Headshot of Blake Hughes

Episode 255: Blake Hughes on Ski Jumping

Release Date: September 29, 2022

Category: Podcast | Ski Jumping

Content warning: This episodes contains discussions of eating disorders.

During the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, our listeners had a ton of questions about ski jumping (particularly with that suit controversy). We talked with Blake Hughes, former USA Nordic Women’s Ski Jumping Team Director and Head Coach of USA Nordic Sport, to sort it all out. From ice tracks to ski suit tailors to thoughts on the movie “Eddie the Eagle,” this interview will definitely make you watch ski jumping in a different way.

In our Albertville 1992 history moment, Alison looks at how the home team fared, including the story of local hero Franck Piccard. See him in action:

Franck now owns and runs a hotel in the region called Hotel Le Calgary, after his Olympic triumphs. You can even stay in the Franck Piccard suite!

We’ve got the hotel marked on the Keep the Flame Alive Map of Olympic and Paralympic sites. This is a crowdsourced work in progress, so feel free to add to it!

It’s time to vote for the Games we’ll focus on next year! We’re going back to a Summer Games, and you can choose from these three:

  • Beijing 2008 (15th anniversary)
  • Seoul 1988 (35th anniversary)
  • London 1948 (75th anniversary)

Cast your vote in our Facebook Group by October 8!

It’s a slow week in TKFLASTAN, but we do have an beach volleyball update from Kelly Cheng.

In news from Paris 2024, Thomas Jolly has been appointed artistic director of all four ceremonies. Also, some special soil (the Olympic dumbbell?) will be on hand during the torch relay to help promote the Games.

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to give back and improve the quality of our transcripts, please visit our Support page for options.

Jill: [00:00:00]

Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, Happy anniversary.

Alison: Happy anniversary. I hope I’ve dressed appropriately.

Jill: your Rings sports theme t-shirt. That’s cool

Alison: and I hope I can measure my clothes so that I won’t get penalized for what I’ve worn.

Yes. Hope there’s not too much loft in my pants,

Jill: Well, that is still to come. Nice little forward promotion for our interview today. But, but yeah, we’ve been at this for five years now. I

Alison: know, do you know what the official gift for five years is? Would, So maybe we should just go ski into a tree.

Jill: It is appropriate that, that we’re talking to, Although I’m sure everything is like, fiberglass today, but we’re going old school, right? Old school. We are talking with Blake Hughes, who is the former women’s ski jumping team director and head coach for USA Nordic Sport.

We talked with him back in May when he was still with USA Nordic about the sport of ski jumping. So if you remember that ski jumping soup controversy in Beijing 2022, where five women’s suits were found to be in non-compliance with the rules, much like. Not exactly the opposite of your clothing today, which is conforming to all rules that we have for podcast clothing.

Alison: Not too much loft in my pants.

Jill: That’s right. So the women were disqualified from the mixed team comp competition. That was a huge controversy. So we have details on that. Also, a content warning. We do discuss eating disorders within the sport. During this interview, take a listen.

Blake. Thank you so much for joining us. You are a director of the women’s ski jumping team in the us and you got to go to Beijing. So, first off we have a lot of burning questions left over from the Olympics. Our listeners were really confused about the scoring we’re talking about. They didn’t understand style points, they didn’t understand how the wind factored in and the gate factored in.

So can you talk a little bit about that for us?

Blake Hughes: Yeah, sure. So, ski jumping is based off of two scores versus you have your distance score. And the other half of is your style. You have a maximum score of 60 points for style points. There’s five judges with the high score and the low score being thrown out.

Those scores are based off of your general impression, your symmetry, your Yeah, it’s mostly just general impression and how the judges see you with your takeoff, with your symmetry, like I said, and um just your overall look and feel of how you’re jumping. So it’s, it’s falling with style.

Jill: So basically is the, the goal to look as straight as possible in the air or like immobile in a way,

Blake Hughes: or, yeah.

Stillness is a big factor. They do look at where you are and compared to your skis and the not necessarily straightness, but the angle of attack that you have as you’re flying down the hill.

Jill: How angled do you wanna be?

Blake Hughes: You wanna be about, so the, the landing Hills is around 35 to 38 degrees and you wanna be kind of parallel to the very bottom flat part.

Jill: Okay. That makes sense. How does wind factor in because we did, Hey, SKU was really windy first off. That was fun. Yes . Yes it was. And cuz there was a lot of flag up flag down, flag up, flag down. How does that work? And were you, were you the guy holding the flag for the us?

Blake Hughes: I was the guy holding the flag for the us for a handful of jumps.

It was my first Olympics is a as a coach. My sister competed in 2018, so I got to go to, South Korea to watch her. And then I’m also from Park City, Utah. So I got to experience the Olympics here in 2002. Win factor was, is fairly new. There’s a wind and there’s a starting positions. they start from. Each hill has around 40 to 50 different starting positions about a half a meter apart.

And there’s a jury of a technical delegate, a technical delegate assistant, a chief of competition, and they determine where the starting gate is. So that is your zero point. And if they choose to move up or move down, you get plus points for moving down. Cuz it’s harder to [00:05:00] jump further with less speed and then you get minus points for moving up because you’ll have a greater advantage with more speed.

As you come into the takeoff and wind is factored for a headwind or a tailwind, a, a headwind is much more helpful for lift. So you get minus points for a upwind and you get plus points for a tailwind because the tailwind will actually push the skier down to the ground. And then you have the crosswind, which there are at the Olympics specifically.

I think there were 13 different monitors down the sides of the landing hill and they all calculate. They are all calibrated together and they calculate your plus or minus points for the wind as the jumper leaves the takeoff. So it’s all very orchestrated.

Jill: so then as you, the flag holder, coach, what are you looking for to give your skier the okay.

To go? Because I mean, that, all the wind stuff changes all the time and how much time do you have to jump?

Blake Hughes: So for the starting of the athlete, they have a, a start light at the top and we have a start light on the coaches, stands for us to know when it’s okay for them to go. There’s usually at the Olympics specifically because there’s replay and television.

There’s a 52nd red light. And then once it turns to yellow, the skier is allowed to move out onto the start gate and they have a maximum time to be on that of 45 seconds. And a minimum of time is around 12 to 15 seconds. So they’ll go out. The coach will inspect the conditions. Well there’s wind monitors and large, especially at the Olympics.

There’s a, a monitor. We can see where all the wind is, is shifting around. And then once they give us the green light, we have 10 seconds to send the athlete. I know it’s a short amount of time, but there’s a part of that competition committee I was talking about. There’s a person watching the monitors as well, making sure that it’s safe for the athletes to go.

