Alison Brown, Jill Jaracz, Sarah Patton and Book Club Claire meet for a Contributor Roundtable to talk Olympics and Paralympics issues on Keep the Flame Alive.

Episode 225: Contributor Roundtable Beijing 2022 Preview

Release Date: January 31, 2022

Our contributors Book Club Claire and Super Fan Sarah are back to talk about what they’re looking forward to at Beijing. Plus, Jill has made it to China and tells how her trip almost didn’t happen. But, she’s in the closed loop and is ready to report back on what she’s experienced so far.

We also learn about some of the new technologies that will be in play at Beijing 2022, which hope to give you a better viewing experience!

Join our Fantasy League! Look for it in the Fanzone section of This link should take you directly to it.

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


Please note that transcripts are machine-generated and may contain errors. Use the audio file as the official record of note.

Episode 225 – Contributor Roundtable Beijing 2022 Preview

[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, ni hao! How are you?

[00:00:14] Alison: How are you doing?

[00:00:15] Jill: I’ve made it to Beijing. I’ve gotten into the closed loop.

We are taping and coming at you from the Main Media Center. And hopefully, I don’t know what kind of ambiance is behind me. I’m in this big open room in a convention center. It’s got rows of tables and at the end of each row is a television screen. And then there’s a huge screen at the front of the room. And right now it’s showing Lunar New Year specials.

[00:00:45] Alison: I did hear a little music.

[00:00:48] Jill: Okay. So I don’t know what’s going to come through. Somebody turned it up a little bit. Cause it’s been the TV’s have been quiet all day. Cause they’ve just been showing random sports stuff, but somebody did turn it up a little bit for this show. So we’ll, we’ll see how much comes through.

[00:01:02] Alison: the ambient noise happening, which is awesome.

[00:01:09] Jill: they have a sleep cabins in the hallway that you could, I don’t know if you rent them or you just say, Hey, I need a cabin for an hour or so. They’ve got a little bed and they’ve got a little desk, so you can work quietly in there. If it gets up, if it gets bad in here, I don’t know what it’s going to be like when the games are on, but if it gets bad, I might might go into the sleep cabin.

[00:01:30] Alison: So closed loop. You are safely ensconced.

[00:01:34] Jill: Oh my goodness. It was a challenge. We left your house. With plenty of time. We got there a little over two hours early, stood in a very long line at the Singapore Airlines check-in desk. And when I got there, the, some of the, part of the complications with this is getting a green code to get into China.

And then you have to do another code. That’s a health declaration thing. So the green code I got expired on. January 31st. And when we got to the check-in desk at Singapore air, they said, no, it’s supposed to say January 30th, because that’s when you get into Beijing, something must be wrong, reapply for it.

And at this point, the consulate’s closed and I freak out a little bit going who is going to approve this now, before the gates close. So I reapply, which the application process I was doing on my phone and I, the whole time I’ve been doing it, I’ve managed to delete photos, delete my entire application and had to start all over again.

So this happened and when I finally got it in the green code came back fairly quickly.

It was still wrong.

[00:02:53] Alison: And thank goodness for the very helpful staff at Singapore Airlines who just, we were maybe half an hour before. It was roughly that time and they just said, it’s fine. We are getting you on this flight.

[00:03:08] Jill: So that’s good. They took care of me. Antonio walked me through security because I had to bypass a whole bunch of people. Got me to the gate, got me there on time. I, of course I’m wearing heavy clothes because they’re bulky and don’t fit in my suitcase. But also, so by this point, sweat is pouring down my face because I have a mock turtleneck on a big bulky sweater and this huge fleece poncho, which is incredibly warm.

And I’m so excited to have it here. But it doesn’t help when you’re walking through a regular temperature setting. It also doesn’t help when you get off the plane in Singapore and it’s 77 degrees.

[00:03:49] Alison: That was unexpected.

[00:03:51] Jill: Exactly. So we ended up sitting on the runway for an hour or so we didn’t really push back and leave until 11 o’clock because of the snow that came in. So the plane had to get deiced and. I was just, I kept looking at the snow coming down and going home. Boy, I hope we hope we get out.

[00:04:10] Alison: Right. So the important thing to know in this story is in the New York area, we were getting a snowstorm that they kept adjusting the time. So we kept hoping your plane would get out, because if you didn’t get out on that plane, you were not getting out for two days because we got almost a foot of snow.

[00:04:31] Jill: Wow.

[00:04:31] Alison: In our neck of the woods. So I was driving home in the snow thinking, please take off, please take off, and I’m driving up the Van Wyck. There are planes going over me. Nothing. Okay, good. They’re still getting planes out. They’re still getting planes.

Yep. So we got out, it was a very long flight. But I got a little sleep. I got to watch all of season two of Master Chef Singapore, so, yeah, the flight was incredibly long, but I mean, you just get through it after a while. You’re just like, oh, okay. You’re almost done.

[00:05:08] Jill: Then I was in the Singapore airport for a couple of hours. Sweating and also walking around because I didn’t get to, you know, you’re on a plane for 16, 18 hours and you just, they don’t want you moving too much because of COVID and there’s nowhere to go either. And so I threw my carry-ons onto a little trolley cart and pushed it up and down the terminal a couple of times and then got on to the next plane.

And they also wanted to see my QR code. And then said, oh, well the other end, the want to have you log in and watch it moving. When I get to China, nobody asks for any of those. Neither one,

But anyway, got on the flight to China. Not very many people on my flight were all Olympics people. They bring us to, we land in and taxi into a gate that is at a terminal that it’s been closed for only Olympic use.

[00:06:09] Alison: Oh boy.

