A young female holding figure skates looks out onto a skating rink, wanting to be on the ice.

Episode 235: John Coates, Modern Pentathlon and Age Limits, Oh My!

Release Date: May 5, 2022

Category: News | Podcast

John Coates has stepped down as president of the Australian Olympic Committee, saying good-bye to a position he’s had since 1990. During his presidency, Australia’s gotten the right to host two editions of the Games, which is pretty impressive.

It’s nice that during the lull before Paris 2024, we can get back to our novelas. This week we have two updates on recent dramas!

First, UIPM, the modern pentathlon federation has selected a sport to test to replace the horse riding discipline. Obstacle Racing will be an interesting element of the event, if it passes the testing phase. And essentially a sport that’s governed by a different international federation would be able to get into the Olympics without going through traditional channels.

Modern pentathletes on the whole are still pretty upset over this whole situation, as most of them still want riding to remain on the ticket. Would they think that way if the sport was no longer in the Olympics?

In our other novela, the International Skating Union is set to vote on raising the minimum age limits for senior-level athletes from 15 to 17. We talk about the benefits of this situation and how it also needs to trickle down to the national level (see: Alysa Liu winning US titles before she was old enough to compete at world championships).

In our history moment, Alison explains the Unified Team from Albertville 1992. Remember when Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics competed together?

In our TKLFASTAN update, we have news from these members of Team Keep the Flame Alive:

Plus, Team USA went to the White House!

And we have updates from Barcelona 1992, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, Milan-Cortina 2026 and the 2030 Winter Games.

Plus, TBach recently got a special honor – check out this orchid!

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


Note: While we make efforts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and likely contains errors. Please use the audio file as the record of note.


Jill: [00:00:00] This episode is sponsored by a Winter\Victor studio.

The greatest festival of our contemporary society, the Olympic games is about to begin. This is going to be

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: I’m confused again. So I’ve been doing a lot of the transcripts. I’ve been working on our, back catalog of transcripts.

And depending on the season and depending on how I’m feeling, I sound like a totally different person. My voice from Beijing was like zest from Ethel, the smoker of three packs of menthols a day.

I apologize to the listeners because when you listen to episodes back to back, it really sounds like, oh, who’s hosting this week. Who is that?

Jill: So, so what, what person have you brought today?

Alison: I believe Ethel has returned because I’m being a little scratchy, but I am a little higher. When I really get down into my chest.

You never know, who’s going to show up to do the show with you. It’s like my multiple personalities are coming out.

Jill: Well. It’s how it makes the show fun and exciting every time.

Alison: I do love those Virginia Slims, they’re such feminine cigarettes.

Jill: Great, before we get started with today’s show, we would like to thank our sponsor Winter\Victor Studio, Winter\Victor Studio believes sport and beautiful design go hand in hand. And that a designer’s versatility is just as important as athlete’s dexterity. Winter\victor provides distinctive graphic design to clients in sport from logos to digital communications.

Winter\Victor brings the same passion to design that our clients bring to the field of play. At a responsive and versatile designer to your team at Winter\Victor dot com.

Alison: We got all sorts of wild things going on this week.

Jill: Yeah. It’s, this is a big news and notes episode because there’s just tons of stuff happening, and we want to catch up on it.

So first big piece of news is that Coatesy, John Coates has stepped away from being the president of the Australian National Olympic Committee after a 32 year run.

Alison: He’s racing Avery Brundage on this one, but he’s a lot less racist.

Jill: We hope. So. He started his role as president in 1990 and had been involved with the committee, of course, well, before that. He’s getting towards the end of everything because he’s 71 now. So after Paris, I believe he will… he’s going to still be a member of the IOC and he’ll be a vice-president until after Paris is over, then he will probably be stepping down from that.

They had a huge farewell dinner for him. All these Olympians were, there was the big kind of AOC general meeting, but there was also a big celebration TBach came in because he and John Coates are super big buddies and everybody was celebrating him.

Under John Coates Sydney 2000 happened, which was huge.

Alison: And one of the most successful summer games and the last 50 years, I mean, everybody talks about how great Sydney was.

Jill: He created the Australian Olympic Foundation to secure the financial future of the AOC. He helped the games in Tokyo. He was chair of the Coordination Committee for Tokyo 2020. That was a big endeavor to get those games to happen. He worked with Brisbane to help get for 2032.

We don’t want to say he helped them get 2032, because supposedly there were, he was not involved in the actual decision to award that bid. He will also retain a seat on the board of the Brisbane 2032 Organizing Committee. And he’s president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Gets around. I would say is a unique personality.

Alison: I’m so glad he’s staying on the IOC because Dick Pound is also retiring and who’s going to go rogue.

Jill: I know! Now Coatesy can go rogue.

Alison: He can really go rogue now.

Jill: Well, that would be interesting. He has been a huge figure in international sport, not always beloved. When he was running for president in 2017 for the AOC, he survived a very bitter election. They had to do a workplace review [00:05:00] once the election was over, because there were allegations of a bullying culture in the Australian Olympic Committee. That did not do well for Team Australia.

He said, he said as much too apparently according to ABC in Australia. And I, I am not surprised. Dude’s a the lawyer.

Alison: And a lawyer of a particular generation, which obviously, we are not Australian, but I think culturally, you know, if you came of age of that time, there’s a culture.

Jill: Not saying that culture shouldn’t change or that she shouldn’t change.

But I think he got a rude awakening with that change in the workplace.

Who takes over for him is Ian Chesterman. He won the election to become the new president of the AOC. He is a seven time chef de mission of Australian Olympic teams and has been on the AOC executive board since 2001. He’s been a VP since 2016. So he is taking over.

The AOC seems to be in pretty good shape, but he is looking for more government funding because that will it’s really, it’s the funding that gives athletes the ability to be competitive.

Alison: We’re going to have to be very careful of coming up with a new nickname for Ian Chesterman.

Jill: I get to I’m I’m following you. Not going there though.

I’m not going

Alison: to say it because we are a PG- rated podcast.

Jill: That sound means it’s time for our history segment. All year long we’re looking back at Albertville 1992 as this is the 30th anniversary of those games. Alison, it is your turn for a story. What do you have today?

Alison: So I wanted to do stories about figure skating because when we were first talking about 1992, the figure skating competition was insane.

But I realized before we talk about that, we have to talk about what is the Unified Team. So we got to do a little government and political history lesson to understand what was happening in the world and why people were representing the Unified Team. So the Soviet Union in the late eighties, under all kinds of internal and external political pressure. So by December, 1991, you have republics like Estonia, Lithuania, and Georgia, along with others, declaring independence from the Soviet Union. And basically the Soviet Union falls apart and is dissolved and the country ceases to exist. They short of create this Commonwealth of, of states.

It’s not really formed yet. And we’ve got two months to the Olympics. You’ve got no country. You’ve got no NOCs , you’ve got no national governing bodies for these individual places. So the Olympics comes up with this– or rather the IOC comes up with this unique situation and they create the Unified Team.

They were E U N. I’m beginning to wonder. How many times you can reorder three letters. We’re going to run out at some point because 1992 is the only time that that country code was used. And it was athletes from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan. And this is where it gets interesting Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine competed as one team.

They use the Olympic flag. They used the Olympic hymn for when they won medals and they won a lot of medals. They won 23 medals. The second most on the country medal table. They were not fooling around uh, cross country skiing, figure skating, biathlon, ice, hockey, freestyle ski, and short track speed skating. Freestyle skiing, and short track speed skating not sports you generally associate with either, you know, the modern Russian Federation or a lot of these republics. So that was pretty interesting, but this is my favorite little tidbit. The Unified Team won the men’s hockey gold medal. Most of the players were from Russia, also players from Ukraine.

Jill: Oh, wow.

Alison: Other big star of that games for the Unified Team was Victor Petrenko who won the men’s gold medal in figure skating. Also from Ukraine. And he became a huge star in Russia, as well as the Ukraine. He eventually basically created the Ukrainian figure skating program and became a coach and a a leader in that, in that governing body.

Jill: Wow.

Alison: So there was a time when Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine competed on [00:10:00] one team together. And how heartbreaking to see this now?

Jill: Very true, very true. And I mean, the Unified Team was such a big deal concept because just the breakdown of the. Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain all happened within a few years. So you have all of these countries that were kind of unified to begin with in a way together, ’cause they were all kind of satellites of the Soviet Union. That all breaks down and you have to wonder, we almost may have to look back to Calgary to see how well Russia did in some of the freestyle skiing, cause they were demonstration would have been demonstration events in Calgary, but were they putting money into these newer sports as the Soviet Union?

And then by the time the next Olympics rolls around the Soviet Union has fallen apart and that’s maybe why they did so well.

Alison: That’s possible. I also think it was that, especially for short track speed skating, other countries caught up to them. You know, you have a lot of the Asian countries, you know, especially Korea, all of a sudden finds its skates in a way and begins to dominate those sports.

And freestyle skiing, at the time, there was almost no Europeans. It was all Americans and Canadians. And it was Russians who competed in freestyle skiing kind of came in and, and played around with it. And then, you know, now we see a lot of Europeans have taken that up

Jill: It’s so interesting because, and I’d be curious to know what people who were too young to know what Albertville was when they hear this Unified Team, what do they think of, or do they just, is it just curious because teams have changed throughout history and countries have changed throughout history?

So what does that mean to you? If, the Unified Team has no meaning, so it’d be interesting to know what you think.

Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN .

Jill: It’s the time of the show where we check in with past guests of the show who make up our Team Keep the Flame Alive, and they are citizens of our country TKFLASTAN. Why don’t you start with the news cause this one’s exciting.

Alison: I know. Teri Hedgpeth has left her role as the Museum Director for the Churchill County Museum and will be moving to New York City for her new job as Director of Archives for Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

Jill: That is so exciting! It really is so exciting.

Alison: The most exciting thing for me is now she is within a train ride and Teri, you get lunch.

Jill: Excellent. Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea won the silver medal at the French Olympic Week Regatta

Joe Maloy got married

Alison: on April 29th. So congratulations to him and his new wife Jenn.

Jill: Tom Scott won bronze in the Karate Premier League competition in Matosinhos, Portugal.

Alison: I hope you saw Chloe Kim at the Met Gala.

Jill: I did see the dress.

Alison: Oh my goodness. So she wore a ball gown from Giambattista Valli couture.

It was giant and white and covered in red feathers. She looked stunning. And I want to mention her hairdo because she mentioned her hairdo, snowboarders, female snowboarders, put the two little strands out of their ponytails in the front. I won’t say what they’re called because that’s also going to get us in trouble and she purposely wore her hair like that to bring that to the red carpet.

Jill: Oh, very cool. Very cool bringing that bit of her there. Yeah, that, that gown was just beautiful. And there were a lot of Olympians at the Met Gala too, but I think she had the best dress out of all of them.

Alison: She nailed the theme, which was gilded glamour.

Jill: Then Team USA went to the White House this week, both Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Big deal with over 600 athletes there and they were on the White House lawn. They met President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the Second Gentlemen, and senators and congresspeople met with the athletes that were in their districts. So we saw all these pictures of athletes meeting. All of their, you know, their elected officials, which was really cool. In attendance from TKFLASTAN were Tom Scott, Clare Egan, Erin Jackson, Stephanie Roble, and Maggie Shea, Samantha Schultz, Josh Williamson, Bradley Wilson, Alex Diebold, Chloe Kim, McKenna Geer, Ginny Fuchs, Abdi Abdirahman, and John Schuster, who [00:15:00] got to present Team USA jacket to President Biden, which was very, very cool.

And then also our next book club author, Mike Schultz was also in attendance.

Alison: And speaking of dresses, they had a gala the night before. Did you see Clare Egan and McKenna Geer? They were, both of them were these incredibly sparked. Gowns, they looked absolutely stunning. And, and then Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble had these black dresses and they were looking all sharp and it’s just, they post a picture.

I haven’t seen anybody else’s dress yet, but McKenna Geer especially had this royal blue entirely beaded dress. Whoa! She wasn’t playin’!

Jill: Wow. And Tom Scott sported a little bow tie.

Alison: I saw that!

Jill: It was nice. Everybody looked like they were having a great time. And what a nice way to kind of celebrate, especially if this is the end of your career as a, as a professional athlete.

Nice way to just celebrate the work you’ve done and be appreciated. Cause it’s, it’s tough out there and lonely.

Alison: So congratulations to all of them. It looked like you had a great time.

Jill: So we’re going to move on to the novela phase. The show we don’t we’d need music for this.

Alison: Apparently we need music for the novelas. I don’t know what that sound like. We need like something dramatic. Don’t don’t we do. Oh yeah. Looking over with the face.

Camila, No.


Jill: Can you, can you just do that?

Camila? No. Do the whole thing.

Alison: Don, Don, Don Camila, no!

Jill: Lots of novel action. We’re starting with a modern pentathlon novela, the international Federation, the UIP M has announced that it is going to test obstacle course racing as the fifth discipline.

So this, they had put together a list of like 60 suggestions. I want to know what else was on this list. Cross-country cycling was an early favorite, but that got taken off because they thought the International Triathlon Union wouldn’t like it, because really it, then you have all three of the triathlon sports in modern pentathlon, and that doesn’t necessarily make sense.

So, they’re going to start testing obstacle course racing after the last 2022 World Cup Pentathlon Final, which is going to be an Ankara, Turkey in late June. And so then they’ll test it over the summer. Make a decision in the fall at the UIP M Congress, which is in the middle of November this year.

And so they’ll probably be working with World Obstacle Course Racing to make this work, which I am sure World Obstacle Course Racing is thrilled to have this entry into the Olympics because I bet they wanted to be in. And how hard is it to get into the games nowadays? Right.

Alison: I was going to suggest maybe they should have looked to Olympic history for some 5th sports, such as live pigeon shooting.

One handed, weightlifting,

ski ballet.

Jill: Well, so much went into the animal welfare bit of horse riding. Can you imagine if somebody said, oh yeah, we’re going to do pigeon shooting. Nobody likes pigeons, except for the people who like pigeons.

Alison: Hey, be careful. Bert loves pigeons.

Jill: That’s very true. So part of the deal is that they want this new sport to be compatible with the DNA of modern pentathlon. They need to reduce costs. They need to make it a less complex sport. It taking the horses out is going to, even if you have to build an obstacle course, like the having horses as part of your sport makes it super expensive. It will have a more universal participation in greater accessibility around the world.

We know it’s hard to get horses in some countries and there’s really not pentathlete outside of Europe and a little bit of North America and some South America and Egypt, but we don’t see many others in many other countries. And, and I guess Australia probably has some as well, but. We don’t see that participation.

Somebody actually said to Ben, because he’s been following this on on social as well. He said, well, you should do some masters events. And he’s like, where am I going to get a horse? Who’s going to teach me at my age horseback, I, you know, horse jumping, nobody will really, I think it’s just to use a horse metaphor, a lot of these athletes have put the blinders on. They don’t understand. [00:20:00] How I think they get into it through horseback riding, but they don’t understand how that sport has really how that discipline has really made modern pentathlon, such a teeny tiny sport that nobody knows or gets interesting unless you’re a horse person.

Alison: That horse has left the barn.

Jill: Of course many of the pentathlete are furious about it. The Olympic champion, Joe Choong says, he’ll quit the sport if obstacle racing becomes the fifth sport, but Joe, you know, it wouldn’t be implemented until 2028. So are you saying you’re not going to go for 2024? If you want for 2024 and maybe would naturally retire.

Would that be it for you? I don’t know, but there’s a, there’s a group called Pentathlon United that is a whole bunch of athletes who are furious about this. And they have written a letter to T Bach asking him to intervene because the UIP M is ignoring the wishes of its athletes because they said, well, you know, the IOC said, athletes need to play a central role in this review and a choice of a fifth discipline.

This has not happened. I know athletes are on the committee that has selected this stuff. And I bet TBach will be like, who do you got an athletes on the committee? And you know what horseback riding needs to go or jumping needs to go.

Alison: Right. I think that’s not even on the table anymore. Keeping horses as the fifth discipline. And what a lot of people don’t seem to get is that an and this I’ve seen in some articles where people will say, but dressage and show jumping are still in the Olympics, but here’s the huge difference that rider and that horse enters together. They are a team. They are no different than a pair skating team or an ice hockey team or a basketball team.

They come as a unit. This is in pentathlon, a random horse on a random course, which is like all of a sudden being thrown onto the ice with a new partner. And now you’re expected to do lifts and jumps. It’s a very different set of circumstances and it’s not horses in and of itself. It’s that horses are a part of this much larger sport and it no longer makes sense.

Jill: Right. It’s not modern anymore because soldiers do not use horseback riding. Very, maybe they do in some cases, but it’s not the primary mode of transportation. And I think there has been a little bit of a move to say, Hey, let us bring our own horses now and change that element. But we still haven’t solved the problem that the horseback riding portion of the sport makes it really expensive. It makes it really inaccessible and makes it something that becomes kind of a joke, almost of a sport to a regular Olympics, viewer, somebody who tunes in every once, every four years where they don’t understand the sport and they don’t get it. And they wonder why.

And I really don’t think that the athletes. I understand, this is why I mentioned the blinders on that they are quite likely going to be out of 2028, unless they really, really changed the sport. Will obstacle course racing do that? Maybe.

Alison: I mean, when you look at the sport, it on the one hand makes sense in that you have a track and field aspect you have a nautical aspect, you have a fighting aspect. What are the other now big aspects and big categories. And that’s where I think they need to think. I’m not sure obstacle course is a great option. I would almost like to see climbing or one of the urban sports being, I mean, not skateboarding, but one of those kinds of urban-y sports.

It made sense where they were pulling an event from each of the big categories. You know, you had shooting and, and horses were huge. Where, where are the sports going now? What events are growing? So I almost want to put in a rock climbing or some kind of climbing because then that still goes into the story of modern pentathlon, where it’s a soldier trying to get a message to the lines and he would have to climb a mountain. Like you could still tell the same story.

Jill: Yes. And you would have another use for that climbing facility that you create for the Games

Alison: now one thing I wanted to ask, and I don’t know if you’ll know this, are [00:25:00] they combining the, the obstacle course, the running and the shooting?

Is that going to be all one thing?

Jill: I don’t know how they’re testing it.

Alison: I mean, that would certainly shorten the event. I know they’ve been trying to shorten it.

Jill: I don’t know. It’s a good question, but I think, I think it comes down to the fact that a lot of people get into modern pentathlon through the horse riding and they already ride horses.

Maybe they jump. Maybe they’re not. Not going to go the equestrian route and they ended up in modern pentathlon and love it. But there’s not enough people to sustain that as a global interest sport.

Alison: I mean, one of the ways the sport has to get into the Olympics is you have to have participation on many countries, multiple continents and modern pentathlon is losing that race.

Jill: Yes, very much so. So I do feel for the people who love the riding and that’s to them, that’s what makes the sport, the sport, but this one’s got to evolve or it’s going to be gone. And if it’s not in the Olympics, it’s just going to fall apart as a sport. It just, it will go away. So we’ll see. And, and maybe should it go away as a sport is a different question, but who knows?

Also along the lines of the modern pentathlon novela, the French National Assembly made some recommendations to improve equine welfare for Paris, 2024, right there. They’re on this. So they among these recommendations, which they, I believe that Inside the Games as reported feed them hay several times a day.

Alison: Is that not happening?

Jill: I don’t know. I don’t know how I would assume that it does.

Alison: Are there eating disorders among horses as well?

Jill: I don’t know.

Less whipping in competition and specifically lowering the obstacles in modern pentathlon. Cause they were very, very high for Tokyo. So maybe we’d lower them for these horses.

Also recommend assigning different horses per rider because the horses always had to ride twice. Whereas the rider rode once and then make the draw 24 hours before the event. So that there’s more time to maybe get used to the horse.

Alison: It’s almost like that 90 Day Fiance reality show,

or it’s like Married at First Sight where it’s like, hi, this is your horse. Now go compete in the Olympics.

Jill: Right?

So that’s where we’re at with the modern pentathl novela. Now we’re going to move on to what we’re calling right now. The age novela.

Alison: You’re calling it. It’s I, I couldn’t come up with something better.

Okay. So

Jill: if you have something to talk about the age minimum ages in sports let us know, because age novela is a really odd thing to say.

Alison: And child abuse novela is inappropriate.

Jill: Right? So the International Skating Union, as we have said, is proposing to raise the minimum age from 15 to 17 in major events.

They will vote on this next month. So, this has been a change that has been proposed before and shut down. And now we are in the, oh, we should make this happen mentality, which is finally a good thing. So if the measure passes, they will keep the age 15 this year, before the start of 23- 24 season, it will bump up to 16.

And then for the 24- 25 season, it will be 17, which will make it a 17 years old for Milan-Cortina 2026.

Alison: And they’re doing this so that nobody who is competing on the world stage would then be barred from competing. So someone who is already qualified for the senior level would continue on. So I think that’s a a good idea because then you’ll run into all kinds of issues.

So anyone who was shooting for 2026 will still be in that mix and the people who would be 11.

No, they have to wait.

Jill: That’s good. And, and this time around, they’ve got reports from their medical commission talking about the fact that this not only will subject them to less physical risk because the level of jumps that skaters are doing right now is it’s very hard, very hard on someone’s body.

And then this could also address some psychological risks stemming from participation in elite sports at a young age, including burnout, disordered eating and long-term consequences of injury.

Alison: Now the ISU needs to do part two of this. And part two of this would be, you have to bar junior skaters from doing quads [00:30:00] or something within the point system where junior skaters are not competing senior level programs and overall change the scoring system so that these little jumping machines aren’t dominating the competitions to the point where girls are getting their hips replaced at 20.

Jill: Right. And w when I was reading this, because this is stuff that’s going to happen at the world level, I thought of Alysa Liu who won the U S national title before she could compete on the world stage. So what does this, how should this trickle down to national governing bodies as well? Because if they don’t do something on their level, you’re still going to have like 13 year old jumping machines who just, well, we’re not going to compete at worlds this year.

Alison: Right. It has to be the same thing. You can’t compete at a senior nationals if age wise, you could not qualify for worlds. I mean, that has to trickle down. Otherwise it’s absolutely toothless.

Jill: Totally right. So we will see what happens.

Alison: This’ll pass without controversy, but I think the implications of it we’ll do, we’ll see, you know, are the national governing bodies going to change the rules for their nationals? Are they going to change the scoring system?

You know, where is this going to come down? And then we’ll see.

Jill: And how much will a. Affect some of these psychological things like disordered eating, because another thing that triggers disordered eating is judge’s comments.

Alison: Right. I mean, I think the idea of 15 to 17 is that by the time you hit seniors, you’ve gone through puberty because that’s such an issue that we’ve seen with these teen skaters.

I mean, when you look at Kamila Valieva she doesn’t even look 15. Or Shcherbakova, doesn’t look 17, they look 12 and 13 and we know why physically. We don’t need to get in to the details of that. And if you push it to 17 and you change what juniors are allowed to do, then the girls go through puberty, they gain the weight, they have a woman’s body and that in and of itself will force changes to the kind of programs that they’re putting together.

Jill: Well, I certainly hope so.

Alison: That’s the plan, people!

Jill: Let’s get on board with the plan because, and another aspect of this was the fact that people are 16, 17, 15 on the world stage. And then they quit. That’s not what skating once they want to have a long career, because especially if you’re 15 and you you’re burned out and your body’s broken and you’re psychologically a mess from the sport, you don’t want to be involved in the sport going forward.

Alison: I mean, we haven’t talked about Alysa Liu announcing her retirement from the sport at age 16. She said, I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve. I’ve got a world’s medal. I have the Olympic team medal. I’m done.

But of course she’s done at 16 because probably for the past 14 years of her life, this is all she’s done. And I say good for her. I hope it isn’t more than that than just her saying I’ve done everything I want to do now. I want to have a normal life, but God, you’re losing this beautiful talent at 16, because of what you’ve done. And figure skating. You gotta do better.

Jill: Yeah. And it’s just the demands and the stresses of making this a full-time endeavor on top of, for these kids, they, they’ve got to go to school as well. And we talked about this on the Facebook group and I had pointed out, well, Tara Lipinski and Sarah Hughes both only were, did one Olympics and they were done.

And I think. More so, and Sarah Hughes’s case, she was like, well, I’m got to go to school. I, I just want to focus on college. So that makes sense. But, but yeah, when you’ve been in a sport for most of your life, maybe you want to try something new and that’s not necessarily great when one, one activity takes up all of your time and all of your energy.

So where’s the balance?

Alison: And Tara Lipinski was one of those girls who needed her hip put back together in her twenties.

Jill: Ah, boy. Well, we’ll see what happens with this one too. We’re going to move on to past games. We have no sounder for Barcelona.

Alison: I mean, this is before nearly all our listeners were born.

Jill: Speaking of 1992, we do have some legacy news from Barcelona.

Alison: So Barcelona, like one of the most famous soccer teams is now [00:35:00] moving to the Olympic stadium for its 23-24 season.

Jill: Yes. And this is while their own stadium is going under undergoing renovations. The so it’s nice that the Olympic stadium is getting used. But the flip side of that is that the Olympic stadium has not gotten used very much since 1992.

Alison: Let’s go with the happy thing, the Barcelona stadium’s going to get used. Oh, maybe they’ll bring the archer back. Do you think he’s still alive?

Jill: I don’t know, but that would be cool. Wouldn’t you be cool to start every game off with let’s light the cauldron with the bow and arrow

Alison: and it would dilute the effect. Just do it at the beginning of the season.

Jill: Okay. I could go with that.

We do have a sound for that. We do. We do. We do. That’s Beijing, 2022. We are keeping an eye on whether or not China is going to maintain its investment in winter sport that they claimed they would during the games and also for the bid that got them these games, because they wanted to turn into some sort of winter sport powerhouse.

But we’re going to look at biathlon today, and the head coach of the Chinese biathlon team in the run-up to the games was the legendary Ole Einar Bjorndalen from Norway. He is no longer the head coach of the team. On a TV 2 a Norwegian television station. He said that his contract expired in March.

He wrote a full evaluation of the Olympic season. Nobody in Chinese biathlon union has responded. He hasn’t been in contact with anyone in leadership since mid-March so he’s like, I guess I’m done and said, oh, go ahead.

Alison: Just going to say his wife and her name escapes me,

Jill: Darya Domracheva.

Alison: Who was the women’s biathlon coach. You have to assume that if he’s leaving, she’s leaving.

Jill: Yes, I am guessing all of their contracts were up. They didn’t hear anything. Oh, of course. There’s a bunch of COVID situations happening in China right now that are taking some time, but there’s seem to be no plans going forward.

So, he said I would have liked to have continued because there’s a lot of potential, but they really need to be in Europe and train in Europe and be on the world cup circuit and with the COVID situation going on. And it’s hard to get out of the country for the athletes. He doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

And that next year is the Chinese Winter Games, which is apparently a huge deal in China. The country might focus on that instead. So who knows what they’re going to do in the run-up to 2026? And then one of the other members of the Chinese coaching staff Erik Bartlett Kulstad has also led the team. And he’s now the head coach of the Finnish biathlon team, according to Svenska Yle

Right. So news for Paris 2024. We talked about this before when Tokyo 2020 got pushed back a year, postponed that messed up the whole qualification system because sports were finishing up their qualifications, but they’re going to be starting their qualification periods now for 20 24 as well.

So some of those have, are starting to be announced. Skateboarding is going to start. It’s an Olympic world skateboarding ranking called the OWS are in June. So from June 22nd, 2022 to June 23rd, 2024. Is when that ranking will run and that’s what their qualification period will be. And a whole bunch of different events contribute to those rankings and how skateboarders will get chosen for the games.

Alison: Speaking of a sport that needs a minimum age. How about 8?

Jill: So? Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see all of these sports start picking it up for 2024, because not that long ago. We’ve mentioned before that one of the early stage basketball venues got rejected by the players and FIBA even though it met FIBA standards.

So, a choice for a new basketball venue is in the works. And they hope to have that finalized by July at a board of directors meeting.

Alison: So when they rejected the other venue, one of the things that they were saying is the ceiling was too low and that, you know, some smart aleck-y player says, oh, I’m going to throw up a shot and it’s going to hit the ceiling.

And all I could think was just have players like me. I don’t have this problem. I have never in my life, hit my head on a ceiling.[00:40:00]

Jill: Goals.

We have a little bit of news from Milan Cortina 2026. Inside the games, reports the Italian government wants to keep the mafia from infiltrating. So the Ndrangheta, the DIA, which is the anti-mafia investigation department in Italy has called for strict controls to be put in place to prevent the infiltration of organized crime into the organization and preparations for the games. This would include stringent control as to construction sites and penalties for companies which did not properly communicate the identification data of subcontractors. And then it was noted that many of the construction projects for the games are commissioned by private companies using private funds.

And of course it’s different than if government money was then used for funds and hidden mafia infiltrated that way. But it will still be interesting to see if, how this shakes out.

Alison: And will this be a story?

Jill: That’s a very good question.

Alison: You know, the mafia still exists and there’s still corruption in Italy and we all know this and it’s certainly true in the United States as well.

And yet there was corruption in Tokyo. You know, there was corruption in construction there about environmental issues. So even though on the one hand, you’re like, oh my God, are we seriously doing a mafia story related to Italy? But what it really is, is a corruption story related to a host city and that’s the problem.

And I hope people don’t get caught up in the joke kind of of, oh yes, the mafia in Italy, but we need to focus on the fact that we keep having corruption stories around construction. And why does that keep happening? Is there too much money? Is there not enough controls what’s happening over and over again in these host cities that there is constantly this corruption related to construction.

Jill: Right. And, and I just remember when Boston was bidding for 2024, who had the idea too, that Boston should apply for the games? A construction developer.

Alison: Who makes the money?

Jill: Right. They do.

Alison: Follow the money. I mean, that’s always the story, follow the money.

Jill: And it’ll be interesting to see, especially 2028, it’s got pretty much everything built, even though there’s a little, there’s always going to be a little bit of construction to be done because this, especially if you have temporary venues, you have to set them up and take them down.

But how much will this continue to be a problem? If. And that’s, if you have host cities that don’t need to build a lot of stuff.

Yes. Really good point.

Alison: I love this story!

Jill: So TBach’s been out and about, he’s been over to Australia, he’s been up in, in Asia and spent some time in Singapore because they’re talking about some sort of virtual sports festival thing that might happen in 2023. So we’ll look into that more, but you know, our opinions on e-sports and virtual sports right up there with the Youth Olympic Games.

So, but while TBach was in Singapore, He had an orchid named after him.

Alison: Dendrobium, Thomas Bach.

Jill: It is at the Singapore Botanical Garden.

Alison: It is lovely. It’s sort of a spidery yellow orchid. So the blooms are very, very tiny.

Jill: But not as, as he tweeted the IOC, it’s it’s not every day. You have an orchid named after you

Alison: and I guess he was allowed out of the Singapore airport.

Jill: Yeah, I guess.

Alison: Unlike us

Jill: Also, the winter bid commissions have made site visits to Salt Lake City and Vancouver looking at their ability to host for 2030.

Alison: This is getting interesting.

Jill: Yes. So we have those two cities.

Alison: Two more cities. This is a, so we’ve got Sapporo who hosted in 1972 and did such a lovely job with the marathon last year at last minute.

And also there’s a joint bid in Spain, I guess it’s, it’s appear in these joint bid because it involves Spain, France, and Andorra And wouldn’t that be cool. Talk about knocking off a whole bunch of countries on one trip.

Jill: It would be cool, but from what I’ve read that they are having trouble [00:45:00] agreeing on a lot of things to even get the bid together. So, meanwhile Salt Lake City is pretty much done. Everything laid out already. Vancouver is in good shape and Vancouver. The bid is interesting as you noted, it’s a First Nations bid, right?

Alison: So that this is from the CBC. The First Nations, particularly the Squamish nation is on the committee, on the bid committee. All 4 First Nations that are in that area signed an agreement with the Canadian Olympic and the Canadian Paralympic committees to be very involved in this bid and have direct influence.

Jill: Which is very exciting, I think.

And, and so really between Salt Lake, Vancouver and Sapporo, depending on how Sapporo’s facilities are, I don’t think that’s a bad choice. Out of any of them.

Alison: It’s fantastic. It’s it? We’re getting away from the dictatorships and countries were afraid to travel to. I mean, maybe Andorra has some, you know, crazy separatists who are just going to come after us, but everything else looks good.

Jill: And they all have experience organizing before. So that’s, that’s also exciting, I think would be nice to have some stable. Stability in the, in the hosting, which we have for, I mean, Brisbane has not hosted before Milan Cortina has not, well, Cortina has hosted. Milan has not. but you’ve got experience well in hand to put on a games.

Alison: And I think this will actually be the most interesting bid that we’ve seen in quite a while since they awarded 24 and 28 together because 2032, just kind of happened. Under this new process, this is really cities competing under the new process.

Jill: Yeah. And we don’t know when they will decide. We don’t know if they will say, oh, we’re going to do 2030 and 2034 at the same time, or one gets chosen. And the rest of you hold on the rest of. You’re still quite good. Keep it, keep that interest.

Alison: Keep your powder dry for a couple more years and we’re going to come back to you, but I think they like the idea of awarding these things ahead of time, because look at what LA is doing. They’re really putting a lot of things in place and it’s giving them the time to do the infrastructure changes.

Jill: Yes.

Alison: We hope.

It seems like they’re getting things like, and someone out in LA, please tell me that if I’m wrong, it seems like they’re getting money for things like roads and public transportation. With the anticipation of, we have to have this done for 28 and the airport getting rebuilt.

Jill: When we talked with Randal Roark and Michael Dobbins from Atlanta, 1996, they were pretty much saying, look, we had all the stuff that we’d been talking about doing, but the Olympics really spurred it on. So there was a lot of work to get stuff done in a tight deadline. LA has a longer deadline to get stuff done.

What can they get done? And does it also allow them to create more legacy initiatives, even though LA still has a good legacy going on with LA 84. So I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see how, how the new norm bid system shakes out.

Alison: Well, I will be happy with Salt Lake and Vancouver. I speak Canadian. Tim Horton’s, eh?.

I can, I can work with that.

Jill: All right before we head out, we would like to thank our Patreon patrons. These are folks whose financial contributions help keep our flame alive. And there’s a lot of stuff we need to do to prepare for Paris 2024. So we really appreciate the financial support you give. If you are interested in supporting the show, you can go to Patreon.com/flamealivepod to contribute there. You can also look at flamealivepod.com/support, and that should have something up. I believe the red envelope campaign is still up. We’re still cleaning up from Beijing, but there are a lot of ways you can support the show.

We’re having book club come up soon. If you have not purchased our book, which is, Driven to Ride by Mike Schultz. It’s our first book by a Paralympian. So we’re super excited about that. you can go to bookshop.org/shop/flame alive pod to pick up your copy of any purchases through our link.

And that’s not even the books we have on our lists. If you go through our link and buy anything we get a little commission and that also helps support the show. So if you need summertime beach reading, please go through our [00:50:00] link to purchase it. And there’s other ways you can support the show, like telling a friend or giving us a review.

We’re mid quad. So we appreciate all of the support and we appreciate your listening to the show. That’ll wrap it up for this week. Let us know how you’re doing now that there’s a lull in Paralympic and Olympic activity.

Alison: You can get in touch with us through email@flamealivepodatgmail.com. You can call or text us at two zero eight three five two six three four. That’s 2, 0 8, flame it, our social handle is at flame alive pod, and you can talk with us and our other listeners at our Facebook group. That’s Keep the Flame Alive Podcast

Jill: Next week. Join us for more stories of the Olympics and Paralympics. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.