And they actually hit the green light for us. And then we have that 10 seconds to send the athlete. What we’re looking for is a slight upwind or a slight headwind to give the athlete advantage, because if you get too much headwind, then it slows them down and they can’t jump as far. Or if we have too much headwind, it becomes dangerous.

Same thing goes for tailwind. We try to minimize the amount of tailwind that they have and the amount of crosswind, because they can throw them off balance and, and hurt their style as well.

I know, does that

Jill: help? No, it, it does help. I

Alison: just became a meteorologist

Blake Hughes: and I’m. Yeah, no that’s a lot of our job. Like, you wouldn’t know it, but we’re all, especially at our, our home Hills and our home venues and places that we travel a lot to, we’re all so keen to like what time of days and when the wind is gonna be optimal.

So specifically for Park City, Utah, we have to in the summertime, since it’s a desert, it, the heats up really quickly. And so that brings, you know the heat rises and it brings up more wind. So we have to jump like from eight to nine 30 in the morning, and we have to kind of be, we can look at weather apps and we have weather stations at the ski jumps where we, we monitor it and we watch the patterns of like, oh, it’s gonna be good on Wednesday.

We’re gonna jump on Wednesday at eight 30. So it, it really becomes very in tune with what the weather’s doing in each place.

Jill: How were the jumping times. For the athletes and for you as a coach, cuz you’re making decisions, how were they in Beijing with all the wind that there was?

Blake Hughes: So it was a unique venue because they had those giant winds.

You’ll see those wind screens are starting to come up and they’re more common and they’re actually required now by the International skiing Federation for world cups and world championships in the Olympics. So it does kind of protect the hill pretty well. But as far as those time, that timing for the games, those times were specific to European television times.

So we kind of just are, you know ski jumping, such a large European sport that we kind of have to just do what the TV or what Euro sport or whatever TV programming. It, it kind of dictates of when we can jump. They did a really good job managing the wind. You know If it’s it’s really strong, then they just have to have less speed.

So I think that it wasn’t optimal, but it, you know it was managed well, I believe.

Alison: Well, one of the things we noticed about the ski jump in Beijing was it didn’t even pretend to be covered in snow. It had that real concrete look to it. Is that, was it a very different kind of ramp and facility than you’re used to saying in North America or Europe.

Blake Hughes: So for the in run, that’s a very standardized track we have now. It’s refrigerated grooves more or less. Before it used to be snow track. And we would cut a track in with a special cutter and then spray it down with a lot of water to make it ice. But now it’s like a ice skating rink, but they’re only, five inches wide and it’s permanent.

That’s the same track that they would use in the summertime. It just freezes over in the winter. And so there is that gray, so it’s a very standard look, but also I think that they did a really good job architecturally of making something that’s that’s pretty to look at. So, it was overkill, but I thought it was, a cool venue to go to and kind of wander around and get to be a part of.

Jill: it really is like they’re skiing down ice.

Blake Hughes: Yes. Okay. they’re skiing down ice. yeah. The in run track [00:10:00] is ice. So we prepare their skis specifically for it’s as hard as uh ice skating rink

Jill: get out of town. Oh my gosh.

Blake Hughes: I’m sorry. Yeah. And they, no, yeah, they have this special um cutter as well.

That goes down and mills out these grooves that kind of look like corduroy. And so that the ski doesn’t have any suction on the ice. So it actually keeps it more free and they have less friction so that they can keep, maintain their speed as they go down.

Jill: Huh. That’s interesting. So how do you prepare the skis then?

What, what are you. Talking about in terms like, do you grind them, wax them? What, what, what are we talking about for that?

Blake Hughes: We, we use a certain kind of wax. Now. It used to be that the conditions were just natural snow. So we would have to use a bunch of different types of wax to get the ski to, to have less friction.

Now it’s just a specific type of wax and a specific very coarse stone grind on the ski. So this cor the ski is really coarse and it’s not exactly flat. So it also has it reduces the friction as well. So there’s all kinds of special tools and things that are, they keep coming up with that were, and different types of waxes that almost feel like, like grease.

So, and it’s kind of funky.

Jill: So you have also competed as well, but I would imagine that you competed more on snow, more snow tractor. Yes. Did you do have you, and what’s the feel like of snow versus this ice track?

Blake Hughes: Yeah, I competed until 2009 before I became a coach. So I never actually jumped on a refrigerated track.

Well, I guess that’s not true. I, they used to have it so that the entire in run was refrigerated. So it was snow, but it was like, the whole thing was refrigerated. Now they just have these special little grooves that are just refrigerated. I think it’s more cost effective. But skiing on the ice is just a lot more free.

You don’t have to worry about any variables. There’s no like springtime, sticky type conditions. It’s just a free feeling where you can really maintain a more aggressive interim position and get more power out of your legs.

Jill: And then with Beijing being mostly manmade, snow, it mean basically you could have a season that’s a lot longer into the spring or earlier into the fall.

If you have a refrigerated track,

Blake Hughes: Yeah. So that’s something that we’re starting to do and starting to see more of is that we also jump full time in the summer. We have, there are porcelain tracks that we jump onto plastic that it’s wetted down. So we are starting to transition from our summer jumping, which normally we wouldn’t do until Halloween, November, when we have to start putting snow on the ski jumps.

Now we’re starting to go to venues and lake PLA New York just recently renovated their jumps and they have the same track system they had in Beijing. And so we can actually go and jump on ice there in October so that we can get that feeling and get more prepared for the winter season.

Jill: So the other one of the other big questions our listeners had was the line. At the bottom and you saw these in person, and I know they saw them on TV. There would be lines kind of along the, base of the mountain where the skier would jump. And we didn’t know what they stood for on the, on the landing bar and the landing.

Blake Hughes: Yes, I’m sorry, the landing. Okay. So, they put lines and they put it’s pine bows. So it’s just parts of pine trees in Japan. They use bamboo trees, they cut ’em up into little spots, and then they put ’em around the whole hill so that the athlete has depth perception to the white surface. And then the lines represent five meter increments of distance.

So normally the zero point for distance points starts at 60 meters. So you’ll see your first line at 60 meters. So if we’re gonna talk, if we’re talking about the hill, like the women jumped on, which was the K 95, which is the distance, but it’s also a HS or hill. 105. So those lines indicate distance from the takeoff that they’re jumping.

So they can also gauge how far they’re jumping. So in the two points that I just mentioned, there’ll be a red line at the 95, which is the critical point for the hill where the hill starts to flatten back out. And then there’s the bottom red line is the hill size, which is how we measure the entire hill.

And that is the point on the hill that the architect has deemed to be the safest. You can jump without getting hurt. So they have these lines that kind of dictate how far you can jump.