[00:06:10] Jill: Yeah. Right. So you get off the terminal and the gateway has all of these Beijing 2022 signs. And as you keep walking and walking, cause you know how it is for international ones that you always just feel like you’re walking forever to get to customs.

And check-in, So we get to everything we have to do to get to through. The airport, which is you make another QR code piece of paper. I don’t know what it did, but you had to scan your passport to get it and sign something. And then you had to use that to get you through gates, to go to the next process and the next process they recorded your face for facial recognition.

They had you take a saliva COVID test and a PCR test with the swab done the throat, which was very far down your throat. They went pretty far. And then you went through passport control. You went through immigration or customs, then you got your accreditation validated, and then they give you a lanyard.

Then you could pick up your luggage and then go to the bus. Everyone in full hazmat suit.

[00:07:18] Alison: Wow.

Everyone. And some of them were like, they had the mascots on them. So they were cute hazmat suits, but full hazmat, a lot of them had goggles plus the face shield.


[00:07:31] Jill: And there were a lot of volunteers there. I mean, it was helpful because there were long, long stretches of walking where you’re like, where do I go? And there’s a point where you’re walking past stores in the terminal closed, closed, closed No getting your Starbucks. Cause therewas a Starbucks.

[00:07:49] Alison: Now, here’s what I want to know as you’re going past these volunteers. Do any of them, dance for you, like they do in the opening.

[00:07:55] Jill: No dancing, no.

[00:07:57] Alison: I want some dancing hazmat suits.

[00:08:00] Jill: That would be incredible. That would be a great part of the show. So get on a bus. There’s only a few people on the bus. We got to go take the Olympic and Paralympic lane down the highway, which was very helpful because there was a little traffic accident that got pushed into the Olympic Paralympic lane. But we could just fly in. And so the closed loop effect. Is when you get to the hotels, they have those barriers around the entrance that are like construction barriers around construction sites.

So they have those, and then there’s like a rolling gate. Like, if you watched Chip and Joanna, Gaines is show where they have the home remodel and then they put the doors in front and they roll them back to see what the new house looks like. That’s what they do here.

And your bus goes in through that. And then turns around and comes out and they shut the gate behind it. So you were inside the closed loop. No can go out.

[00:09:00] Alison: This is very secure. They’re really making you feel like you are in a closed loop.

[00:09:06] Jill: Yes. Yes. And it’s, my hotel is on a main drag, but the entrance is in the back.

So it’s down a little side street and then you turn in, so the bus has to go down the side. Yeah. And there, their stores are killing me. There’s a supermarket right across the street. And today I saw around the corner, there’s a little fitness park in just on the corner and like, oh, I can’t go to the fitness stations cause I’m in the loop and they aren’t.

And then when I got to the hotel, you They gave you a bag of stuff, booklets kind of thing. And then you went up to the room and you waited until you got your COVID test. So I took a shower. My hotel room is actually really, really nice. I have two twin beds, so the room is kind of big and there’s a desk and a chair and a fridge there and a little closet and a nice bathroom. And then all the toiletries and the bottle, they put two bottles of water in your in your bathroom because you can’t drink the water here unless you boil it. So there’s unlimited bottled water, but you know, they’re ecologically concerned about the environment.

So use your towels multiple times.

[00:10:21] Alison: To balance out all the bottled water you will be drinking in the cold dry air.

[00:10:25] Jill: Well, the answer they gave was because of the soap and the laundry detergent. We aren’t talking about the bottle of water.

So my COVID test, I was expecting four to five hours and it came back on maybe three, three to four. It was good trick. That’s pretty quick. So then, then you unpack everything and try to find a place for. And basically go to bed. I was really zonked at that point. I watched some TV, the TV, they have tons of channels.

And so I just flipped through lots of Olympic related stuff, whether it’s showing them video Together for a Shared Future. That’s been on there have been,

[00:11:04] Alison: like I Said, speaking of being on a loop,

[00:11:06] Jill: And just there’s you see it on the billboards. A lot of the light posts have banners on them, and there’s just a lot of decoration around that I can, I can see, I don’t know what people around the city think, and if they notice it,

Today. I’ve been at the media center to.

Every day you’re supposed to, or every day you have to get a COVID test. And that is in the ballroom of our hotel. It’s in like a ballroom or meeting room in our hotel and they have the carpet covered with foam, some kind of foam material. And you go up and you get your saliva test and everybody has hazmat it out.

And if I don’t hear anything from them, I’m negative. They aren’t going to tell you if it, unless it’s positive. So that’s kind of nice. And then when you leave to get on the bus to go anywhere, you get scanned, like there’s a scanner that recognizes you and says, yeah, you’ve done your test. Before. Cause they won’t let you leave the hotel, I guess, with, unless you get your tests done.

So then you have to put your stuff through a, a scanner and they have a little x-ray machine there and then you get on the bus and the bus takes you to the main media center. And then you kind of go out from there.

[00:12:22] Alison: Nice. So, and you, and you have had some steamed buns?

[00:12:26] Jill: Yes. Oh my gosh. The breakfast spread.

I don’t know what any other meals are like in my hotel, but the breakfast bed was beyond what I thought it would be. Cause I just started like, oh, there are buns. Great. Oh, I can skip those eggs. Oh, there’s chicken sausage. And then you look down and you’re like, it keeps going and going and going.

There’s multiple types of porridges from around the world. Different types of egg, like eggs, like chicken, eggs, or quail eggs different preparations of stuff, chicken nuggets. It was breakfast, broccoli and garlic. It was fabulous.

[00:13:04] Alison: Well, I know you won’t starve, which is important, and I know you won’t be cold cause you’ve got your poncho.

[00:13:09] Jill: Yes. So all those basic things that I will worry about covered/you’re OK. Yes.

