Biathlete Clare Egan of Team USA. Photo courtesy of Team USA.

Episode 218: Olympian Clare Egan on Biathlon at Beijing 2022

Release Date: December 17, 2021

Category: Biathlon | Podcast

TKFLASTANI biathlete Clare Egan is back to discuss what’s on tap for the biathlon competition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics…..well, what she knows about the venue. We also learn about ski waxing and how China (not a biathlon powerhouse) is coming along in the sport.

Be sure to listen to the show for a big announcement about the last episode of the year and how you can be a part of it!

In our history moment, we look back at the volleyball tournaments from Atlanta 1996. In the sport’s centennial celebration, it was an exciting tournament. Teams wowed the crowds! One streak extended, and another streak ended. And one team found itself on the podium for the first (and last) time ever, but the moment was truly bittersweet.

Our winter sport TKFLASTANIS are back in action. This week we’ve got results from Erin Jackson, Josh Williamson and Team Shuster. Plus, luger Shiva Keshavan could go to his 7th Olympics — but this time as a coach! And bobsled medalist Lauren Gibbs has a new job.

We’ve got some news from Beijing, including who’s joined the diplomatic boycott of the Games. The second edition of the Playbooks has been released, with even more information on how to keep COVID-19 at bay. We’re more than a little thrilled at a couple of the measures that were added, and we tell you how our travel plans are coming along.

We also have some big new from Paris 2024 about the Opening Ceremonies. If you’re going to be there for the Games, you could get a front row seat for the Parade of Nations, which will take place on the Seine. This idea has potential!

As always, we love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts on this week’s episode! Thanks as always for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


TRANSCRIPT

Disclaimer: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and may contain errors. Please refer to the audio file as the official record.

[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?

I feel

[00:00:41] Alison: like I’m living in a tree farm because right outside my office right now, there are all these chainsaws going. So I feel at any moment, something’s going to come crashing through my window, which actually is very appropriate to today’s guest, because I think there are times when they are, they have in fact crashed into trees.

[00:01:05] Jill: Are they cutting down any trees in your particular yard or is it neighbors?

[00:01:09] Alison: No, it’s actually down the street.

[00:01:12] Jill: Oh, wow.

[00:01:14] Alison: And yet I feel like I’m in the middle of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. It is so loud.

[00:01:20] Jill: Just run and get in the car and go. Don’t go into the house. Just run.

We do have a big announcement for a later in the show, but first off we would like to give a special thank you to all of our Patreon patrons for providing financial support to the show and keeping our flame alive. Do you want to be a Patreon patron of the week? Take a look at our different levels of support and very cool bonus gifts at Patreon.com/flamealive pod. And, I am going to get the December bonus episode up very soon.

If you would like to give us a one-time holiday bonus for the coverage that you’ve enjoyed this year, we have lots of options for one-time donations. Check out flamealivepod.com/support for all of them, including PayPal, Venmo, Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi.

[00:02:05] Alison: Well, at any moment, a Christmas tree is going to come crashing through my window. So that’s going to be my bonus apparently.

Oh.

[00:02:13] Jill: Oh well, this week is so exciting, at least for me, because we are talking biathlon and getting ready for Beijing. We welcome back our TKFLASTANI biathlete Clare Egan to the show. Clare has been on the U S National Team since 2015, and currently is ranked 38th on the International Biathlon Union World Cup circuit. She was one of the first biathletes to qualify for Beijing 2022, which will be her second Olympics. We talked about some of the details looking ahead to Beijing and also about this competitive season, which she is announced will be her last. Take a listen.

All right, Clare. Thank you so much for coming back on the show. It’s been it’s well, it’s been a while because we had you on with Contributor Ben ahead of Pyeong Chang and then talked to you after Pyeongchang. But now we are ahead of Beijing. I am super excited about biathlon, and I know our listeners are going to be super excited about biathlon once they watch it.

Beijing is a big mystery for the whole circuit because nobody’s been to the venue except for the Chinese athletes. So what do you know about the venue?

[00:03:19] Clare: Well, first of all, thanks for having me back. It’s great to be back. It’s great to do an interview with some biathlon fans who know about the sport and I know we’ll get into some good discussions, as we already are.

So w with regards to the Beijing venue, you’re right that international athletes have not competed there. It’s a brand new venue. In fact, the International Biathlon Union, just within the month awarded the actual licensed venue license to the venue meaning that it’s met all of the standards, which it needs to meet to host an international competition, like a World Cup or the Olympics.

But people from the International Biathlon Union have been to China several times to inspect the venue. And that ranges also to, people who run the target installation, so the company that manufacturers, the targets they’ve been there to set up and then our world cup race director and sport director from International Biathlon Union, they’ve been there.

And even some team staff have started to go. So, one of our ski technicians joined a trip earlier this month with Nordic combined. I think — I don’t think they had a test event, but the organizing committee of the Beijing Olympics does offer some site visit and ski testing opportunities for just sports.

So for example, the biathlon week is the week after Christmas, where teams, biathlon teams have the opportunity to send ski technicians to inspect the venue and do some preliminary ski testing. And for Nordic combined that happened last week or the week before. And one of our staff members was able to get accredited for that trip as well.

So we’re starting to get more and more information, whether it’s from the International Biathlon Union or from team staff members who have made it over, but we know, first of all, that the venue has met all the official criteria that it needs to meet to host this event. We also saw– the people who installed the targets last winter.

Um, It’s a Finnish company, and they basically did everybody a favor by driving around the course on a snowmobile and taking a video. So we have a video of the course. We also have maps of the courses and, as well as elevation maps. So you can kind of put together the 2d map of where the trail goes, plus the elevation profile, and you can get a sense of what the course will feel like to ski.

And then we have maps of the whole stadium area and some bird’s-eye photographs. So, that info has all come to the International Biathlon Union, probably from the organizing committee. And then from there it’s, come to me as the chair of our Athletes Committee for International Biathlon Union.

And from me, it’s gone to athletes, and hopefully a lot of them have had the opportunity to look through that stuff. So that’s the info that we have. We also know that it’s very likely to be all man-made snow because there’s very little precipitation in this particular area.

It’s kind of a desert from what I understand, but it is cold so they can blow snow. And we know that it’s very likely to be very cold and very windy. So, um, Yeah. That’s what we’re, that’s what we’re looking towards. I won’t say looking forward to, because, —

[00:06:54] Alison: Well, it sounds like circumstances are, are really going to favor veterans, because you can’t just, you really have to put this together, like a puzzle: I’ve had experience with this type of thing that’s similar in this type of thing and I’m putting it together.

[00:07:08] Clare: Yeah, I think that’s a good way to look at it for me as a veteran. I think the other way to look at it is this is anybody’s ball game, you know, it puts us all on equal footing. But I see that as an advantage as well.

And when, you know, when we compete so often on, in European venues, European people will definitely have an advantage because either they live in that country and train frequently there or they can very easily travel to that country and train there. Whereas, for us at the very least, it means coming overseas to train and our home venue, we don’t really host we, we had a world cup in Soldier Hollow, of course, and we’ve had one in Presque Isle, but those aren’t the home venue for many of us.