Alison: So when they say you jump too far, you would get hurt. Is that because of the structure of the Mount or, or something about jumping that far?

Blake Hughes: It’s the landing force that’s been determined. Once you start to get to that point, the landing force becomes above a certain unit that they no longer deem to be safe. You can jump past that line. And I think that the hill records on almost every hill is past that line, but it’s for the competition management, they try to keep it above that line because of the landing forces on the athlete’s knee and hips and everything.

Jill: I vaguely remember a green line across the landing bit that would change. It would go up and move up and down. What is that? That

Blake Hughes: is a lot like in football, the yards to beat okay. Or the yards to gain. So they started using the laser line six or seven years ago.

And it’s, it’s to help the audience understand where the line to beat or the distance to jump to beat is because of all these other factors that are [00:15:00] going on with the wind and the gate compensation. So if you see someone jump 105 meters. But then they get minus points for wind. And then the next athlete goes a hundred meters, but is ahead of the athlete that jumped further, this is a way to help the audience on TV and on in the stadium, understand that this is the line to be.

So that’s the laser line that they have on there now to help the lay person understand that this is how far they have to jump.

Jill: Okay. That makes sense. Because we figured that it was something to do with how you were doing in the competition, except for that. It kept moving up and down and we couldn’t figure out why.

I didn’t realize that all those other factors factor into every jump. And it’s different when you are in the air and you see all these lines, . How fast do you have to calculate stuff in your brain?

Blake Hughes: It’s pretty much calculated. We do so much training off of the hill. Maybe 80% of our training is off the hill.

So a lot of this becomes muscle memory because you are going 55, 60 miles an hour um at takeoff and trying to do this very specific technical movement. When you’re in the air, you have a lot more time to think, time to think. I, I say four to five seconds. So when you see that laser line, you pretty much are like, oh shoot, I’m not gonna get there.

Or you’re trying to adjust your body and adjust the way that you’re attracting or approaching your, the flying portion to get past that line. Or, you know almost immediately when you land, if you’ve gotten to that line to beat,

Alison: What adjustments are you making in the air or what adjustments can you make in the air?

Blake Hughes: Let me see how I can explain this. We call it polling. So you’re trying to like pull your body and stretch your body in such a way that you’re maybe changing your angle of attack so that you can plan out more like in those like proximity flying in those wing suits, trying to like adjust your hand movement and kind of get your skis a little bit.

Just, just tiny little like changes, kind of like, an F1 car would do with all the different, like, wings they have on those cars. So just little adjustments you’re trying to do to more or less will yourself pass that line to put yourself in a better position.

Jill: Speaking of suits, what was up with the measuring?

Well, the suit itself, let’s talk about it first because there it’s very regulated so that people don’t get an advantage of lift and, flow. So, tell us a little bit about the, what the suit is made up of and what some of the regulations are.

Blake Hughes: The suit is a Nere foam. It’s reg it’s so heavily regulated.

I would take this entire hour for me to go through the rule book. They measure the thickness of the material they measure how much the air permeability it has to have pass a certain amount of air. Same, thing happens in Alpine ski racing. It measures the fit there’s the panels that it’s made out of have to be cut in such a certain way.

It’s gotten so regulated that pretty much every team travels with a tailor now. So I have a suit tailor that travels with us. And each team has one because especially for women, as we know their bodies fluctuate daily. And if, it’s, from Monday to Wednesday, their body can be smaller, which is outside of the regulation, cuz the suit can’t fit more than three centimeters or so.

Bigger than your body. So if you lose weight or if you’re cold, like we’ve had, we’ve had it happen where athletes get disqualified, because say it’s in September and they didn’t wear the right jacket and it’s a little bit cold out. So they’re shaking a little bit more. So they’re using more energy and the suit actually become, they become a little bit smaller and the suit becomes outta regulation for them.

So, wow. So that’s the reg, that’s the regulations on the suit. So we have a tailor that travels with us. They get new suits frequently. And uh yeah.

Jill: when do the suits get inspected by officials versus what time the competition is?

Blake Hughes: The suits. They used to inspect them before the jump.

Now they inspect them after their jump. So there is um the Olympic games. There’s two equipment controllers is what they’re called. They’ll get measured at the top to make sure that a couple of key factors are checked before they can actually even jump. So if the Olympic games, if you look back on the replay, you’ll see that there’s a booth right above where they start, that they have to go in and get checked by an equipment controller.

Then they can go down. I think it’s two jumpers before them. They’re allowed to go in there to get checked, and then they’re not allowed to touch anything other than bindings and their helmet. After that, they’re not allowed to manipulate their suit or boots or equipment after they go through this check, they’ll jump.

And then if they’re randomly selected, or if you’re in the top six, you also have to go in mandatory. And then the equipment controller at the bottom, again, not allowed to touch anything other than your bindings, your skis and your helmet after the jump. And then you go in to get checked uh immediately and they’ll, they can check a number of things, suits, bindings, boots, helmets, the undergarments you have on anything that you, they feel you could have an advantage.

There’s a rule for. that they can check and disqualify this. So in my personal opinion, anybody at any time can be disqualified for anything. That’s almost impossible to be completely compliant.

Jill: Wow. And it’s not like you get told, oh, this is outta compliance. Get the tailor over. And they’ll quick stitch something up to fix

Blake Hughes: it.

No, it’s just, [00:20:00] no, you’ve already jumped. Ready. Okay. Yeah, you have to. So a large part of a coach’s job too. And the Taylor’s job is to make sure that all the equipment is ready to go. So personally for myself, like I went to the, the venue three hours before my athlete, just to get everything dialed and make sure that she’s ready to go so that when she shows up around an hour and a half before the event, that she doesn’t have to worry about it and the athletes are ready and they can just put their equipment on and go.

Alison: So the sizing is such that if you have a glass of water or not, and the timing of that, that can affect the way your suit is in or out of compliance.

Blake Hughes: Yeah, well, they, they also weighed the suit has to weigh a certain amount as what as well. So it’s within their body weight. So a big thing, like I was saying, if, they’re cold or something, they’ll, I’ve had an athlete drink a half a liter of water to before they jumped, just so that they were in compliance and, half a liter of water is, is a lot of water to put in your stomach to go try and do something athletic, or they, you know they usually have a catering as well.

So they’re in their eating cake just to try to get their weight up so they can be in compliance.

Jill: Holy cow. Okay. So work with me on my line of thinking. Sure, sure, sure. Uh Have you seen the movie, Eddie? The Eagle?

Blake Hughes: couple times, yeah. Okay. So I’ve met Eddie also.

