Now that we’re back from Beijing 2022, we’re able to restart our history segment. This year we’re focusing on the Albertville 1992 Winter Games, and what better way to reboot this bit than by chatting with ski historian Tom Kelly. Tom shares some of the big skiing stories of these Games, including:
Finn Christian Jagge’s stunning upset of Alberto Tomba:
The women’s slalom competition with Annelise Coberger:
Albertville 1992 still had demonstration sports. These were sports that wanted to be on the official Olympic program, but needed a test run to see whether or not they should be included. One demonstration sport turned deadly — speed skiing. Don’t remember it? Take a look:
Ski ballet was another (infamous) demonstration sport at Albertville….and really isn’t competed anymore.
Check out this Facebook Group Tom mentioned if you want to join fellow enthusiasts of this lost discipline.
Alison’s biggest memory of the sport is Suzy Chaffee:
You might remember her as Suzy Chapstick:
One sport that was introduced at Albertville and has stuck around is moguls — check out this clip of Donna Weinbrecht’s winning run. You don’t see these kinds of jumps winning gold medals anymore!
Follow Tom Kelly on Facebook and Instagram!
In other big news, the Paris 2024 Olympic schedule has been released. We take a look at the amazing weekend of sports it’s slated to have — and wonder how easy it will be to get around the city with so many sports happening. It’s enough to make you head to Tahiti for the surfing competition.
Have you wondered how much it cost us to report from Beijing 2022? Jill’s always asking guests what things cost, so it’s only fair that we break down the numbers for you. We’ve got our expense reports finished – what’s the grand total? Thanks to costs associated with the closed loop, it’s a lot.
In news from TKFLASTAN, we’ve got updates from these members of Team Keep the Flame Alive:
- DeAnna Price – Athletics, Hammer Throw
- Stephane Roble and Maggie Shea – Sailing, 49er FX
- Phil Andrews – National Governing Body, USA Weightlifting
There’s a doping alert from Rio 2016 – we’ll give you one guess on which sport experienced another medal stripping.
Plus, updates from:
- Rio 2016
- Tokyo 2020
- Beijing 2022
- Paris 2024
- Milan-Cortina 2026
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Tom Kelly.
Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, please know that it is machine-generated and likely contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.
Jill: [00:00:00] This episode is sponsored by Winter\Victor studio.
Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?
Alison: Hello! I’m doing well. How are you doing?
Jill: Doing well. I think I’ve caught up on sleep.
Alison: I agree. I have I traveled again, which was ridiculous, but the flight felt very short.
Jill: I can imagine.
Alison: And I do want to say slept again. I never knew I was such a plane sleeper until you put me on an 18 hour flight and now I’m like, Three hour flight. I’ll just sleep through it and get my pretzels. Always wake up for the food.
Jill: I am still jonesing for bao and I have done research. I know. But I will have to get some this week next week. It’s been, pretty busy since I’ve been back. So it’s one of those. I gotta make time to find them.
Alison: I attempted to saute bok choy and it was not good.
Alison: I don’t know what they did to that bok choy, but man, that and omelet man’s productions. What a combination that I cannot recreate
Jill: Work on it. Never say never. It may just take time.
All right before we get started, we would like to thank our sponsors for today, Winter\Victor studio. Winter\Victor believes that sport and beautiful design go hand in hand.
And that a designer’s versatility is just as important as an athlete’s dexterity. Winter\victor provides distinctive graphic design to clients in sport from local logos to digital, from logos to digital communications. Winter\Victor brings the same passion to design that our clients bring to the field to play. Add a responsive and versatile designer to your team at wintervictor.com. And I would say versatile indeed and responsive indeed.
Now that we are back from Beijing, it is time to go back to our focus on history every week. And this year we are looking at Albertville uh, 1992, the Winter Olympics in France, and to kickstart things off, we talked with our friend of the show, Tom Kelly, who was there and talked with us about the Alpine events, as well as some of the demonstration events that were there.
So take a listen.
Tom Kelly: Just to kind of set the stage for Albertville. I was principally working women’s Alpine. So I was based in Maribel. I did a little bit of freestyle, which is where Donna Weinbrecht won the gold medal, the first freestyle gold medal. So that is a big factor. Probably my, the most spectacular event I saw was a Norwegian Finn Christian Jagge upset Alberto Tomba in the slalom on the last day. That was amazing.
It was a really good games, super, super spread out. I mean, really, really spread out. I mean, it was hours and hours between different venues. I mean, for me, from where I was for the women’s races, it was an hour and a half over to Val d’Isère.
I think it was an hour and a half to two hours to the cross-country. I never went up there. Even actually going to the men’s slalom, which was just over the mountain. I skied it that day, but I think to take a transportation would have been an hour and a half. We were an hour, hour and a half from Albertville.
But it was a really good games. It was the games of Jean-Claude Killy. And that was a very, very big, big factor. There, there was kind of a special aura because of that. So with that, why don’t you guys take it away on a, on questions?
Alison: What was the feeling like this was going to be the last games before a two year break, rather than a four year break.
Was that in the air? Were the athletes aware of that?
Tom Kelly: You know, it’s a really interesting question. And going back to that time, Albertville was in 1992 and then in order to get at that point in time, the summer and the winter Olympics were together in the same year. And they wanted to stagger them. So in order to get that stagger winter went on a two-year cycle, to 94 in Lillehammer.
So it was pretty cool. And we looked at it at the time as a real advantage for us because our sport was showcased twice in a two year period. So we very, definitely went into Lillehammer knowing that we’ve [00:05:00] got an Olympics this year, but we’ve got another Olympics in two years and we just thought that was the coolest thing ever to, that we had that opportunity to do the extra Olympics.
Alison: We’re athletes thinking, oh, if it, if this doesn’t go well, it’s only two years.
Tom Kelly: I don’t honestly know how much thinking there was like that. I think too that on the Alpine side in particular, we had a bit of a natural age transition happening at the time. We did have some skiers that were in both 92 and 94, but if you look at the primary composition of the 94 Olympic Alpine team with people like Tommy Moe, Picabo Street, they weren’t on the team in 92.
Diane Roffe was one who, who did transcend both. She actually won medals at both, but for the most part, I, don’t know that the athletes really looked at it quite so much that way. But for sure, those of us who were, and I was at the U S ski team at the time, those of us who were in the administration of the team, we looked at it as a great marketing opportunity.
Alison: So the mountains that the Alpine events took place on both Méribel for the women in Val d’Isère for the men were very well-known mountains on the world cup circuit.
Tom Kelly: Yeah, Val d’Isère was more well-known than Méribel, but they were both notable venues. They did something interesting though for the men’s slalom, they actually ran that over at a completely different venue.
And, and for marketing reasons, they combined it between Val Thorens and Les Ménuires. And that was, for me, that was probably the most amazing event of the games. We weren’t a factor from the US ski team in that event, but that was where Norwegian Finn Christian Jagge came from nowhere to upset Alberto Tomba.