I think that’s an actually an advantage. And another advantage, I think definitely something that I see as an advantage is that is the time zone and time change, where we’ll be traveling from Europe to Asia, which is pretty similar as traveling from North America to Europe, which of course we do all the time.

We know how to do that six hour time difference or eight hour, nine hour time difference if you’re coming from the West Coast. We know how to do that travel, and we know how to do all the things you can do to try to stay healthy and try to adjust quickly. And and we’re very experienced in that.

And I think when we travel and do an eight hour time change from Europe to Asia, that is an advantage that American athletes will have over, over a lot of European athletes who are not used to doing that travel at all.

[00:08:37] Jill: Do you know how you’re getting there?

 

[00:08:40] Clare: No. Uh, there’s still so much information that we’re waiting on.

We know approximately when we’re leaving, and I think all the flights are chartered, but they’re like, there will not be random people on our flights. They are either specifically chartered flights or you know, they’re commercial flights, but they’re booked out entirely by the US Olympic Committee for example or, or whatever.

I think there’s a couple airports that we– like they’re gonna get to assign us an airport and a flight basically. And the organizing, I think that’s coming from the organizing committee of the Beijing Olympics. And hopefully we’ll know sooner rather than later what that’s, gonna look like.

I think we’re also like, typically at the Olympic Games, and this was true in Korea, there’s a uh, team outfitting for Team USA, at least where, when we arrived in Korea, we stayed overnight in Seoul by the airport and got all of our team gear and did some brief sort of educational stuff with the US Olympic Committee and then went to the venue.

And I believe all of that outfitting and team orientation stuff is going to be happening. There’s some sites in the U S where they’ll do it like pre-departure, and then there’s also, I think they’ll have at least one spot in Europe because a lot of winter sport athletes are really Europe based at that point in the winter.

[00:10:04] Jill: We know that Beijing is also, or at least the venue for biathlon is pretty much at the altitude limit for the sport. How do you get and granted, like the stop on the tour before that is also at high altitude, but how do you get acclimated to that level of altitude? What does competing at that altitude mean in biathlon too cause they do have those limits.

[00:10:29] Clare: Yeah. Well, first of all I, believe the limit exists basically to try to keep people safe. It’s just that they don’t want people having to compete with no oxygen. And I think being at a super high altitude can also naturally cause a sort of increase of your hemoglobin, your red blood cells.

And if you are at really high altitude that can end up with like blood like thickening and that can be really dangerous. It’s why blood doping is really unsafe and no one should do it. For the, obviously the ethical reasons, but also because adding extra blood to your body is really dangerous.

But this is also why, when you talk about acclimating, basically what we do is we go to altitude to try to give our body that stimulus of when there’s less oxygen, the body naturally creates more red blood cells, which can carry the thin oxygen that there is to the muscles. So you know, that’s what our team and really every team you can tell just by looking around at who has been, where all year, people have been spending a lot of time at altitude.

For my teammates who were, I have at least one teammate who lives at altitude year round and that’s lucky for her, but our, team has also made a point of scheduling training camps at altitude, especially starting in the, fall. So we were in Antholz, Northern Italy, in the mountains for two weeks in September. And then we moved to another high-altitude location in Austria for a third week. So we had to like a good three week block there. And I, if I understand the science correctly, you really need to like at least two weeks, but three or four is better to sort of get that stimulus working in your body.

And so, yeah, we did a good block there in September. Then we were in Utah for almost three weeks at high altitude again in October. Then we went and did our pre World Cup on snow training camp in Austria, again at altitude. That was just two weeks. And then we went to the World Cup and our first World Cup was in Sweden. That’s low altitude, but our second two were in Austria. And now we’re in France at high altitude again. So our World Cup schedule has been a high altitude. And then a lot of us are planning to spend this Christmas break as well, somewhere high. I’m actually not, I’m going home to Lake Placid and spending a week there and that that’s kind of my priority.

And then, but then I’ll come right back to altitude. We’re trying to spend a lot of time at altitude. Probably, I mean, I’m taking my iron supplement. I have low iron and you need to have– I mean, it’s not like really medically dangerously low, but if I don’t take a supplement, it does go low.

And so that’s something I have to be aware of and that’s something that a lot of athletes will get tested regularly to make sure that you know, our bodies can handle training and at — well training in general, but then especially if you’re trying to acclimate to altitude, you need to have a good supply of iron in your blood.

And we’ve really worked, you know, we’ve kept track of how we do acclimation in terms of the first couple of days. Like you know, if I fly from Lake Placid New York to Utah, I’ve tracked in my training log. How did I feel those first couple of days? And what did I do?

And I’ve done that for every training camp that we’ve done like this. And so I have a pattern, I know, okay. Um, I should probably do this on this day because then I’ll feel better the next day or whatever. You know, we learned from our training and we learned from the past and try to make it so that when we do go to China, we’re as ready as we can be to compete at that altitude.

You also asked me what competing at altitude means for biathlon, and it really, it makes both the skiing and the shooting harder. When the oxygen is thinner just I mean, when you’re racing, when you’re ski racing, no matter what altitude you’re at, you’re going to be going as hard as you can.

So it doesn’t really change how hard you’re pushing yourself, because you’re always going to push hard, but it changes, maybe how you ski, you know, you’d simply cannot move as quickly in terms of your cadence um, your cycle of how frequently you pull or how frequently you skate.

You just can’t do it that fast at altitude as you can at lower altitude when there’s tons of oxygen. And so you might have to actually kind of change your technique and pacing a little bit to be more efficient. And for shooting. It means that, I mean, for me, I usually end up preparing both mentally and physically to shoot earlier than I would at low altitude.

So if I’m at a low altitude venue, maybe it’s 50 meters before I arrive at the range or a hundred meters before I arrive at the range that I kind of start to coast into the shooting range, where I can kind of shift my mindset from going as hard as I can, as fast as I can to calming down, taking deep breaths and checking the wind flags and getting ready to shoot. Um at altitude I’ll probably do that earlier. Cause I know that my body needs more time to catch my breath in order to be able to shoot well.

[00:15:39] Jill: When we watch on TV and we–, really, when we listen to Chad Salmela talk to us on TV, he talks a lot about the snappiness in skiing, and you can tell when somebody’s skiing well, and they got that snap to them in, or when somebody’s tired and that snap goes away.

So at altitude, is it harder to get that snap? That means you’ve–

[00:16:01] Clare: Yeah. I think so. I mean, well, when I try to ski at, well at altitude, I think about skiing big, and that might hopefully when I’m planting my poles and I’m skating, those movements are still quick and snappy and powerful, but then the glide needs to be longer.

So it’s really the cadence of the cycle that slows down. But. I think you can still get some quickness and snappiness with those propulsion motions. So like I said, like, while you’re pulling, I mean, you can slam your poles down really fast and hard no matter what altitude you’re at, but then maybe you need to take some more time in the glide phase before you can do that again at high altitude. Does that make sense?

[00:16:48] Jill: Yeah, that does make sense because the glide is kind of a little recovery moment.