Jill: Oh my gosh. But, okay. So Eddie is in that bar, ski she thing, and manages to pull the suit outta

I know where else finds a suit in the lost and found mm-hmm . That’s so not realistic. Is it? Or would somebody just be like, oh, now this suit’s not in compliance, I’m trashing it

Blake Hughes: in 19. In the 1980s there, it wasn’t, there weren’t hardly any rules. And it’s just got, like I said before ski jumping is going in a direction like F1, where everything is so like dialed in.

Now the new thing is the bindings. Like there’s so many like fine tuning things going on with each individual athletes that it it’s just the way that it’s going. But back in the eighties, when these suits were first coming out they’re they were, yeah, it it’s possible. I’m sitting in a room where I could go pull a suit out of a out of a storage bin.

So they are around, but these high, the high end Olympic athletes, they know, I mean, their suits are so.

Jill: Far. Thank you for I’m sorry, Alison. I saw that look .

Blake Hughes: No, it’s okay.

Alison: I’m laughing because in my notes, I wanted to ask Blake if he liked the movie ,

Blake Hughes: it’s, it’s fun to watch a theatrical ski jumping movie. And I think that Hugh Jackman and the, I can’t remember his name, they did a great job of portraying it pretty close.

And it’s fun to see the venues that they go to. And they’re like, oh, this is Calgary. I’m like, actually that’s the jump in Germany, but it’s fun to, there’s definitely a lot of Hollywood to it, but overall, the story is funny and I, I think it gave our sport that’s pretty small in, in the us a lot of positive exposure because we would do so you’ve seen it.

So when they’re rolling on those roller jump, the, this like roller skates and he picks him up over his head, like, in dirty dancing, I was in Colorado doing that. And I, a bunch of kids walk by like, oh, it’s like Eddie, the Eagle. So, I mean, it’s a lot of good exposure, just.

Alison: But back to the suits.

So what specifically happened in Beijing with so many of the women having issues to say the least?

Blake Hughes: So being there and being one of the coaches of the 15 teams, I was in the meeting when the equipment controller warned the coaches, that there were complaints about what the suits looked like on the television for the individual event.

This is for the mix team, the meeting for the mix team event that. If they weren’t in compliance, they were gonna get disqualified. And a lot of those teams didn’t take, unfortunately her seriously enough that they continued to use the suits that they knew were out of compliance. In my personal opinion, it’s a lot like Tiger Woods, knowing what club he’s using, the high end Olympic athletes, they have anywhere between four to 10 suits with them at the Olympic games, because it’s such a huge event.

And they know exactly which suit does what? So in my opinion, it, they used a club that they knew they were gonna get in trouble with and they, they ran that risk.

Alison: When you say there were complaints on the television, were these other teams complaining about what they considered were probably out of compliance suits?

Blake Hughes: Yeah. I mean, you can, you can look at a suit, especially if you have an eye like a coach or a tailor, you can look at a suit and be like, well, that’s not correct, but there were some suits that were so wildly out of compliance that you could see the athletes holding them a certain way while they were sitting on the starting gate and other teams, it just becomes like this bickering match where this team complains about that team, that team complains about that team.

That team complains about that team, which more or less just puts a target on your back to get checked if you’re not happy with things. So I think that it [00:25:00] was an inner team thing coming to the equipment controller saying, how are you allowing this? How are you allowing this? And then she said, I’m not gonna allow it.

And you guys will see what happens. And now there’s this huge backlash, but in my personal opinion, like I said, these high level athletes. Know exactly which equipment they’re using. It’s not like it was a mistake.

Jill: Okay. If they’re taking four to 10 suits with them and it’s neoprene, how well do these things fold?

How much room is this taken up in a suitcase.

Blake Hughes: So they fold, you can fold them quarterly. And then, so a lot of teams you carry, like you’ll like for specifically for my athlete, she will, she carried, we only had three suits for her. She had her three suits in a garment bag. Oh, okay. Like a T like a tuxedo.

And you carry that on the plane. And then you ask the flight attendant to put it in the garment bag with the other business suits or Jack sport coats. So they fold in half that way. They also um you can flip ’em inside, out fold ’em quarterly, and then teams will travel with these.

Giant like Pelican cases almost. And they’ll put the suits stacked in there so that they’re protected and they don’t get crunched in any, any form or deformed

Alison: who makes the final decision on which suit an athlete wear. Is it the athlete herself or are some of these, these athletes getting pressured by coaches or officials to say, oh no, no, we want you to do this.

Blake Hughes: That’s a good question. I have never personally forced an athlete to use a specific suit. They use the suits that So like once, like I was talking earlier about the wind one suit might be built for a headwind. One suit might be built for a tailwind. So it’s just kind of based on the conditions.

One suit might be for low elevation because of the air density or the high elevation. So in, in China, we were at. 5,000 feet or whatever. So they have suits that are built structurally different and the way that the material is is sewn and the direction of the there’s kind of, a coness to it.

So if you slide it one way, it’s like a, like a seal kind of like one way is really smooth. And then you can pull it back the other way. And like fibers will actually pull up. And that will actually, if you flip that around, it’ll slow the suit material down so that it’s better for a high elevation. So each suit is kind of dictated towards the conditions and which jump they wanna use.

It kinda like a golf club. Like you wanna use a seven iron when you’re here or you wanna use a driver when you’re here. So I think that it’s so specific on some of these top teams that have the larger budgets that they have suits for each condition. So they, they know like, oh, this is my tailwind suit for the nighttime.

I’m gonna grab this.

Sorry, if that helps

Jill: it totally helps. I know. It’s like your black tie formal affair.

Blake Hughes: no. Yeah, really. It is. And, and one of the strategies for all the teams is that they just, cuz there’s a rainbow of colors, but you’ll see one team they’ll only have black, so no one knows. And there’s people on these teams, the tailors will usually track what other teams are using to try and get an advantage as well.

So if you have one team jumping in only black suits, you’ll never know which suit it is, where as some teams might have an orange suit versus a yellow suit and a black suit and they can kind of be like, oh, they’re using this material because of this condition.

Jill: Wow. that is hardcore.

Blake Hughes: Like it’s at the top at the top end of the equipment is such a factor that it’s considered half of the athlete’s skill now.

Jill: Wow. Holy cow.

Alison: Okay. We’re gonna talk fat. Don’t fly. Yeah. Okay. Which is, the phrase that we keep reading over and over, over being so pervasive within ski jumping. So you’re talking about size, you’re talking about is, are there regulations regarding a jumper’s weight?

Blake Hughes: Yeah. And I can speak heavily to this. I am of the generation where when I first came onto the international scene, there was no regulation. So it was how small can you get? And there was a specific one Norwegian guy that I remember I competed against. He was six feet tall and weighed 120 pounds.