And this was at the height of Alberto Tomba’s career. He’d won two gold medals in Calgary and he was supposed to win the slalom that day. And he did not. And Finn Christian Jagge just passed away in the last year. And it was interesting to kind of look back on that event and, and look at that stunning upset that he pulled that day. In the slalom, our last day of the games.
Alison: So Alberto Tomba was a huge star in 88. Comes back in 92, still a huge star. What was it like being on the circuit with him?
Tom Kelly: Tomba was amazing. And he still is today. I haven’t run into him for a few years, but he still has great charisma. But back in that period of the late eighties and the early nineties, he was just an iconic figure in the sport.
He was an amazing athlete. He kind of did it his own way. He was quintessential Italian. He was a womanizer. And I will say that in a, I don’t know how to best phrase this, but I’ll say it in more, a positive way, but particularly for the time, I mean, he was. People would swoon over him. I mean, he was just really this amazing persona.
He was handsome. He was interesting. He didn’t speak English and he’s, he today speaks better English, but he didn’t speak any English at the time. And I think that was it was in a way, a bit of a handicap, but it was also quite a bit of a charm. You should have him on the show.
Jill: I can only imagine what, what 12 year old Jill would do.
So how did he win the upset? How did the upset happen? Do you remember what the tactics and strategy words we would just come out of nowhere?
Tom Kelly: Jagge just out skiied him. I mean, he just, he just had a, he just had an amazing day. I mean, it wasn’t completely out of the blue. He was one of the top slalom skiers for sure.
But he just came into that day and he was prepared. He was prepared to win that race. And, and, and Tomba was not, he kind of stumbled in the first run. He was well back and he never really had much of a chance in the second run. It was all you.
Alison: Other big story from that was Annelise Coberger from New Zealand, sort of the birth of the New Zealand and Australia coming to the Winter Games and winning medals.
Did you recognize at the time that that was a shift or was it just sort of out of nowhere?
Tom Kelly: It wasn’t completely out of nowhere. We actually, and I’m going to have to go check my facts, but we’ve actually seen that at the world championships at Vail a few years earlier. So it was starting to happen. I think we still looked at it as a bit of an anomaly and it wasn’t anything that was consistent.
And you can look at over time and you can find those pods where somebody’s come through for Australia or New Zealand. We have it right now with Alice Robinson, from New Zealand. Who’s a huge factor in giant slalom and will continue to be one for the coming years. But for sure it was noticeable and it was, yeah, it was definitely a thing back then.
Not just in Albertville, [00:10:00] but on the world.
Alison: And something we’ve come across is speed skiing was a demonstration sport. what was that exactly?
Tom Kelly: I loved speed skiing and I still connect with the speed skiers from that era. I skied at Breckenridge in December with CJ Mueller, who was a part of that team.
Speed skiing is simply straight down the mountain through a speed trap timed and who goes to the fastest. And it was a thing a long before Albertville and the, the athletes in speed skiing. They wanted recognition by the International Ski Federation and when they connected with the International Ski Federation, they developed a world cup tour that started in the late eighties.
And there are only certain places that can do this. And you need, you need an isolated steep hill where you can run through a short speed trap. And I can’t remember the distance, but let’s say the speed trap is a hundred meters, 50 meters, whatever it is, it’s a relatively short. The speeds in this thing are well in excess of a hundred miles an hour.
And you go down this hill in an aerodynamic suit, aerodynamic helmet, you go through the speed trap and you’re timed. And your time is converted into kilometers per hour. The International Ski Federation had a hard time with the speed aspect. They just wanted it to be timed. Timing isn’t very sexy and it kind of that connectivity just didn’t work.
You know, they wanted to convert it all to let’s just do the results by time. Well, it’s not interesting. You know, people can relate to 175 kilometers per hour, they can relate to that. And so the sport had been struggling a bit. This was a time when there were still demonstration events.
They do not do those any longer, but there were demonstration events. So they did a demonstration event for speed skiing at the resort of Les Arcs, which is midway between Courchevel, and Val d’Isère. And they have a great speed ski course in Les Arcs. And from a competition perspective, it was successful, but there was a fatality that day where one of the athletes struck a snowcat and was killed.
And it, it just, I mean, it just, everything went wrong with it and, and it didn’t continue. It still does exist as a sport. It is out there and I urge people to Google it and find it. It is still pretty cool to see. And those guys were, as you can well imagine, they were a wild and crazy bunch of athletes, both the men and the women, and they were passionate about what they did.
I really admired them. I enjoyed working with them. I was not there that day for the event, but I was at many world cups. uh, We did world cups at a place an Oregon called Willamette Pass and they had a great speed track there. Silverton, Colorado, was another place where there was a great speed, track, but you don’t see it as much anymore, but it was a huge deal back in the uh, eighties and into the early nineties.
Alison: How much did that accident reverberate through the game?
Tom Kelly: It reverberated a fair amount. And I’ll, I’ll also give you another example of the luge athlete who was killed in training in Vancouver. Those tragedies, they do reverberate. And even if you don’t know them, it has an impact on you.
And, you know, the Games went on and I’m a believer that the Games should go on. I think that’s the nature of sport. Sport does carry risks. I have many people that I’ve known who’ve been killed in sport over the years. It’s sad and it’s tragic. It is, unfortunately it is a part of sport and you just have to hopefully learn from it and just remember those people who, who did lose their lives. But yeah, it did, it did impact things. It was about, I can’t remember the timeframe, but I think it was kind of midway through the Games
Jill: Speaking of demonstration sports, how much were you on the ski ballet circuit?
Tom Kelly: So I worked quite a bit in freestyle and for a time and freestyle, there were three disciplines.
There was moguls, aerials, and ballet until someone got the harebrained idea to change the name of ballet to acro. And I do urge listeners go on to Facebook and there there’s a group, there’s a bring ballet skiing back group that is fascinating. And the videos of old day ballet skiing that are on there are just priceless.
And it’s, it’s worth digging back a little bit, but the sport never figured out a way to make ballet skiing [00:15:00] in a format, such that it was really translatable to the public. So, so ballet never made it to the Olympics as a medal event.
In Albertville mogul skiing made its medal debut. It had been a demonstration event in Calgary as was arials. And it became an actual full medal event. Donna Weinbrecht winning the gold medal for the women, Nelson Carmichael, winning the bronze medal for the men. And if you go back and look at Donna Weinbrecht’s freestyle moguls run from 1992 at Tignes. It’s it’s again, it’s priceless to look at this and think, what would that run do today?
Not much, but that’s the evolution of sport. It’s the same thing. If you go back and look at Jonny Moseley’s winning moguls run from 98 in Iizuna Kogen at Nagano and look at the sport today. It evolves and I still stay in touch with Donna Winebrecht. Uh, she still skis and she’ll be out in Deer Valley for the world cup, I suspect. But ballet, skiing, not much of that going on anymore, but I did really, I really enjoyed it. It was so different. That was a long time ago.
Alison: Okay. So you are old enough to remember. Susie Chapstick.
