It’s time for our last Movie Club of 2021! Film Buff Fran is back to discuss the 2017 movie “I, Tonya,” which is on the scandal surrounding the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the Lillehammer 1994 Olympics, which was found to be tied to her rival Tonya Harding. Will we feel sympathy for Tonya Harding after watching a film based on her side of the story?
While the three of us lived through the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal, not everyone has. The movie clearly sticks to its stated angle of telling this story from Tonya’s side, which does not fully describe what happened.
And, of course, here’s the infamous “Why me?” moment:
In our history moment, Alison looks back at the Atlanta 1996 men’s artistic gymnastics competition, and Jill shares why Chinese gold medalist Li Xiaoshuang made a lasting impact on her.
We also check in on our Team Keep the Flame Alive, the citizens of TKFLASTAN, and have updates from:
- Speed skater Erin Jackson
- Curler John Shuster
- Sports historian Dr. Victoria Jackson – check out her article on GlobalSportsMatters.com.
In Beijing 2022 news, we’ve got a follow up on the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China’s issues with covering the Games. Plus, a venue update and the release of the organizing committee’s new video “Together for a Shared Future” starring pop sensation Jackson Yee:
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and may contain errors. Please use the audio file as the offficial record.
Episode 214: Film Buff Fran on “I, Tonya”
[00:00:00] Jill: 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?
[00:00:39] Alison: I got popcorn. I got my cherry Icee. I am ready for today.
[00:00:44] Jill: Do you have an Eskimo Pie?
[00:00:46] Alison: Oh, no, we go high end here. I got a Dove Bar.
[00:00:50] Jill: Excellent. If you know what we’re referencing, that would be in the movie. I, Tonya, which we are covering this week with Film Buff Fran. But first we would like to introduce our Patreon patron of the week, who is silver medal patron, Erica Corwin.
She’s one of our newest patrons. So it’s great to have you on board. I know Erica through roller derby and she is fantastic and I hope she is– I wonder if she’s catching the curling out in Nebraska ’cause curling trials are not that far from where she lives.
[00:01:19] Alison: And we have seen some pictures from curling trials.
[00:01:22] Jill: Oh my goodness. It looks fantastic. So Erica, thank you so much for your patronage and your support of the show. It’s great to have you be part of this and your contributions are so helpful, not just what you contribute financially, but also the moral support and the notes you send us. We really do appreciate that.
If you would like to be a Patreon patron of the week, check out patreon.com/flamealivepod. Patreon is for people who want to make a contribution to the show every month. And we really do appreciate that, but we do understand that people may want to support the show and can’t do so on an ongoing basis.
We are also on Venmo @flamealivepod, and we’ll be adding more options soon. So keep your eyes peeled. It’s time for our last movie club of 2021. Film Buff Fran is back to discuss I Tonya, which is on the scandal surrounding the attack on figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the Lillehammer 1994 Olympics, which was found to be tied to her rival Tonya Harding.
Take a listen.
[00:02:26] Jill: Fran. Welcome back. We are talking “I, Tonya” today. What do you have for us?
[00:02:32] Fran: Well, so today’s movie is “I, Tonya”, which is a 2017 movie that actually garnered a lot of awards. I think the last count I checked was 45 including an, an Oscar for Allison Janney as the Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s, mom, LaVona. And “I, Tonya” is the story of the buildup to actually to it. It encompasses two Winter Olympics the one in 92 in Albertville, and then the one in ’94 in Lillehammer. And it tells the story of Tonya Harding. And if you were alive back in the early nineties, you couldn’t miss this story because it was all over the news that Tonya Harding was an Olympic hopeful.
And there was a rivalry between her and another skater, Nancy Kerrigan, and leading up to the Lillehammer Games, unfortunately, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked while she was practicing. And we find out that actually Tonya Harding’s estranged husband actually was responsible in some way or another for that episode.
And so this story kind of, it tells itself as kind of a black comedy. It was full of interviews as these actors portrayed the real life people, they claim that they actually took from real life interviews of the people involved. And I gotta say if these were real life interviews, and this was really the words that came out of these people’s mouth, I’m flabbergasted.
I really enjoyed this movie. I love satirical dark comedies, and this had that written all over it. And I thought the actors were wonderful. I mean, I love Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding. Um, If anybody could make me feel sorry for Tonya Harding, it’s Margot Robbie. I mean, I thought she did a really wonderful job.
Sebastian Stan portrayed his her on again off again love Jeff Gillooly, her husband ex-husband, you know, and like I said, previously, Allison Janney portrayed her mother who I found out later when I was doing some research was the most loosely based character because they really couldn’t find her mom or get in touch with her mom before they made this movie. So she really had the most artistic license in portraying LaVona. And I think she just, did it to the max. I mean, she just brought it as this larger than life cantankerous character who we see early on in the movie as this mother who just won’t take no for an answer. Her kid wants to skate. She gets that kid on that ice and she gets that skating instructor to pay attention to her.
[00:05:29] Alison: So I remember the story very well as it happened, we were all around. But do you both remember it very well?