Oh my gosh. And that’s right when women first started coming onto the international scene, my sister was one of those five girls from Park City that was really pushing the movement to get into the Olympic games back in 2006 as the games that they were first shooting for. So as I was 18, 19 years old is when they started to bring in uh a BMI regulation, a body mass index, which is something that your doctor will use.

And this is measured off of your, your height and weight. In ski jumping, it also includes your suit into your weight. It used to include your boots, but they were recently taken your boots out of that to help, to try and force athletes, to gain that little bit of weight. It first started off as 18.5 as the BMI that you had to be at, which if you go to 18.4, you’re considered underweight.

Drastically underweight. [00:30:00] Now, the regulation’s around 21 or 21 and a half. I can’t remember exactly, but so the athlete will get measured their body weight with their suit and that determines their ski length. So you have a maximum ski length for your body height of 145 percent of your body height.

If you are underneath your BMI, say if you’re at 19.5, then there’s a calculation that reduces the size of your ski, which is less surface area for you to fly on. So that’s a long winded way of how this is all interconnected of, of body weight and how important it is for your for your equipment. As well.

Recently, teams have found that it’s better to jump with shorter skis, so that has not helped this algorithm of BMI. So there is a working group of a bunch of different nations trying to rewrite this algorithm to try and promote healthier body types. But I will say with the fat don’t fly or, or, you know they’re nutritionists and dieticians are so heavily involved with these athletes now, individually that they’re machines they’ve these, the top end athletes are really small, but they’re really fit.

And they’re really, I think personally they’re healthy for, for the most part. There’s, there’s some that are doing it the right way. There’s some that are doing it the wrong way. Speaking specifically for myself, I’m six to 195 pounds. Now, when I was an athlete the day I remember we had a coach that was, I mean, back then, it was so heavily encouraged to be small, that if we weren’t within a certain weight, we couldn’t compete that weekend.

So athletes like myself who aren’t naturally small, a small person, you just had to go to extremes. And when I finished ski jumping, I weighed 145 pounds. So, and that’s a story for a lot of us. It was frustrating to have, you know there’s those natural athletes that are just five, ten, a hundred and thirty five pounds.

They can eat pizza for every single meal and they don’t gain a single pound. So, it’s a lot like, you know it’s a necessary thing for people to be small. And I think that we’ve gotten to a stage where you can do it the right way and you can do it in such a way that you can still be healthy. And speaking specifically from the women’s side, there’s not a specific body type yet for women.

So if you look at the Olympic podium, the girl who. She was tall and slender. The girl who got second was short and stocky, this girl who was third, was a different body type. And, and it’s just really interesting to see that there hasn’t been a conformed body type for women ski jumping. Now for men, someone who weigh 5, 825 pounds, that’s pretty much like the premier spot you wanna be.

And everyone’s trying to get to be around that.

Okay. Five,

Alison: eight and 125 pounds is not healthy,

Blake Hughes: correct?

Alison: Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s no way you can be five, eight as a man and 125 pounds and, and actually be okay. I,

Blake Hughes: like I said, like, it, it goes both ways. Like if you look at a weightlifter and they’re, you know 300 pounds, they’re not healthy either, but I think that if you’re.

it’s getting to that point, the same thing with the equipment where it’s so scientific that they’re trying to get to this point. That, I mean, that’s the average, I would say.

Jill: Do you find at least in the scene because the elite level gives more resources, do you find the younger level, the more junior levels don’t know how to control weight properly?

Blake Hughes: A hundred percent. Okay. A hundred percent. So, so when you’re talking about those, those upcoming athletes that are trying to break into the scene, you’re definitely gonna see those disorders happening at that age, going through what I went through as an athlete, myself, and with what my sister went through and then actual coaching, young people, and then coaching a national team of women.

We, we have the, not necessarily the resources, but we have so many people that have gone through these specific things. My coaches that are my staff, that’s gone through it, that the. We’re so open and honest and try to have this dialogue of, this is how we can do this. This is how we can help you be the healthiest fittest athlete you can be and not try to push these extremes because of the long term damage that it can cause.

Alison: So given that a lot of coaches have obviously been in the system for a long time, are you finding a lot of pushback at that level saying this is how we’ve done it. You know A lot of, of bad practices still being around.

Blake Hughes: It’s all cultural. So for us here in the United States, I think our culture is more nurturing.

And I think that our generation of staff that we have now where I’m one of the older ones at only 35 years old, that I think that we’re changing the culture of this is how we do this properly. We, we have a partnership with New York University and we have dietician and nutritionists that each athlete is encouraged to use.

It’s a cultural shift here in the United States. And I think in Canada as well, and you’re gonna see that in other cultures that have more of a long term [00:35:00] athlete development, sort of, um strategy. Countries like Norway and Germany, where they’re also kind of going this way. But once you get further east into those, Poland Slovenia, you’re gonna have a little bit more of a harder, harder time changing those cultures at this point.

So I think that there’s, it’s definitely a cultural thing where there’s more pressure in some of these different nations.

Alison: And then also what Jill was saying about the issues with the junior athletes. If kids are developing eating disorders, 13, 14, 15, 16, by the time they hit the elite level, you’ve gotta undo all of that.

Blake Hughes: Yeah, that’s correct. So we’re trying to catch it as early as we can. We’re having resources out there. People like my sister, who’s not necessarily engaged with the sport as much anymore. She has been a coach for junior athletes that are 12, 13 years old. you know It’s a, it’s a really hard stigma to like, Hey, you ha we have an issue here and you’re not actually a dietician, but you’re like, if you can have any issues, you can always come to us and we can talk this through and kind of catch it before, before this happens.

So, here at USA Nordic, we have our national teams, but we oversee a junior national team, which is ages like 15 to 6, 15, 16, 17, but we also have this Training camp that we have called fly girls and fly guys that’s uh months long training camp with kids that are 12 to 14 years old. And we already start the conversations of nutrition then, and how to, prepare yourself to be the best Nordic athlete that you can be.

So, uh we’re trying our best to get down as far as possible before this becomes an issue to have to undo by the time they get to us. When they’re, almost finished with high school.

Alison: Do you find now you’re working with women, but obviously you were a male athlete. Do you find that the eating disorder issues present differently in male and female athletes?

Blake Hughes: That’s a good question. I’ve worked with, so my background was also a male coach before, or I coached the men before I came into the women’s team. And I don’t, I haven’t seen any differences. I think that it’s all kind of. Binging purging, not putting calories in, you know we’re trying, you know it’s all those, those telltale signs that are kind of common across the board from both genders.

Jill: I kind of wanna go back to something you mentioned about body type for women versus men. how did they figure out that men needed to be small and lean? And what are people saying we’re thinking about when they look at women’s body types and they’re kind of all over the gamut and still finding success.