Oh so because today is lunar new year, we are launching our red envelope campaign to run all during the Beijing, Winter Olympics and Paralympics. This has been a really expensive year for the show. And while our listeners have been extremely generous and supporting our Kickstarter campaign that got us to Beijing and through our patriotic.

We find, we need a little bit more to keep getting us through to Paris 2024. So we’re asking for donations of at least $8, because eight is a lucky number in China, and we are very lucky to have all of our listeners. So go to flame alive to donate

[00:13:52] Alison: Happy Year of the Tiger.

[00:14:05] Jill: So we are only a few days away from the start of Beijing, 2022. And we wanted to get together our contributor round table. So before I left for China, we sat down with Book Club, Claire, and super-fan Sarah to talk about what we are excited for for these winter games.

Take a listen.

It is one of our favorite shows of the year, Contributor roundtable night. We are joined by Book ClubClaire and Super-fan Sarah. Ladies, welcome to the show. Are you ready for Beijing?

[00:14:31] Claire: I am more than ready.

[00:14:34] Sarah: Yeah, I feel like I’m still catching up on sleep from Tokyo. Thanks to Omicron, I am not sure about how big of a party we’re going to have this year, but yeah, mentally we’re ready. Like, let’s go.

[00:14:45] Claire: When I think about the schedule that I’m going to have to keep again for the, for the third round, I do almost start to cry just because I it’s just so awkward and so hard to keep track of time and like, I have the work time, but I also have to keep track of the Olympics that are on either end in the mornings and the evenings. And it’s just, it’s sometimes it’s very overwhelming. And I do remember that four years ago, I’m trying to keep up with PyeongChang. I did get sick because I kept trying to stay up overnight and watch stuff.

So I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again.

[00:15:21] Alison: Yeah. I was looking today NBC released its television schedule. And it, and we had taken a look the other day at the streaming schedule and it does feel like this is even worse than Tokyo in terms of when we’re going to be seeing things. Like there was a lot of stuff that said, starts at 2:00 AM.

[00:15:44] Jill: Oh I’m sure that there’s a lot more consideration given to the local time schedule more so than our time. Just I think partially because it’s the Winter Olympics is always a smaller viewing audience, I would think in the U S versus the Summer Olympics. But I also think that we don’t have the same kind of pull for Winter Olympics, as say Europe.

[00:16:07] Alison: Right. I would expect all the cross-country and the biathlon. They’re worried about European time, not American time. So I’ve basically informed my families. I’m going to be just living opposite them for quite a while.

[00:16:20] Jill: And just interject today as we are taping is January 20th. We’re taping a little early just to give us some time as we prep to actually go to Beijing, but we wanted to make sure we get a round table in. So beyond the fact that the schedule is going to be tough for viewing for us, I’m sure other parts of the world they’re saying hooray, we have a better viewing schedule.

What are some of the big stories you think we’ll get out of these Olympics?

[00:16:49] Claire: I would like to hope that there’s not a lot of positive cases, because I did hear that the testing procedures that they’re going to be doing in Beijing are quite aggressive as in it doesn’t take much to get a positive test. Like if you take a random test, it might be, oh, we, well, it wasn’t enough to warrant you getting your second stripe on your little test strip or whatever it is.

So that does concern me a little bit. Cause I think there’s going to be more than just– I think at, In Tokyo. It was the only one I really remember was Sam Kendricks that didn’t get to do pole vault. And I think there’s going to be quite a lot more. That does concern me. But you know, at the same time you need to go with who you have there and who’s present in the competing arena.

And we just have to go with it.

[00:17:40] Jill: Yeah. I agree with you that I’ve heard that the testing is far more stringent and sensitive. Maybe the tests are very sensitive to make sure, because what they’ve said is that at this point, the positivity of arrivals is testing 1.5, 3% positive, and then testing inside the closed loop has been 0.0, 2% positive, and those cases are more the within the five days of arrival time. So they’re think they believe they’re imported cases versus being contracted in the closed loop. So hopefully once people get in to the closed loop, It will be low or no positive tests. And I think that’s what they were hoping with Japan’s bubble, but I think it also all depends on people adhering to the policies because we saw people in Japan leaving the bubble to go do tourists.

So, I don’t know how that will fare with people in the village, people in the, with the athletes, coaches and other officials, how they will behave, but we’ll see how they do how this closed loop compares to Tokyo.

[00:18:54] Sarah: Yeah. And just thinking about the timeframe that right now. So I live in Texas and I don’t know about everywhere else, but we have COVID everywhere. I mean, we’re seeing so many cases with our friends and family, and so it’s very obvious that we’re kind of in a peak right now. At least I hope it’s speaking. I don’t know what that’s like in the rest of the world necessarily forgive me for being a little ethnocentric on that. But in July, when we were sending our athletes, we had kind of dipped to where it wasn’t as present everywhere as it is right now. So I feel like there’s probably a lot of athletes that are taking a lot more precaution, not just because it’s in China and they’re being a little more strict and there’s a whole lot of other things that come with being in China. But there’s athletes, I’m friends with on Facebook that have been posting about how they have pulled their kids to do virtual learning.

They are doing everything they can to stay in a bubble before they go. So I’m hoping that will help. The athletes that are going, they’re not only limiting their own exposure, but also what their family could bring to them. And hopefully that’ll help over the next few weeks. And then also thinking about what we just had with United States nationals for figure skating.

There were so many cases that were popping up left and right. And so hopefully those cases are cleared up. They’re good. It’s had time to run its course with whatever outbreak was going on there. And and yeah, again, forgive me for being ethnocentric. I don’t know what’s going on with every single other person in the world or every other country, but at least when the United States hopefully it won’t be an issue that they’re importing the cases.

