Photo of Book Club Claire on a background of bookshelves. Keep the Flame Alive podcast logo is in the lower right corner.

Episode 242: Book Club Claire on “Driven to Ride”

Release Date: June 23, 2022

Book Club Claire is back for another session of book club! This time we’ve got our first Paralympics-related selection: “Driven to Ride: The True Story of an Elite Athlete Who Rebuilt His Leg, His Life, and His Career” by two-time Paralympic Snowboarder Mike Schultz (affiliate link).

Our next book will be Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running and Fun, by Abdi Abdiraham. Claire also talked with Abdi about his philosophy on writing the book.

Follow Claire on Twitter and Insta, and on YouTube her channel is C Nat.

[which includes a conversation with Jill when Jill was in Beijing!)

Keeping with the Paralympics theme, in our Albertville 1992 history moment, Jill looks at the Tignes-Albertville Paralympics, which was the first time the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics were paired together. If anyone has footage of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, let us know–it had a bit with hang gliders that sounded pretty cool.

Things are relatively quiet in TKFLASTAN, but our ice dancer Charlie White got some good news!

In Games-related news, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee presented its final budget (it’s a doozy, but better news than anticipated), as well as its final reports. Now that all of its duties are complete, the committee will dissolve at the end of the month.

We also have an update on how the athlete villages and some hotels from Beijing 2022 are currently being used…..and it’s not good. Plus, international federation payout from Beijing 2022 is going to be smaller, so look for some belt-tightening.

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


Note: While we attempt to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it is machine-generated and contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.

Jill: [00:00:00] Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host. Jill Jaracz joined us always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison. Hello, how are you?

Alison: I have been watching FINA world championships.

Jill: Oh, and

Alison: You know what? This is really the first time I’ve super paid attention to the swimming world championships. and it is so much fun. It is just as much fun as watching swimming in the Olympics and you get to see since we just saw them, it feels like yesterday, but it was, quite a while ago. And a lot of the names are the same and a lot of the players are the same.

So it’s been a lot of fun. I feel like I know what I’m doing when I’m watching this. Cause we just had Tokyo 2020 slash 21. So a lot of these races are the same, so it swimming never gets old.

Jill: Oh. And it’s got your, pal Rowdy Gains announcing here

Alison: and I’m like, oh, I get extra time with rowdy, which is. Never a bad thing. Can you imagine having him over dinner? Oh my God. These potatoes are great.

Jill: We have an interesting, follow up from episode 239, which is when we talked about legacy and the IOCs venue legacy. . So if you haven’t heard that go back and listen, cuz it’s, it’s interesting to see what’s happened to different venues from the entire history of the Olympics. And we immediately noticed in the report that the 1960 winter games, which were in California were just called 1960, because the name of the location in California has changed since the original name is a Native American slur.

So the area has changed its name, but the Olympics hasn’t quite figured out what to do, because if you go to, it still has the original place name.

Alison: Yeah, it’s a touchy situation because at the time it had that name. So it was 1960 with that name. So you can’t erase history. But we don’t want to continue to use the name because it is considered offensive.

So we wanna move with the times. So I see where the Olympics is having trouble saying we can erase the history. That’s what it was called at the time, but we don’t want to continue using it in updated reports and publications. So I totally get their dilemma because we have so many of these dilemmas throughout society.

And this is just an interesting, very small example of respecting history yet not perpetuating offensive or racist terms. So we feel you Olympics. We, we get it. This is not a simple answer.

Jill: But it will be interesting to see how they manage it going forward or is this something they’re going to continue to use or is it like, oh, we have an oversight here we missed, because of course, once you change one thing, it’s in 25 other places that you didn’t even think about.

So maybe that’s also an element as well.

Alison: How, and I don’t know the answer to this. How is the NFL handling it with the Washington football team? Obviously they have a new name, but what are they doing with historical records? it’s the exact same problem even down to the same ethnic group that you’re offending.

So it’s, it’s tricky and difficult. And I, I guess we’ve made the decision not to use the term without even really talking about it. We just, that’s what we’re comfortable with. And yet everyone’s gonna fall down a little differently on this one.

Jill: So it’ll be interesting. Uh, you know, What else is interesting is our book this month. Book Club Claire is back to discuss, Driven to Ride: The True Story of an Elite Athlete Who Rebuilt His Leg, His Life and his career by two time Paralympian Mike Schultz. In PyeongChang Mike, he won gold in snowboard cross and silver in banked slalom. In Beijing, he won silver in snowboard cross. The book tells a story of Mike’s injury and his journey to the Paralympics. Take a listen.

Claire. Welcome back. We are talking Driven to Ride by Mike Schultz. What do you got for us?

Claire: I have got a story about a Paralympian, something we haven’t done yet. I’m very excited to talk about this with you, because I do think that a biography of a [00:05:00] Paralympian is a little different from what we’ve read about our biographies with Olympians.

This was just published a couple of months ago. So I wanted to get your overall thoughts because it is so relevant. And I actually read it during the Paralympics. So first of all, initial thoughts from you guys, what’d you think of the book?

Alison: I enjoyed parts of it. I really liked when he was talking about the Paralympics and the training and the lead up since we were just there and that gave it a lot more dimension and story, I really wished he had written it with his wife.

Jill: Oh, yeah, that would’ve been better.

Alison: He mentions a lot of times Sarah thought this, or Sarah did this and I almost wanted to hear from her because I think in many ways it was their story. And I wish she had had a voice of her own, but she was really busy. So I don’t know if she had time to write a book.

