gymnast flipping on a balance beam with lightning flashes

Lightning Round with Gordon Leary & Julia Meinwald, Nicole Langevin and Wayne Lamarre

Release Date: April 6, 2023

We’ve got spring fever this week, which means it’s a great time for a Lightning Round episode! This time we’re gymnastics-forward, so put your hair in a scrunchie and get ready for some Olympic-level insight from The Magnificent Seven creators Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald, gymnastics choreographer Nicole Langevin, and athletic trainer Wayne Lamarre. If you ever wondered what KT tape is good for, this episode is for you!

Find out more about Gordon and Julia:

Follow Nicole and learn more about her services:

Follow Wayne on Twitter.

Let us know about your first memory of the Games! We love hearing from you!

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


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.

Lighting Rounds with Gordon Leary & Julia Meinwald, Nicole Langevin, and Wayne Lamarre (Episode 281)

[00:00:00] Jill: The greatest festival of our contemporary society, the Olympic Games is about to begin. This is gonna be close. Oh, they’re all completely gas. If everything

Oh, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. But that is an Olympic champion. Ready? Hello and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the chauffeur you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games.

I am your host at Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are

[00:00:48] Alison: you? Got my bangs curled. Got my scrunchy, and I am chalked up and ready to go.

[00:00:57] Jill: How sparkly is your leotard? It

[00:01:00] Alison: is so sparkly that we would blind the listeners if we were video. I am Suski Crystal from shoulder to hip.

[00:01:10] Jill: Excellent. we are taking a little spring break, which means we have some great lightning rounds for you, and this time is going to be gymnastics forward, as we would like to say.

First up, we’re talking with Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald creators of the musical, the Magnificent Seven, which is the musical about the Atlanta 1996 women’s gymnastics competition. Let’s see what some non-athletes have to say about the Olympics. Take a listen.

Lightning round.

Gordon Leary & Julia Meinwald

what is your first memory or awareness of the Olympics from when you were.

[00:01:43] Julia Meinwald: I remember being a big Kristi Yamaguchi fan in the ice skating world.

[00:01:49] Gordon: Gosh, I remember the 92 games and I remember Kim’s escal. and again, this is shows my being a normal, but I mostly remember being kind of mystified by their bangs and I just ran in six.

[00:02:08] Alison: We who lived mystified and impressed. Yeah. We who lived through that are still mystified by our back

[00:02:17] Jill: so it’s 1996. What do you think of the mascot? Izzy?

[00:02:25] Julia Meinwald: I think I have to do a, I have to plea the fifth. I don’t, I can’t call Lizzy into my mind.

[00:02:30] Gordon: I remember being so jealous that my neighbor, Betsy and her family went down to Atlanta and she came back with, I think it was a backpack that had the mascot on it, or maybe, or maybe it was a stuffed animal, but I just remember the like intense jealousy that Betsy got to go.

And I did that so that’s what the image calls to mind.

[00:02:53] Jill: if you could be an Olympian in any sport, what would it be? Talent. Notwithstanding


[00:03:00] Julia Meinwald: always really had a thing for Chelsea men. I remember just absolutely loving watching her compete. And now I feel like of I’m I’m not super in any social media, but I see her posting all these routines and always was such a spirit of just to like, give this a, try, this sort of. Amazing graceful casualness with which she tries these absolutely amazing things.

I always really enjoy watching her. I

[00:03:31] Gordon: think for me, it’s a ti I mean, we’re talking Olympic heroes minus Surya Bonalyi, just forever. My favorite. I love, I love Renegade. but I think it’s complicated by my fear of Heights, but I do think that diving is just the coolest thing.

[00:03:51] Alison: what was the first Broadway show you ever saw?

[00:03:54] Julia Meinwald: I think for me it was Les Miserables. I was so into it. I thought it when I was maybe nine years old, old, and then I promptly asked my parents to get me the book and I was reading it feeling so literary and I listened to the soundtrack every night and I grew my hair to have that the swish of things like on the poster.