[00:16:54] Clare: Yeah, exactly. So it’s different than like that’s the beauty of skiing, right? Is that you have this you have a push and then you have a glide. so it’s. It’s yeah, a tiny little recovery with every step but people will probably just in general look like they’re going slower and look like they’re less snappy.

I would expect that to be the case, but it’s just, that’s an issue of capacity. You simply cannot go at the same. You can’t move your body at the same rate of speed when there’s less oxygen.

[00:17:25] Jill: So Beijing, cause we’re going to go ski in a desert. Man-made snow. My question is what’s up with that, but how do you approach skiing on manmade, snow versus natural snow? Is there, what do you feel the difference?

[00:17:38] Clare: Yes. There’s a difference between every kind of snow. I mean, even like wet, natural snow versus dry, natural snow, and it’s natural snow that’s coming down when it’s four degrees compared to 28 degrees.

And so manmade, snow is different too. And, And even manmade snow at colder temperatures versus warmer temperatures is different. Or if it’s like saved from the previous year, which a lot of places do nowadays, they’ll, snow make a giant pile and then cover it with wood chips and a white tarp all summer.

And it will last actually, and then they can use it the next winter to start skiing early. That’s pretty frequently done and um, in the major cross country skiing venues nowadays. So the snow is different. But we’re very accustomed to it. I mean, there have been whole winters that we’ve mostly skied on manmade, snow on the World Cup tour.

It’s not guaranteed that we’re going to have natural snow, every venue, but every venue does have to guarantee that they will have snow. And so they all have those kinds of different snow farming techniques they call it, whether it’s saving something from the previous year or trucking it in from higher altitudes or whatever.

And it’s, an issue that certainly gets to be a bigger issue with climate change. So it’s one of those things that stares us in the face when when we think about that in our sport. But we’ll be ready to compete on whatever kind of snow we have.

And it’s great that we have wax technicians that are willing and able to go to China. Some of them will go three times this winter, twice to test and once to compete, so we should be ready to go, no matter what we find there.

[00:19:19] Jill: Speaking of wax techs how involved are you with what goes on the skis wax wise. Cause we one, one time we want to talk to a tech and understand how much the waxing contributes to performance. Because again, Chad Salmela will talk about like, we don’t know why either, oh, they might have bad skis today.

[00:19:41] Clare: I mean the bottom line is it makes a huge difference. The ski preparation makes a huge difference. I wish I made less of a difference, but it makes a huge difference. And it’s, there’s so many different layers and components to the ski preparation. I mean, first of all, there’s the actual ski and the sort of structure of the ski and the flex of the ski and the camber of the ski, you know, all of those things being sort of what it feels like when you stand on it.

And then there’s the base of the ski, right? And the base of the ski might have different materials and and it might have a different, like another big factor is the grind of the base of the ski and the grind. When we talk about grinds, we’re basically talking about this sort of micro structure in the ski base that could be parallel lines or it could be a Chevron or something else more or less complicated.

And then we talk about different waxes that are applied to the bottom of the skis and the waxes are, you know, they’re basically applied and then scraped off. But they serve essentially to repel water. And there’s a million different waxes and that’s not an exaggeration. And there’s

different layers of waxes. I mean, there’s things you put on first, then there’s powders that you have to burn on and there’s liquids that you can apply last. Our team also works a lot with what we call hand structure, which is basically kind of a finishing coat structure. So on top of the grind, and on top of that wax, you would with just the pressure of your hands, run a tool down the ski that would apply again, another sort of micro structure into the bottom of the base and all of this stuff really affects the performance of the ski.

It affects how free it feels under your foot, how at the top speed is. It affects how it will either repel or soak up water or dirt over the course of the race. And so it’s not just how fast does it feel right now, but is it going to stay fast over 5k? 10 K 20 K being kilometers of skiing. So the, ski preparation makes a huge, huge, huge difference.

And the skis that we’re working with as World Cup level athletes are not even skis that are available to the public, or maybe they will be next year. We don’t pay for equipment. It’s given to us by, I mean, most like top level World Cup athletes are getting their equipment from sponsors. If you’re you know, a national level athlete and you don’t have that sponsorship yet, then of course you’re still probably paying for some skis, but probably at a discount.

The brands do support top level athletes well, and so each athlete has a pretty wide range of skis. You’ll have skis for different conditions and different temperatures, different kinds of snow. And then grinds for all of that, waxes for all of that, hand structures all of that. So I mean, we have three year-round full-time employees who do ski preparation for us.

And additionally, I mean, right now here on the weekend, in addition to those three people, we have a fourth person who’s just here for the weekend to help out. So we, like, we pretty much always have four or five people on the ground just doing ski prep which is more than we have coaches, for example.

[00:22:54] Jill: Have you noticed a difference with the shift away from the fluoro waxes?

[00:23:00] Clare: Um, not quite, not yet because we haven’t done uh, so fluorinated, wax it’s basically, I mean, I don’t know what the scientific compounds are, but it, they are really water repellent, so that makes skis really fast. Especially when the snow is wet.

But they’re really bad for the environment and also for people. So it’s dangerous to work with them all the time. And so the European Union banned the use of fluorocarbons starting in July, 2020. It really wasn’t aimed at biathlon or cross country skiing or sport at all.

It was really aimed more at big industries, for example in aviation, the de-icer has fluorocarbons in it or did, and that, they’re blowing tons of that into the air and it’s not good for the environment. you know, I think what we are putting into the environment is really minuscule, minuscule, but it’s still has an impact and it definitely has a human impact on the people who, like our wax techs, who are touching it all the time.

Although hopefully they’re wearing gloves and respirators but right now, the law only applies to floor. I guess it’s like a chemistry thing, but it only applies to fluorocarbons above, some certain level. And so right now only our highest level it’s called C eight fluorocarbon waxes have been banned, and everything less than that is still allowed to be produced, sold and used in the EU.

And so I haven’t noticed a change in my skis or performance related to that yet, because it’s a very small difference. We can still use the flourinated wax on the skis. However, if the IBU continues on the track that is on, then they will be enacting a full ban as early as next year.

And that will make a huge difference in the speed of the skis. We’ll never have the same speed skis that we have right now again. So it’ll be really different to ski because a much more muscular, I think just much more resistance under the foot. But I’m retiring. So I won’t have to deal with that.

[00:25:01] Jill: Nice segue again. Uh, Yeah, last year. what’s been your approach to this year?

[00:25:07] Clare: I think kinda two things. One I’ve been trying to just put absolutely everything in, I can into the sport just to wring out whatever’s left. So that doesn’t necessarily mean like working harder. Although I work really hard, it means working smarter.

We say that a lot. Work smarter, not harder. So it’s, I’m working really hard, but I’m also. Trying to be very smart about everything I’m doing in order to get everything I can out of this last year. Um, That’s one thing, and then I’m really also trying to enjoy myself. It’s I know it’s, it seems very glamorous this kind of athlete life, but sometimes I like to call it the real athlete life.