Jill: I, I thought it was a better than average athlete memoir, biography, autobiography, whatever you wanna call it. Near the end, I got tired. I got the impression of how much people like Mike in his sporting worlds. And cuz I did see him compete at Beijing and they were all excited about him, Monster Mike and he got his silver medal.

He was overjoyed. He was so happy. And you could just see like the good energy off of him. You could see that throughout this book, he tried to maintain that positive energy. But to the extent that he dismissed the hard stuff a little bit too much. Where it was just kind of like throw away sentences. Oh, Sarah was getting migraines.

What? Oh, you know we have all these medical bills and we have horses, what? And just, there were a lot of things that I feel like he glossed over the hard bits. He did. He did some, a little bit more reflection than we’ve seen in other books by athletes, but it was almost travel loggy in a way.

And it also felt to me by the end, especially by the end, I felt really bad for his co-author. Matt Higgins, cuz I really felt by the end, the deal was Matt interviews you for like 10 hours and you give him like your calendar of what you did over the last 20 years. And then Matt goes away and he writes this for you. And then you, you work on editing it together. And what happened was by the end, Mike’s telling all these stories that have nothing to do with things that would propel the plot or tell more about his knee. I, I mean, what really stuck out to me was near the, the end when he’s training for the Paralympics and they’re in Oregon, I believe the team is in Oregon.

They go on this long hike for no reason. It. It wasn’t a great story. And you just know that I could just picture the author and Mike jabbering and Mike saying, oh man, that hike was the best. We shouldn’t have gone, but we just kept going. The waterfalls were right there. We kept going, we were making these Sasquatch videos.

They were hilarious dog. We. And Brenna Huckabee was doing handstands in the river on the stones. And, you know by the end of her stumps had sores all over ’em because they were getting they’re rubbing with the prosthetics. I didn’t understand the point of that, but I also felt like, oh, this is the material that the author had to work with.

And we’re getting to a point where if you poked him and go uh, I need some other info. We talked for so long, man. Why don’t you have this? that’s the, the feeling I got by the end, lots of name dropping. Lot of gut, really repetitive at the end. It could have been like a good 35 pages shorter.

But I bet they had like, well, this will be a 235 page book or probably a 250 page book that got cut down to 235, but there got to be a lot of name dropping and it got to be a little too glossed over in a too little too neat for all of the things that happened. I remember Claire, when we were talking about it, you, it took a long time to get to the Paralympic part.

and I, I was agree like when I read them, like, oh, I see what Claire’s talking about because it takes a long time to get to the Paralympics aspect of it. And I thought that was a lot more interesting than the snow cross. Maybe that’s because this is what we do. But the snow cross just seemed kind of repetitive and, I’m not into snow mobiling and dirt bike racing.

Alison: Yeah, I thought a lot of the Team USA information was so interesting how it works and it was very well presented. You know You were saying it’s better than average that I thought was very above average in terms of what is it like working with Team USA? What happens when you’re on the national team?

The whole idea of his health insurance, and he’s gotta compete once every year to keep that, some of those little tidbits about being on Team USA. And again, that’s our interest, but I thought it was the best part of the book when he got to the Paralympics, [00:10:00] because you had a lot propelling the story, the training for the Paralympics, competing at the Paralympics, going through all of that really pushed it forward in a way that some of those motocros and snow cross things didn’t.

And I also got very confused about how much time had passed. And I think because of that and speaking of time, was anyone else shocked? He was in the hospital for two weeks after for his leg amputation

Claire: Home, by Christmas.

Alison: I know he, he was in the hospital for two weeks and they’re like, okay, off you go.

And I was like, doesn’t he get to go to rehab? Doesn’t he get some visiting nurse something. I was shocked by that.

Claire: I think reading a Paralympic book is gonna be a little different than an Olympic book because for the Olympics I’m thinking of like Shirley Babashoff to start where they become a swimmer when they’re very young and you just progress with them through swimming all the way through. For Mike Schultz, being a Paralympian being in, in the Olympics period was never in the picture for him early on. He loved BMX. He loved snowmobiling. So he had to make sure that that was a majority of his story because even after he got his leg amputated, he found ways to make snow cross and BMX racing work for him.

Doing snowboard cross was the last thing on his mind. it was only because of his company, BioDapt and the prosthetics that he was making. Did he ever even fathom getting into the Paralympics with snowboard? It took what 12 chapters for him to get on a snowboard. So I would say if you’re gonna read a Paralympic book, be prepared for that, because yes, their story’s gonna have to take a left turn somewhere because of the circumstances that are gonna be around these.

So just be prepared for that. If you are looking to get a snowboard book, this is not the book for you. If you like BMX or snowing, this is the book for you because he talks about it in a ton. And he talks about the different circuits and talks about the X Games. I thought that was very interesting, cuz I was very unaware of these kinds of things that they had an adaptability competition in the X Games. I didn’t realize that they had started doing that. Uh So I was given a lot more information that way. That’s what I enjoyed about this, and it was nice to get a different perspective. But I can understand your points as well on, on things that could have been adjusted.

Alison: It was very interesting how there’s all these niche activities, you know snowmobile racing that probably are very regional. Kind of small and yet people devote their entire lives to it. I mean, his and his wife’s life was based on the rhythm of dirt bikes in the summer snowmobiles in the winter and this whole circuit of races that I had no idea even existed.

And I’m sure there’s a lot of niche activities. They’d have a lot of money floating around in them.

Jill: Yeah. And he’s making money. Because I only knew him as a Paralympian, I didn’t know how big he was in the world of X Games type activities. And that, that was interesting. And I mean, there, I don’t wanna harsh on the books groove a lot because there was a lot of interesting details.