Is there any reason why is it because women have broader hips and, and men have broader shoulders, or what’s the thinking on.

Blake Hughes: I think the first thing is that women’s ski jumping is still kind of in its infancy compared to Minsky jumping Minsky. Jumping is still maybe a hundred years older than women’s ski jumping is at this.

Or, you know the first world cup season for women was in 2011. The first world cup season for men was in 1980. So I think that we’re, we’re seeing that it’s still fairly young, so it hasn’t like forced itself into a niche body type. But I also think that, like I said before, women’s bodies change so frequently compared to mens that I think that that also factors into it.

And, you’re not getting away with a different body type. I just think that these athletes are figuring out how to use their specific body type at the highest level that they can, and not trying to fit themselves into a, a cookie cutter shape. At least that’s what I preach with my, with my, with my team, because I, I can tell you our team, there is not a specific body type and we cater their training programs to get each one to the highest level that their body will let them.

Alison: so when they’re are they still, cause I know you mentioned the working group, so are they still working with BMI because BMI medically is, has kind of been discredited.

Blake Hughes: I am not on the committee. I have seen some of the work that they’ve done.

It’s still not finished. Um I think that like same thing with culture it’s where, what medical backgrounds does, some of these countries have that are working on it and where, where is the information coming on? What BMI, if it’s outdated and not necessary and there’s a different calculation that we should be using, I’m not sure if that conversation’s happening,

Alison: right.

Because if I know for my own body, my sister and I are the same height. when I’m 120 pounds, I’m a stick when she’s 120 pounds, she feels huge. Right. Because our builds are so different and yet the BMI would say I’m overweight and she’s too thin. Right. It’s just a cookie

Blake Hughes: cutter sort of.

Alison: Right.

So it feels like, and just making the skis a different length, it feels like, do you think there should just be a minimum weight? You know If you are not 110 pounds or, or something, I’m not quite sure what it would be. You can’t jump.

Blake Hughes: No, I mean, that wouldn’t work for a lot of reasons, but I think that the BMI was used specifically because there was this issue that needed to be addressed and [00:40:00] quickly.

So I think that, and I, what I, I just remembered was there has been conversation on using, you know maybe like a, a DEXA body scan where they scan the body for what the body content is, what the muscle mass is and having a minimum. Sort of body fat and going that direction.

So like each person with their body has to be a certain percentage of what their body actually is and more specific, but that, I mean with that, there’s more costs and everything. So I think that this is just a, the BMI system was just a really quick way for them to start enforcing some, an issue.

Alison: And this is both men and women that the, the minimums,

Blake Hughes: yeah, that’s the same exact calculation, which is also wrong because men and women are completely different

Jill: when they did the quote unquote penalty for uh not being the right weight to have shorter skis. What is it about shorter versus longer skis in the actual jumping process?

Blake Hughes: So. The first thought process was that you wanted as much surface area as possible, whether that’s an extra centimeter or not, that that’s what everybody went for. So then once athletes started to have to jump on these shorter skis because they were too skinny for, their maximum length ski. They saw that, the research showed that there’s less surface area to block them as they fly over the AF over the, we call it the null, the first part of the flight.

So they can actually keep more speed, which puts their apex of their jump further out over the hill. So then they start to fall further out over the hill and jump further.

Jill: Wow.

Blake Hughes: So it was a, it was a find off of randomness

Jill: oh my gosh. So are, skiers jumping on shorter skis today than they used to

Blake Hughes: 3% of athletes jump on their maximum ski. Everybody jumps on something smaller. Whether they’re at their weight or not. We have an order to combined athlete who’s at his regular BMI for a 270 centimeter ski, but he jumps on a 260 because he can gain, keep more speed and jump further and they have more control over ’em cuz they’re smaller.

Jill: Okay. That would be another

Blake Hughes: question. Yeah. That’s another factor as well.

Alison: And then is there a minimum ski, I assume there has to be a minimum.

Blake Hughes: No, not, I mean, you don’t wanna jump. So like if you’re at my height, I would jump on a two 70, like it’s a pretty long ski. I wouldn’t wanna jump on a 200 that’s way too small.

You wouldn’t have any support. So there’s no min there’s no minimum, but there’s a point where it becomes unsafe and you’re not gonna get the maximum distance outta your jump.

Jill: and by safety, it means there’s not enough ski to absorb the shock of the fall or not the fall. the thing.

Blake Hughes: So you, I mean, you, you watched how the jump jumpers are.

They jump and they get extend out over the ski. If they get out the ski and they don’t have enough ski, then it won’t, can’t support their body. And the skis will fall down and they’ll crash.

Alison: Jill knows this about me. All the athletes become my children. Just, I, I adopt them all. And the idea that these girls, especially because eating disorders and girls is a thing for me, are starving themselves and doing these things and coaches pressuring them and, literally how much water they drink affects their ability to compete.

Makes me so angry.

Blake Hughes: So I can speak specifically to my team and my, my athlete that, sometimes doesn’t pay attention to her weight so much. She is extremely healthy. A lot of the athletes are on the vegan diet that has been going around for these high level athletes. I’ve eaten meals with her and been like, good girl.

That’s a lot of food. And she’s still, she’s just done that body type work. She’s so athletic and she’s so into running and so active constantly that, that. She just needs to monitor because she’s so active and it’s, so there there’s a lot of cases. But that’s, that’s one of ’em. And I would say that, you know on the women’s ski jumping side of all the girls that are out there, there’s

maybe a only a handful that you would see. Well, I can’t say that for sure, but I know that it’s a thought process and it’s been a conversation amongst the high level coaches to make sure the athletes are healthy and, and that they push that kind of lifestyle. So I think we’re, we’re turning the page on, on how we approach women’s ski jumping specifically.

Now I know that eating disorders still happen and there’s still out there and women’s ski jumping, especially in mens, ski jumping as well, because like, for myself, if you wanna be a ski jumper and you’re, you’re supposed to be a baseball player, you have to fit your body into this, into this mold that, that lets you follow your passion

Jill: I think we’ll shift topics. one of our listeners wondered if ski jumping is like some of the other sports, the, the other winter sports where it’s a smaller community. Is there a lot of comradery among the athletes?

Blake Hughes: Yeah, we call it the ski jumping family. There’s uh very supportive, like really good friends with a lot of coaches.

A lot of the girls on our team are really good friends with Norwegians, Germans, Austrians. It’s just, it’s a smaller community. It’s a, it’s a large sport in Europe, but we’re, they all have their friends that they, we travel around every weekend together. We’ll split up. Cuz competition, weekends are Friday, Saturday, [00:45:00] Sunday.