There’s a lot of struggles, a lot of up and downs. A lot of times, we don’t have like normal days at the office that just feel normal. It’s like either major success or major failure. That’s what it it sometimes can feel like that. And so I’m trying to keep that stuff the sort of ups and downs trying to minimize, I guess, how that effects my emotions and just try to focus on enjoying my last time at every venue and all the great things that are really fun about doing this, having this career as a professional athlete.

[00:26:21] Jill: Is there a venue on the circuit that you’re not going to get to go to one more time that you’re sad about?

[00:26:27] Clare: Um, Do you mean that I probably won’t go back to any probably

[00:26:32] Jill: I’m like, wait, I don’t remember anything beyond like Oberhof and Beijing, but what is, is Pokljuka and Nove Mesto on the calendar?

[00:26:41] Clare: Actually, neither of those two are yeah, both of those places are great. And I, I am– I think I learned my lesson actually last year.

We had world championships in Pokljuka, and they really went poorly for me. I just, I have no races that I’m happy about from that. And I left very bitter, and I think about it now. And I’m like, I didn’t like say goodbye to that place. You know, it’s such a beautiful place. The city of Bled in Slovenia, it should be on everyone’s hidden gem travel list.

It’s so beautiful, and skiing there is great. I was in two flower ceremonies there. I had made a great accomplishments there. And that is a regret that I have, that I learned from that was, like leaving bitter and not taking the time to enjoy those, last moments there and and sort say goodbye to that great place.

And I’m really trying to do that this year with all the venues we are going to. So yeah, and I don’t know if I’ll go back, you know, or when I’ll go back. That’s just one more reason to kind of soak it up.

[00:27:43] Jill: How has it been having fans back. They’ve been hit and miss, because you didn’t have any this past weekend in Austria, but you will have some this weekend

[00:27:51] Clare: They’re already here watching us train. It’s amazing. There were kids, tons of kids but adults too, you know, families were out on the course today, already in the stands, just cheering for us while we’re training. It’s amazing. I think the environment this weekend in France is going to be spectacular.

So we had fans in Sweden, which is, it’s not like a huge blockbuster sellout kind of stadium on our tour, but it was so great nonetheless to have spectators back. They’re so fun. They really, for me, bring the sort of fun and joy to the whole show. Otherwise it just feels like we’re training, which I don’t love, you know, I like putting on the show.

And so that’s, it’s just great. They’re so funny. People from all over, you know, out cheering for whoever is– they’re having a great time. That’s great. And then again, like you said, last week in Austria, we didn’t have fans and yeah, it just, I prefer it so much when we do, so I’m really looking forward to this weekend.

We are expecting a full, sold out stadium and sold out course as well. So, And I have some friends coming in as well. So looking forward to that.

[00:28:59] Jill: Um, asking for a friend, because we have a dream here of being biathlon bums for a full season and just going with the tour,

[00:29:07] Clare: You should do that.

[00:29:11] Jill: Do you get to like, if you’re a regular spectator, can you go skiing there at the venue or not?

[00:29:16] Clare: Definitely not. So the competition trails are totally closed like for the whole week. They’re also being used tons. So there’s not time when you would be able to go on them.

It’s not like they’re sitting empty. For example, today, those ski techs that we’ve talked about, they’re out there testing skis all day. So they’re, starting on Monday or Tuesday of the world cup week, out most of the day skiing. And then there’s two training sessions every day, a men’s training and a women’s training.

So a couple hours in the morning, a couple hours in the afternoon, the trail’s occupied with hundreds of athletes. So, the trails are busy, they’re being used, but in a lot of these places, there are great other trails nearby, you know, and years like what we’ve had so far, this winter, there’s a ton of snow.

There are beautiful tourist trails in all the places we’ve been to. If you’re lucky enough to plan a trip to a biathlon World Cup, hopefully there’ll be a lot of snow on the ground and then you can definitely ski on trails nearby.

[00:30:15] Jill: Excellent.

So excited. I do want to talk about wax techs. I loved the video you had last season of the US wax tech camper versus like the Norwegian and German semis.

[00:30:30] Clare: Oh, I got to do more of that. People always comment on my, behind the scenes truck posts. And it’s just one of these things that we’re so normalized to, because we just see it every single day, the whole winter for years and years.

But I do remember the first time I came to Europe, it wasn’t for biathlon. It was for cross country skiing. you know, In like 2012 or 2011. And I took photos right away of all of the vans and trucks, because it’s just such a unique thing. So I should do some more behind the scenes, stuff like that, but we actually, we’re really, I feel really lucky about what we have now.

We have a camper company that sponsors us called Sunlight, so we have a camper that we travel with to the races. And especially during this kind of weird COVID time, it’s been super, super useful because there used to be at every venue, It was called the biathlon family club and it was basically the cafeteria, the mini cafeteria set up mostly for the wax techs and staff who are there all day. I mean, people don’t have time to like go back to their hotels and eat when the race is at 12:30 or whatever. And so part of the kind of contract for organizing committees for hosting events was that they needed to set up a little cafeteria and where people could go and eat lunch.

And we haven’t had that with COVID. They had to shut that down. They’ve just been doing some, like to go sandwiches and stuff, but then, people are eating them like in their. we, each, every venue usually have like a shipping container where we can kind of store stuff and wax skis. And, does that also then become where you eat?

I mean, for a lot of teams, it does, but we have a camper. It’s mostly for our staff that uses it. And they sleep in it sometimes too, you know, when they’re on long trips or whatever. So that’s been really cool. We still do not have a, tractor trailer, 18 Wheeler wax truck, which a lot of nations do.

And it means that it’s a lot less packing and unpacking for them. Because what we do, you know, we have like a cargo van and we drive from venue to venue and unload our stuff into those shipping containers that I’ve mentioned. And if you have everything set up in your truck, then you don’t have to do that.

I think we have a really good good setup with our wax team and how they do things and our cargo van from Auto Eder and our camper. So we’re doing well, I think.

[00:32:54] Jill: Very good. Have you been learning any Mandarin?

[00:32:57] Clare: No. No. I have not.

[00:33:00] Alison: You did start to learn Korean before PyeongChang.

[00:33:04] Clare: I did, and I hope one day I can kind of get back into that.

I have continued a little bit with Korean last, not this past summer, but the summer before I took some online Korean which is like one of the best things that maybe the only good thing with COVID is that a lot of classes that used to not be offered online are now offered online. So language classes, I mean that, wasn’t a thing online language classes.

But I took Russian this summer, actually online through a language school in Kiev and, it’s live with a professor and a couple of students and um, I learned a ton Chinese is too hard for me, but I really enjoyed learning Korean before Pyeongchang. And like I said, continue a little bit, but it’s also really hard.

Um, But I, I decided I wanted to learn some Russian finally. I probably should have done it before, but in my position in the– working on the athlete’s committee for IBU, I really feel like I should be able to connect with athletes from everywhere. And we have a lot of Russian-speaking athletes, and not all of them speak English.

And I mean, like all the Eastern European athletes, you know, and those are big biathlon nations, like Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus et cetera. So, I wanted to learn enough that I could kind of at least try to chat with those athletes a little bit. And it has, it worked, you know, I’ve had a couple interactions that weren’t total fails where I think we understood each other.