[00:04:13] Gordon: Mine was much later as a Clevelander. I didn’t get to New York until maybe 1998 and I saw bring it to noise, bring it to funk, which is an amazing, amazing, like tap poetry show. Um, let’s saving Glover and, and it’s a very nontraditional first Broadway musical, but it was the thing that looked best on TDF.


[00:04:37] Alison: now know why they worked together because they both have a bang fascination.

[00:04:44] Jill: what was the first show you saw after the theaters reopened?

[00:04:48] Julia Meinwald: For me, it was Caroline or change the revival, which was amazing.

[00:04:53] Gordon: I actually, my husband and I went to the first preview of, Passover, which was the first play to, [00:05:00] to reopen last August. we made a night of it a celebratory night.

[00:05:05] Jill: And finally, do you have any Olympic souvenirs?

[00:05:09] Julia Meinwald: We actually actually just ordered as gifts for our, for our team on this show, a lot of vintage Olympic pins. So we have a couple of those little things and I’m trying to think, Gordon, do you still have windbreakers from back

[00:05:24] Gordon: in the day? Uh, I think I have one we did for concert once I did it just to like eBay scouring for red, white and blue track jackets.

Um, and I think one of them is official. Um, I also found an Atlanta, a 96 Atlanta like hand fan, which is pretty fun. And then we all, we have the good old enamel pins, which. Easier to wear than the hand fan

[00:05:53] Alison: but much less dramatic. Exactly.

[00:05:57] Jill: Alrighty. Excellent. Well,

Thank you, Gordon and Julia. Find out more about the or on Insta. They are Gordon and Julia musicals and also the Magnificent seven is playing at the Flint Repertory Theater in Flint, Michigan through April 16th.

[00:06:16] Alison: And next up we have gymnastics choreographer, Nicole Lanvin.

Take a listen. Lightning round.

Nicole Langevin

What is your first memory of the Olympics when you were a kid?

[00:06:26] Nicole Langevin: It’s not lightning, obviously. Um, 92 still, I knew about Mary Lou Ratt and I knew about Nadia. I had seen things of it, but 92, that was, that was the first one. and it was the showdown between Kims and Mescal and Shannon Miller

[00:06:43] Alison: What about that particular, I mean, obviously you were the right age. Yeah. And you were, you were a

[00:06:49] Nicole Langevin: Shannon. I was, I, I mean, Kim’s mescal’s amazing too. but she was the, she was always like, just behind Kim. And so the world was like, Kim’s a mascal, Kim’s a mess school. And I was like, n I think she’s really good though.

Shannon’s really, really good. And uh, my best friend at the time, Andrea, we both like, loved Shannon Miller. We thought she was just at, well, she is amazing. and then at Olympic trials, Shannon beat her and it was like, Huh. And then they went to the Olympics and Shannon Miller just had the week of her life.

And it was just really, really cool to see somebody that wasn’t touted from the media as being the IT girl, just do her thing and, and do as well as she did. She should have won. But that’s another story. So did you also wear scrunchies? I did the exact hairstyle as her as long as I could. The tucked under braid with the scrunchy?

Yes. Not as big of a scrunchy as her. But I absolutely went from buns and switched to the tucked under braid because of Shayna Miller,

[00:07:48] Alison: what is your favorite training exercise to do with your gymnast? Or what did you love the most when you were a

[00:07:54] Nicole Langevin: gymnast to do? Oh, air awareness for sure. We had this like bungee thing that was attached to the ceiling and it’s like you’re in a harness and I had come off of ankle surgery when I was like 13 and I just lived in that thing.

And the air awareness that I developed because of that and my backyard trampoline, which I know gymnastics people are gonna be like, You shouldn’t have backyard trampolines. But it was early nineties. I did my air awareness. Got amazing. That was really cool. So that’s, that’s some of my most favorite memories of gymnastics is just knowing I can’t believe it, the stuff that I was doing, knowing where I was in the air.