[00:05:37] Fran: I remember it in bits and pieces. I mean, cause it was a good what, 30 years ago that this happened.
But I remember it being a huge story. And, I feel like the media gave Nancy Kerrigan more screen time than Tonya, but I could be mistaken. This was so long ago.
[00:05:58] Jill: I remember a lot of it because I loved watching the 1994 Olympics and leading up to it and skating was such a big deal. in the U S at the time, and just the whole circus of this incident was just unbelievable. And cause you’re, you’re also getting to the beginning of the 24 hour news cycle, because we’ll find this with in 1996 with the Richard Jewell thing and, I kind of bring that up because we have Paul Walter Hauser in both movies, so he’s really into in his Olympic roles there.
[00:06:30] Fran: I was shocked that they let Tonya Harding go to the Olympics in the middle of all the investigations that they were doing.
[00:06:38] Alison: But there’s one line in the movie that I think explains that. And Margot Robbie, as Tonya Harding says, The FBI is involved because this is a major assault and across state lines, and she looks at the camera and says, no way they’re going to miss out on the ratings.
[00:06:59] Fran: Right. And that probably had a lot to do with it. CBS wanted to, they had to have those girls on the ice they had to.
[00:07:08] Alison: And this was a decision of the U S Figure Skating Association because they are the ones who determine who are the American representatives. So if you’ve got an American television network talking to the U S Figure Skating Association and saying, do you want us to keep paying for nationals to be aired? And your various other competitions you make this happen?
Did that conversation happen? We don’t know. But given that pretty quickly after the Olympics, the figure skating association banned Tonya Harding for life, I think that conversation did happen.
[00:07:45] Fran: I find it very interesting. There was a lot of humanizing of Tonya Harding in this film. You really see an upbringing where she was not only physically abused, emotionally abused, psychologically abused by multiple people in her life. And you saw her determination. You know, You really saw this person trying to do what she does best, with the worst situations around her. And you, I really, you, you start rooting for her. Because you just, really feel for her.
You, you see her because obviously figure skating. It’s not a cheap sport. You have to have a lot of funding to be in that world-class Olympic skating, at least in the United States. And you know, you see this, girl, who’s barely, you know, her mother barely makes ends meet. She doesn’t have a father in her life because her father leaves early on.
And, you know, you really see the struggle of her trying to fit in with this glamorous sport. you know, Where they wear fur coats to the events and she didn’t have that look that the skating association wanted and they really, they portrayed it as they, the skating association really downplayed her scoring because they just didn’t like her. They didn’t want her to succeed. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s very interesting how that was portrayed.
[00:09:20] Alison: I remember Tonya Harding before this incident, because I’ve been watching skating forever, and she was an exciting skater to watch because nobody could jump like Tonya Harding.
She was no fun to watch though. There were no spins. There was no footwork. There was no artistry. There was no choreography. She was not a very good figure skater. She was an incredible jumper and they sort of played that a little bit in the film when they talk about her scores and yes, everybody knows, figure skating especially in those days, it was very easy to manipulate the scores. Very easy to score people down um, because this was in the days of the 6.0. You didn’t have a triple axle equals X number of base points. And even now, Jill and I have talked many times about judges manipulating scores to get the winner they wanted.
But I think the story of oh, boo hoo, Tonya Harding didn’t get the score she earned is a little overplayed. it’s not jump skating, it’s figure skating. Right. And there’s a lot more to it than the jumps.
[00:10:30] Fran: And that’s the age old question, because nowadays, if you don’t have those jumps, you can look as beautiful as Katarina Witt on the ice, but Katarina was like the last of the grand dames of ice skating.
And I mean, she could get away with it, but they, the people that were coming after her man, they had the stuff. They have the jumps and you know, if you don’t have the jumps now, I mean, look how they talk about all the wonderful young, Russian skaters. They have so much talent there, but it’s all technical, but they’re beating each other like crazy and they’re, they’re crazy good. I mean, the, the girls that skated in the last Olympics are not even going to make this team.
[00:11:14] Alison: Right.
[00:11:14] Fran: Four years later, which is crazy because they got beat out by these younger skaters.
[00:11:20] Alison: It’s manipulating the scores in a different way. It’s like the skaters now are manipulating the scoring system and in the movie they’re portraying it as the judges manipulating the scoring system in a classist discriminatory way.
Honestly, she was no fun to watch. I mean, the girl couldn’t edge for her life.
[00:11:40] Fran: Well, she was very ,like you said, she didn’t have that classical balletic look to her, but the athleticism, that was really what sold it and made it exciting, and they were saying, actually I was reading an article about the stunt doubles and they said that there’s still so few people that can do that triple that she did, that they couldn’t even find a stunt person to do it live for them. So they just had to manipulate the, tape and just do it, virtually because they couldn’t find someone to do it for them for the movie.
[00:12:15] Alison: Right. So they did, I read something about that too. So they basically did multiple takes of the girls doing double axles and combining the beginning and the end of the jump to make it look like a triple.