And, one of the athletes who I had spoken to previously came up to me the other day and talked to me in Russian which I thought was a great sign because that person evidently thinks I know more than I do because I had to, say I don’t. Can you say that again?

I’m not sure I understand you, but yeah, that’s been really good and I hope that sort of opened some doors for communication and maybe even friendship with, the Eastern European athletes.

[00:34:58] Jill: Do you have plans for after the season?

[00:35:02] Clare: I’m looking for jobs. I have a master’s degree in linguistics.

Um, I like working in international communications. If anyone is looking for somebody, I’m looking. And yeah, I have lots of random skills, including shooting a gun at targets and cross country skiing. Yeah, in all seriousness, no, I don’t have plans, and I am looking for jobs. So everything I just said was real.

[00:35:27] Jill: I want to know. Okay. Famously China has not been a strong house in biathlon, but they are being coached by Ol and seem to be doing well for a country that has no history of biathlon.

[00:35:41] Clare: Yeah. Do I notice them? Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s a great question.

And they, so like you mentioned not a history of biathlon but a couple of things, one, they do have a history of being sharpshooters, and you can look to the Summer Olympics to see that. So this is a culture that has a tradition of these precision sports being very good. They have that going for them.

And then they did recruit, as you said, two of the top recently retired athletes, Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway and Darya, his wife, Darya Domracheva of Belarus formerly of Russia. Yeah, I mean, they’re here today. There were– Darya and Ole both skied. They were skiing for hours today. They’re both– they could probably both still make their respective national teams.

They appear to be in great shape. And their skiers are doing very well. They are all sharp shooters. I mean, if you look through the results, you’ll notice the Chinese athletes are rarely missing any targets. They are not as fast in skiing. Cause I think that’s where they have less experience, but they’ve –Darya and Ole have done amazing work. They all , the athletes’ technique. They all ski like Darya. When I see the women. I mean, mostly I see the women because I’m at women’s training and I see the Chinese women go by and they just look, they ski in the same graceful way that Darya Domracheva famously skied so that there that’s working.

I believe Norway’s waxing their skis. They have some, yeah, they have some cause you just, they would have known, I mean, you can’t just build that knowledge from scratch. And so I believe they’ve outsourced their ski preparation to Norway, which you know, I think believe Norway is being well compensated for, but they also– each team is limited as to how many wax techs you can have. So you can’t have like a hundred wax techs. You are limited by the number of there’s a, it’s proportional to the number of athletes that you have. And there’s some rule about how many you can have. But Norway is getting these extra people because China hired, officially they’re working for China, but they’re just Norwegian people working for Norway and helping prepare both.

So the Norwegians benefit in that way by having extra people. And then, at the end of the day, they wax two extra pairs of skis for the Chinese. But you will see that the Chinese I mean, if you were to look up the nation’s cup score right now, which is it combines all our results, China is I think right behind us.

I think we’re 13th and I think they’re 14th. And we’re, that means that every day when we go to shooting training and we’re zeroing our rifles, you know, we’re sighting in our rifles for the day’s conditions and the wind, China’s on the lane right next to us. And it’s been fascinating because they, I mean, first of all, we’ve never, China has never been that close to us. They were usually ranked way lower. So they’ve made a huge improvement, and we’re right next to them on the range and they have a translator. So the shooting coach, I don’t know what nationality he is. English is not his first language, but he’s, he speaks in English and then there’s a translator who’s there.

Full-time standing next to that shooting coach who wears a mic like a headset. And it has a little speaker and it just, he translates and it projects the Chinese out towards the shooting points. So I think it would be very distracting actually, if I understood any Chinese, cause it’s a little bit like amplified, it’s not like someone’s shouting over the range, but it’s like a little speaker.

But it’s because I know zero Mandarin, it’s just sounds to me and it’s not distracting, but it’s very interesting to see how that whole dynamic is playing out. And they’ve got some great athletes, so I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw them having great results, better than mine, like they’re great athletes. They’re shooting really well. They’re well coached. So yeah, it’s interesting.

[00:39:38] Jill: At Beijing we’re going to see every race. So what will qualify the pursuit and what’s going to qualify the mass start.

[00:39:47] Clare: Our competition program will go like this.

We’ll start with a mixed relay, two men and two women. The next event we have our sprints, and the sprint always is the qualification event for the pursuit. So the top 60 people from the sprint qualify for the pursuit. They’re two separate medal events, but one serves as a qualification for the other.

So the pursuit then has 60 starters. And that’s the third event. Then we have an individual which is our longest race. It’s the one where instead of penalty loops for misses, you just get a one minute time penalty. I shouldn’t say just. You get a whopping one minute time penalty per miss. Then we have gender relays. A women’s relay for women, a men’s relay for men. And the last event is the mass start, and the qualification for the mass start is based on the three other individual events, so the sprint, pursuit and the individual. The relays don’t count towards the mass start, but the individual races do. And the qualification goes like this. There’s 30 people in the mass start. And I hope I do this correctly. The first bibs will be assigned to anyone who has medalled in the sprint, pursuit and individual So it could be up to nine people, but it may and often is less than that because oftentimes the, at least the sprint and the pursuit share a podium finisher, not always, but you get a head start. Then after that, they fill up to bib 15 with the people from the World Cup overall score. So if you’re in the top 15 of the World Cup overall, you would likely get a start in the mass start at the Olympics.

And there’s often some overlap as well between people who win medals and people who are in that top 15. So that’s, that will be a maximum of 15 And then the next 15 people are the people who have the best sort of points overall from the sprint, pursuit and individual that week.

So it’s for people who have performed well at the Olympics. So I know that’s a complicated, but that’s how it works.

[00:42:03] Jill: It’s complicated, but exciting.

[00:42:05] Clare: Just like the whole thing, the whole biathlon thing. That’s kind of how it is. Basically, if you’re doing really well, you get to do the mass start.

Either if you’ve done really well at the Olympics, or you’ve done really well over the course of the season, cause you want those 30 people to be the best 30 people.

[00:42:21] Jill: Okay. That makes sense. Alison any, I know this has been my, my interview.

[00:42:27] Alison: I want to know how your relationship with your rifle has been this season.

[00:42:31] Clare: Okay. It’s been great. Where’s rifey? She’s out in the hall right now.

[00:42:36] Alison: Last weekend, she was not in the corner. She you and she had a nice weekend.

[00:42:41] Clare: Well, last weekend wasn’t the best, but she’s been fine. I think, I really feel like this summer, me and Rifey did a lot of good work. I mean, my shooting percentage is better.

My shooting times are lower. Those are both good things. And our first couple World Cups in Sweden. I was, really happy with how I shot. Again, both those shooting percentage and the time. This past weekend was, I was a little off, but I think that was me, not Rifey. She’s been good. So, Yeah, so far so good.

We’re going to give it another try on on Thursday. Today’s Tuesday. So one more day. And today we did really good work on the range, I have to say. So I so far so good.