So training, air awareness is super fun and I still like training that with athletes today. Besides

[00:08:35] Alison: gymnastics, what Olympic sport would you wanna try?

[00:08:38] Nicole Langevin: Bobsled. Why? I, I love going down slides. I mean, , I love water slides. I don’t know, it’s kind of similar. , Um, . What would I wanna try? I mean, aerial skiing. Speaking of air awareness, you’d be great at it. Uh, not anymore. I would’ve been in 1993. ,

[00:09:04] Jill: I did see that. Oh, you did some break dancing in your lifetime.

Did you have a B girl name?

[00:09:12] Nicole Langevin: oh my gosh. What was, Oh, Nicky. I like it, or punky bee it, it kind of switched back and forth.

I, there’s a big punky booster thing in my life, and it tends to follow me a lot. So those two are, Are you excited that Breakins in the Olympics? I’m so excited. I’m so excited. It’s, They’re amazing. They’re absolutely like other worldly. When you, when you see it done at that like, just crazy, like the world championship level.

It’s so cool. And

[00:09:44] Alison: finally, do you have a favorite Olympic souvenir?

[00:09:47] Nicole Langevin: Mm,

I don’t know that I have an Olympic souvenir. I’m trying to think. Like, do I, I mean, No, no. So as a choreographer, I don’t go if that’s what you’re thinking. Oh,

[00:09:59] Alison: no, no, no, [00:10:00] no. Just, Oh, okay. You know, randomly or even just. Your gymnastics life, Do you have a favorite souvenir from your travels?

[00:10:11] Nicole Langevin: Hmm. Well, I have a whole lot of trophies that have become a village that my children play in.

Now. They make a village out of my trophies, but it’s actually really, really kind of fun to see. yeah, I guess I have this, I don’t know if this counts, but when I was 14 or 15, I had to stop for a little while. I had a, I couldn’t lift my arm up. I had a shoulder thing going on. I had to stop gymnastics for like a whole season.

I did track and pole vault instead. So I don’t know how that’s any better, but I did. And in that time I realized how much I loved it. I, I was kind of getting burnt out anyway, and then I went back to it and it was like having a second chance at life, like that feeling. and. I did an interview, not a real interview, mind you, this was like my Jim’s newsletter interview, but they didn’t, they were doing an interview with all the seniors and I just read it recently and I remember just gushing about how I had fallen in love with the sport again.

And I’m just so happy that I have that like in written form to remember what that was like, that that return to something that I thought I was kind of done with and the joy that it brought. So that’s probably one of them.

[00:11:24] Alison: Excellent. Thank you.

[00:11:26] Jill: Thank you so much Nicole. Follow Nicole and learn more about her services on Facebook and Insta. Her podcast is what makes you Think. She’s, the podcast is also on Twitter and she is one of the owners of Precision choreography. We will have links to all of those in the show notes.

[00:11:43] Alison: Who knew Kim Escal was gonna be the star of our lightning round? I know that was

[00:11:48] Jill: really Surpris. Everybody

[00:11:50] Alison: loves Kim Escal.

[00:11:53] Jill: Well, and it’s, it’s interesting to get two different people who are, are of the same coming of age for the Olympics. You know, 1992, was it? So what a, what an epic. I, I, I, after 84. And 88, which was Phoebe Mills, whom I loved, and that was just, we’ll find out in our history moment.

That wasn’t a very good, turned out, that didn’t turn out very well for her, did it?

[00:12:26] Alison: The US did not do well in Seoul, in gymnastics,

[00:12:30] Jill: so, and then we go to 1992 and it just kind of fell off of my radar in terms of sport. But it’s fun to hear. What that competition was like through other people’s eyes and just how interesting it was.

[00:12:47] Alison: Bangs and scrunchies man for the win.

Wayne Lamarre

[00:12:52] Jill: Finally, because gymnastics competitors often use KT tape, we are talking with athletic trainer Wayne Lamarre. Wayne went to Beijing 2022 with the US Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Take a listen.

