the conduct of the games within the National Olympic Committees or within the Olympic movement. This is according to Forbes. Are we surprised that they don’t care about it? Not that they don’t care, but they’re not going to take a stand on anything that does not happen within the Olympic bubble.
[01:06:11] Alison: I mean, half the time they don’t take a stand on stuff that happens with the Olympic bubble. They pass it on to the national federations or the sports committees. So they’re certainly not going to take a stand on something that’s happening on the other side of the host country that has nothing to do with sports. Who cares if millions of people they’re getting slaughtered, not our problem.
[01:06:34] Jill: Honestly, you’re asking for trouble from John Coates.
[01:06:38] Alison: Yeah. Well, what made it so funny to me, it was that he was addressing the Australian press and the Australian press, know, John coates .They set him up.
[01:06:50] Jill: Oh, he fell for it?
[01:06:53] Alison: Well fell for it to the extent of, they knew what his answer was. was going to be. How could you, how could you be an Australian sports reporter and not know what John Coates is going to say? If you ask them about international politics, they’re either hoping he’s going to go rogue, which we always love, or he’s going to say something that makes the IOC look bad.
And in this case, he, it made the IOC look like they don’t care about human rights.
[01:07:23] Jill: Right. Which is their position.
[01:07:25] Alison: Which is their position. So., for once I say, John, Coates going rogue. He actually towed the IOC line on this, but he did it in that. Coatesy I hate you all kind of way. But on sadder news, he did confirm in the same press conference that he will be stepping down from his role as Australian Olympic Committee president in May, which is when the AOC will have its next general assembly.
He will continue on the IOC through Paris, 2024. So we’ve got Coatesy for not that much longer. And Dick Pound, our other favorite IOC member to go rogue, I believe is retiring after 2022.
[01:08:08] Jill: Yeah. This is his last year. And I, I think part of it is age limits, but yeah, Dick, Dick Pound stepping down, that’s going to be…
[01:08:19] Alison: So we need some new mavericks to step up. Kristen Kloster Aasen, I’m looking at you.
[01:08:27] Jill: And she’s now a member of the executive board. So yes.
Other Beijing news, the torch relay will start on Monday. This is crazy. Monday the 18th, they will light the torch in Olympia.
They’ll have a few Torchbearers carry it, take the flame to Athens, and the next day will be a handover ceremony. And then the flame will head to China. So this is a much more. Much more scaled back torch lighting ceremony and the time that the flame will be in Greece. But everything will be toned down this year. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold and what happens for 2024.
[01:09:07] Alison: Right. Will they bring it back to full or will they scale it back? Though the Olympic flag did that tour in France of all the different town halls, but that was very controlled in the way, like you put it in town hall, people could probably go see it, but it wasn’t this swooping, all these crowds coming down at once.
[01:09:30] Jill: Right. Right.
[01:09:30] Alison: Or just at that point they don’t care if we all die of COVID, they’re tired of putting the restrictions in.
[01:09:37] Jill: It’s a long time to, hopefully we’re settled with this pandemic by 2024.
[01:09:44] Alison: We have volunteer jobs to get to, they got to get this thing straightened.
[01:09:49] Jill: That’s right.
Anyway on that note that will do it for this week. Let us know what you’re looking forward to watching at the Beijing Olympics.
[01:09:59] Alison: Email email@example.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8 FLAME-IT. We’re flamealivepod on Twitter and Insta and Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.
[01:10:15] Jill: Next week. We’re so excited about this. Our very first guest, bobsledder Josh Williamson will be back on the show, so be sure to tune in for that. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.