[00:43:20] Jill: Clare is competing this weekend in Annecy, LaGrand Bornand in France, which is the last stop of the World cup tour before the Holidays. Competition will pick up again on January 6th in Oberhof Germany.

If you have not watched, you got to start watching biathlon because it is so exciting.

[00:43:39] Alison: You totally got me into biathlon. I mean, I don’t watch it as consistently as you do. I don’t watch the whole World Cup circuit, but I never really watched biathlon much before Pyeongchang and yet I absolutely adore it now.

And I adore how excited you get about it. And just biathlon fans in general are really passionate fans, which is great.

[00:44:01] Jill: Yes. They know how to celebrate a sport. That’s for sure. You can follow a Clare on Twitter at @BiathleteEgan, Insta @clareeganbiathlete.

That sound means it’s time for our history moment. And this year we have been focusing on Atlanta in 1996 all year long, because it is the 25th anniversary of those games. You know, It’s really surprising. This is like the last moment I believe.

[00:44:29] Alison: I think so. Cause we’ve got two more shows of the year and we’re going to talk about those in a minute or two, but we’ve really dug deep on Atlanta, which has been so much fun.

[00:44:41] Jill: Yes. And I hope that you have all enjoyed it as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how this year long experiment went. So yeah, it really surprised me when I looked at the calendar and like, oh, this is it. This is it. So we’re going to go down to a sport at the bottom of the alphabet and look at the volleyball tournament for Atlanta. Now, volleyball had been invented in 1895. So they celebrated their Centennial during the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, which was pretty exciting.

They had 12 men’s teams, 12 women’s teams and 18 nations represented total. The games were best of five sets. 15 points and you had to win by two, or you got the first team to 17 in a set. They had two big rule changes for Atlanta. And the first one was that the service zone behind the end line was increased from three meters to nine meters.

So they had much more room to serve. And then this was also the first time that players could use their entire body to hit the ball. Whereas previously they could not use anything below their knees to hit the ball. So this time, if they accidentally hit a ball with their foot and they kept it in play, that would count.

We’ll look at the women’s tournament first. Brazil and China were undefeated in their pools. And on the women’s side, we have Cuba who is the defending gold medalist, and in the semi-finals they will play Brazil. Going crazy in the stands. Lots of fans, the atmosphere at volleyball was just very intense for both the men and the women.

They defeated Brazil in the semi-finals. The other semi-final was China versus Russia. And this was China’s first win over Russia in international play. Yeah. So this also means that Russia goes to the bronze medal match. Brazil goes to the bronze medal match, and we’re talking about Russian Unified Team in 1996

Gold medal game. Cuba defeats China in four sets. They dropped the first one, went on to win the final three. Second straight gold medal for them. The only other country that’s done that up to this point is the Soviet Union. So What of the Soviet union? They’re going for bronze. Brazil, defeats them in five sets, five sets.

Yeah. Ending the longest winning streak in women’s volleyball. Russia had a history of four gold, two silvers as the USSR, and then they won a silver in 1992 as a Unified Team.

[00:47:19] Alison: And women’s volleyball had only been introduced. I think it was 64.

[00:47:23] Jill: Yeah, I think so. For Tokyo.

[00:47:25] Alison: They pretty much medalled in everything.

[00:47:27] Jill: Right

[00:47:28] Alison: Until ’96.

[00:47:29] Jill: Yes.

[00:47:30] Alison: Wow. And isn’t it interesting to her Cuba in the mix? I mean, you still hear Brazil, you still hear China. You even still hear Russia, but Cuba has really fallen off that volleyball map.

[00:47:42] Jill: Exactly. On the men’s side, we are looking up for a match off between Italy and the Netherlands and those two have been going at it for years leading up to these Games. The pool to survive really was Pool B. It was Italy, Netherlands, the Russian Federation and Yugoslavia included. All of them went to the semi-finals. Those four teams did. So first off we have Yugoslavia and Brazil and Yugoslavia is coming kind of out of nowhere, right?

They beat Brazil in five sets, upset them. Brazil is the defending gold medalist in this. So now Brazil is not going to get a medal at all.

But the four semi finalists are all from this pool and you’ve got Netherlands defeating Russia and Italy defeating Yugoslavia to set the match up that everybody wants for the gold medal, Netherlands and Italy. And again, five set match deciding this game and Netherland pulls it out.

Last set ended 17, 15.

[00:48:53] Alison: It doesn’t get any closer than that?

[00:48:56] Jill: So then we’ve got your bronze medal match, which will be Yugoslavia versus Russia.

Now Yugoslavia is a big surprise to get to the semi-finals. The team, the national team has only been together since 1995.

[00:49:10] Alison: Oh my goodness.

[00:49:12] Jill: And they have one player with the Olympic experience and that is their captain. Dejan Brdjovic. Three matches into the preliminaries Brdjovic has to go home because his 14 month old son had died of a brain tumor.

[00:49:30] Alison: Oh, wow. You can’t get much more horrible than that, right?

[00:49:34] Jill: it was bad. His teammate, Djula Mester said, we will bring you a medal and we kept our promise.

[00:49:42] Alison: many sad moments for that

team, but

that medal being very bittersweet.

[00:49:48] Jill: Exactly.

Okay. We have a big announcement. We have our last show of the year is going to be a call-in show. We want to talk to you about Olympics and Paralympics stuff and hear what’s on your mind. We will be recording this at 11:00 AM Eastern time on Tuesday, December 21st. So at that time, call 2 0 8 3 5 2 6 3 4 8.

That’s a plus one for the country code and we will chat Olympics and Paralympics with you. We are excited about this.

[00:50:25] Alison: I’m So excited to

try this.

[00:50:28] Jill: I know. So

They beat Russia, three sets to one, pretty handily. They brought glory to Yugoslavia, which is also in the process of breaking up. Sadly, Brdjovic died suddenly in 2015, right around the holidays at age 49 and left behind a whole volleyball family.

His wife had been a volleyball player and he also had two other children, a son and a daughter who also played volleyball.

[00:50:53] Alison: Oh!

[00:50:54] Jill: Sad note, but a huge win for Yugoslavia. It was their first ever medal in men’s volleyball.

[00:51:02] Alison: And then this, I think would have been Yugoslavia’s last Olympics as Yugoslavia.

[00:51:07] Jill: Yes. Yes, definitely.

Then they would have split up and gone their separate ways.

[00:51:12] Alison: So many, many sad moments for that team, but that, that medal being very bittersweet.

[00:51:19] Jill: Okay. We have a big announcement. Our last show of the year is going to be a call-in show. We want to talk to you about Olympics and Paralympics stuff and hear what’s on your mind. We will be recording this at 11:00 AM Eastern time on Tuesday, December 21st. So at that time, call 2 0 8 3 5 2 6 3 4 8.

That’s a plus one for the country code and we will chat Olympics and Paralympics with you. We are excited about this.

[00:51:54] Alison: I’m so excited to try this!

[00:51:56] Jill: I know. So hopefully, hopefully you can dial in and we can have a lot of fun chatting with you at the end of the year, looking into an Olympic year.