[00:20:21] Alison: I know some of the athletes are choosing not to compete the last few weeks. I heard Mikaela Shiffrin and Breezy Johnson Alpine we’re skipping the last couple of world cup events prior. To traveling to Tokyo, excuse me, traveling to Beijing. For that very reason, just saying we’re going to stay in our little bubble and then go over.

So just, we’re not going to keep traveling around Europe. So I think Europe is having the same Omicron problems that we’re having here.

Well, and Shiffren just had COVID I think a few weeks ago. So, I mean, gosh, for her sake, I hope she doesn’t catch it again, though. I feel like she should be super immune at this point.

[00:21:00] Jill: Or test negative because if you’ve had COVID, you have to test a lot more often and produce a lot more proof of negativity than someone like myself who has never had COVID to begin with.

So it’s going to be interesting to see how those athletes have fared. I don’t know what the Alpine skiiing environment has been like, because in biathlon, at least they’ve taken fans off the races. Again, although in Germany this past week, they had fans outside the fences. Just, you could see them several fans deep and cheering away for the athletes.

In biathlon though, there’ve been many athletes who have taken themselves out of. The competition for the last this for the last couple of weeks, leading up to Beijing, more so to train at altitude because the altitude there’s going to be very extreme.

So it’s going to be interesting to see how the athletes fare. We also heard within the last day or so that NBC has pulled most of its announcers from going to Beijing and they’llbe doing play by playing commentary from Stamford, Connecticut down the road from Alison. So that’s also an interesting to development too.

And I think it’s just– Part of it is safety first. They want to make sure nobody gets COVID. But I think part of it is also probably the hassle, especially if you, if they did happen to get COVID who fills in for them, because they are an essential role. And if you have to isolate for several days, you’d have to isolate for your entire competition.

And that would be tough. I know Devin Heraux from Canada, from CBC, he just announced that he will not be going to Beijing because he had COVID over Christmas and just put in a positive test again. And that the CBC that falls in the CBCs decision of this is the deadline for when you. Test positive and still go to Beijing and he does not fall within those metrics.

So that’s really sad from pet for him as well, but he’ll be plugging away in Toronto probably working around the clock just to keep up with the coverage that he does.

[00:23:13] Sarah: Yeah. I’m bummed for him. He was wonderful to follow during the Tokyo games.

[00:23:17] Claire: There is that interest as we get more and more remote commentary. How much of that comes into play when you’re watching an event? Cause sometimes I guess that they’re not there and they actually are, and sometimes I’m guessing that they are and they actually aren’t. It’s one of those things where does being there matter for commentary for announcing or has the media gotten so good at broadcasting these games and showing every angle that they can still pick up everything even while watching multiple cameras.

I am also interested in watching the men’s tournament for hockey because this was the grand triumphant return of the NHL. And then, because they had such a big spike in cases within the NHL, back in December, they had to postpone games for a few weeks because of that they needed to fit in their seasons. So they pushed it through to the Olympics and said, no, you guys aren’t going.

So every single team, this isn’t just an American problem for this. This is worldwide because there are so many international players everywhere to play in the NHL. So every single country had to scramble to find replacements. And I know for Team USA, I believe they had two 19 year olds on the team, which is something they haven’t had in years.

[00:24:36] Alison: It’s mostly AHL and college players like back in the old days

[00:24:41] Claire: If there is some sort of. US wins the gold medal kind of thing. I want to see that movie, it’s basically Miracle Part Two, where you’ve got the scrappy players working together. This would be scrappy players learning how to come together in a month.

I love that kind of chaos

[00:24:58] Sarah: During a pandemic that nobody knows what to do. And that’ll be true, like you said, pretty much the only men’s hockey team who is not affected is China because every other country had NHL players on there.

[00:25:13] Claire: And China’s going, yes. Maybe we’ll get —

[00:25:16] Alison: Maybe we’ll get a gold!

[00:25:17] Sarah: Yeah, no something, Claire, going back to what you were saying with the difference with the TV crews being there and not have, will it be a difference and all that? Something that I was thinking about is remember Tokyo, they were having the viewing parties back in the United States. And then immediately after an athlete finished their event for a lot of them, especially if it was a successful event, then NBC would pull them over and say, here’s your family want to say hi to them?

Which, I know it makes for good TV, but it’s also, my heart goes out to those athletes. Cause that was always just a very overwhelming moment. You can tell. So I’m curious to see, are there going to be any post event interviews with the athletes? Are they going to have a TV set up? What is that going to look like?

And so I do think that’ll look different. I think that NBC is going to find a way to do that, but it’s going to certainly be different than what we’re used to

[00:26:10] Claire: Have they announced. Viewing parties? ‘ cause that was something that they promoted very much in Tokyo. And that was like weeks before we’re getting into two weeks out. And I really haven’t heard too much about it.

[00:26:21] Jill: So I believe they’re having a Salt Lake City and a Lake Placid viewing party, so that helps. I don’t think it’s going to be the same extent as the Summer Games. It’s really interesting to see if how the Winter Games is being treated, just because it is a smaller games in general, but smaller in the United States, but also.

Just the schedule and NBC’s approach. Yes. If you watch NBC, you’ve seen a ton of commercials or your local news has had a little segment on every night about something going on for the Olympics, but there’s not a ton of that. And we have it, the Olympics and the Super Bowl happened to coincide this year.

Yeah. Claire’s game. We’re getting a big thumbs down here. The Super Bowl is going to take precedence, at least for that first weekend.

[00:27:09] Alison: One of the things that we talked about offline was not seeing the products in the stores, not seeing the cookies or the cereal boxes. Somebody posted one thing, a cereal box from Canada.