So we’ll go to our home base in Europe or wherever from Monday to Thursday, then we’ll see ’em again. And. We’re always in contact with the other coaches kind of asking, like, what’s your plan for this week? And you guys wanna join up and play a game of volleyball or do you wanna go to the different jumping hill?

So it’s a very, very close community. It’s very competitive. And there’s a lot of secrets between teams on, once we get on TV and once we’re competing, but once we’re out outside the competition format, it’s, it’s really fun. It’s a really fun community to be a part of.

Jill: What is the atmosphere like when you’re competing in Europe?

Cause it it’s gotta be nuts for lack of a better word, cuz they’re so excited about it

Blake Hughes: From a being inside the competition. Like it’s, it’s very formal, everybody’s, pretty focused. From a spectator standpoint, it’s so much fun to go to these venues that, you know there’s specifically one in Slovenia where they.

30,000 people to show up, to watch this hour long competition. And, there’s these events that happen and specifically Poland. Ski jumping is the number one sport in Poland. If their best ski jumper ran for president, he would win by a landslide. They have this competition annually and they get 60,000 people in the stadium at another 50 or 60,000 outside of the stadium.

So once you get in that environment, you can kind of feel that magnitude that like you might get, if you’re an NFL player here, there’s that adrenaline rush that like a lot of folks are watching what you’re doing and you’re on TV and there’s, there’s in prime, prime TV as well.

Alison: So how do you expand it?

Because obviously ski jumping is still a pretty small sport, especially in north America.

Blake Hughes: That’s a good question. I think it’s, you wanna see your country win and in the us it’s. We’re constrained to being here and we have a lot of travel. So it’s hard to kind of boost that here this last year, every four, it’s an Olympic sport. So every four years we get a lot of attention, which is is nice.

And I don’t, I just don’t think that a lot of people know that these sports and I’m not specific, I’m talking about every, almost every Olympic sport is forgotten about for four years. And then it’s comes back around and everyone, especially ski jumping, our TV viewership is one of the highest in all of winter sports and, and people like to watch it, but to expand it, I think we need to start at more of a grassroots kind of like a smaller tour within the United States that we can televise that us viewership happens at.

Jill: Beyond Park City and Lake Placid.

What are some other places to watch in North America? Calgary, I would imagine. So

Blake Hughes: we have 37 clubs across the country. Calgary, unfortunately shut down. They shut their venues down. Whistler still is operating. They are hosting the world junior championships this year. Surprisingly all the Scandinavians, as you might know moved to the Midwest, the one they immigrated here.

So there’s a lot of ski jumps in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the upper peninsula of Michigan. And then a lot of Polish people migrated to Chicago. So there’s a ski jump in Chicago as well. That is actually has one of our largest crowds that it, it, it draws. So there’s lake Placid and then there’s a ski jump in Connecticut and a handful across New Hampshire and Vermont.

Alison: There’s a ski jump in Connecticut.

Blake Hughes: Yeah, there is Salsbury, Salisbury, Connecticut. Yeah.

Jill: Allison wants to ski jump at some point in her life. I’m determined to make that happen.

Blake Hughes: You can go up there. I can give you a contact for the head coach up there.

Alison: well, as, as you’re saying polls, I’m laughing to myself cuz it’s like find a Saint casre church, then you’ll find a ski jump facility near probably

Jill: How do you recruit for ski jumping?

Blake Hughes: So the United States is massive as we know, so it’s different everywhere. So the way we do it in Park City, the club it’s at the club level we at USA Nordic as the national leadership group, we facilitate where we can. So we host these small camps around, you know weekend camps.

There’s a ski jump in Anchorage that uh we have a camp up there. It’s not necessarily recruiting, but it kind of, it gets younger kids involved. But here in specifically in Park City, we uh use a program that was started back in the nineties, called the get out play program where kids sign up for any number of winter sport and on Friday afternoons, the bus grabs ’em and they takes them to that sport.

So they’re ski jumping, Alpine, cross country skiing, freestyle hockey, you name it. There’s a winter sport in Park City. And that’s actually how I got into the sport. My friend was doing it. I went and tried it at this after school program when I was seven. And that was it. And this now I’m still here. Um And Chicago, they go to local schools and they have demonstrations and they just visit PE classes.

And there’s a, a recruiting. Thing that we’ve been starting to participate in in Green Bay where we can set up a little tiny ski jump in Lambo field with a bunch of other different things. So there’s, there’s all kinds of different recruiting methods. It’s just, it has to be specified to each region.[00:50:00]

Alison: Is there any development of para ski jump happening?

Blake Hughes: N we had a kid that was from Madison, Wisconsin. That was a para ski jumper. And uh I think he’s still coaching. But not really.

Jill: Allison, anything else?

Alison: well, no, you know the question I really wanna

Jill: ask. Well, ask it, cuz I asked about Eddie, the Eagle.

Alison: Okay. Did you ever see a body part fall out onto this

Jill: oh, oh yeah. We that’s a, that’s a joke for us that, but yeah, we haven’t um

Blake Hughes: Yeah, ski jumping is the second safest winter sport because it’s so heavily regulated and so heavily monitored that it’s, I don’t know if anyone’s ever died, ski jumping in, in recent time.

There’s just so many, there’s, there’s been some serious injuries, but nothing ever has ever fallen off to my, to my knowledge

Jill: or good. And, as we like to joke that with women ski jumping finally being added to the program, there’s no uterus falling all over the track.

Blake Hughes: there’s no uterus, but there’s still some concern about their safety.

And like I was talking earlier was the landing forces, which is actually put it into perspective for the men as well. So it, it has become more of a factor into how the, the management of the jumping competitions are, are taken. So I think it’s actually. Kind of been of a, a positive thing of making sure no uterus or anything fall out is that it’s also been a positive thing as you design a ski jump moving forward.

Alison: we got Blake to talk

Blake Hughes: about uterus. I’m a, I’m a women’s ski jumping coach. I have heard everything. I just

Alison: I’d love, we talked to Sarah Hendrickson before PPY Chang and I asked her the same question and she couldn’t stop laughing. She’s like, I know people seriously think that that we’re going to damage ourselves in some not sporty way, in some UN womanly way.

And it just, it it’s it’s mind boggling that that’s the thinking mm-hmm

Blake Hughes: so you might have met my sister then Abby Requist her teammate. That was so I’ve been a part of the conversation as long as it’s been a conversation. Oh. Because of trying to be a supporter of my sister and then also. Doing what I do now,

Jill: far out, far out.

Blake, thank you so much for coming on the show and talking with us, this is, oh my gosh. Our minds are blown.