[00:12:27] Fran: It did look like Margot Robbie was skating though. She looked really good. I mean, I don’t know how much I know they said that she had trained, I don’t know how much of a capacity, but I got to say this, the skating montages weren’t bad. I mean, they looked really lifelike. I thought. They were pretty well done.
[00:12:47] Alison: Margot Robbie did all the connecting elements, so not the actual spins, not the actual jumps, but if the crossovers, the little bits of choreography that is actually her skating.
[00:12:58] Jill: So I want to say about that. I saw the movie in the theater when it came out, and then I rewatched it for this, and the skating actually weirded me out this time, because it’s so close in on Margot Robbie to show her face and you don’t necessarily see what she is doing. I know she trained very hard for this role, but you can’t see what she’s doing. The camera’s really close and it just looked awkward to me in the second viewing, and it almost looked like they CGI’d her face onto a different body.
[00:13:31] Fran: Yes, I kind of felt like that during parts of it as well.
[00:13:35] Jill: So the skating impressed me less on the second viewing, which I thought was interesting.
[00:13:41] Alison: There was also, for a movie about a skater, very little skating in the movie.
[00:13:47] Fran: Right.
[00:13:48] Alison: You don’t see anybody else’s program. You sometimes see some other people kind of skating around the rink when she’s supposed to be training.
And even of her programs.
[00:13:59] Fran: Right, until the end where we should see the actual Tonya Harding, which I thought was great–
[00:14:04] Alison: In the credits.
[00:14:05] Fran: But you see her with Jeff, and you’re like, oh my goodness, how did she? How? Why? You know, why would you keep yourself in such a violent domestic situation? Why wouldn’t you get out? You know, it was such a twisted relationship. And, I don’t know, you know, with Jeff Gillooly, I mean, was the, a simpleton, was he not a simpleton? He kind of went all over the place. I felt like Sebastian Stan, like one minute he sounded very, very low IQ, but then the next minute he’s planning the attack on Kerrigan.
[00:14:47] Alison: Well, I think that’s indicative of the fact that the portrayal of Jeff is really from Tonya’s perspective. It’s not the Tonya and Jeff story. It’s really Tonya’s story. So I actually watched this with my daughter, which was really interesting because she obviously does not remember this.
[00:15:04] Fran: Right.
[00:15:05] Alison: And doesn’t have the same perspective. So she was obviously very sympathetic to Tonya by the end of the movie, because that’s the only story. And I said, even in the movie, they’re kind of hinting at elements that Tonya is just as violent to him as he is to her, that it was just a violent relationship. Not just that she’s this poor abused child, that this was really just sick and unhealthy. Multilayeredly.
[00:15:36] Jill: Right, and just the fact that she didn’t graduate from high school. So you’re talking about a certain, maybe educational level and way of thinking. And also just being in a household where a father abandoned you and a mother is abusive or what we see according to Tonya, the mother is very abusive, and that all combined together, I think it just is a recipe for chaos. And we see people who live in chaos all the time. They don’t know that’s normal and maybe that’s in at that point in life, maybe she thinks that’s how life should be, or she’s so angry with other things that have happened to her and she’s going through with being in this very high intensity sport at an elite level, in a sport that doesn’t like, you. And maybe the only outlet is rage and anger and she just directs it at Jeff.
[00:16:32] Fran: Well, and you also see LaVona say that she does the best on the ice when she’s angry, you know, so they pretty much put that as part of her persona, you know, she had to be pissed off to be as good as she was on the ice. She had to have that chip on her shoulder.
[00:16:48] Alison: One of the things we talked about last week in Dominique Moceanu’s book, who’s also in a sport that is very much girls have to look and behave a certain way and the abuse that she suffered and how it was normalized within the sport.
And this is kind of the other side of it, where it was normalized in Tonya’s life. That she wasn’t being abused by her coach. That relationship was portrayed where the coach was really trying to advance her, but it’s everybody else’s being abusive. Including Tonya.
[00:17:25] Fran: And you would think that the skating, I didn’t know the skating coach. I mean, she had her original coach from when she was very young and then she split off from her and had another coach and then went back. And, but you would think that the coaches would have tried more to distance her from that life. I don’t know. You know, you really never got the coach’s perspective on anything. They were just kind of in the background, which was unfortunate because it really would have been interesting to see what made them stay with her. You know, was that her talent? Was it, did they think that she was a meal ticket? W you know, what exactly was it that made them want to deal with this, you know, woman with so much baggage, obviously?
[00:18:12] Alison: I remember at the time Diane Rawlinson, who was her original and then future coach, so to speak was not a top tier coach. So there was a lot of discussion of where was she in all of this. And certainly at the time I had the impression she was treating Tonya as a meal ticket, as a way to get more additional students, as a way to establish herself.
I mean, she had a national champion, she had a world medalist on her hand s, and that put her in a different level of coaches. And I remember at the time thinking, What the heck is this woman doing?
[00:18:51] Fran: Yeah. Why would she want to be a part of this?