Tom Kelly: I know Susie very well. You know, Susie
Alison: Susie Chaffee.
Tom Kelly: Susie has a mission to get the IOC, to recognize Native people as a sovereign nation and to enter into the Olympics and she continues to pursue this.
I, I really admire her tenacity and many consider her to be crazy. I love Susie. I think she is really a breath of fresh air and she’s fascinating. You never know which way she’s going to go, but she’s a really good person, but she really popularized ballet skiing with her Chapstick commercials back in the seventies and eighties.
Alison: Was there a shift in the Alpine community when freestyle came in. Were you feeling that in 92?
Tom Kelly: That’s an interesting question. And I don’t think there was ever a shift for freestyle skiing back then. I do believe that more of a shift came when snowboarding and freeskiing came in. Maybe 15, 20 years later, primarily because there were now many different avenues for athletes to go.
Whereas previously, if you were growing up on skis in the seventies, you could become a cross country skier, or you could become an Alpine skier or maybe a ski jumper, but there became a lot more options after that. Now, I, I was very involved in freestyle skiing when I was in Wisconsin in my teens and into my early twenties.
And that was the early days in the seventies of that sport. And it was all pretty grassroots and it wasn’t really until Howard Peterson from the U S Ski Association got involved and really started pushing it and really pushed to get it in as a so-called demonstration event in Calgary, showcase it and then get it in the Olympics.
But Howard Peterson was really, I won’t say singularly responsible, but he was one of the great leaders in the eighties in getting freestyle in the Olympics and ultimately was a leader in getting snowboarding in the Olympics as well another decade later.
Alison: What was particularly French about those 92 games?
Tom Kelly: Well, that is another fascinating question. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t really identify anything that to me was quintessential French. If you look at the resort at Méribel, it’s, it’s really constructed kind of like a an Austrian resort. There’s lots of wood-sided chalets. If you go over to Tignes and Val d’Isère, there you have much more of that French architecture, which I will say this, hopefully in a positive way, the kind of garish concrete structuring, a very I’ll call minimalistic.
But if there was one thing that I would cite that was really French and was really important was the engagement of Jean-Claude Killy. And this was espace de l’clais and he was from a the Grenoble area, and he’d won the, the three gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France.
And this was his Olympics. They got that Olympics because of him. He was the figurehead. He was very hands-on and you could always feel Killy wherever you were. And I think if I look back to what was the magic of that games, it was the fact that this was Killy’s games that was special.
Jill: Were you able to go to any of the opening or closing ceremonies or were they just too far away?
Tom Kelly: I went to the opening ceremony and that was very French and [00:20:00] I, I really enjoyed that ceremony. Did not go to the closing but it was a, a spectacular event at a stadium in Albertville. For me, this was my second winter games. I had been in Lake Placid in 1980. And in Lake Placid, they did a very small, but well done opening ceremony at a local athletic field. There was no big stadium. So for me, this was dramatically different to be in this big football stadium in Albertville for this great opening that had, had had very French characteristics. I mean, it was a, what you would have expected. It was very modern and I really enjoyed it.
Alison: I don’t want to ask about Magique.. But I will.
Tom Kelly: I don’t know that I have much to say though.
Alison: Nobody has anything to say about Magique. He’s totally forgettable, but what other, what other moments stuck out for you being there?
Tom Kelly: This is probably more just me. I really liked my workday there. And I stayed in a little of a little French village of Brides-les-Bains and Brides-les-Bains is down at lower elevation.
There was snow there, but it wasn’t a ski area, but they’d built this gondola from Brides-les-Bains, which was right on the main motorway. Up to Méribel and my office, which was near the ski venue was in the hockey stadium, in the ice stadium up there. So this gondola went from Brides-les-Bains up to, into inside the hockey stadium, it was a 20 to 25 minute gondola, pretty long by today’s standards.
And my workday was, I would leave my little apartment. I would walk across to a bakery. I would get a little French croissant. I’d get some hot chocolate and I would go and climb onto my own private gondola car. And for 25 minutes, I had complete peace and solitude. There are no cell phones back then. And it was just 25 minutes of going up through the Three Valleys region, one of the most beautiful areas of the Alps, stunning snowscapes in the mountains with my hot chocolate and my croissant. And it was just a very pleasant way to start the day. Yeah, we were in the hockey stadium and the finish line for the women’s Alpine events was just right outside. It was maybe a a hundred meter walk is all.
So it was a very, very convenient time. I only got down to Val d’Isère once and went over to Les Menuires for the slalom. And that was really about the only times I really got out of there. But it was a very pleasant work environment.
Jill: Did the hockey stadium sell wine so you could grab some wine and maybe some bread for your ride home?
Tom Kelly: So I’m sure they did, but I’ll, I’ll, I’ll share another story that’s a bit of a different time. But two years before that, I had my introduction to French sports leadership. When I joined Howard Peterson to make a trip over to visit some of the national sports federations in Europe, to convince them that we should bring cash prizes into our sport.
The IOC had was going to permit it. No other Olympic sport did it. So we were lobbying sports to, or lobbying national associations to join us and convince the International Ski Federation to bring cash prices into our sport. So we paid a visit to the French Ski Federation. In honesty, which is in the Albertville region.
And I remember that our meeting was scheduled for all day, starting at 10 o’clock. So we go in at 10 o’clock in the morning, and of course they have a breakfast that’s put out. So we have the croissants and the coffees and the teas. So we sat down for the meeting and we’re all in this meeting room. And we met for about 30 minutes at 1130.
They wheeled in the lunch cart and the lunch cart also has a liquor cart. So by 11:30 we’re enjoying lunch. We’re enjoying wine. Liqueurs. That went on until about two, and then we weren’t in any condition to meet anymore. And that was extensive essentially the meeting that day. But that, that was my introduction to a different way of doing business.
And yes, we did have some, some nice wine, and I’m sure they sold it in the hockey stadium for the trip down. I just don’t recall.
Alison: Well, depending on how much you had of it, you know, that those ride home, get the little fuzzy.
Tom Kelly: The other memory that I have of Albertville, my very dear friend Joe Jay Jalbert, who’s a film producer and Joe Jay, if you’ve ever seen the movie Downhill Racer, starring Robert Redford, he was the ski stand in for Robert Redford. So he was the one who actually ran into the railroad tunnel wall for Robert. So Joe Jay was producing the official film for the Albertville Games for the organizing committee.
So he had a very large crew and they had [00:25:00] a uh, place, they were staying not far from Albertville and this was a very new experience for me. So I’m constantly looking for, you know, how can I connect with someone to just kind of give me a sense of security and friendship. And so his, his digs down by Albertville were a place that I visited often.
I would often spend the night down there and they had a chef. So it was always a good place to go for a nice French dinner, but he did a magnificent job with the official film, which covered every aspect of the games. And again, I urge people to Google around and see if he could find that official film from the 1992 Olympics in Albertville.
Alison: Yeah, we’re doing that film as part of a film club.