That sound means it’s time for our history moment All year long, we are looking at Albertville 1992. as it is the 30th anniversary of those Winter Olympics. Alison, it is your turn for a story. What do you

Alison: have? I have French medals. So last time I talked about what did the United States do in terms of gold medals.

So we’re gonna talk a little bit about how the host country did. So the French won three golds, five silvers, and one bronzes, which was a huge improvement over 1988, where they won two medals. Wow. And both of those medals in 1988 were by Alpine skier, Frank Picard. He was one of the silver medals in 1992.

He won a silver in the men’s downhill. His gold in Calgary was the first Olympic gold medal for France since our friend Jean Claude Keeley in 1968. Yes, so there was a real connection between the organizing committee and then these medals. So Frank Picard had a very long alpine career. He skied until 2000 and then he switched to long distance cross country and competed in that until 2009.

Jill: What .

Alison: So over 20 years, he was competing at a national, international level. So one fun little thing about him, he was born in Albert. Oh, so this, even though the skiing wasn’t actually in Albertville, it was in Val there still, this was coming home for him and he had several siblings, but two of them, Leila and Ian also competed at the Winter Olympics in 94 and 98.

Wow. White, quite the skiing family. He had two other siblings, which have the very French names of Ted and Jeff.

But unfortunately Frank Picard did not have any Jean Luke in his family.

Jill: Oh, Wa wa Is Frank Picard also the skier who was featured in the movie? We watched the official film. Who is the hotel year?

Yes he is. I have this on our map. They Keep the Flame Alive, World Map of Olympic and Paralympic sites, which we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. This is a map that is crowdsourced so that if you are traveling or out and about and you wonder if there’s something Olympic or Paralympic, where you’re going there likely [00:55:00] is. So it’s, it’s in its early stages yet, but we’ll have a link to it in the show notes so you can find it and add to it if you would like.

Frank Picard owns the hotel Laka. Which is named after Calgary , the site of his

Alison: gold medal. Makes sense.

Jill: Yes. Yes. So, and, and the hotel also has the Frank Picard suite where his trophies are on display.

Alison: Well, there you go. You can, you can actually go see Frank Picard and visit with him.

Jill: Excellent. I’m so glad you told the story.

So It is time to vote for the games that we will focus our history moment on next year. You can do that in our Facebook group. That is to keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group. We have three choices for next year.

It is Beijing 2008 because 2023 is the 15th anniversary, so 1988, it’s the 25th anniversary. And London 1948 because it is the 75th anniversary. And next year, of course, we are doing a summer games because we’re doing winter games this year. So go vote in the Facebook group by October 8th and then we will.

What history moment we will have next year?

Alison: Welcome to Shook Luan.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the flame alive. These are past guests of the show who now make up the citizenship of our country. Shook Luan. Not much news today. Very

Alison: quiet. So beach volleyball player Kelly Cheng and partner Betsi Flint took second place at the Phoenix Championship on the AVP Pro Tour.

Jill: Excellent work.

We have some news from Paris 2024. So, Thomas, Julie has been appointed as the artistic director for all four ceremonies, both opening and closing for the Olympics and Paralympics. He is 40 years old and has an extensive and acclaimed career in the theater. So he is got his own theater company called Laka La Familia, and he has a history of staging momentous productions, including.

18 hour continuous performance of Henry the sixth and a 24-hour performance of Richard the third. So I think having those on your CV helps you get a job where part of the production is a big parade down the sun.

Alison: First of all, a 24-hour performance of Richard III is almost longer than his reign actually was , but I love that his name is, is Toma, because you know every Brit is going, it’s Tom Jolly.

Which is actually a very good name for a person who’s gonna be doing these ceremonies.

Jill: Yes. So I, I’m very excited. We will learn more throughout the next two years about what he will do, but he’s got a little challenge and I bet he is excited about it.

Alison: And hopefully he won’t get into trouble. Like some of the Tokyo organizing in the Beijing organizing calling people names and Oh, being sexist and it

Jill: jolly.

That’s right. And also Inside the Games was reporting that I, I, I don’t even know how to say this, So they’re going to take 2024 grams of sacred soil from the site in Olympia where the flame is kindled. And then they’re gonna put it in a special tube and it will be used to promote the Olympics.

Which I’m really trying hard not to laugh because I think this is just an out there idea. It’s about 4.5 pounds worth of soil in a tube. So all I could think of is that now you have an Olympic dumbbell.

Alison: Oh, Ima automatically think it’s like sprinkling grandma’s ashes,

Like, Okay. I was listening to a report the other day, and apparently Disney World is a favorite place to sprinkle people’s ashes. I’m not surprised. So people smuggle little tubes of ashes to bring in. So it’s like there’s smuggling ashes to the Eiffel Tower, and it’s gonna sprinkle, like sprinkle it off the top.

So you make it dusted. If you stand underneath it in the right spot with the sacred soil of Olympia .

Jill: But I, I mean, I, I don’t really know who came up with the idea and I also don’t understand, but, but I’m also not a person that gets excited about, like, water from the River Jordan, or from the Sea Gala.

I just, I just got

Alison: that it’s 2024 grams.

Jill: Yeah, 2024 grams.

Alison: I was thinking, what an odd number to choose . What is this odd amount?

Jill: So yeah, when you’re, if, if anybody sees the sacred soil, let us know. I, I really don’t know what, what they hope [01:00:00] having the soil from Olympia will do to make people get excited about the Olympics.

But, But I guess they’re trying something new and different

Alison: and clearly we cannot be trusted to sprinkle grandma’s ashes,

Jill: In other news Saudi Arabia merged its Olympics and Paralympics committees into one unit. there are a few countries around like the US O P C that has done that. So that is exciting news to see that they will have equal playing field.

And that was reported in the Arab News. we would like to take a moment to thank our Patreon patrons and other donors. As a reminder, Keep the Flame Alive. Relies mainly on listener support to keep our flame alive and ensure that we have a community that games fans want to be a part of.

So, if you’d like to give back, please visit flame live pod.com/support to find a number of ways to do.

Alison: And I wanna mention for Patreon, every month you get a bonus episode depending on what level of support you’re at, and there is stuff we do on there that is even wilder than the stuff we do on the regular show.

Yeah. And worth taking a listen for. So definitely take a trip over to Pat and, and

Jill: see what we got. Exactly. And we are planning some interesting stuff for 2023 for bonus episodes as well. So that will do it for this week. Let us know your thoughts about ski jumping.

Alison: You can get in touch with us by email, flame alive pod gmail.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 Pod Group on Facebook where you can vote for next year’s historic Olympic.

Jill: Next week film, Ba Fran will be back with our discussion of race, the 2016 movie about track legend Jesse Owens.

If you’ve seen it, let us know what you think, cuz we love hearing your opinions. So thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.