[00:52:03] Alison: So any questions, any comments? We welcome all comers on this one.

Welcome to TKFLASTAN.

[00:52:14] Jill: Hey, did you know that you can declare your TKFLASTANI citizenship with a t-shirt, hoodie, mask or mug. We have great new designs available at our storefront on TeePublic. And this week, everything is 30% off and shipping in time for Christmas is still available. Link to the store through our website at flamealivepod.com/store.

So what’s going on with our TKFLASTANIS?. Cause if we are hot on winter season.

[00:52:38] Alison: Erin Jackson won bronze in the 500 meters at the World Cup speed skating race in Calgary. She has metalled in every event so far in the World Cup season and is ranked first overall in the standings.

[00:52:52] Jill: That is incredible. This is so exciting for her going into this,

[00:52:56] Alison: She’s killing it! Talk about being hot at the right time. Nice job. Speedy J

[00:53:03] Jill: Bobsledder Josh Williamson competed with a driver Hunter Church at the World Cup race in Winterberg on the bobsled tour. And they finished 11th in the 4-man. So they will compete this weekend in Altenburg, Germany.

[00:53:19] Alison: Lauren Gibbs is now the director of external sales at Parity Now, where sports sponsorship tech and gender pay equity meet.

[00:53:28] Jill: And Shiva Keshavan is coaching Argentinian luger, Lucas, Populin, and Populin, is working on qualifying for Beijing. He has two world cup points. He needs three more to qualify. So Shiva could potentially go to his seventh Olympics.

[00:53:43] Alison: We’ve been seeing him posting and we were confused about who he was coaching. So that’s, perfect. So now we know.

And Team Schuster was on the finale of The Voice as a guest of Blake Shelton. I got to go back and find that. What was that about? Did they get Blake Shelton to curl? That would be interesting.

[00:54:04] Jill: I would not be surprised.

Okay. We have version two of the Beijing, 2022 playbooks now.

[00:54:21] Alison: And when I was reading it, there were times when I thought, am I reading the English or am I reading the Chinese? Because I don’t understand.

[00:54:30] Jill: Yeah, they are much longer. There’s a lot more on COVID protocols. I had to kind of examine the one for the press because as our podcast organization’s, COVID liaison,

[00:54:47] Alison: Are you getting a bonus for that?

[00:54:49] Jill: Oh yeah, totally getting a bonus for that. So yes, I have every media organization, every basically organization for the Olympics has to have a COVID liaison. And even if you’re a very small outfit like us, we have to have a COVID liaison. So, uh, I am the COVID liaison.

[00:55:06] Alison: And I’m the second, which I love!

[00:55:11] Jill: Yeah, so there’s been a whole lot of COVID protocol stuff that I’ve had to pay more attention to, but in the playbooks, they’ve had some interesting developments, such as they’re going to have a little walking area outside of the main media center so that we can get some fresh air and walk around. Very excited about that.

[00:55:29] Alison: Does it a Chinese official need to take you out on a leash?

[00:55:33] Jill: I don’t know. That it was not specified. Would not be surprised. You check in, you check out. Maybe– wouldn’t that be a horrible volunteer job, walking the press?

[00:55:43] Alison: Walking the reporters for their fresh air, putting them out in the reporter exercise yard.

[00:55:51] Jill: We also get the opportunity. This means actually means a lot to the two of us because the deal on being in Beijing is that you are in this closed loop, meaning that basically you were in your hotel or you’re in the media center, or you’re at a venue. And to get between the three, you have to take approved transport.

For food. Your hotel would serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and there would be room service. And there’d also be a little convenience store in your hotel. With the new playbook, they are now allowing us to eat at any hotel in the closed loop, which is very exciting.

[00:56:29] Alison: I’m just excited to have a change of scenery. It’s like, I don’t even care if the food is the same, just to eat it at a different color tablecloth and a different color wall. We’ll be so pleased. And I’m only going to be there, a third of the time. So for you, this is huge.

[00:56:45] Jill: Huge deal. Those were the two big things. I mean, like we have to, we were told you will be paying for things with either your Visa card or in cash, which is not surprising because that’s how it is at pretty much every Olympics. But yeah, they’re just worried about protocols and safety.

We are still working out how to get to Beijing. And let me tell you, a lot of people are still working out how to get to Beijing.

[00:57:12] Alison: Including the athletes, I mean, nevermind the support staff and the press like us who are kind of small potatoes in the grand scheme of thing.

But as Clare mentioned, they don’t know how they’re getting there.

[00:57:25] Jill: And there’s what they call the pre-games time, that starts on January 4th. So there could be people trying to get to China within a couple of weeks to start doing their jobs over there, to cover the Games or prepare for the Games for their sport. So this is going to be really hard.

What we’ve had to do is um, the nice thing is that this has been made very simple. We will take Cathay Pacific airlines. We get onto the flight and basically Cathay Pacific will fly from a handful of American cities. And every city has different days that they fly from.

So it was kind of like, when do you have to be in Beijing? Okay. What flight do you need to be on to get there on that day? Okay. That’s the city you’re going to leave from.

[00:58:11] Alison: But it’s not that we actually have reservations on this flight. We’ve applied for our flights. They’ve accepted our application and now we’re waiting to see if we’ll actually get on a flight

[00:58:23] Jill: Yes, because we’ve been told that they’re still working out their schedules for January to March. And that is the point where you go, oh, January is just a couple of weeks away, and you’re still working on the schedule. And we haven’t even started talking about how much this will cost. I have no idea how much this will cost.

[00:58:41] Alison: Right. We have been given no estimates. No, here’s what to expect from the flight costs. We know nothing, but we will be able to eat in any hotel restaurant if we can get there.

[00:58:55] Jill: And I will cling to that.

Other news from Beijing is that the diplomatic boycott continues. Canada has joined those who will not be sending government representatives to the Games. Japan and the EU are thinking about it. And the EU has said, we won’t have consensus on whether or not to do this. And Cuba has come out and condemned to the boycott.

Uh, Do you remember back in 2008 when Beijing said, oh, we’re going to be environmentally friendly and they shut down all these factories so that the pollution would abate and they’d have nicer Games.

[00:59:32] Alison: Right? Because normally in 2008, there was a huge controversy about air quality. And it’s not like the air quality of Beijing has gotten that much better over the past decade.

[00:59:45] Jill: Oh, no.

[00:59:46] Alison: So, instead of actually dealing with their air pollution problem, Beijing is just going to shut down the factories for Games time.

[00:59:55] Jill: Again Asian Nikkei has reported that the government has notified steelmakers to reduce production by 30% compared to last year for the period of January through mid March, which covers the Games. Some of the municipal governments in different provinces have demanded that steel cement and coal-fired electricity suppliers, initiate staggered productions and lower emissions of pollutants by more than 40% from the same time this year, which, it’s really sad that if you can lower it for a month and a half or two and a half months, what is the issue with you lowering it for the rest of the year?

[01:00:32] Alison: Well, they’re not producing. I mean, they’re cutting back their production tremendously, which is going to be interesting in that we’re around the world, certainly in the U S with heavy machinery, there’s already supply chain issues, you know, with getting things manufactured in China and then getting them into the country.