Jill: Fantastic Well thank you Tom.
You can follow Tom on Facebook. He’s facebook.com/tkelly. On Instagram he is TomKellyOlympic, and he’s a good follow on LinkedIn. I will say that as well. So, check out Tom’s pages and Tom, thank you so much for joining us. It is always great to have you on the show.
Alison: Well, I want to know what wine I needed for my gondola ride. Like I tell you, I did have Superfan Sarah’s cookies, which did stop me from crying. But, you know, some French wine probably would have been helpful.
Jill: Yeah. It would have been helpful out in the mountains, at least for a warmer upper.
Alison: And a crazy, don’t worry. You’ll get home reassurance. You won’t die on the side of a Chinese mountain.
Jill: But it is interesting to think just like, oh, how do you go to work every day? Oh, I take a gondola. That’s pretty cool. Do you know, it’s not often that you get to do that, but we will be exploring more stories of Albertville. I did watch some I’ll link to some of the speed skiing.
I did watch some of that craziness. It is, but you know what? I think that is an event that is probably better in person because I can’t get a sense of how fast they’re going. Unless the speed is up there. It just looks like they’re going down a mountain and you can’t tell unless maybe they were, they had the camera going sideways down the mountain instead of an overhead view.
Then you could really tell how fast things are, but the, the aerodynamic suits and helmets, that’s something.
Alison: It’s like when you watch ice hockey, because of the way the camera moves with the players, you lose some of the speed. And then when you see it in person, you realize how fast they’re going, probably speed skiing. You couldn’t see much because they came by so quickly,
Jill: But it is an interesting event. It’s always interesting to see what tries to get into the Winter Olympics and up for for Milan Cortina, we’re going to have ski mountaineering. So that will be something to look at, to see if it sticks around.
Alison: Yeah. Well, when someone dies in your sport, that is problematic.
Jill: Definitely. Definitely. And so many of these sports, especially on the winter side are very daredevilish. I mean, think of moguls and aerials and just, and slopestyle and even half-pipe all of the things that involve so much flipping on a hard surface. I’m surprised that more athletes aren’t seriously hurt during the Olympics.
Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN.
Jill: Oh, we’ve got some good news from our hammer thrower, DeAnna Price. She has started her comeback after total ankle reconstruction surgery and complete hip labrum repair, which is so sad because she, and this really affected her performance at Tokyo because she had just thrown unbelievably well, got huge records at the us Olympic trials.
And then after that in Tokyo, she, you could just see how much pain she was in. So glad she is doing better. She was competing at the annual Margaret Simmons Invitational track and field meet hosted by Murray State in Kentucky. And she won. So this is a good sign. She is also taking hugs, which I loved in this story.
The story we saw, she was like, you know, people are kind of intimidated by the whole Olympian thing, but you can come up and talk to me. You can even hug me.
Alison: I would absolutely hug her.
Jill: I know it took everything for me not to just go, Hey DeAnna, what’s your schedule? If we’re somewhere in the neighborhood, we might stop by one of your meets and just wave like crazy.
Alison: A lot of listeners have been talking about going to the World Championships in Eugene. So know that DeAnna is available for hugs. Don’t be creepy!
Jill: Yeah, definitely don’t be creepy.
Alison: You can give her a hug from me.
Jill: Yes. And say, hello. [00:30:00]
Alison: Yeah. You’d have to hug her like around her waist, because she’s so much taller than I am to, to mimic. If Alison was giving you a hug,
Jill: Our sailors, Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea are sailing with new gear. The 49er and 49 FX classes are transitioning through to a new sail technology and new rigs and Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea are one of the boats sporting these sales. And then I guess they’re sleek and black and they’re sporting them at this regatta in Spain right now.
Alison: And they have also announced that they are sticking around for Paris
Alison: And lastly, Phil Andrews will step down as the head of USA Weightlifting effective July 15th. He’s also stepped down from the Pan-American Weightlifting Federation.
Jill: Well, hopefully your next move will be a bigger and better.
Alison: Oh, no,
Jill: Yes, yes. This is a Rio 2016 medal stripping from guess what? Weightlifting.
Alison: Oh, geez.
Jill: Yes. So, Nijat Rahimov, who was the gold medalist in the 77 kilogram weight class in Rio, he represented Kazakhstan. He was guilty of four urine substitutions and disqualified from all of his results since March, 2016. The Court of Arbitration for Sport has said he will be banned until January 2029, but he can appeal this decision.
So Rahimov was allowed to compete in Rio. This was a year after he had served a previous ban for doping while he competed for Azerbaijan. And it’s not like he went to a better country because Kazakhstan has been no angel in weightlifting. They have lost five Olympic titles from 2008 to 2012 from doping.
They as a country were allowed to compete at Rio because the outstanding doping cases were not fully processed in time. So somewhat similar to our little case involving Kamila Valieva, I think is that stuff doesn’t get processed in time. You uncover doping too late, and we have ruined a competition here because of it.
Alison: And, what sport is this?
Jill: So good on ya, weightlifting for another nail in your coffin, perhaps. Still on the schedule for Paris 2024. I don’t know how long this is gonna last though. There should be upgrades to the medals, but they have not been announced yet.
If it all goes as planned, the gold will go to Lu Xiaojun from China. And then he will be a three-time Olympic champion. He won gold in Tokyo in the 81 kilogram class. The silver would go to Mohamed Mahmoud from Egypt who actually called Rahimov out during the competition. And then Chatuphum Chinnawong from Thailand would be up for the bronze.
Alison: But. Isn’t Thailand as an entire country banned from weightlifting competitions because they’re doping? Basically, the guy who was down the street during this competition will get a medal because everyone else will have been found to have doped.
Jill: Yeah. So this is not, I laugh, but it’s more laughing in pain because it’s like, every time you turn around weightlifting just cannot get it right. And it’s so sad. It’s so sad. Cause it’s a great sport, but you just can’t overall. It’s really hard to trust it as a sport too.
Alison: And it’s not like, okay, we still have issues going back 2008, 2012, 2016, but 2020 we know was a good competition. We know it wasn’t. We know it wasn’t clean.
Jill: And we’re just waiting.
Alison: We’re just waiting for them to process the samples because apparently it takes eight years. to figure out that, that wasn’t his pee.
Jill: If you have to figure that that one is surprising that it took so long, but I wonder if some of this is, oh, we found new ways to track doping, so we’ll go back and retest everything.
Alison: Yeah. But this wasn’t, we found a new drug. This was, we found out it wasn’t his.
Jill: I, I can’t stop laughing about this. I’m going to cry. It’s just so, so frustrating.
But we have other news from Rio that is a little bit better. So Reuters has reported that some of the legacy plans from Rio have started to be enacted, you know, six years down the road.
But they’re starting because we didn’t expect Rio to be able to do anything very quickly because of the level of corruption that has been in [00:35:00] the country. And even within the organizing committee, they’ve had a lot of issues, but they’re going to transform one of the handball arena and transform it into a school.