I saw a world I didn’t know anything about just thought it could have been a little. Little less name droppy a little less because literally near the end. There’s one, there’s a, if you open the book, there’s a, on the left side, it says one thing about the course. It, it is one of the courses are gonna go down and mentioning this one guy.

And then the next page, almost the exact same sentence is about the course. I’m like, oh wow. We are really stretching here. But at the same time, yes didn’t know anything about the health insurance didn’t know like, oh, we have to travel as a team. Kind of thing that he was be, would be gone all this time.

And you wonder if things have changed since then as IANS to change it? Yeah. Yeah. And how well and that, and of course, like his book ends after basically after PyeongChang. So we don’t quite know, but it was just that kind of element was interesting to find. And I, almost wish we had more of those details and maybe that’s cuz we are like a, how stuff works podcast, and less of the name dropping type things

Claire: I did really enjoy when he brought in Sarah to the conversation, his wife, because he wasn’t against bringing her in and showing the flaws that he had and the struggles that she had working with him. And I was very thankful for that. Cuz one of the first things he describes about her was her rear end in the tight pants and I went, oh, it’s gonna be one of those books, but it got better,

Alison: but you gotta figure he was expressing what his 16 year old boy self.

Would have noticed about 16 year olds, Sarah’s self, which I [00:15:00] laughed at just being the parent of a teenager going, yeah, that’s what you notice first. And yet, then he continued to describe her and really make her a fully fleshed character and their conversations change as the book goes along and you.

them growing up because the book starts, I mean, the first time he talks about them, they’re supposed to be 16 years old. And then obviously his accident, he was in his mid twenties. And by the end of the book, he’s in his late thirties and you, you see them both changing, which is nice. It wasn’t static. So I think that goes back to what you said, Jill, about it being a little better than average that there was some dynamics in the relationship.

Jill: Right. And I love your idea of having them do the book together because boy, man, I don’t wanna say she’s a saint because he does seem like a very, he seems like a good fun guy, but the amount of work and support. It takes for a person to be there, even for somebody who does this athletic endeavor type thing, anything like that. Just that kind of support is really honorable, I think might be the word, but it’s just what attribute to have somebody who gives you such support in your life. And I, you could tell how much they loved each other, but I wanted to see more of that shown and not told.

Alison: Agreed.

Jill: And I think that was, I think that’s the biggest part of the problem of the book is there’s there’s a lot of telling and not showing.

Alison: A lot of sentences of I was mad or I was, yeah, yeah.

Jill: Or, you know I got a short fuse. I did not see that a hundred pages ago. I didn’t know that mm-hmm , and

you know what was the, one of the best, most interesting bits?

The epilogue, when he was talking about how difficult it was to take a shower and it’s just like little moments like that, that helped me understand just how hard it is to be an amputee. And I wish we had more of that because it just seemed like, oh, I was in bed and I was struggling and I was angry and, and then I found, then somebody said you should be a snowboarder and bam.

Cool. You know what I mean? It just, it wasn’t neat. I don’t wanna say it was like too neat, but I don’t think we got enough of those gritty details to really feel. The way you feel about a lot of Paralympian stories,

Claire: Maybe the wrong thing got fleshed out, his experiences on the circuit instead of the struggles that he had as an amputee

Jill: mm-hmm maybe that’s a coauthor’s fault in a way.

Alison: One moment that they mentioned after his daughter, Lauren is born.

When he talks about, after he took off his prosthetic at night he couldn’t get up and help with the baby. And that one time he was holding her with his prosthetic on, he lost his balance and almost went down with her. And that’s exactly what you were pointing to about those grit moments. And then I would’ve loved to hear, well then what did Sarah think?

Because she’s a new mother, she’s got this baby. She wants to share the baby, obviously with the man she loves and with the baby’s father. And yet as a mother, she’s super protective of nothing happening to the child, but she doesn’t want to get in the way of the father daughter bond. And that was a very complex moment that he did include how painful that was and how scared Sarah was.

And I agree. I wanted more of that and I think a lot of Paralympians and I think the publishers and the co-authors really seem to wanna make these feel good books and these feel good triumph stories. And yet I loved when he was talking about how he would sweat so much and have to undress and redress, and that it’s not easy to be a Paralympian.

It’s not easy to be an athlete with a disability and I liked hearing them argue and fight about things and her being scared. And those were the best parts of the book to me,

Claire: I thought the best part of the book for, to me was the very beginning. He doesn’t start with, I was born in Minnesota in 1982 or whatever, I think 1982, but he starts with the accident.

It gets right into it. He has a bad jump, snowmobiling in a race lands on his foot. Crack, and when he talks about like slicing open his pants and the sh that came out, I’m just like in my bed, I’m just like, oh,

I know what that is. Oh, gross. But you know, he, he is allowing you to really feel, this is ex the worst pain you could ever feel.

And I thought that was a great way to start. And just inserting childhood memories here and there that were needed. I thought really helped the book and it started the book off really strong. There were parts in the middle where I felt like, yeah, it was getting too repetitive.

Okay. We’re in now we’re in the X Games of 2012. Now we’re in the X Games of 2013 and we were just there like three pages ago. But so I can understand where that was coming from, but I do think the beginning and the end [00:20:00] definitely were, were the strongest for me because it, it was directly affected with the uh What he became as a Paralympian now these days.

Alison: Did you get a sense in that accident that he may have lost his leg because his care was bad?

Claire: I wouldn’t be surprised if that was part of it because you know you’re up in Northern Michigan, which I have been in many times. I know how small it is, very remote. The fact that he went all the way from Ironwood, Michigan, all the way to Duluth. That’s not a short distance. So that’s very surprising. So yeah, I do think that could have been part of it.

It just took forever. Things were not probably done as well as they could have if he had been in like downtown Chicago .

Alison: Right. And even Duluth, I don’t think you probably have an orthopedic specialist, with that have seen a lot of these kind of things. And then again, when he had his heel injury, His initial care was very bad.

It felt like bad care came up bad. Healthcare came up over and over again in his story, which is surprising because Sarah is a nurse and he did eventually here and there have really good doctors, but there seemed to be him not wanting to say, you know sometimes doctors are terrible or sometimes this hospital was really bad, and yet there was a running theme in that throughout, which was very upsetting.

Jill: And, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not uncommon.

Claire: Very true.

Alison: That the prosthetic people though were amazing. Those guys are amazing. Yeah. And then he develops his company. I mean, that, that whole thing was so did you wanna see blueprints cuz I wanted to see blueprints?

Jill: I also wanted more of the, oh, I have a bunch of racers at this race. I’m racing in who have my, my prosthetics and aesthetics. And I have to sit down and fine tune them before the races. and that I wanted to get again, that was a, told not shown moment where you could say, oh, we only have two hours before the race.

And I’ve got five knees to tune up, what goes into that? And it was so interesting to hear him talk about kind of just working out the issues with trying to build the leg that would work well for sports. And that was, that was really cool.

Alison: I found the prosthetic talk so interesting because it is, it’s so foreign for us, none of us use prosthetics.

And I would think for most readers, they’re not familiar, you know we all, we’ve all seen it, but how does it actually work in the sleeve and the pieces? And, and he did do a good job talking about why the walking leg didn’t work for sports. And why his, what he was trying to do. But I did, I kind of wanted a centerfold of all the drawings just to see what the differences were.

You know, I, I agree. I wanted more of those pieces. I thought it was really funny when he was talking about the Versa foot, which struck me as really funny when he had to change it when he was talking about plurals. And then it was the verse of feet. I don’t know why that struck me as. But then he kind of shaded Amy Purdy about only using one Versa foot.

Jill: he? He did. And I didn’t like that.

Alison: I actually like that because I felt like I saw his personality. Like that’s him as a businessman. Like, you’d be racing much better if you use two of my feet, but what do I know? I’m only the inventor of this

Claire: And give him a lot of credit. He did not go to college.

He’s working on a high school education and is able to come up with blueprints for this and develop it, work with he. And I’m sure that his connections in BMX and snowmobile helped him to get the input that he needed, but he soaked up information, was able to channel it into something that worked. And, it’s been 14 years and his products are everywhere.

Now this is not something. He, he uses it exclusively, but he’s made it marketable throughout the world. And, and little did I remember, but 2011 is like part of the, war in Afghanistan, the Iraq war. Soldiers are dealing with amputations right and left. So the demand for his prosthetics was very high at the time.

It did, he did mention that over the 2010s, it did decrease. But there’s still demand. And I really think that it’s incredible how he was able to make this work for himself first and then realize how many other people could benefit from it. I thought that was a great part of the story when he went over to Germany and was working with veterans and, and uh, them seeing how, okay, this guy is pretty cool.

And he’s working on one leg and I can do it too. So I, I appreciated that very much, cuz it’s not something I’m used [00:25:00] to.

Alison: Something I noticed when we talk about that, he’s very popular in the adaptive sport world. It was clear throughout the book. He’s very good at working with other people that he takes.

You were saying he soaks the information and his ability to take criticism about this and to say, I don’t have this skill I need help here is a real skill. I mean, that’s a, an ability that I think led to the success of BioDapt because, an athlete could say, oh, okay, this piece doesn’t work for me.

Can you make it looser? Can you make it tighter? It needs to be taller or shorter. and he would just work with that. It wasn’t. Hey, what, what do you think you’re doing? That’s my baby leg. It was very collaborative, which would then make him popular because if you say I need this help and he’s like, oh yeah, we can make this work.

Makes a lot of sense.

Jill: Yeah, and praise to tinkering Maybe he went to high school that had really good shop classes and that helped, but also living in a family where tinkering was praised and learning how to take stuff apart and put it together and fix things.

That’s such a big skill and look, I mean, I’m sure he never ever thought that he’d be this is his company and this is what he’d be doing with his.

Claire: Something that some school somewhere has been trying to promote through their STEM program is something that naturally came to him through just his environment around him.

I think that’s pretty great. It shows, it shows that if people are willing to do something like that, you don’t hinder that interest. You help it to grow and to, and to foster and, and I love that his family was okay with it. Even when he went into racing and things like that, they knew that he had potential in these kinds of things.

And it shows, I mean, in allowing someone to become very successful.

Let’s talk about the Paralympics a little bit. This is PyeongChang 2018, so we had to set our clocks back four years so we kinda had to take away all of the COVID restrictions, all of the masking and all of that, and just think of what it was like four years ago.

What did you think about his experience and his in, I wanna talk about his interest in the Paralympics, because even back then four years ago, Paralympics were not as big as they are now. Did you think that his mindset nowadays it affected how, what he was thinking back then? Like, he’s like, oh, I can be a Paralympian, but four years ago or six years ago, was he really thinking about that?

Or was he just like, oh, this is another way that I could maybe do it. Do you get what I’m talking about?

Alison: I do. And I think he does a good job in the book where it slowly dawns on him that this is a big deal. First it’s being a part of team. And then going to the training camps and traveling of the world cups.

And it’s not all of a sudden, oh, I I’m gonna be a Paralympian. It’s oh, wait a second. This is a big deal. And he has that conversation with Sarah where they sit down and say, okay, are you gonna do this for real? Cuz you cannot keep playing around with all these different things. If you’re gonna commit, you’re gonna commit and him realizing that being a Paralympian requires that level of commitment that everything else needs to be second. So I thought he did a good job of revealing it slowly to himself, but he can’t set the clock back. He can’t take away that moment in his head when he was the flag bearer and how much that meant to him and that when he was writing this, he was making the run for TW he had made that decision.

so push to 2022 and it’s all sort of filtering in, but yeah, I think it was like everyone kind of figures it out as they’re going along. Did you remember the bungee cord? Cause we talked about the bungee cord story,

Jill: I vaguely remembered that, but at, but it was interesting.

I mean, how he trained. and train starts at home and just drilled them at home. And it was like, I mean like the, anybody who just gets really intense into training and does build that, let me build a course at home. Let me do this and let me have this close by. So it’s a lot easier to train. I just thought that was really interesting and helped him adapt to that very strange circumstance.

Oh, and it was warm there too. I had forgotten about that and like, oh man, you have to wonder at some point, will they need to definitely move the Olympics back? And you don’t go into February Olympics because February is Paralympic month because we can’t go into March anymore and have better conditions.

Alison: And they had almost the same exact issue that we experienced, where they had the two really warm days. And then everything refroze when I went up to bank slalom and everything had refrozen and was basically the exact same thing happened to at PyeongChang. They had [00:30:00] two spring days and then the everything dropped and it was a sheet of ice.

And I had the same reaction, like, oh, we, we have seen this movie before and we did not like the ending , but I think that I didn’t get a chance. I think in our PyeongChang Paralympics show we talk about the bungee chord. Oh, interesting. Because you definitely watch that race cuz you’re such a snow a snow cross fan.

And I think you tell that story. So now I gotta go back and re-listen and see if we, if we do that I know we talked about it. I just don’t know if it made the show or not. Cuz I was reading that saying, oh the bungee cord. Jill told me the story of the bungee cord and that’s what’s starting to happen.

When we’re getting to these more recent events, we’re now crossing it back again into personal memory, which is a lot of fun.

Claire: Speaking of personal memory, he was talking about being in Colorado in the early 2010s and I’m going, I was in Colorado during the early 2010s.

He talks about going into a cabin or the apartment condo. Where his buddies are and every, all the ski equipment is just strewn everywhere. I could literally smell that because I have so, so much experience with that. He mentions going to Breckenridge and I’m just like, oh, I love Breckenridge.

That was my home base. When I lived in Colorado and I was gonna go, ski was, I went to Breckenridge. I’ve just these longing pains, cuz I haven’t been back since 2016 and yet very. Resurrecting personal memories, personal smells, not all good smells, but still some good smell. Some good memories there.

I thought there was an interesting difference in ages between the competitors that he was going up against at the Paralympics, because they were doing that training run. I think he was doing it with I wanna say Noah Elliot and he kind of is very competitive in the training run.

And Elliot just says, dude, this is just snowboarding, chill. And I think there is a big age gap because he is a type a, this is more than snowboarding. This is life. This is what metal. And, even you’ve got the, the 20 something being like chill out, dude. Just snowboarding. And I, I, I love that because I can see where Mike Shultz is coming from.

So I don’t know if you noticed that or if you noticed any of the athletes that got mentioned here in this book.

Alison: Oh, Chris Vos, that’s a name we said that a lot. So that was fun to see him come on the scene,

Claire: Him and Brenna Huckabee again. It was fun hearing her, you know as I’m reading the book during the Paralympic.

And then I’m going on to watch the Paralympics. And I’m seeing names that I saw in the book or vice versa, where I see them on screen. And then I read about them in the book, man, if you wanna have some fun read a Olympic book during the Olympics or a Paralympic book during the Paralympics, cuz I don’t know, it’s like 4d or something.

you know what I mean? well, final thoughts on the book.

Jill: I think it’s, it was a good read. This is definitely kind of a quicker read. I think it’s a really good book. If you’re getting into the Paralympics and you wanna understand a little bit more about what they’re about? It’s kind of, especially from, from Mike’s point of view, coming from another sports background, getting into the Paralympics and you also get that bonus element of how prosthetics work, because he builds them. So , I enjoyed it. Not, the best book, but not the worst book.

just ringing endorsement, but I’m really, and I’m also really, really glad. We got a Paralympic book in cuz this was it’s a lot of fun to be able to start reading Paralympic stories too. So thank you, Claire. What are we reading next?

Claire: The next book, actually, if you recall, last July, we interviewed Abdi AB Abdirahman and he wrote a book called Abdi’s World.

And we talked to him personally, I believe that was like July 1st, 2021. If you wanna go back and, and listen to that episode. And then his book has been published. And so we are going to read it for our summer reading and hopefully you can pick up on it. He raced the 10,000 meters and the marathon and he qualified for five different Olympics.

So hopefully you can read it or listen to. And looking forward to talking with you guys about it.

Jill: Excellent. We are looking forward to that as well. So thank you so much, Claire. And we’ll talk with you soon.

Claire: See you soon.

Jill: Thank you so much, Claire. You can follow Claire on Twitter @CauldronLight on Instagram. She is @lightthecauldron, and she has a YouTube channel called C Nat. C space. N a T because she will be going to the World Athletics championships in July, and she’s gonna upload photos and videos to her social.

So you’ll be wanna be sure to follow her. She’s got some great seats [00:35:00] and I’m very excited to hear her report.

Alison: What will be interesting to me is because I don’t think Claire is a hugger if she and Deanna Price collide, where does that fall down? I wanna see what

happens there. .

Jill: Uh, as we mentioned next time, we’ll be reading the book Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running and Fun by TKFLASTANI, Abdi Abdirahman.

Claire talked with Abdi about the book last year when we interviewed him for the show take, listen to his little preview.

Claire: What led you to write this book about your life and your experiences? Uh

Abdi Abdirahman: What led me to write this book about my life? You know It just, I think it was a. It was easy thing to do, just because where I came from, what I’ve been through, you know like, a lot of people know me as Abdi, the runner, the outgoing guy.

So I wanted people to get to know my life experience. you know I’m from Somalia. How do I get here? Because we all have a different story. You know when when we end up coming to US, especially like, this day. So you have a lot of ethnic. They take like to give a different path, but my path was, was different from a lot of the guys from me from, just from Lopez Lamong.

So you just, I just wanna share my story too. EV everybody have a story. So, and I thought my story was kind of a little bit interesting and unique and also just making the five Olympics, just longevity I have and just, I wanna share people of my journey of each Olympics, because. A lot of people see me making the teams, but it’s not always as perfect as it looks inside as an ethic part because people always see the finished product.

So I just wanna share the journey, the high, the lows, everything. So, and if I can also motivated someone who is going through a difficult time, like I did, you know would be a great thing. So that’s the reason I write the

Claire: Do you think if the Olympics had taken place at the normal time, you would’ve written the book afterwards, did the pandemic kind of get you into writing that book a little faster?

Abdi Abdirahman: Yeah. I don’t think I would’ve been ready last year. So I think a pandemic, a lot of people started doing different things when the pandemic had, because you have so much time on your hands, just people were doing like house improvement project, or a lot of people were doing certain things.

So you have to yourself. So. I think like at the pandemic was a big part of me writing this book because I needed something to do at that time because everything, the whole world was shut down and we went to the difficult time. So I just needed to keep myself busy. And I said, what a better time to do your book?

And last year, and last say, I hope it’s gonna be ready by the Olympics. So that was the main goals. And that was part of my motivation to be, and that’s true.

Claire: You broke out the book into parts which is a little different from other books that we’ve read biographies. you broke them up into different rings culminated with your Olympics that you were taking, that you were doing at that time. Was that your idea? or who came up with it and, and how did that all come together?

Abdi Abdirahman: That was our idea, actually, me and my, the publisher Miles, we just didn’t wanna do like a normal book, you know just at the end of the day, we have to be innovative, we have to do something different, just, and also, I, I thought like, We have to break it down.

Like each chapter, instead of doing chapters, we were doing like each of five Olympics, just so it was, both us our idea. So we just discussed that. We said, let’s be something different and it’s not gonna be a usual book, but it’s gonna be, it will be more interesting and people will be talking and you, the second person asking me that question, actually,

Claire: And now, are you ever gonna come back and kind of finish off the book with your Tokyo ring?

Or maybe, maybe a Paris ring? I maybe I’m stretching here. But are you ever gonna come back and kind of, finish off that last section? Or are you gonna keep it the way it is actually? Like,

Abdi Abdirahman: we, we, we might have, like, you know at the, I’ve been this sport, I’ve been this sports, like so long, I’ve been over.

20 years. So it’s always, there’s so many story that to be told, just hopefully like I’m not just this part of was just, this was like a part of like my life and also a journey of getting to the, each Olympic. So, and there’s always going, we go, we gonna do like at the second book, but it’s gonna be more about that part of uh business side of it, because a lot of the runners like these.

They don’t know what the runners go through, just so I’m under, still under contract with my shoe company. So, it’s a lot of stories that need to be told and people need to learn about it. And to make this, I know it’s not a bad thing just to make the sports better. You know If people will listen to us.

So, and also, you never know to Paris is not that far. I was only two years away after next year. So keeping my finger cross one year at a time next year would be 20, 20, 20 13 would be almost like a year and a half later we have the trial. So why not? I’m not counting myself. I just, but I’m taking one year out of time though.

So I’m not looking like.

Claire: Well at your age, nobody’s counting you out at all, especially with the amazing marathon trials that you did last year. One final question. What was the one story that you were the most excited to share in this book?

Abdi Abdirahman: Uh The most story, like it just, my story was about my family, just like just for us coming to, coming from [00:40:00] Somalia, just uh coming from the civil war, just, and also we end up just coming to America, just for me was just because like a lot of they came here.

They get a scholarship. They they’ve been recruited, but for me it was different path. Just for me, I, I came from like a war country, filled with my family refugee camp, all the stuff that I’ve been through in life. And I wanted people to know that. And also that’s what makes me tough too. So not giving up in life, not taking anything for granted.

Claire: Well, thank you so much. I hope that our readers take advantage of the book and Thank you for sharing your story in this book, it’s been very interesting to read. I really appreciate your work. Thank you.

Jill: As a reminder, you can find a book club titles on If you go through that link, anything you will support the show financially, which is greatly appreciated. And you’ll also be supporting independent book sellers.

That sound means it’s time for our history moment. All year long we’re looking back at Albertville in 1992 as it is the 30th anniversary of those games. My turn for a story. And I actually wanna talk about the Paralympics. Excellent. We haven’t talked about those yet. This is the fifth winter Paralympics, which took place in Tignes Albertville.

And to compare this to the Olympics, the fifth winter Olympics was St. Morritz 1948. So. It gives you a little perspective on how developed the winter Paralympics are at this point. They were called Tignes and I hope I’m pronouncing this right. It’s ness, ort, Albertville. Everything was in Tignes. Albertville was just there to use for marketing purposes, but these games were the first that paired the Winter Paralympics with the Winter Olympics. And this process started happening in 1985 when André Auberger, who was the president of the French sport Federation for the disabled wrote to Michel Barnier president of the French Olympic bid committee and said, Hey, if you win the Olympic bid, how about you host the Paralympics too?

And so. 11 months later, Albertville won the bid. And about a month after that Barnier said, okay, we’ll have the Paralympics too and finalized everything in 1987. First time, those two have paired. The fun part was the International Paralympic Committee were not thrilled about the proposed dates, which was March 25 to April 2.

Alison: That’s a little late for snow.

Jill: We’ve talked about how, how not snowy Beijing was and how hard it was to keep the, even the manmade, snow on the ground in Beijing, in March. So the IPC asked for the games to be held in January.

Alison: Oh. Before?

Jill: Yes, before. So the para athletes were actually not happy about that because January wasn’t really a great time for them to compete, and of course, as you can imagine, the IOC was not too happy either and said you were not going ahead of us. So that put the kibosh on that. And the games were held back at their proposed dates.

These games had 365 athletes. It split out 228 men and 77 women representing 24 countries. They had 79 medal events in three sports. Alpine skiing, cross country skiing and by Athlon and due to a lack of entries and suitable venues, no ice sports were held for these Paralympics.

Alison: Interesting.

Jill: Yeah. They did have some demonstration sports.

They added Alpine and Nordic skiing for intellectual impairments. And then biathlon added a visual impairment category.

Alison: Which we know stuck around.

Jill: Yes. Yes. The opening ceremony, they held in front of the finish area for Alpine at the Alpine venue. So it was pretty small and contained ceremony. The mascot for these games was Alpy, which was a mountain shaped in the form of a Grande Motte, which is a mountain in messy de the mountain is on a monoski, which symbolizes athleticism. And he has a snowy white top. Then there’s a little layer of green and a blue base. And those colors represent purity, hope and nature. All courtesy of designer. Vincent Thiebaut . The logo was designed by Jean-Michel Folon, which is a bird with broken wings, soaring over a mountain peak.

So that symbolism reflects the abilities of the athletes in the games. Other notable, notable firsts. This was the first Paralympic event in France [00:45:00] ever. This was the first time that an athlete’s village was at a winter Paralympics because previously they had been in hotels. and this was also the first time doping tests were at a winter game, winter for oh, that’s.

Alison: That is not a good development. cause you only have. When you think you’re gonna find results?

Jill: Yeah, yeah. A little bit more about the opening ceremony. I, I did look for some video of this because I really wanted to see it. As I mentioned, the opening ceremony was held at the foot of the main competition piste at the uh, Alpine ski runs and the countries entered the arena in French alphabetical order.

Every 45 seconds, a para glider in the country, colors of the country landed in the arena in front of the delegations. I really wanted to see that. That sounds so cool.

Alison: That is some serious. Choreography and timing.

Jill: Right. And then they also had six hang gliders performing an acrobatics display, which had been choreographed by American dancer, Dany Ezralow to music by French composer, Michel Colombier with a harmonica solo performed by Belgian musician, Toots Thielemans

Alison: Those harmonica solos were big in the nineties.

Jill: and president Francois Mitterand opened the games. The Paralympic flame in caldron was lit by French Nordic skier. Luc Sabatier helped by Fabrice Guy. And then at the end of the ceremony, they ha did a big balloon release to “Ode to Joy” and the team delegations left the arena.

So for these games, top of the medal, the, the medal chart winners were USA, Germany, and the Unified Team. German, Alpine skier, Reinhold Mueller claimed four gold medals. His teammate Gerd

Alison: schoenfelder

Jill: and Frank Hoefle, each one, three. And. Schoenfelder was an Alpine.

Hoefle is in biathlon cross country. The USA’s Nancy Gustafson won three gold medals in Alpine skiing. And then the Unified Team was led by Nikolai Ilioutchenko who won three gold medals in cross country .

Alison: And

Schoenfelder we talked about during Beijing because he and Brian McKeever from Canada are now tied. If you remember, for the most winter Paralympic medals ever,

Jill: that is correct. good memory. One a couple little tidbit or one little tidbit I thought was interesting because one of the things we, other other things we talked about New Zealand during the Winter Olympics was that they won gold medals.


Alison: This was the first gold medal in the Winter Olympics for the New Zealand and pretty much any country in Oceana,

Jill: but New Zealand started winning golds in the winter games at the Paralympics in. 1992. Well, I actually, actually, I don’t know that if, if this was the first games they did, New Zealand had a seven person team, all men, all Alpine’s skiers and Patrick Cooper won two golds.

And it’s one of the things that’s interesting is that when you go to the New Zealand, Paralympic team site, they number their Paralympians. So Patrick was Paralympian number 55, and they’re now up to 228.

Alison: interesting. I like that. Cuz then it really ties you into the history of the Paralympics.


Jill: because you can see, like when I went to find who was the, the most recent Paralympian, the numbers range. So vastly from games to games because Paralympians do spend a longer time in the Paralympics. It seems. So you’ll have Paralympians who do multiple games and just you’ll you’ll have like number 2 28 on the same team as like one 30.

Alison: If they stick around enough games like a Brian McKeever from Canada. That’s right. Just can’t seem to retire, right.

Or a Gerd Schoenfelder.



Jill: It’s time to check in with our Team Keep the Flame Alive. These are our past guests of the show who are now citizens of our country TKFLASTAN. Slow week this week, but good news in the world of ice skating.