That was a Lucky Charms with some of the ice skaters on it, but you know, we saw it for PyeongChang and we are not seeing it this time around. And I don’t know if it’s because it’s Beijing and there’s so much controversy. I don’t know if it’s pandemic or if they’re not investing this time around.

[00:27:36] Sarah: I think it’s all of the above, because I feel like so many people just in my day-to-day life know that I’m a fan of the Olympics, what a surprise, and I keep getting asked by everyone who’s just kind of a casual viewer. If they happen to see it on, like, why are we still sending athletes? Like, are they bad with human rights?

And so I always have to explain it to them that diplomatic boycott and yada. And so I think that there’s probably a lot of companies that are trying to. Back off of that. And then I also think about the pandemic, I think about with budgets and money. And I, there was a part of me that wondered with NBC, and this is pure speculation.

NBC don’t come at me. There was part of me that wondered if it was also a financial decision to keep their staff in the United States. Not necessarily because they won’t send them. If things were all normal. But I’m thinking about having to pay for the– someone’s going to get it and someone’s going to have to quarantine.

And so you have to pay for that. You have to pay for all the crews and the assistants and everything. So, I do think that the financial aspect of the pandemic has probably hit hard. And. I think about major companies that, haven’t paid too much attention to sponsorships which that’s on me.

Cause usually I do for the sake of my parties and trying to make sure I have only Team USA sponsored products at my party and everything. But I think about these major companies that have had to lay people off over the past couple of years, what does it look like If all of a sudden they’re shelling out tons and tons of money for the Olympics in Beijing, are they going to have ticked off employees or ticked off former employees that are going to speak out?

So it was just, I feel like everything, everything is walking on eggshells right now, and there are so many moving parts with it.

[00:29:12] Jill: Let’s talk about some of the big sports stories. We’re going to have a lot of repeat Olympians. Mikela Shiffrin’s back. Chloe Kim is back. Jessie Diggins, maybe Sean White, Maame Biney, Team Shuster Ester Ledecká , which I’m really excited to see her again. Just big names. Kaillie Humphries is back and now she’s sliding for Team USA. Just, and I’m going to, I’m so sorry.

I’m ignoring all these Europeans, but we’ve got huge names in biathlon from Norway and from France. We’ve got Hannah Oeberg from Sweden who was a surprise gold medalist in Pyeongchang coming back also very strong. Her sister’s extremely strong right now. It’s going to be an interesting games to see the repeats versus who could be our new superstars.

So what do you think about that?.

[00:30:05] Sarah: Well, I just want to say my husband and I were talking today about the night and day difference we are seeing right now with curling going into 2022. This is the Shuster effect that, I mean, it’s crazy. I was on my phone today and something popped up where John Shuster was on and that was just such a pleasant surprise. And so obviously we like Shuster, love Team Shuster but I’m just so excited to see the traction that curling is having and that we’re still experiencing the grow, the game movement that resulted in their gold medal win. And again, if you’re familiar with the story of 2018, it was just ridiculous.

Like no one would have thought when they were about to be out of the tournament that they were somehow going to become gold medalist. So I think it’s exciting. I’m hoping that they come back and do really well. We know that they do their best when their backs are against the wall. So if they come in and they’re losing every game, don’t give up, they always have a shot and somehow always figure it out.

But I’m just excited to see that. And I hope that curling continues to grow as a sport. I know a lot of people make jokes about curling, whatever. But it’s amazing. Get out here. Local curling clubs. Now’s a great time to do a learn to curl class and go Team Shuster. I’m just really excited.

Y’all know that they have a special place in my heart.

[00:31:25] Claire: I am super excited about bobsled. I always have loved bobsled since Cool Runnings. Yes. I’m one of those people that got sucked in thanks to the Jamaican bobsled team and thanks to the Disney movie, which I also still adored. I am very excited, especially for women’s bobsled.

Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries have been doing amazing this year in the world cup scene. And I would, I know a lot of Myers Taylor got the silver. In 2018 and I want to see her get gold or Kaillie Humphries get gold. I just want to see a gold medal in women’s bobsled because it’s been a very long time and these ladies are due for it.

They’ve really earned their way. I mean, Elana Meyers Taylor had a baby and she’s coming back and she’s still winning and it just shows, it doesn’t matter who you are or how your body looks or feels, or you just go out there. And if you can do it, you do it. Those are names that will be coming into the know and everybody’s going to know their names, but I have a feeling that this kind of merry-go-round of Russian female figure skaters. Nobody’s going to learn their names because people are going to realize they don’t have to, because in four years it’s going to be a completely new set of figure skaters. The only one that I recognized was Alexandra Trusova and it just because of just hearsay and hearing what she’s done, but then there’s, there’s 14 year olds who are doing quads and I’m like, do I really need to learn their name?

Probably not. I’m going to stick with the other figure skating disciplines, just because women’s figure skating. Doesn’t really interest me right now. And it, it didn’t in 2018 either.

[00:33:07] Alison: Agreed, agreed.

[00:33:10] Jill: I wonder if the darling of the women’s figure skating competition will be a Polish figure skater, Elatarina Kurakova. Have you seen this viral video of her competing? I think she was at Europeans.

She placed not on the podium at this meet, but she was so happy with her performance. She was pumping and laughing afterwards. She just was delightful to watch. She was thrilled. And I think if she has a great performance, people will just latch on to that and the joy and the happiness that came through in her skating.

But you guys think that what do you think about like, oh, ice dancing, Alison, you have opinions.

[00:33:51] Alison: I will be happy with anything else that happened. As long as Papadakis and Ciseron win the gold medal, I don’t care about anything else, but them winning the gold medal. Honestly, if they don’t win, I will be so, so heartbroken because for a lot of reasons, the biggest reason being, they are my favorite ice dancing pair.