So, the arena’s been, or is being dismantled. And then the equipment in it is going to be repurposed for use in four state schools. All of these will be new schools built in Rio’s west zone, which is close to where many of the Olympic events took place. So shocking. All of these Olympic structures that were conceived to be easy to dismantle.
So the Rio mayor, Eduardo Paes has estimated that the transformation will take 18 months to finish.
And so the swimming arena is going to be imploded with the steel sold off or used for other construction projects.
Oh, we have some news from Tokyo. Nippon.com reports that the Tokyo movies will be released in June. This is very exciting. There will be two movies. There will be one on the athletes and the other will be on the volunteers, medical workers and protestors.
Jill: That will be very interesting. They are compiled through 5,000 hours of footage.
Alison: And I think we watched all of it.
Jill: I found a weird fun fact that came through my newswires. This is from the International chamber of Commerce who found that more than 118,000 pieces of equipment from 34 countries valued at $94 million were temporarily imported into China for the Games.
Alison: So does that mean it’s all going back out?
Jill: I think so. And that’s just, that’s through carnets so they shipped it all in and then shipped some of it. I would imagine a lot of it went out again.
Alison: I wonder if some of those temporary structures we saw were actually shipping containers and now they’ll just repack them and send them back.
Jill: That would be awesome.
The Olympic Village and the Paralympic Village in Beijing is set to have a shopping center in it. So this will be established by the end of September, so says Inside the Games, and this is going to be a shopping mall ish in the square that’s within the Olympic Park.
Alison: More stores we weren’t allowed to go into.
Speaking of our trip to Beijing.
Jill: Yes, exactly. So you know that I am all about the money. So I thought I would share with you all what our trip cost, especially as we’ve asked people on the Facebook Group, should we apply for media credentials to The World Games, which is in Birmingham, Alabama this summer and is close by, and also has a lot of sports that have either been on the Olympic program are on the Olympic program will be in Paris or want to be in LA 2028. Nice little opportunity to do something close there, but that costs money.
So what are we looking at for what Beijing cost us? Because that was a pretty penny. We spent money on hotel, flights, meals, gear, because we had, we didn’t know if anything broke, whether or not we would be able to get replacements inside the closed loop.
We got gifts for our people who contribute to the show. We paid for postage to send postcards to our Kickstarter supporters. We had to buy a, had to buy supplemental travel insurance because that was a stipulation of the organizing committee. We had to have travel insurance that covered COVID costs. And then other office supplies, we spent money on advertising and marketing and also a couple of taxi rides, which I could do.
But you could not. Thank you, cell phones.
Alison: Well, my taxi ride was paid for by 2024.
Jill: Anyway the grand total that we spent was $23,973 and 83 cents. Almost 20,000 of this was flights and hotel because
Alison: Which we we didn’t get to choose.
Jill: No, no. I mean, the hotel was sort of a, sort of a choice, but not really because you applied for hotels and they were assigned to you.
They looked at your application. Like, I think I got one hotel that I never even asked for, but it was kind of in my price range. Or it was way far down on the list.
Alison: We flew economy, we shared a hotel room, so we were not going first class here. And because of the restrictions with Beijing, these expenses were one, much higher than we anticipated, [00:40:00] much higher than a normal trip to China would be.
And not something we could control because you were assigned the hotel. Good luck to you.
Jill: Right? And same with the flight. It was, this is your option. This is what it costs. And it’s, we didn’t have a whole lot of bandwidth to do a lot of price comparison shopping. And it was because
Alison: There was none, because your flight and my flight, even though they were nearly a month apart where the same cost.
So clearly it was the flights from New York to Beijing for the Olympics and Paralympics costs X, no matter what day you go on.
Jill: Right? And there may have been some price differential with other airlines. The other two airlines we looked at couldn’t get us home and wasn’t going there without a return trip because we saw our Czech friend, Michael, spend an entire day trying to reschedule a flight because his flight home got canceled.
And thank goodness, we didn’t have to do that on top of everything else we did. So a lot of frustrations in cost and it was what it was. We could have said no to the opportunity, but it was just a phenomenal opportunity to have. So that’s part of it. One line item, not in this $23,973: Salaries for the two of us. So we did work for free for three months and that’s what it is with this podcast at this point in time as well.
So you might be saying, but Jill, Alison, you did make some money didn’t you? You had to Kickstarter. So yes, we had a Kickstarter. We netted $10,003 from that. You will see the Kickstarter took almost $900 in fees.
We got about a little over $900 from our red envelope campaign. We have to pay processing fees out of that. Our eBooks that we wrote, they’re on Amazon and they’re on Apple Books. For Beijing and Tokyo combined, we got about a hundred dollars in royalties, which I’m actually very happy with because the books got done. This was a very last minute project. They got done.
We started putting ads on the website or put there’s an ad service that will go on or that’s on our website. We get a payout for that when we hit $100. We are currently at $2. And our bookshop.org affiliate program, which we talk a lot about on the show.
We’ve talked about it for a good year, year and a half. We get a payout when we hit $20 in commissions. We are at about $19, and we’ve never gotten a payout from this program yet.
So that’s income kind of related to Beijing. Patreon. I think of it as a separate bucket. So we got a bunch more Patreon patrons.
We get about a thousand dollars a year now, and that really covers our basic operating expenses. So that’s website URL, podcast host, a remote recording tools, graphics, calendar scheduling, and an editing and transcription service. And when we have extra, we pay for some other news sources that provide content that we really leverage a lot throughout the year.
So there’s a little disconnect in the money we make versus the money that we spend. A games is going to be a different year than a regular year. But when we think about applying for credentials for The World Games, this kind of number is top of mind.
So the one thing I want to say is that I am not going to ask for money directly, right now. We’ll do a Patreon shout out at the end, which we always do.
Alison: Because our listeners really have been very generous with both Kickstarter and, and new Patreon and the red envelope. And we are so incredibly grateful to, to everybody’s financial support.
Jill: Exactly. And when we read industry publications, they say, oh, you can expect this kind of percentage of listeners will be able to support you financially.
Our percentage of listeners that support us is way higher than that. So, that we are really thrilled about and we are really grateful for. We do need our passive sources of income to work better for us. This is the website ads, the eBooks, the affiliate program. Uh, We also need more listeners because if we’re looking at percentage of listeners who support the show, we need a bigger pool of listeners to pull from.
We also need to do work on our end to get more advertisers for the show, because that’s also helpful for money. And that’s something that’s top of mind going into the next phase of the podcast.
So we came up with some free things that you can do to help the show, especially if you are not able to contribute financially, there are free things you can do to help the show grow.
If you [00:45:00] have Kindle Unlimited, get our eBooks because they are free. Read them. We get royalties based on the number of pages read from the Kindle Unlimited users. This also applies to the Kindle Owners Lending Library program. So read the books. Reread them. And you know, what we could use help with is knowing what you want to see in the eBooks, because we will make another one for Paris and we will have more time to put cool stuff in there or cooler stuff in there, so we’d love to get some feedback. So read through those books and, and give us some page royalties.