Lightning round.

, what is your first memory of the Olympics?

[00:13:10] Wayne: My first memory of the Olympics, it would be the winter Olympics, why we used to watch them constantly with my kids. I’m trying to remember which, which year it would have been though. It probably would have been somewhere in that, 2010 range.

I’m guessing. ’cause my, my kids and I really love skiing and ice skating. So, you know, in general, we pay closer attention to the winter Olympics than we do the summer Olympics.

[00:13:36] Alison: You didn’t watch them growing up.

[00:13:38] Wayne: Not very much as a kid growing up. No, no, what’s really interesting. about me as a, as a professional is that, I don’t spend a ton of time watching athletics because so much of what I’ve done over my career has been working in the athletic events.

I mean, I understand the games and, you know, I’m a red Sox fan and a Patriots fan, so I’ll watch those games, but I I’ve never been a religious follower of any particular team in that sense. mostly because, I mean, I find myself sort of watching it as an athletic trainer. I’m, you know, Almost as interested in injury mechanisms as I am in this final score kind of thing.

So, yeah, and honestly, that, to a certain extent, I think that’s helped me throughout my career because one of the pitfalls that I think a lot of our students make sometimes, and even athletic trainers is that you become too much of a fan and you’re not there to sort of be the healthcare provider. You know, you’re not there as a fan or a coach you’re there as a, as a medical provider.

And that, that objectivity, that sort of distance, I think makes us better, better providers of care. So

[00:14:40] Jill: are there times where, oh, and by the way this, we say lightning round and it’s not really fast. are there times where you just don’t know the final score?

[00:14:48] Wayne: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Not, not most, not most of the time that it it’s a, it’s a minority, but there are certainly times.

Yeah. When I don’t. When I don’t necessarily know the final score yet.

[00:14:59] Alison: Okay. So have you, [00:15:00] and as Jill said, we get off topic. So are you ever watching a sport and like seeing somebody tape job and just, just shake your head and be like, oh, that that’s just

[00:15:10] Wayne: absolutely, absolutely. Well, and part of it’s just because of, it’s literally the aesthetic, you know, for athletes and the aesthetic, actually for the athlete corresponds to effectiveness right or wrong.

and historically basketball players have been the worst in my career that I’ve worked with, whether it’s collegiate or high school athletes and men and women equally, it has to look great for them. Uh, you know, to sort of, you know, functionally, it may be the best taping technique that you could have applied that minimize their injury.

But if it doesn’t look good, they’re going to cut it off as soon as they get out to the court and then you’re gonna walk out and find that, all your work was for not so.

[00:15:49] Alison: Wow. Speaking

[00:15:50] Jill: of looking well, I don’t think it’s necessarily good luck. What’s up with all the KT tape. What does that do?

[00:15:57] Wayne: That’s interesting. KT tape. the, the difficulty with a lot of this KT tape and even the dry needling, for example, there are certain techniques that research just hasn’t caught up with yet. And there’s a huge push in medicine in general, but in athletic training in particular, in the last 10 years to move toward evidence-based practice.

and there’s also a risk in that because if you exclusively practice things that have huge amounts of evidence to support their efficacy, you’re going to miss out on some really interesting outcomes. and KT tape is one of those examples. You know, there, there, there, isn’t a really strong evidential base for its effectiveness, but athletes swear by it.

I myself have worn it and found it to be effective. And the idea behind KT tape. Not that different than what I was talking about before. Sorry, I’ll assume with a rotator cuff where, if I can apply a tape that’s that simply provides just a little bit of direction, just a little bit of tension to lift and support those fascia layers.

I’m actually going to have an impact on tissues below the surface in a way that I wouldn’t have before. You know, if I were to right now where each of you are sitting down, if I were to just come behind you and simply grab your shirt just a little bit and tug behind your shoulders, you would automatically set up a little bit taller.