Probably of the last 20 years. They are just absolutely stunning. And I kinda think they got robbed in 2018. I think they fell victim to some politics and to some a little star struck of the judges. To Virtue and Moir. So I feel very strongly and their programs this time around are really stunning.

[00:34:40] Claire: What Canadian couple figure skaters are subject to political turmoil. I don’t believe that’s never happened in the history. I personally would love to see Chock and Bates get on the podium, if not win the gold. They’ve always really shown that they have been able to compete on the international level.

And I’m pleased to see that we have… We really have two ice dancing couples with Hubbell and Donahue as well, who are capable of making the podium if they stick with their routines and get it done. Right. So I would love to see some healthy competition in the ice dancing, which I didn’t think I would ever say ever.

But here we are.

[00:35:23] Sarah: You’ve been hanging out with Alison too long. Right now

[00:35:27] Alison: I have twizzled into your brain, Claire I’m with you. It’s really cool to look at their results over the past several seasons that they, I mean, they are neck and it’s going to be really exciting to see how they do, and I hope they stay healthy.

[00:35:42] Sarah: And what do y’all think about the team event? Any big thoughts there?

[00:35:45] Claire: Well, Russia’s going to win. And then it’s like ma it’s. I think what irritated me the most last time was that it showed that Nathan Chen wasn’t quite ready enough. Like everybody was counting on him that he was in a lot of the promotional materials.

And then he came out and like, he fell on this first jump and I’m going, oh no. And then he. He fell in like every chunk after that in the end, he’s only clean, skate was like his final free skate. And it just, by then it was just like, ah, whatever, he’s not gonna win. So it is a nice little preview, but at the same time I kind of wished that it was at the end almost, after all of it, it’s kind of a good summary, but I guess it’s, maybe it’s, that’s just my opinion.

[00:36:28] Sarah: Yeah, no, that’s a good point. I am pulling for Nathan Chen. I feel like his experience he’s gained over the past few years and just, he’s incredible. And I just really hope he has a very redeeming Olympics for himself.

[00:36:43] Jill: All right. How do you think the host nation will do at these Olympics because they are not known as a winter powerhouse, but they have figure skating. They have put a lot of money into their sports program. They have speed skaters and they’ve been middling in biathlon this season. So what do you think the host nation will look like on the competitive scene?

[00:37:08] Claire: I think they’re going to do really well, just because China has shown that when they put their minds to something, they’re going to succeed. That happened in Beijing, where they dominated. And then if you get that host nation effect in subsequent Olympics where they have maintained that through, has it been three, it’s been three, three Olympics in Beijing in the summer games.

And I think that’s going to happen here less. So, yes, Because it’s not as accessible, you know, you can’t just put on a pair of shoes and go run. There’s more equipment, there’s more ice that, you have to maintain and prepare for. But I do think that in some events that you’re not really, they’re not really known for.

They are going to have an effect. Maybe not make it on the podium, but they’re going to, they’re going to compete except for men’s sized hockey. Sorry, men’s ice hockey.

[00:37:58] Jill: Paralympics, what are you looking forward to there?

[00:38:03] Sarah: I, for one am very much looking forward to seeing Brenna Huckaby compete because as of this recording, it was about three or four hours ago that it was announced she will in fact be able to compete in the Paralympics.

So Sarah, just give a little background to, to that story.

So if you follow Brenna Huckaby, which she’s a two-time Paralympic gold medalist that she has been dominant in the world stage and everything. And she also, in case you’re curious about her, she lost her leg whenever she was a teenager because she had cancer.

So she had to get her leg amputated. She’s a cancer survivor. The best way to explain it and y’all can tell me if I’m explaining it wrong, but they basically took away, I guess, the division that she competed in because there were not enough people according to the Paralympics that were competing in her division.

So she said, okay, I will compete in the next level up to where I guess people that did not have the same disability as her, that she was going to compete at the next level. And then they said that she could not, I mean, am I getting that correct to y’all to understand

[00:39:10] Alison: This is in snowboard.

[00:39:11] Sarah: Yes. In snowboard. So it’s crazy. And I didn’t realize that this was going on. She got her fourth world title. And she said that it was very bittersweet knowing that she couldn’t go compete. So several athletes, both of the Olympic Paralympic community, people were just rallying around her because how is it that in the Paralympics, her disability is going to keep her from competing again.

I mean, that’s just crazy. So she went to a court in Germany. And long story short, she won. And as of today, January 20th, she will get to go compete in Beijing. So good for her. I’m thrilled for her.

[00:39:50] Alison: One of the things we talked about during the Tokyo Paralympics was reclassification. And, we talked about all the different classes and based on your disability and because the Winter Paralympics is show much smaller than summer, you do see these athletes get unqualified because their class no longer has enough worldwide participation to support participation in the Winter Paralympics. And that’s what happened to Brenna. There just weren’t enough women doing what she was doing in her class, b found a way to make it work, which is fantastic for her and fantastic for the Paralympics.

It is because Brenda is an amazing advocate for the Paralympic movement. If you follow her on social media, she has just done an incredible job on social media, explaining critics ability, explaining things about her prosthetic clinic. She, I mean, she’s the kind of person that you want to be there to grow the Paralympic movement.

And I think it would be a loss for everybody if she were not there. So I’m really happy that she gets to go.

[00:40:54] Claire: I really enjoy the team events. I did for the summer Paralympics. I was watching a lot of sitting volleyball. I was watching a lot of wheelchair rugby. I always have enjoyed watching. Is it sledge hockey sled?