[00:18:53] Alison: And why wasn’t she protecting her skater?
[00:18:56] Fran: Right.
[00:18:56] Alison: Because there’s no way being in an abusive relationship is good for her performance. And there’s no way like training at the mall ice rink is really a good idea for her performance, but was it selling–. Was everybody using Tonya Harding as a meal ticket? And this movie certainly portrays it as everybody, including Tonya was using her and her skating to get somewhere else.
[00:19:23] Fran: Can we talk about Shawn? Can we please talk about Shawn? What the heck?
[00:19:33] Alison: Okay. Did anybody draw any parallels with Richard Jewell from our other book about ’96 and Shawn Eckhardt, who was convicted of being involved in the attack of Nancy Kerrigan? No, you’re shaking your head no?
[00:19:50] Jill: In a way, but it’s interesting because the Shawn character comes first in Houser’s acting
[00:19:58] Alison: Oh, wait! That’s the same actor?
[00:20:00] Jill: Yes!
[00:20:02] Alison: I didn’t even catch that.
[00:20:05] Jill: Oh, I thought he was genius.
[00:20:08] Alison: Obviously he’s really good because I didn’t make the connection that it was the same actor. I was making the connection. Just the sort of sad, sorry, trying to be bigger than he is.
[00:20:20] Fran: He’s an international spy, Alison. He went on many covert missions. I was cracking up. He was such comic relief in this movie. I can’t even, he was like the complete bumbling, criminal in this. And I thought it was really interesting. I mean, I guess I didn’t really remember the story as well because I really found it incredible that it went from Jeff and Tonya kind of thinking of just having this threat.
For Nancy Kerrigan be in the form of like a letter, like a threatening letter, just to kind of scare her a little bit because previously Tonya had received some death threats. So they said, why don’t we kind of scare Nancy Kerrigan and throw her off guard? And I thought it was really fascinating how that type of criminal activity ended up becoming this, physical beating of Nancy Kerrigan. And I don’t know, it, just seems so fake to me that it wasn’t laid down from the top. I don’t know. I have a hard time believing that Shawn was the one who told these guys to do it, or they just took it upon themselves to go there and harm her.
[00:21:39] Alison: That version of the story where the original conversations between Jeff and Tonya and the threats came much later. Tonya didn’t tell that version of the story, I want to say until like 15 years later.
[00:21:55] Fran: Interesting.
[00:21:57] Alison: To explain some of the things like her handwritten notes.
[00:22:01] Fran: Right. Right.
[00:22:03] Alison: So the reason you probably don’t remember it is–
[00:22:06] Fran: It didn’t happen at the time.
[00:22:07] Alison: It didn’t happen at the time.
I also thought it was very interesting in the movie. that Shane Stant, the man who actually went and physically assaulted Nancy Kerrigan, is in the movie for about a minute.
[00:22:21] Fran: Right
[00:22:21] Alison: He plays no role in the build up to what they all refer to as the incident, which I thought was really funny.
[00:22:30] Jill: Right, because it really so much of the movie is Tonya and Jeff fighting and Tonya being abused or hurt, that angle of her story. But we don’t understand the Nancy Kerrigan rivalry. I don’t know. Alison did, Sarah get at all how intense this rivalry was at the time?
[00:22:52] Alison: The short answer is no. I mean, she got a little of it, but she actually was disappointed that we don’t. What we see of Nancy is, very…
[00:23:05] Fran: minimal. Yeah.
[00:23:07] Alison: Not only minimal, but what we see of her is that she’s kind of an awful person and an awful skater.
[00:23:13] Fran: Right. And then the whole portrayal, right? When she won the silver and kind of talking down how she felt like, oh, she didn’t really care.
[00:23:21] Alison: Right. That in fact was a whole other judging scandal about Nancy Kerrigan, winning the silver and Oksana Baiul winning the gold. That was a whole other judging scandal and the explanation behind why Nancy Kerrigan behaved the way she did on the podium was she was expected to win gold. She was disappointed having won silver.
And the way they put, they sort of stuck it in the movie with almost no context for Nancy Kerrigan. I thought it was extremely unfair, but again, it’s Tonya’s story. She had come out in interviews talking about what a sore loser Nancy was and that wasn’t I right to have hit her, I guess.
[00:24:02] Fran: I do remember the buildup with the two women, face-to-face on the ice. I remember a lot of that building up to the Lillehammer games, and we were all looking forward to that. And then I thought it was really incredible too, the whole laces thing. You know, what the heck happened with her skating laces?
I do remember it from the Olympics and she’s bawling and she’s throwing her leg up over the thing to show the judges and I was like what the heck happened? Nobody had an extra pair of laces for this kid to just change your laces?
[00:24:37] Alison: No, the problem is– so you have warmup and then you come off the ice and you have a very limited amount of time.
Once your name is announced, you have two minutes to get on the ice. Generally after warmup, you don’t stay in your skates because your feet would cramp. So when she went to put her boots back on her lace broke and then she didn’t have time. She had to go out on the ice within those two minutes, or she basically loses her turn.