Just that slight amount of tension on your shirt would allow enough of a, sort of a, cue for your underlying muscles to sort of change position. That’s what KT tape really does. It provides just that cute it’s that slight enough tension to sort of change the way that we move and it’s and anecdotally athletes love it.

So that’s why we.

[00:17:40] Jill: it makes me think also along the same lines, what’s up with all the, of the compression sleeves,

[00:17:46] Wayne: same thing, same thing. It’s just that tactile. It’s having one of my favorite physicians, Dr. Robert Johnson, who was an expert in ACL injury reconstruction at the university of Vermont.

you know, literally one of the most sought after sports med docs in the world for that particular injury and leading researchers, he wants told me that, having a $15 knee sleeve on one of his patient’s knees may be just as effective as a thousand dollar knee brace. Because from his perspective, the most important thing was having the athlete’s brain and knee be connected in that way.

If I similarly. So either of you and just place both hands around your knees immediately, there’s this connection neurologically that’s awakened between the two and in his mind that may be enough to help them minimize injury, because you’re just more aware your brain is more aware of what’s happening in that knee.

The response time between muscles and brain is going to be that much faster. So that’s sort of the theory behind a lot of these compression sleeves over and above, you know, somebody that has a huge swollen ankle applying a compression sleeve. Obviously it’s going to help keep some of that fluid out of there, but from an injury prevention perspective and sort of performance perspective, it’s really just neurological.

[00:19:04] Jill: So really we’re trying to using some stuff to play mind games with ourselves.

[00:19:09] Wayne: That’s it that’s really it. Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:19:13] Jill: How cold does an ice bath have to be?

[00:19:16] Wayne: It depends on how many players have been in there, much ice. I can have access.

[00:19:24] Jill: Oh no, I am a fan of a hot tub. So I sure like the, the similar, like super venous gets in with

[00:19:31] Wayne: yeah. That’s the challenging part of it. I, you know, the literature would say that it needs to be down in the order of the low 60 degrees for those Fahrenheit, for these fasts to be, you know, effective, we’ve done studies and not, we me, myself personally, but what sports medicine professionals have done studies where we’ll actually insert needles that are not much different than this in terms of diameter, below the surface of the skin that are actually miniature thermometers thermistors, they’re called, and you can insert those into somebody’s knee joint, for example, or a [00:20:00] muscle like the quadriceps muscle in the thigh, and then place that person in a cold tub and.

How cold the tub needs to be to actually affect a change down in the muscle. It goes back to what I said before the treatment has to reach the source. And the challenging part is that oftentimes if you make it too cold, the body will in response, want to send more blood to the area, to avoid hypothermia.

So you sort of end up with the opposite effect of what you were going for. So there’s this kind of sweet spot that has been found in the literature. but a lot of the, of the effects of the cold tubs for the athletes again, is anecdotal. You know, they find that they recover faster. Uh, we don’t have, it’s really challenging to create a well constructed study to really get at the object objectivity of, you know, does that work or doesn’t it work?

So, I mean, we continue to sort of struggle with it because for us, it’s logistically a challenge, as I said, I mean, it’s no joke. It’s hard to find enough ice to keep these things full and then secondary. Many times we’ve got to drain these things and they, you know, I just think the, remember we won the, the four nations tournament in Finland and the team is on the bus and we’re waiting for the cold tub to drain because, you know, we have to fold this inflatable thing up and everyone’s like, let’s go away.

And like, and it’s because I’m waiting for this thing to drain. So we can go to the hotel to celebrate that. We just won the four nations tournament. It’s those kinds of silly things that not to mention, the innumerous floods that we’ve created in locker rooms and other places, because we’ve had to do this, but it’s part of their performance regimen and a huge part of that is supporting them and theirs, whatever makes them successful.