Alison: I know everyone seems to be on vacation, so I’m seeing a lot of vacation pictures, but not on vacation. Charlie White And Meryl Davis will be inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2022.[00:50:00]

Jill: We’re getting some final reports out of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. The Kyodo News reports that its final budget and official report were re were presented to the IOC. Final costs of the games were 1.4, 2 trillion yen, which is about 10.5 billion us dollars. This is double what they thought the games would cost in 2013 when they bid, however, over the years they kept adjusting the, the budget numbers.

And they thought in 2016 that they would be spending 1.5 trillion yen. So actually the one the 1.4, 2 trillion yen doesn’t look so bad. And this was also 29 billion yen lower than last December’s forecast, due to a number of reasons, including venue restoration work that cost less than expected. The coronavirus measures, they had cost 38 billion yen. So it was still pretty pricey on that. How it breaks out the organizing committee is paying 640 billion yen.

Metropolitan government is going to pay 597 billion yen. And the central government will be paying a 187 billion yen. So the government I E the taxpayers are really helping to finance these games. And as they put forth a bid to host the winter games in 2030, i, I wonder if citizens will be a little unhappy knowing that they’re gonna be paying for Tokyo for a little while.

Alison: And you can’t blame it all on COVID 19. Yes. They lost money because of COVID 19 and they spent extra money, but double. I don’t think so.

Jill: Right. And they built so many new stadiums for these games.

They did reuse a lot of stadiums, but they also built a lot. And we’ve talked extensively about this being one of the last games to be in this big building age. And it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Paris 2024, because they have talked about extensive reuse or keeping their budget low. And we will see if that comes to fruit.

So this means now that they’re done with all their budgets and final reports, the organizing committee will be dissolved at the end of June. Some legacy news, which is kind of nice. The Kyodo News said that the Japan Sport Council is setting up a subsidy program to help those municipalities who hosted foreign athletes continue to find ways to interact with those countries.

And that program is planned to start in April, 2023. We talked about this. They had all these host cities that were gonna have host athletes in different nations so that they could train ahead of the games and acclimate to a new time zone if they needed to. And not all of those programs worked because of COVID and a bunch got scratched, but there are some did, and they wanna try to keep those relationships going, which I think is really cool.

Alison: It makes sense. If you’re gonna put the effort in to develop these things. Keep them.

Jill: And The Japan News reports that there is going to be a commemorative event at national stadium on July 23, marking the first anniversary of the opening of Tokyo 2020 Games. And, if listener Kaori goes or, maybe Roy Tomizawa, if you go and report back and let us know how it is, we would love to hear.

Alison: Well, I remember Kaori posting pictures of National Stadium and either her apartment or her office is right there. So she doesn’t even have to get tickets. She could just look out her window.

Jill: Hint, hint.

Some interesting news from Beijing, China has turned the athlete villages into COVID quarantine camps. Ryan McMorrow and Nian Liu report in the Financial Times that hundreds of close contacts of cases have been put in all three villages, which are now being used as quarantine facilities and some luxury hotels in the Zhangjiakou zone are also being used as quarantine facilities.

Alison: We talked about this when we talked about the venue legacy report from the IOC, how a lot of Torino’s villages were so poorly made. Nobody wanted them as apartments. So they were using them for refugee camps. I hope this isn’t why these villages are being used as quarantine facilities, cuz they weren’t built properly and can’t be used as proper hotels or proper apartments that they’re actually getting nice apartments when you’re being quarantined.

Jill: Somebody in the article that we’ll post the article linked to it in the show notes, cuz somebody did say, oh, I have like a really great view of the [00:55:00] ski jump facility. And I have a couple TVs and it’s just me here. It’s kind of nice. But it does make me worry that there is no real legacy plan for these venues and when we talked about Tokyo being moved, how one of the difficult parts was the athlete’s village to renegotiate with all of the people who had bought up apartments already. So the fact that there aren’t people waiting to get into these that we know of to actually live in them. That worries me.

Alison: So though, the hotels in Zhangjiakou and in Yanqing would be seasonal.

Jill: That could be. And I, I do know somebody who, I talked with, somebody who stayed in one of the hotels in near the ski jump facility, who said it was pretty quickly finished off so to speak, like taping up wallpaper and things like that, It had to get done. So I don’t know if they’re trying to finish those and that’s why they’re not necessarily being used right now, but we still see and hopefully the reporters on the ground can help keep these stories alive

Alison: Well, you know who won’t be seeing these hotels.

Jill: Who?

Alison: You and me, we are not going back to the mountains of China. We already, almost got trapped there once.

Jill: Some other news about the Beijing games from the, from Inside the Games, the IOC payout to the international federations is expected to be less than the PyeongChang payout. And that’s very important to a lot of these international federations because they do get funds distributed from the IOC. And that can be a significant portion of some of their budgets.

Different international federations have alluded to the fact like, Hey, we’re not gonna get this much money from the IOC this year. We have to tighten our budgets. So it’s going to have a bit of a ripple on what international federations will be able to do and provide for this next quad.

All right.

Well, we would like to give a big shout out to our Patreon patrons who keep our flame alive. If you appreciate this show, we would appreciate your financial support to keep us going. You can find out more about patronage at

And if, one time support is more of your thing, you can find out more ways to support slash support. So that will do it for this week. If you know of a Paralympic or Olympic book that we should read for future book club episodes, let us know.

Alison: You can email Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame. It. Our social handle is at flame alive pod, and be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.

Jill: Next week, we are going to learn what it takes to start a national governing body for a sport with skeleton athlete Shannon Galea. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.