Alison: And Tokyo is updated with all the medalists. Beijing is updated with the Olympic medalists and will be updated with the Paralympic medalists. So if you want to look back as a reference, that information is updated as well.
Jill: You could visit our website flamealivepod.com. The more page views we get, the more ad revenue we get, and we’re constantly trying to put more content up there as well.
If you hang out on Reddit or other Olympic and Paralympic related Face groups or Discords or something, talk up our show. You know, mention it if there’s an episode that’s been really good or a conversation that’s going on, where our website or our show could be applicable, that would be helpful to mention it.
If you listen to this via YouTube smash, this is so weird to say, smash that like button and subscribe. If your podcast app allows you to like the show or recommend the show, please do so.
This is something that I thought about that I’m very, I don’t know if it would work, but if you live in a place that has cafes or stores that have those community bulletin boards, where people put business cards, we will send you like five business cards. If you could post them up around your town, that would be helpful. It just gets the name out there. It gets the logo out there.
If you are part of an organization that always looks for speakers, we might be able to come up with topics that would be of interest to your group, especially if this is a remote situation, if you do remote, remote programming.
And then finally, if you have an hour or two to spare, help us correct transcriptions, because we do have a lot of shows to transcribe. If we put them up, that helps us get better search engine optimization, and that helps people find the show more. And again, that snowballs with more page views equals more ad revenue, things like that.
Our machine learning tools are okay. They’re not great. They don’t really love the word TKFLASTAN. So if you’ve got, if you’ve got time to help us with that backlog of transcripts, that would be really nice.
Alison: You know what word, they also did not like? Kamila Valieva. And you know how many times we said that during those Olympics shows?
Jill: And you know what, that’s really hard to do a find and replace because it translates them differently. It transcribes that word differently all the time. Like I just did a little bit of work on Tom Kelly’s when he kept talking about Jean-Claude Killy, they’re about two or three different ways. Cause I tried to do it. I’m like, oh, well I’ll just do a find and replace. No, it’s really hard to find.
Alison: And the other thing I would say is, you know, if you’re on Facebook, if you’re on Instagram, if you’re on Twitter, be sure you’re following us, and share it in the stories, share it on a post. And just say this episode was a lot of fun, take a listen. Because those listener numbers are what drives everything else. You know, it’s a lot easier to get advertisers if you’ve got the bigger listener numbers.
Jill: Right? And there are businesses we can target because it’s a very focused topic with the Olympics and Paralympics, there are some advertisers who really want to target that, but not many. We’ll be honest. There’s not that many, but the way, if we can grow the show, everything else gets easier for us. And hopefully we can start making money.
Alison: And if you have thoughts on how to grow the show, definitely get in touch with us at flamealivepod @ Gmail.com because we love suggestions. We just love talking to all of you, so never be shy about sending us messages. We love it.
Jill: Yeah. What Beijing cost was a little bit of sugar sticker shock. We, we knew that it was going to be bad, but trying to go forward and make this show a show that can go to every games is going to be difficult. And especially when we have to take so much time off of other income producing jobs. So help us grow the show.
Alison: You know what wasn’t expensive?
Alison: Our meal at the Singapore airport.
So we landed in Singapore. You’re going to end this segment on, on an up [00:50:00] note. Cause it was really funny. We landed in Singapore. We were so hungry. And we found a little fast food place called 4 Fingers Chicken. And it was actually very delicious chicken. I must say that was a very tasty meal and it was in Singapore dollars.
Put it on the credit card, comes through my credit card statement and it’s like less than $7 with dinner, but here was the best part of it. It comes in my credit card statement as just fingers for $6 and 77 cents. My husband needed some explanation as to what $6 worth of fingers was buying in Singapore.
Speaking of expensive trips!
Jill: Paris is coming and the Paris schedule is out. And actually, you know, Paris is going to be much cheaper trip. Every, every trip I think up to Brisbane, depending on where 2030 is, but in Brisbane will be a little more expensive on flights, but hopefully COVID will be out of the equation by Paris.
And it’ll be much more reasonable for us to get there. And I know you’re all thinking. I know some of you are thinking, yes, especially if there’s a TKFLASTAN house. Hey!
Alison: I don’t know about you. I’m going to Tahiti.
Jill: Oh yeah, that’s right. Okay. That’s going to be a little bit more expensive.
Alison: I’ll be staying on the beach, so it’ll be fine.
Jill: Right. So they’ve got the initial schedule out. We’ve had a look at it. It’s. I will say it’s interesting. I was, I was excited for a hot minute because I thought nothing was going to start before 9:00 AM until I got to triathlon, which starts at eight, and the race walk, which will start at 7:30
Alison: Though, those do go on for a very long time. You could show up an hour and a half later and it’s still going.
Jill: Very, very true. And I was excited about that because there are a lot of events that go until 10:30, 11:30, midnight, which I will say Tokyo never had anything that went to midnight.
Alison: No, the times were definitely earlier for Tokyo, but also they had things starting at five in the morning. And I wonder when we get closer, I mean, Paris should not have that kind of heat, but are things going to get dicey again with the schedule.
Jill: Will be interesting. A lot of finals will be in prime time for Central Europe Time. You know what, I cannot fault them for this because it’s their, it’s their games.
Alison: But I don’t think that’s so bad for the American viewing audience, because that will mean it’s mid-afternoon and, you know, we know a lot of our people and a lot of people around the country have it on their computer screen at work. And if something starts at two o’clock, I actually think that’s better.
It’s certainly better than what was going on in Tokyo, time-wise.
Jill: Right. Right. So I I’m fairly pleased with the schedule to be quite honest. Still on the schedule, weightlifting and boxing, which will be interesting nonetheless.
Alison: So the middle weekend is always busy, but this middle weekend is going to be insane. So swimming is going an extra day. They’re going nine days versus eight days. Track and field is going an extra day backwards and gymnastics is skipping a break day. So on that Saturday and Sunday, I think it’s a dozen sports are going, but most importantly, you’ve got finals in swimming, track and field and all the apparatus finals in gymnastics.
Jill: That will be a tough day to watch. I will say that and, and a tough day to try to get tickets for.
Alison: Oh, right. I mean, I’m assuming that those sessions are going to be even as press we’re going to have to apply for and may or may not get, I mean, cause that’s the swimming session that’s when a lot of the relays are.
Apparatus finals, you’ve got medals getting handed out left and right. And then the beginning of track and field that excitement of being in that stadium again. Usually haven’t been in the stadium since opening ceremonies, so it’s always crazy, but that’s going to be particularly– there’s only two of us.
There are three things right there where we want to be. Which, and I will mention this very quickly, I started to kind of Google map some of these events. I am foreseeing some transportation problems.
Jill: No, no!
Alison: Okay. So 24 of the 32 events, but sports are within 10 kilometers of the [00:55:00] Athletes Village. That’s how they’re touting this.
Ten kilometers is very far when you are trying to travel through the center of Paris.