[00:41:11] Sarah: They call it both. I hear it. I hear them call it both.

[00:41:13] Claire: Okay. I really enjoy watching sledge hockey. I watched, I remember watching the gold medal match back in 2018. I think that was the only Paralympics I saw. No! 2018 I watched a lot because NBC, that was just when it was starting to say, huh, we really should put a few more of these Paralympic things on the air. So I did watch a lot of skiing. I remember that. But it’s just so much fun to watch and see that different way to play hockey and how it just worked so well. And I, I. Love those kinds of team events. And I can’t wait to watch some more of that when it comes to the wheelchair curling as well.

I’m going to try and watch a lot of the team events when it comes to the Paralympics and sorry, and it’s been fun to hear about Oksana Masters, who was a gold medalist in Tokyo, and now she’s getting ready for her run in Beijing. And just, was she the one that did the snow tunnel or was that something.

She was the one. And just see how that transition over six months. Boom she’s winning world championships. It’s just, it’s awesome to, to be able to witness that. And I can’t wait to watch her even more as well

[00:42:22] Alison: To go back to your earlier question Jill, I’m really interested to see how well China does in the Paralympics, because I think they’re actually going to be very successful.

I have a feeling that very quietly they’ve put a lot of time, money and effort into winter power sports as they did, it seemed like this time around for winter for rather summer para sports they were much more successful in Tokyo than they had been in the past. And they have a real incentive and there’s been so much less coverage that we don’t even know how good Chinese Paralympians are going to be. We have no clue.

[00:43:03] Jill: Right, except for curling because they won the curling world championships, which was one of the test events for the Ice Cube. So I really think that they will be one to watch for that tournament. I am very curious how they will do in a sled hockey versus standup hockey. Yeah I, I agree. I think China has invested a lot of money into their para program too with the goal of doing well in these Paralympics. So I’m very curious and I’m also Brenna Huckaby story is so interesting because it just magnifies the need for participation. When we had Steve Emt on, and he talked about how he got into the sport and he was basically stalked into the sport. He knew nothing about curling. He knew nothing about wheelchair curling did not know that it was the thing. I think there are so many disabled people who don’t know that para sports exists and just getting them to that point is a huge hurdle to climb.

And we see that in Brenna’s sport, which just doesn’t have enough athletes in it to have an event. Well, it does now, but it’s really tragic for those athletes who work so hard to be at the level they’re at to just not have enough competition for someone to say, no, there’s not enough people here. We can’t have this sport in yet.

[00:44:28] Sarah: Right. And I think that this is where the phrase “representation matters” comes into play. Is that part of the reason that we want Brenna, there is because there might be a kid who’s inspired by her. And that’s how you grow the participation, not by limiting the participation of these elite athletes.

Like we talked about with Tokyo, these are not, some kind of secondary athletes. These are elite world-class athletes and they deserve all the attention. One thing that I was just thinking about along the lines of representation matters is I hope that we do see a lot more interest in Paralympic, winter sports after this. I know I’ve put this on social media, but I was at Target one night and saw that there’s a para Alpine skiing, Barbie, and I think that’s fantastic. And when girls see that, like a girl who might be in a wheelchair and then watches Oksana Masters in a whole league of her own with her athleticism.

I mean, they can see themselves doing that. So I, do hope that we see a lot more participation or at least interest in the sports after the Paralympics. So come on, NBC show, show it all. Gosh I’m really just given NBC a lot to work with tonight.

[00:45:43] Jill: Oh. And and the good thing is that two of us will be here, so we will only get feed beefs if y’all tell them to us.

[00:45:51] Alison: We won’t know about the feed beefs we’ll know about if we can’t get to the events for para cause I’ll be here for other Olympics. I won’t, I’ll be in China for para. So I’ll. I’ll know, feed beefs for the Olympics, but not for the Paralympics.

[00:46:04] Claire: I will send you all the feed beefs.


[00:46:08] Sarah: And Claire and I are just going to go rogue and hijack the podcast.

[00:46:13] Alison: Well, if we have any issue with broadcasts from China. We know who to call it. We know what you’re going to talk about, Book Club Claire and Super Fan Sarah take over.

[00:46:23] Claire: Keep the alive, no matter what!

[00:46:27] Jill: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Well, I so glad that you could both come on.

This is always such a fun show. There’s so much to look forward to. I was on a technical call with the IOC and they said that there’s a thousand hours of Olympic coverage at least. And they’re producing 6,000 hours of content between the short snippets that they’ll post on social media to live feeds of events.

So it’ll be interesting to see what this coverage, how it actually translates down to each country and what people see and what people don’t see. And what’s good. And what’s not interesting enough. So excited to be able to watch them all with you. So enjoy the Olympics. I know it’s happening. I cannot believe it, but thank you both for being here and we will talk to you soon.

Thank you, Claire and Sarah follow Claire and Sarah on Twitter. Claire is @CauldronLight and Sarah is @sarahpattontx.

So yes, I am in Beijing. I am posting just social wise. I am posting on Twitter and in the Facebook group and sending Alison pictures to put on. The content is going to be different across platforms because I don’t know what, what Allison’s going to post a Facebook group. You guys get the longer stories.

So if you are not in the Facebook group, because you’re not on Facebook, think about getting an, a, just get a dummy account, get a new email address. Those are free. Creative Facebook account name and join us in the group because I’m sharing all the behind the scene stuff there. And there’s some on Twitter, but the in-depth stuff goes on Facebook.

Princess Anne will not be here.

[00:48:24] Alison: I saw that I love princess. I mean, everyone knows to listen to the show. I’m, I’m big on the Royals involved in the Olympic movement, but Princess Anne is my favorite because man, does that woman work hard for theIOC.