So if you want some Chinese steel, there may be a problem.

[01:00:53] Jill: And some places have even been doing this for months already. In Tangshan city, the government ruled out comprehensive measures as early as August and on the list for emissions, cutting local restaurants and outdoor barbecues,

[01:01:07] Alison: But not the restaurants at our closed loop hotels. They will be frying things up like you would not believe.

[01:01:16] Jill: Huge news from Paris, 2024, about the opening ceremony. The organizing committee has announced that the Seine river will serve as the major element of the venue for the opening ceremonies. So athletes are going to travel in boats, along a six kilometer route during the spectacle. So they can have spectators on both sides of the river.

And uh, there will also be ticketed zones. So the, boats will travel along the river. There will probably be performances in different areas especially around major monuments and churches. And there still will be a ticketed area at the end that will have a lot of the show going on there.

But the big emphasis was to bring the opening ceremonies to the people and have more of the public enjoy them.

[01:02:14] Alison: It took me a while for me to wrap my head around this, because there’s not going to be a stadium, but there is going to be a venue, but then they’re having this extended venue. So it, it feels like the show is going to happen in many places on the water, in different performance areas.

So for the TV audience, I don’t know how much we’re going to feel that difference because, how do you know when you’re looking at one part of a stadium versus another part of the stadium, other than, obviously if the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower is right there and they’re projecting things on, or having things come up out of the water as projections, which I’m sure they’re going to do, but for locals, this is going to be really interesting.

You’re going to have a lot more people able to see it. And I love that they’re trying something different.

[01:03:07] Jill: Yeah, it’ll be exciting for sure. And it will be really nice to have more of the public, be able to participate. And I think that’s really important for the Olympic movement, especially even if somebody only gets to watch the parade of boats with the athletes, that’s a huge thing and a huge part of it.

And it’ll be great for the athletes to have more people cheering them on.

[01:03:28] Alison: I think it will be interesting to see where they put the cauldron. because clearly the national stadium is not the focus of this Olympics. Paris 2024 has spoken very much about it’s in the city. It’s within the city, we’re weaving the Olympics into the city, so they’re not going to have this one venue focus.

So are we going to have multiple cauldrons? Are we going to have, a cauldron on top of the Eiffel Tower? I mean, there’s so many things that they could do with this. I think we’re going to have multiple cauldrons. I think that’s how they’re going to do this And I love that idea because you’ll have multiple cauldron lightings, and then they go at– It’ll be like that moment in Lord of the rings, where you’d light the fires to let the other cities know that you’re under attack, but for a much happier purpose. And then they all go out at the end. I mean, the drama of this could be really, really beautiful. So I’m excited about this.

[01:04:26] Jill: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see. Do they do multiple cauldrons? Do they do one cauldron in a plaza? Do they move the flame around? Does the flame go on tour throughout the city?,

Does the

[01:04:37] Alison: flame go on one of those flying taxis?

[01:04:40] Jill: Oh, that would be awesome!

[01:04:42] Alison: So it just hovers in different spots of the city. Do we have a flying cauldron?

[01:04:47] Jill: Speaking of the Seine, a long time ago, we reported that Mayor Anne Hildago’s son was going to swim the Seine and you found out that he actually did do it.

[01:04:58] Alison: He actually did it in July. Yes. Arthur Jermaine, and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that slightly incorrectly, in July swam the entire length of the Seine to raise awareness for environmental issues, particularly the pollution of the river.

[01:05:13] Jill: The makings of another novella, I’m excited. The shooting program approval has been delayed because of a dispute between the International Shooting Sports Federation and its Athletes Commission. So the ISSF wants to add semi-finals to each of its events on the Olympic program, which currently, shooting events are a qualification round and then an eight athlete final.

And as they shoot a round, the lowest score drops out until you finally have a winner. Now they want to put in a semi-final round. They think it’s going to be more appealing for broadcasters. The Athletes Commission, who is chaired by our TKFLASTANI Kim Rhode says they believe it will reduce the number of athletes and countries represented in television coverage and they think it’s could be a lack of fairness and could have one semi-final that’s stronger than another versus all eight in the final competing head-to-head.

[01:06:11] Alison: Yet again, like we’re seeing with pentathlon governing bodies and athletes not communicating very well with one another.

[01:06:19] Jill: Yes. Inside the Games obtained a letter that was written to the IOC. And in it, the athletes commissioned, accused the ISSF of treating Rhode, quote, very condescendingly and disrespectfully, end quote.

[01:06:33] Alison: We keep hearing this refrain from governing bodies and federations, where the athletes are too narrowly focused. They focus on what’s happening now, what’s happening in their own, and they can’t see the bigger picture. And to the federations, my response is, dude, you don’t have a federation without the athletes.

You exist to serve them, not yourself.

[01:06:59] Jill: Yes. And most athletes– shooting is a little different because you can have a long career, but most athletes, one, two Olympics that’s probably the most that they’re going to do for the most part. So yes, of course, they’re very focused on their particular goals in their particular career.

And that can peak with one Olympic moment. But also, we forget that these associations tend to have people running them who are in these roles for decades.

[01:07:30] Alison: I mean, the paternalistic attitude of the federations has become so problematic because we’re at a point now where we’re seeing entire generations of athletes who aren’t being hamstrung by the whole amateur issue.

They’re having longer careers. They have much more of a voice. They have social media, they are not going through their federations to get sponsorships. It’s a much more direct connection with fans and sponsors and athletes. And are these Federation saying, oh no, no, no go sit down and drink your milk in a bid to retain the power

[01:08:05] Jill: Yes. And I don’t think they understand the shift that’s happened and how to really deal with it. And yet they want to maintain their power and they want stuff done. And I think they also see the pressure in other sports. I’m sure shooting is looking at modern pentathlon and going, oh, we’ve got to get stuff.

That’s more TV friendly. Let’s try this. And I think there’s could be a different way to make their sport more TV friendly, like maybe explaining it better. That would work with the current format because the current format, I think is pretty exciting,

[01:08:39] Alison: Yeah, eight finalists doesn’t –, but I guess you can’t have eight finalists in a single shot.

It’s hard to keep track of everybody, but give fans a little bit of credit for not being stupid.

[01:08:48] Jill: Yes. So we will see where that goes.

And on that note that will do it for this week. Do not forget to call us on Tuesday the 21st. Also, if you are shopping for book gifts for your loved ones for the holidays, please do so through our bookshop.org/shop/flame alive pod site, you don’t have to buy one of our recommended books. We’ll get a commission from any book purchase made through that link.

And there’s also a way to get gift cards as well. That all goes to support our ever more costly trip to Beijing to cover the Winter Olympics

[01:09:21] Alison: And remember we love hearing from you. So get in touch with us. Email us@flamealivepodatgmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Our social handle is at flame alive pod, and be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.

[01:09:43] Jill: Next week, we will have a final celebration of Atlanta 1996 and the week after it will be our listener call-in show. So be sure to tune in for those and give us a call to chat with us on the show. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.