Jill: Oh boy. And you know, 10 kilometers, you could be talking about 20 kilometers. Really. If you have a 10 kilometers, one direction and 10 kilometers, the other direction, that’s really 20,
Alison: Right. And 10 kilometers as the Crow flies, not travel distance,
Jill: Right, because if you end up taking like the Metro or even a bus on a street, that street is not going to run straight.
Alison: So we are going to have to sit down with the map with where we want to stay and really figure out what sports we want to go to. Because as I was looking at this, there are entire sections of sports that are going to be like Yanqing, where we’re just not going to be able to get out there on time for the events, if that’s where we want to be. Paris is a big city and they’re talking about, you know, we want all the sports in the city and that’s great, but it’s only great if you can get people around to them.
Jill: Right, right, right. And they do have that Place de la Concorde that they’re building, that’s going to have four sports right there, which will be cool, but I don’t think those sports are running at the same time either.
Alison: So this is all that urban sports: skateboarding, BMX. And I just foresee that as hot and smelly and sweaty and super crowded and not actually a lot of fun to be in.
Jill: Well, we will see, we will see. Cause I haven’t remember. I mean, looking at Tokyo, like the 3X3 venue was going to be fun.
But yeah, I’m, I’m very curious. It’s nice that they are trying to group sports together, but we’ll see how that works in terms of crowds or in terms of being able to have a lot of spectators. I mean, if you have so much more demand than you have space, wouldn’t you want as many people as you could safely have there?
Alison: I’m going to Tahiti.
Jill: Okay. Well, the nice thing is if he, if you went to Tahiti, you could still go to the opening ceremonies. Supposedly .Not really, because one of the things they are touting is that every athlete should, they wish to will get to go to one of the ceremonies. They will have things scheduled. On the opening ceremonies day, the only thing that is scheduled is a handball from nine in the morning to 12:30.
And that’s not that far away from the Seine. Surfing is happening the first four days of true competition. Because once again, we’re going to have a day minus two and a day minus one.
Alison: So the surfers could then fly to Paris for closing?
Alison: And I wonder if they’ll have a little satellite ceremony, something happening out there.
Jill: That would be interesting.
And the the surfing is actually taking place in the morning Tahiti time, which puts it in prime time for Paris, which will be good for their television schedule to be quite honest.
So the other thing that is big for Paris is that the quota is, as you mentioned before the show we’re sticking to New Norm stuff, and New Norm quotas are 10,500 athletes.
Alison: So it will be down from Tokyo, which was 11,090. So big cuts coming because no baseball/ softball. That’s 234 athletes right there, and no karate, which was 80 and breakin for example is only 32 athletes, small cuts to track and field and swimming. They won’t notice unless you’re the sweater who got cut, but a big jump.
The biggest percentage job was to sport climbing. That’s going from 40 athletes to 68 athletes,
Jill: Which is really interesting.
Alison: Well, sport climbing was a big hit. I mean, we loved it. We loved how it was announced and I think it’s growing rapidly because it’s not a hard sport to translate to many countries.
Jill: And I believe with the Paris sport climbing, they’re breaking it up into two separate competitions. Instead of having all three disciplines combined into one event, they are breaking speed off into its own competition. So there you have more athletes cause you have two different events, so you’ll have different quotas.
Alison: Right? You’ll have speed specialists versus the other two stages, which makes sense. It felt very different when we watched it. I remember. And you know, what would really open up some quotas?
Jill: No boxing?
Alison: No weightlifting, since all the medals are going to get reassigned anyway.
Jill: Well, you know, it’s funny because they keep trimming weightlifting. Weightlifting lost some athletes in this quota There going to be fewer weight classes and, and really, they just keep shrinking until it’s going to be nothing at all.
But they’re really on the edge here again. So we will see if [01:00:00] anything happens. They’re supposed to have an election and Congress, I believe this summer in the International Weight lifting Federation. So
Alison: And if they stopped doping. They’d really shrink.
Alison: So angry about that.
Jill: So, yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how the schedule stays the same and, and how it changes also. Interesting is that here we have athletics and rugby sharing a stadium. Whereas rugby shared a stadium with modern pentathlon last time. So rugby is coming up very early in the program. And because athletics has always at the last half of the games.
But yeah, I just, I see, you know, you forget how, how hard it was to watch Tokyo.
Alison: And if we’re there, you can’t triple screen. We are can’t, we can’t split ourselves in half and we got to factor in travel time. So it’ll be, it will be important to know what people want us at as well. And that will also determine where we stay in the city and how we split up, you know, during the stay together, do we stay apart? Do we stay in two different parts?
Yeah. All that planning will have to get started now.
Jill: Right? Wow. It’s only like it’s less than two and a half.
Alison: So great. I have friends in Paris, 2024. We shared a cab.
Jill: Oh, okay. Also interesting about Paris is that there’s going to be a qualifier series. The IOC has talked about this. They’re having a festival style qualification system for BMX freestyle, breakin and skateboarding and sport climbing. And this they’re going to have these three festival style events to boost awareness of the sports. Reuters reported this off of some IOC announcements. And these will happen between March and June of 2024 and take place in compact city center venues.
So I bet that they’re trying to get people used to and competitors used to these, this Place de la Concorde set up ahead of time.
Alison: This was exciting to me.
Jill: Okay. You’re excited. I’m pessimistic. So why don’t you?
Alison: So, Inside the Games reported that there has been an agreement to redevelop the Cortina sliding center. There’s going to be money. We’re not going to have to go to Latvia to get sliding events for 2026. Why are you skeptical?
Jill: I’m skeptical that it’s going to get done on time.
Alison: I don’t think it’s as an, is in as bad shape as we think. I think it’d be a lot of technical rebuilding that has to get done. Not a lot of, oh my God. We have to build a whole building from scratch.
Jill: I don’t know. I mean, the, the track was closed in 2008. What’s been happening to it since then? Has there been like Paul Blart security guy walking around, making sure everything looks okay?
Alison: Are you worried that it’s been, you know, drinking too much wine, eating too much lasagna. The sliding center has gotten fat and out of shape.
Jill: Maybe, or maybe some ruffians. If I can make myself sound older, you know, maybe people have gotten in there and just had, had a good time.
Alison: I don’t know what the Italian word for ruffian is. I think they’re going to finish this on time and I think it’s going to be outstanding.
Jill: I will cling to your optimism there.
So planetski.eu has reported that the IOC has allocated $2 million to support Ukraine’s Olympic Committee. This is money is being used to help athletes and their families who are in danger allows for training and attending sporting competitions to go ahead as, as best as possible. So, this was a fund that was started last month and hopefully they don’t have, that would be nice if they didn’t have to use it for very long.
Alison: Well, even if the war ends quickly, it’s not like Ukrainian athletes are going to be able to go home and train.
Jill: Right. Oh, just every, this is so many cities have been bombed and just are in shambles and it’s it’s. And rebuilding is going to be hard. So it’s good to see that the IOC is helping and doing what they can to help the athletes and the family and, and keep sports alive.