And she’s going to miss Beijing. She had to miss Tokyo because it’s not safe to, she’s not a spring chicken. It’s not safe for her to travel, but she will be there virtually in the IOC meeting. Yes. Which is very good. The little screenshot where it says, they put the the name identity. The Princess Royal

[00:48:58] Jill: We found out that athletes will not have to wear masks when they get their medals at medals Plaza. So they will be allowed to be masked close when they received the medal, they will likely be asked to put it on themselves instead of having somebody give it to them. So with that, we’ll be like Tokyo.

And then apparently after the Anthem, there’ll be asked to put it back on, which put the mask back on. Which is before the group photo, which is kind of a flip from Tokyo where they said, Hey, take the, take the mask off so we can get the nice group photo. So we’ll see how that works out.

Found out that slopestyle, this, this really might get me to watch it. Inside the Games, talked about the slopestyle course, which contains a replica, the Great Wall of China in it.

And slopestyle is at the venue where you can see the Great Wall on the background.

[00:49:45] Alison: Well, hopefully we won’t have any issue at slopestyle. Like we didin equestrian in Tokyo,

at least R- rated elements, the equestrian course.

[00:50:02] Jill: Don’t know what don’t know what will be on that wall to frighten the athletes away. But it’s part of it is design element. Part of it is to serve as a barrier to protect the athletes from westerly winds.

[00:50:13] Alison: That would be awful. If they got blown off the course, they’re going on one of those rails and it just blows them off.

[00:50:20] Jill: Oh man. Omega, who is the official timer is going to have a whole bunch of new initiatives here, which I’m excited to hear what it looks like on a TV Figure skating, speed, skating and ice hockey. They’re doing some new stuff. So for figure skating, they’re going to put six cameras around the rink.

And during single skater events, there’ll be able to capture a bunch of live data, including jump height, jump length, and the amount of time that the skater spends in the air. So we’ll at home. Be able to understand how skaters execute their routine a little bit better and understand how the competitors stack up when it comes to this.

Do you have thoughts?

[00:51:00] Alison: I think it’ll be interesting to see because I find the point counter very distracting during the routine. So it’ll be interesting to see, are they doing this in real time or are they doing this in replay?

I hope it’s replay because it would be distracting real time, but I do hope, boron

[00:51:20] Jill: or they can show like side-by-side competitor.

Oh, that would be really cool because I mean, sometimes the point seems so arbitrary, but we don’t see the heights of the jump. And that’s really important when it comes to the point value

[00:51:34] Alison: and the distance coverage as well.

[00:51:36] Jill: Speed skating is going to have a false start detection. Now, before it was the judges who detected movement of athletes before the start of a race. Now they’re going to have an image checking system that will be more reliable and they’ll have a camera in each lane to visually monitor that. And judges will watch for the monitor to go off. Then in hockey, there’s going to be a new end game display with LEDs integrated within the plexiglass around the rink. So there’s going to be a one-sided transparent clock that will indicate game time and penalty time shown in the middle of the rink between the two penalty boxes.

And that gives the players more data during the game

So I am excited. I’m excited to see, especially the hockey and how that works and how players use that if there is, or if they even notice it at first, if they’re not used to looking for that.

[00:52:32] Alison: Right. Because they go so far. I mean, the speed of hockey is unbelievable.

So trying to catch numbers when you’re skating by might be a little tricky. Before somebody tripped because they were looking at that. That would be funny, but it be interesting to see if they are trying to look and if it does disrupt their flow in, in some way, or if they just have to ignore it because they’re not used to.

[00:52:57] Jill: Well, you can guess who’s going to do well because we are playing fantasy league again. Olympics has its Fan Zone up and running. They’d had the fantasy league just like they had in Tokyo 2020. So we are playing a, you can sign look for the fan zone and join our league, which is keep the flame alive podcast.

The code is a Z K w seven two Z R. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes. I’m excited. We’ve got a nice little group of players so far

[00:53:25] Alison: who are going to beat me because we know I do so bad at these.

[00:53:30] Jill: You never know. You never know.

[00:53:32] Alison: I am always in the in, in football pools and NCAA pools. I’m always just hoping for last place, because I’m never going to win. Ah, the consolation prize. You will be able to beat me same higher. I do. And I fail every time I just like to participate. I take Pierre de Coubertin at his word.

[00:53:58] Jill: Well, we are playing for glory, so we’ll see how we do. Oh, if you haven’t gotten it already, you can get our viewing guide. We have it on sale in both Amazon and Apple Books. It’s 4 99. It’s got all the sports laid out. It’s got information about each sport and for Olympics, it’s got the sport classifications as well, and a handy dandy day by day grid of what sports are on when, so you can better plan out your viewing time.

So check that out. We’ll have it’s a. Look out for it. Look for the links on flame alive

[00:54:33] Alison: I have already been using it as I have filled out my calendar for TKFLASTAN viewing.

Oh, nice.

So yes, I’ve been doing find and oh yes. That’s when the men’s moguls is and put that in because it’s, it’s really hard to find some of the events, especially on NBC

That’s very, you need to know when they are to find them. Oh, it’s, it’s a little sketchy and for Paralympics, there’s not.

[00:55:02] Jill: Oh, well, yeah. Yeah. So, and we want to start planning that now, too. So check it out there. That’s going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you’re excited about for.

[00:55:15] Alison: Get in touch with us, you can email

Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it, our social handle is flame alive pod, and absolutely be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook.

[00:55:35] Jill: Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back on Thursday with coverage of day minus two and day minus one.

These Olympics are ready to go. It’s going to be exciting.

[00:55:46] Alison: Stay warm with your poncho.

Okay. Until then keep the flame alive. .