And that was kind of left out of the movie as to why that happened, but it’s a very technical explanation and doesn’t make for very exciting movie. Though I’m glad they included it.
[00:25:14] Fran: But I do remember that part, and she was so distraught. And then the question is, did that have an imp– obviously that had an impact on her performance that day.
[00:25:25] Alison: But what they left out, because in the movie, Tonya complains that in the end she finished eighth. After this she did skate a clean long program after he broke her lace. What they left out of the movie was she did not skate, a clean short program. So she went into a long program. I think in 10th or back because she fell on one of the required elements.
[00:25:50] Jill: Yeah. It was like, she, the pressure got to her.
[00:25:54] Fran: Right.
[00:25:55] Jill: And she cracked in that short program and was just — you could see bundle of nerves. And then it kind of culminated in this broken lace incident, which some people said was made– not made up because she did have a broken lace, but it was kind of oh, convenient that you have a broken lace here and you could see all her composure was pretty much lost in that Lillehammer long program.
[00:26:18] Alison: And also what they left out, of course, cause it’s not about her, this skater after her, which was Canadian Josée Chouinard was then forced to just go out on the ice.
After Tonya Harding’s program was suspended, Josée Chouinard was not given the normal amount of time because she would have had the four and a half minutes, the scores–
[00:26:40] Fran: To mentally prepare.
[00:26:42] Alison: Right. They basically said, okay, you go. She had to go out on the ice like 10 minutes before she thought she was going to and proceeded to fall left and right. So it’s like Tonya Harding, wreaked havoc, wherever she went, even not just hitting her rivals, but just her circus followed her everywhere. And that’s what I don’t think this movie did justice to, because it was Tonya’s story. The havoc that she wreaked everywhere she went.
[00:27:09] Fran: That was a very apt statement about that. It is a circus, it was a complete, and I mean, you think about reality TV now, and we have so many crazy reality stories, but back then, there wasn’t a lot of that. You didn’t really see these ugly people ,you know, in all their glory back then.
And she was, she was larger than life and foul mouthed and rotten education and horrible boyfriend/ husband, and, and they plotted perhaps, this rotten incident, but it would have been nice to have more of her with Kerrigan too. I mean, they alluded to a point where she said that they were actually friends, you know, and they would share hotel rooms when they were competing.
But you really didn’t see any of that as part of this.
[00:27:59] Alison: Though Nancy has said they were teammates, never friends. So again, this goes back to, is this all Tonya trying to redeem herself and make excuses. Because even in this movie, they have her say many, many times, it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault. Nothing was ever her fault.
[00:28:20] Fran: And I got to say, though, I thought it was very poignant at the end though, when the judge in her case actually barred her from skating for life. I mean, it really did pose a really tragic moment, because what else is this woman going to do?
You’ve taken away Ice Capades. You’ve taken away any type of thing where she could have made a living in a way that she would have enjoyed it. And been good at it, so you really saw the, at the end, the frustration and just the, I don’t know the sadness overall of this whole episode because, you know, what can she do?
And then of course we saw the montage where, she had the ill-fated boxing career and they didn’t even mention her dancing on Dancing with the Stars.
So it’s just a really incredibly sad, and it did seem like she was the one that was the most harshly punished out of all of the people that they mentioned.
[00:29:26] Alison: Well, she’s the only one who didn’t go to prison. Everybody went to prison, but her, and the moment that you mentioned about the judge is actually the moment of the movie that made me really angry because of how inaccurate and sloppy it was because the being barred for life by the U S Figure Skating Association was unrelated to her legal case.
[00:29:48] Fran: Oh really?
[00:29:49] Alison: It would not have been the judge who would have issued that punishment. It was figure skating, and it was a separate investigation. And it said that it had nothing to do with legality. It said that her behavior broke the rules of competition, fair competition. And in theory, being barred from or losing her membership and being barred, she could have performed in Ice Capades but who would want her?
There were a couple of exhibitions that she did pretty early on, but number one, she didn’t skate very well. She wasn’t an exhibition skater. She wasn’t a show skater, and who wants to watch that?
[00:30:27] Fran: And for so many Olympians, I mean, you go to the Olympics, you, you want that endorsement money. Even she mentioned the Wheaties money. I mean, you definitely want, that’s what you really hope to cash in on because way back then, I mean, everybody was an amateur. There was no professionals in the sports. So you really relied on getting that endorsement money after your campaigns. So, you know, to not have anything, and now no hope for anything.
[00:30:57] Alison: And it makes sense because as I mentioned, Sarah, my daughter was watching the movie with me and she had such sympathy for Tonya. And really at the end of the movie came down on her side, and she was very angry with me because I do not have any sympathy for Tonya, if you couldn’t tell in this whole conversation. And not because I, you can be abused and a victim and a horrible person at the same time. And I think that’s what we’ve got here,
[00:31:26] Jill: But I think that means the movie was successful. And it’s what it did in Sarah’s reaction because, because it was I, Tonya, it’s my story.
And boy does it really get you, and it really does make you feel for her. And what it doesn’t do is tell the whole side, because obviously the whole goal is to tell one side of the story and you really need many other sides. And then when you start seeing at the end, during the end credits, and you see the clips of the real people, you start getting a little bit more of, oh boy, like Sean Eckhardt was really dumb. He was so dumb.
[00:32:06] Fran: He lived with his mom. Mom had to dial the number for Jeff. Oh my gosh. There was so many fun, fun moments with Sean and Jeff.
[00:32:19] Alison: Let’s all go home and have a Dove Bar.
[00:32:23] Fran: He bought her a whole freezer full, Alison, that’s love!
[00:32:28] Alison: Not those cheap Eskimo bars.
[00:32:32] Fran: He tried. He really tried.
[00:32:37] Jill: It’s a fun movie, but it really, if you wanted to find out more about the scandal of 1994, you really need to do a whole lot more research and find other video to watch, to really get the whole story.
[00:32:50] Alison: The one little clip I want to end on is at the very end of the movie, you mentioned, they show the program at nationals where Tonya Harding lands the triple axle. At that time, it was the Nutrasweet United States National Championships. And for those younguns out there, NutraSweet was what we put in Tab.
[00:33:10] Jill: But that was about the time it came out. Right. And that was huge. That was a deal breaker The diet drinks, Tab had saccharin and saccharin tasted horrible, but now we came out with NutraSweet with made everything sweeter and we can’t go off on this tangent because I totally will go sweetener talk on you.
[00:33:28] Alison: On a better note. We have movies for 2022.
[00:33:33] Fran: Yes, so for 2022, we are going to start out with Eddie the Eagle, the story of a ski jumper. And I have not seen this movie. I did want to. Jill saw it. She’s not giving me a good face though. So we’ll see. We’ll see.
[00:33:50] Jill: Well, I will say actually I will say it’s a good follow-up to “I, Tonya” when we’re talking about not having– wondering what the whole story is. Eddie, the Eagle will make you feel that way.
[00:34:01] Fran: And so our second movie of 2022 will be One Light, One World, which is the Albertville, France Olympic movie that was made by the Olympic committee. And our third movie of the year will be Race, which is based on the story of Jesse Owens, the US Olympic sprinter, And finally we are going to do a one foreign film.
And I apologize if I’m completely mispronouncing the title, but it is Bhaag Milkha Bhaag which is the story of a runner from India
[00:34:41] Alison: The Flying Sikh!
[00:34:45] Jill: So excited to go back to Bollywood.
[00:34:47] Alison: Oh, I hope there are songs and dance numbers!
Alison and I were, we’re praying that there’s plenty of Bollywood in this one since we love Gold so much.
[00:34:59] Jill: Oh, this will be exciting. I’m really looking forward to it. Fran, it’s been a great year. We saw some really fun films this year, so thank you so much for bringing those to us, and we’ll see you next year.
[00:35:10] Fran: Yes, it was my pleasure. Can’t wait for 2022 and our slate of movies.
[00:35:15] Jill: Thank you so much, Fran. It’s been a great year for movie club and we are looking forward to 2022. I mean, we talked about this a couple of days ago, but how do you feel? Any difference in your feelings towards Tonya Harding?
[00:35:27] Alison: No. Though I realized when we had the discussion, I got very into the weeds about how the movie was historically inaccurate, which annoyed me. Clearly everything about this movie annoyed me. So moving on to 2022,
[00:35:46] Jill: Right? Well, I will say it’s interesting to have a film that’s one side of the story, very clearly, one side of the story and just the importance of triangulating your sources. If you want to tell a full story and that this wasn’t even supposed to be a full story, it was supposed to be one sided, but just for people who do want the whole story, you see how very vastly different it can be.
[00:36:10] Alison: Speaking of the full story. Now I knew Fran back in 1994. So I knew what her bangs looked like. I know I had some pretty awesome nineties bangs and now I think we need to post a picture of your awesome nineties bangs as well. So that may be coming to Instagram later this week.
[00:36:30] Jill: Oh, I’m worried about that. I am worried.
[00:36:39] Jill: That sound means it’s time for our history moment. This year we are looking back at the Atlanta 1996 games It is the 25th anniversary of those games. Alison, it is your turn for a story. What do you have?
[00:36:52] Alison: We’ve talked so much about the women’s gymnastics competition, but we never talk about the poor men.
So I wanted to talk a little bit about the men’s gymnastics competition, particularly the all around. And it was actually a very interesting competition. There were 111 competitors from 31 countries, both of which were the most that they had in the history of men’s gymnastics. It was the first Olympics that they eliminated the compulsory routines, and compulsory routines were like school figures from figure skating. So these were the routines that everybody did the same thing and had a base score. So those were gone in 96. There were several countries making their first appearance in men’s gymnastics. We had several former Soviet republics, Georgia Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia had collapsed, and Croatia made an appearance.
The totally new countries that made an appearance, I think were really interesting. Armenia, Barbados, Greece, Ireland, and Iceland.
[00:37:55] Jill: Wow, Iceland has gymnasts!.
[00:37:58] Alison: I don’t know if this was kind of a one-off, but that was there. And Ireland now has come on strong, 25 years later, they, I think they they won their first medal this time around in Tokyo.
So that was interesting to see that history. The all around was of the men’s was won by Li Xiaoshuang. It was the first medal for China in the men’s gymnastics event in a full participation summer Olympics. They had only won another medal in 1984, which was of course boycotted by the Soviet Union and all those Eastern European countries. And China has become such a powerhouse in men’s gymnastics, but it really started in ’96.
The silver was won by Russian Alexi Nemov who you may remember one of the greats, he went on to win gold in Sydney, and the bronze was won by Vitaly Scherbo, also one of the greats from Belarus, and in that Olympics, he won bronze in the all-around, vault, parallel bars and high bar. So we had a whole collection of bronzes.
The other thing I wanted to mention was this was the Olympics for John Rothlisberger, who you may remember was the feed commentator during Tokyo. So this was his Olympics as well. So the men’s competition featured some really wild high bar routines. As we remember from later Olympics, but just the beginning of Alexi Nemov and Scherbo and now you can go, cause I know you’re dying to talk about your favorite part about the men’s gymnastics competition from Atlanta.
[00:39:33] Jill: Well, we have talked– I don’t know if we’ve talked about it on the show, but the gymnastics commentary overall was horrendous. This was a year where they had John Tesh doing lead and Elfie Schlegel, who was a Canadian aerial skier doing the color commentary.
And they were so critical. They were mean, but John Tesh loved saying Li Xiaoshuang. He said, like every chance he could get it was Li Xiaoshuang, Li Xiaoshuang, Li Xiaoshuang. And just after the Olympics is when I started at the company where we both met. And that was great because our former boss had also watched the Olympics and also hated John Tesh.
Anytime we could just say, Li Xiaoshuang and make each other laugh. Along with a third person in the office who also in our department who also hated John Tesh’s version of Li Xiaoshuang. So it caused no end–
[00:40:42] Alison: Maybe it was a hint of his musical career. He liked musicality of the name. Maybe if you listen to some of John Tesh’s music, the name and his pronunciation is weaved in somewhere. Look for that Easter egg.
[00:40:59] Jill: We had a great email from Book Club Claire about last week’s Atlanta moment, because I said the Beijing 2008 theme was very forgettable. And she said, that is the only Olympic theme song she knows and can hum. And she’s a musician so she should know. And let us know that Sarah Brightman actually has a very large following in China, which was one of the reasons why she got chosen to record the theme over Celine, which I thought was a very fun little tidbit.
[00:41:29] Alison: I wonder if Phantom of the Opera is big in China. I bet it is.
[00:41:33] Jill: Oh, I bet it is too.
[00:41:35] Alison: It has that theatricality that I would think Chinese theater goers would really latch onto.
Welcome to TKFLASTAN.
[00:41:48] Jill: Oh my goodness! It has been such a great weekend for TKFLASTAN! Winter sports season is starting. Our TKFLASTANIS are getting into action and oh, Erin Jackson just crushed it at the first world cup for speed skating. She won the 500 meters with a track record time of 37.613 seconds, uh, giving her her first world cup win and uh, also making her the first Black American woman to win a world cup skating race.
And then she did it again the next day.
[00:42:19] Alison: Broke her record again. Won the gold medal again.
[00:42:23] Jill: What a great weekend for her. And she beat the reigning gold medalist for this event as well. And they were paired together for the second race.
[00:42:32] Alison: It was fun to watch. Erin looks fantastic starting the season. So I’m so, so excited for her.
Team Schuster is currently six and 0 in the double round robin stage of the U S Curling Olympic Trials. They’re the only team in the men’s or women’s competition that are undefeated and round robin goes through Thursday when the show drops and then it’s best of three games playoff to determine the winner. So go team Shuster!
[00:43:00] Jill: They are looking so, so good. Knock on wood that they find their way into the finals.
And then finally sports historian. Dr. Victoria Jackson had a piece entitled “NCAA Gender Inequity Is a Feature, Not a Bug” published on GlobalSportMatters.com. And we will have a link to that in the show notes.
All right. We have a little bit of news from Beijing, a little follow-up first from last week when we talked about the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China accusing the Winter Olympics Organizing Committee and Chinese authorities of stymieing their coverage to cover the Winter Olympics. The Guardian reports that the Organizing Committee, of course refutes this allegation and says, we have never recognized the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
So that may be why this is happening, but what the Beijing Organizing Committee also says that guarantees the freedom of reporting by international media on the Games, in accordance with relevant Chinese policies and on the proviso journalists, abided by relevant Chinese laws, regulation in anti epidemic policies.
[00:44:17] Alison: Okay.
[00:44:18] Jill: All 12 venues have been completed and have been approved by the international federations, according to Inside the Games. So that is a step in the right direction. We keep hearing that fans will be at Beijing, but we don’t know how many. But they haven’t started ticket sales yet, but they did announce according to an Inside the Games that the Ice Cube, which is the curling facility will be at 20% capacity, which is no more than 1000. people.
[00:44:47] Alison: Well, that makes sense because that’s an indoor venue, very tight quarters and also for long periods of time. So I would expect figure skating may be similar, or what they’ll do. Is after each session empty and refill so that more people can come in. So with curling, you kind of have to, because the matches are all going on at the same time, you can’t empty and refill.
Whereas with figure skating, you could do smaller groups. So we’ll have to see how that works out. Cause they’re going to want people there. They’re going to want to make it look good for TV, if nothing else, and have the noise. Oh, I wonder if they’re going to pipe in noise.
[00:45:29] Jill: Oh, that’s a good question because they did not do that in Tokyo, but in the U S at least they have done that at different competitions.
[00:45:38] Alison: They’ve done it for American football. They did it for NBA basketball. I don’t know if they did it for NHL hockey. They had some, depending on which city you were in, they actually had fans. So I have a feeling Beijing is going to pipe in some hype sounds.
[00:45:54] Jill: I kind of hope so. And I hope they do it well because it does lend to the atmosphere when you’re watching it on TV, at least.
[00:46:04] Alison: I’ll also be very interested to see what they do for the limits on the outdoor events, especially up in the mountains, because all of those events, it’s not like locals can really go see it. You really have to take the train to the venues. So you’d have to pack everybody in the train so even though the facility is all outside to get there, you have to be in very tight quarters. So it’ll be interesting to see if what they’re actually limiting is the train capacity rather than the venue capacity.
[00:46:36] Jill: Good question. It’ll be interesting to see, especially because a lot of those outdoor venues, especially like for the cross country skiing and biathlon, you have the stands along the straightaway. And so you can see the shooting range. So you still have regular type seating. Will they, even though it’s outdoors, will they allow people to sit that closely together? So we’ll see.
[00:46:57] Alison: But when you went to biathlon, you just stood on the course, didn’t you?
[00:47:01] Jill: That was the type of ticket I had. So yes, you could stand on the course, but you also get bits of piece and pieces where people are kind of packed in different viewing areas together.
So would they want a crowd of people standing around each other as well?.
[00:47:16] Alison: Well, the one good thing about this being the Winter Olympics is I don’t think anyone is going to complain about wearing their masks because it will be cold. And I have discovered since it’s gotten cold– I guess I didn’t go out much last winter, but I don’t mind leaving my mask on, in that walk from the grocery store to the car. ‘ Cause it does keep the cheeks rather toasty.
[00:47:37] Jill: That it does. And for your listening and viewing enjoyment, the Organizing Committee has released a new video called “Together for a Shared Future” sung by pop star Jackson Yee. We will have a link to this in the show notes because it’s mostly in Mandarin or some form of Chinese with like “together for a shared future” in English and just a little phrases here and there in English. So I just love the combination of the two languages in a very syrupy sweet pop sounding video.
[00:48:14] Alison: So I enjoy watching Spanish telenovelas with subtitles.
[00:48:19] Jill: Okay.
[00:48:20] Alison: There’s a reason I’m mentioning this. And then when the commercials come on, there’s usually no subtitles, but what you will catch is the name of the product in English. You know, so there’ll be, I speak no Spanish, other than the couple of phrases I learned in high school.
So I won’t understand, I won’t understand. And all of a sudden it’ll say, “Tide,” and I’ll catch that one word. So I have a feeling watching this video is going to be similar experience.
[00:48:47] Jill: Yes. Yes. It will be.
[00:48:49] Alison: A whole bunch of stuff. A whole bunch of stuff I don’t understand. And then, “together for a shared future” and then a whole bunch of stuff I don’t understand.
[00:48:57] Jill: That will do it for this week. Let you know. Okay. So we always say, let us know what you think and stuff like that. I got to say, on another podcast I listen to, one of the longtime listeners and contributors to the show in a way, just shared a lot of stories and helped out a lot in the background.
Sadly uh, became ill and suddenly died unexpectedly. And that has really struck me as a podcast listener. And as a podcast host, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your listenership and how your contributions make this show much more fun for not just us, but for everyone. So we really appreciate it when you get in touch with us, when you text us, when you post in the Facebook group, it makes this experience just add so much more to it. And we learn so much more from all of you as well. So, thank you for your contributions and let us know what you think about “I, Tonya.”.
[00:49:53] Alison: Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8 flame it. Get at us on social @flamealivepod and be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook.
[00:50:11] Jill: Next week is Thanksgiving week here in the United States. I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving already.
[00:50:17] Alison: How have we made it through 2021?
[00:50:20] Jill: Usually we do a lightning– lightning round, but instead we are going to hear Tokyo memories from Hannah Brown, our archery official and from Jacqueline Simoneau, our artistic swimmer. So that is something to look forward to. Again, thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.