We kept seeing this at the Paralympics where sport was bringing hope to country, their fellow countrymen. And this has happened in multiple sports since ever since.
Alison: You know, one of the things that the head of the [01:05:00] Ukrainian Paralympic Committee said when we were at that news conference was, you know, every time you raise that Ukrainian flag, it proves that Ukraine is still there and still matters and still stands as its own country.
So this as small as the seems like, oh yes, getting an Olympian to the games feels unimportant. When you’re talking about a war, it matters to the country and it matters to say, we are still. So as they should, the IOC is supporting these athletes and the federations have been doing things to move athletes around.
I’ve been reading lots of stories of, oh, the Germans have been taking this athlete and the Poles have been taking this athlete. And they’re now training with those countries’ teams. So I hope the US does the same and, and other countries that can, I mean, the USOPC has got the cash. Let’s bring some Ukrainians to Lake Placid and Colorado Springs.
Jill: The IOC also is recommending that international federations do something about the minimum age limits in their sports.
Jill: And of course, this is still stemming around Kamila Valieva’s situation at Beijing 2022. She was 15, she was a minor or a protected person as they called her. And so she had different restrictions on what they could do or talk about and very different from having to deal with any other doping case. But also the fact that young people in sport at the highest levels are facing so much pressure. And these are they really ready for these situations?
Alison: I mean, we said this during the Beijing with, Valieva. If you can’t follow the doping rules, you shouldn’t be competing where the doping rules are in place.
So at the very least, everybody should have to be 16 so the doping rules are the same across the board because it is not fair to have clean athletes and cheating athletes being able to get away with cheating because they’re so young. I mean, it’s wrong.
Jill: Yes. And it’s, it’s so interesting to see the IOC talk about this because they have talked about, oh, we want youth and let’s go young and we have to appeal to the youth of the world, blah, blah, which they have not been saying “youth of the world” anymore when they talk about bringing athletes together for the games.
In Tokyo, the average age of female skateboarders was just over 14. The gold medalist was 13. And you just railed on this because it was just, well, you could tell that the sport was in its infancy. When you looked at the women, when you looked at the girls skateboarding competition,
Alison: They were infants.
Jill: Yes. And then the youngest Olympian at Tokyo 2020 was a Syrian table, tennis player named Hend Zaza , who was 12. And that’s the youngest participant at the game since 1968. So on one hand, I’m sure you could see the IOC be so excited because we have these young people here who young people watching can connect to that and get involved with the games.
But on the other hand, Can a twelve-year-old possibly deal with these levels of competition and I’m sure they can say, oh, I can do it. I’ve been doing this my whole life. This is my whole world, but people who are older and can understand how children develop should know better than to put them in these huge pressure cooker situations where if they don’t do well, they collapse under the pressure or just, you know, break.
Alison: And Hend Zaza was an interesting case because she was Syrian. It was part of the refugee crisis in Syria. She was able to compete and she lost in the first round. And the woman who played against her, talked about feeling somewhat uncomfortable playing this child. You know, she, she treated her like she was her daughter.
She was certainly old enough to be her mother. She hugged her afterwards. There was very affectionate and Zaza was definitely protected and cared for by the other table tennis players. But you’re putting these table tennis players and other athletes in a very strange position where you’re competing against a child and that dynamic.
And we’ve talked many, many times about the figure skaters and the gymnast and sexual abuse issues, because you have children in adult situations with adults competing against adults, competing with adults. Everyone’s going to get tired of me saying this. We’re not protecting our kids. [01:10:00] And if you want to be really callous, we’re diminishing the quality of our sport, in the sense of is this by going after younger, younger, younger, are you really getting quality? Are you really getting integrity in the sport and —
Jill: or are we using children as pawns for our wishes?
Alison: Yeah. I mean, you can get into some really creepy territory here. I mean, child gladiators comes to mind, you know, it’s like, are we putting these kids out there, like the Hunger Games and just sort of throwing them out there and saying dance for us dance.
And it, it feels wrong and it’s uncomfortable. And do we want children to be fighting at that level that we want athletes in medal situations to be fighting and grinding it out and putting themselves on the line. I don’t want to see a 13 year old doing that.
Jill: I don’t either. And it’s interesting because recently tennis number one, Ashleigh Barty, or Ash Barty retired at age 25.
And it’s just like my entire, my body’s tired or can’t do this anymore. And that to me was a sign of, this is somebody who’s been in sport a long time or most of her life. And it’s just done. I’ve been at the top. I done what I wanted to do. It’s time to move on. And that’s kind of sad when physically potentially she could be moving into the prime of her athletic abilities, but to be mentally done with the sport before, before those two, before the mental side and the physical side match, that it seems sad to me.
Alison: And what have you sacrificed? I mean, clearly she didn’t go to high school. She didn’t go to college. She didn’t and different sports or different, you know, if you have a sport say rowing where so much of it is developed in high school and college, especially at least in the United States, you’ve got the NCAA system that’s different than gymnastics, tennis, figure skating, where they put the children in.
And now skateboarding 13 years old. I mean, yes, those kids seem to be having a great time. Talk to me when they’re 25,
Jill: Right. Or talk to me when the age level average goes up because they’ve been in the sport for awhile. And then when they’re 25, they compete against kids who are half their age. Do what do they think of that now?
And how do you deal with having such an age differential? In your sporting community when you’re all competing in the same pool. And it, I will say it was interesting that Inside the Games pointed this out where IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said during Beijing 2022, that yes, there are challenges of having younger athletes competing at the Olympics, but that the organization should offer opportunities, quote, if we can un-quote which they do, it’s called the Youth Olympic Games.
Alison: Which shouldn’t exist.
Jill: Well, yes, we’ve talked about that so much too. We don’t like that, but this offering younger athletes opportunities, I get where you need a feeder system into the Olympics or into top tier, but at what price does having children travel all over the world and we, and we talk to younger people who have said, oh, you know, I’ve gotten to see the world. That’s been great, but at the same time, all of that pressure to travel so much and spend so much money traveling just to keep up with your sport really comes at a price. And is that a price we should be paying?
Alison: You know, in other circumstances that would be called grooming.
I’m just leaving that one there.
Uh, one other random note with the IOC, CBC will be the broadcaster for Canada for the Olympics through 2032 for the Olympics. I would assume the Paralympics as well, but they will be the official Canadian broadcaster through 2032, which is very exciting.
And on that note, that will do it for this week. Before we head out of there, we want to give a shout out to our Patreon patrons.
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Jill: Yeah, so many brackets busted. So we’d love to hear how you did with Mascot Madness. And if you’re interested in patronage, you can check out Patreon.com/flamealivepod, and that [01:15:00] is going to do it for this week.
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Next week, it’s going to be coming up on Easter week here in the United States, so we’re going to take a little spring break and have some lightning rounds for you with athletes who were prepping for Beijing 2022. So be on the lookout for that next week. Thank you so much for listening and until then keep the flame alive.