So, but how

[00:21:41] Alison: does the ice bath not get to double as a cooler. I mean, you’ve got it sitting

[00:21:45] Wayne: there. That’s true. That’s true. And it hasn’t yet in my tenure then maybe we’ll change that environment. Just give them an idea. Yeah. You just gave us, this gave us an idea.

[00:21:54] Jill: do you find that, some people say no coal ice bath, I want heat instead, or is heat not the greatest,

[00:22:01] Wayne: very few, very few do there, there are some, that will do that.

you know, we, we do have an ultrasound unit that uses sound waves to create sort of heat from, from the inside out that we find to be a little bit more effective for that same reason. I think we try to convince the athletes away from just the superficial hot pack for the reason I told you before that it’s really not getting down to the surface.

Certainly it may feel great. but these athletes are really about, about outcomes. So, if we can educate them on I’d much rather have you heat this. A good example would be somebody that comes in and says, you know, my back’s really tight. could I put a hot pack on there? Well, having somebody who’s about to go play an Olympic level game lie still for 20 minutes with a hot pack resting on their back is not even remotely appropriate.

Given what they’re going to, going to do on the ice. I need them to be up warmed up, ready to go. So there may be more functional activities, more calisthenic types of stretches and other kinds of things that we can do to warm up that muscle tissue that are going to be way more effective than that passive modality of just putting a hot pack on somebody.

So again, we try to move away from that. There are some athletic trainers that when they walk into a new athletic training facility, one of the first things they throw in the garbage is the hydraulic elite or the hot pack machine, so to speak because it’s just not really as effective as people think it is.

[00:23:22] Jill: last question. If you could be an Olympian in any other sport, in any sport other than hockey, and we’re taking baseball off the table to what would it be?

[00:23:30] Wayne: Probably biathlon. Yeah, I think that, that, and it’s not just because we have the training center here up in Northern Maine at Presque isle, and it’s such a big deal up there.

No, it’s, it’s the combination of that incredibly rigorous cardiovascular activity combined with just being able to center yourself and calm yourself to the extent that you’ve got to hit this target. That just fascinates me like the dichotomy of just, you know, crazy. And then down here, that’s pretty amazing control.

I mean, you know, the American public could benefit from that. Like think of all the road rage we’d avoid, right. Being able to teach people to sort of get from here to here. You know, it’s certainly would work for calming down my students on the day of exams. Yeah. I’d love to teach.

[00:24:16] Jill: Excellent. Excellent.

Well, Wayne, thank you so much for taking time and talking with us.

Thank you Wayne. You can follow Wayne on Twitter. He is at w R Lamar and we will have a link to that in the show notes.

[00:24:31] Alison: So since we’ve talked to Wayne, I have actually used KT tape for the first time in my life. Oh. When I was going through physical therapy and he taped up my ankle. It was amazing really.

[00:24:44] Jill: Is it because that made you feel it, it made it feel better or pulled it to where it was supposed to go or It because,

[00:24:50] Alison: because I was walking funny, because of my toe, my ankle was starting to hurt.

Mm-hmm. And he taped my ankle and it instantly was better. [00:25:00] It was like magic. But I have to say it was very precise how he put that. He didn’t just slap that on, he cut it. He wound, I mean it was a work of art. I’ll have to post the picture of this cuz it was beautiful. Huh?

[00:25:13] Jill: And then was it something you could replicate?

Obviously not cuz he was a trained professional.

[00:25:18] Alison: No I could not. But it went away. Once I had the support for a few days, the pain went away and then as my toe was healing, then the ankle was.

[00:25:26] Jill: That is so interesting.

[00:25:28] Alison: Magic. That stuff is, hm. Wayne knows what he’s talking about. You should get a job like with one of those Olympic teams.

[00:25:39] Jill: I think he already did. Alright, well that is going to do it for this week. Hey, let us know what your first memory of

[00:25:46] Alison: the games is. You can email us at flame live pod Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod. Be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook.

And don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episodes. You can sign

[00:26:16] Jill: We will be back next week with more interviews and news from the Olympics and Paralympics. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame.