Blythe Lawrence headshot. Blythe commentates on many sports, including gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics.

Rhythmic Gymnastics with Blythe Lawrence

Release Date: August 17, 2023

On this episode, we look at the world of rhythmic gymnastics with freelance sports journalist and commentator Blythe Lawrence (whose voice you might recognize from many a gymnastics feed). Blythe explains how the sport works and what we can look forward to at Paris 2024.

Be sure to follow Blythe on Twitter and Insta!

In our Seoul history moment, Alison looks at the men’s 100m butterfly race, which has a surprising winner:

In our visit to TKFLASTAN, we have news from:

Plus, we have updates from Paris 2024 and MIlan-Cortina 2026!

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

Photo courtesy of Blythe Lawrence.

TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

Rhythmic Gymnastics with Blythe Lawrence (Ep 300)

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from the athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello, how are you?

[00:00:50] Alison: Happy ter century. Huh? It’s our 300th show.

[00:00:55] Jill: Oh yes. It’s our 300th show. It’s amazing.

[00:01:00] Alison: It is our cent cent. Wait, I wrote again cent. That’s not even French and I’m struggling with it. Well, you know it’s our 300th regular show. Mm-hmm. Yes. Because we don’t number the. Dailies and a couple of the specials that we’ve done.

But that’s pretty cool.

[00:01:24] Jill: It’s cool it, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It feels like we’ve been doing the show a very long time, but it also feels like no way has been 300 episodes. I

[00:01:35] Alison: know it’s a long time and we’re still

[00:01:37] Jill: here and you know, people always ask us, oh, The games are like every four years.

What do you talk about? And I tell you, our list has not even begun to diminish. I think it’s

[00:01:48] Alison: gone bigger. I know. 300. We’ve got 3000 more topics we could talk about.

[00:01:53] Jill: Buckle up listeners. Speaking of great topics to talk about, we are getting [00:02:00] into rhythmic gymnastics today, which is very exciting because you may understand my ambivalence about the sport, but.

We’ve got a guest who might change my mind.

Blythe Lawrence Interview

[00:02:11] Jill: Blythe Lawrence is with us today. She is a freelance sports journalist and commentator. You may have recognized her voice from many in O B S and gymnastics feed. So we talked with Blythe about many things, so many that we’ve got two shows worth for you. But we are starting with rhythmic gymnastics today and how they work.

Take a listen.

[00:02:32] Alison: So let’s talk some rhythmic gymnastics and why we should love it. Let’s start with just the really basics of why should we all be watching rhythmic gymnastics?

[00:02:42] Blythe Lawrence: It’s beautiful. And gymnastics, I really like saying that it’s something that lies at the nexus of sport and art and maybe rhythmic gymnastics.

You can really see the art just as much as you see the athleticism. So first of all it’s spectacular to look at. It has people telling stories on the carpet. It has thrilling tosses and catches. There’s always that suspense. The same suspense is when you watch a balance beam routine. Like are they gonna fall?

Are they not going to fall? Are they gonna make this catch? Is there going to be a heartbreaking moment where on the last throw the apparatus gets away from you? And there’s just so much drama and intensity in something like an all around final in rhythmic gymnastics where you have gymnast that take the carpet with each of the handheld apparatus, wearing something different, doing a completely different routine.

There’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong, for mishaps to happen. And you know, it just like with any athlete, it means so much to them. It’s such a glorious thing to watch. But then afterwards you’re like, ah, [00:04:00] you know, that you, you kind of sit back and you go, oh my gosh. Yeah. It’s a brilliant thing.

It takes you on a journey.

[00:04:08] Alison: What makes it hard?

[00:04:10] Blythe Lawrence: Have you ever tried it? Well, I have. I think that that’s one of those things that people look at a little bit and they’re like, oh, well that looks easy. But with so much of gymnastics, it looks easy because of all of the time that has been invested into refining and perfecting those moves.

It’s not easy at all. And so when you come to realize how very difficult it is to make something look that easy your respect for it just shoots way up. And you think, wow, this is an extraordinary sport. And it is an extraordinary sport.

[00:04:47] Alison: I always love the choreography of the team event.

So there’s a team and there’s solos. So let’s talk a little bit about the team event. How is it put together? What are we gonna see?

[00:04:59] Blythe Lawrence: To be honest with you, I do not know how they manage to put together the group exercises. Because there is like an artistic gymnastics, there’s a code of points and there are a lot of things, and it really becomes very nuanced about what you can do and what you cannot do.

And if you do a, you can only do a twice except if B, and then, you know, and if be then c but it is a thing that’s just, it’s incredibly nuanced both for individuals and for groups. And I’ve never talked to a group choreographer, but I would love to pick their brains and say, you know, how, what is, how do you even start to do this?

And how much time does it take between, you know, your starting point and your ending point? Because I think it’s, it’s a lot of hours. And then making sure maybe once you’ve got the basic concept of what the routine is going to be about and how things are going to go down you have [00:06:00] to refine that a little bit to make sure that you’re optimizing the difficulty that the group can get within the limits, of course, of what the group can do.

And it’s just, it’s very, very complicated.

[00:06:12] Alison: Who are the big guns to watch at the moment?

[00:06:16] Blythe Lawrence: Italy is really at the top of the world in rhythmic gymnastics, and the reason is they’ve got a 19 year old named Sophia Raphael, who is the world champion. She won five gold medals at the last World Championships and she is, Spectacular.

She has a wonderful way of handling the apparatus. She’s incredibly well coached. She’s coached by a 2012 Olympian named Juliette Cantaloupe who has just such a wonderful presence in the, the kiss and cry of when she’s interacting with her athletes as well. Um, And she really, really knows what she’s doing both technically and mentally preparing her athletes for competition.

The Italian group, it’s absolutely formidable as well. They have two routines that are iconic. People are going to be watching them 50 years from now and going, wow, isn’t that great the same way that we do today. Yeah. And then Bulgaria as well is maybe the other big hitter both for groups and individuals.

They have three phenomenal individuals right now in Stilla and nva who was the splash of last year’s world championships and of the European Championships this year. And then the European champion in title Breanna, Colleen, also from Bulgaria. She. She had difficult end to her 2022.

the World Championships were in Sophia in her hometown. It was like tailor made for her to have a career making competition. And she’s somebody who has placed forth at a lot of international competition. She’s always been up there, but she’s never quite gotten onto the podium at a world championships and the day of the competition she had a terrible infection.

And she had to be [00:08:00] hospitalized. She actually came to the venue and was warming up and was just too sick to compete. And, and withdrew. And it was like this amazing shock when it was announced in the arena that she was withdrawing without ever having taken the floor. And it must have been just gutting for her to have to deal with that.

But she’s recovered and she’s back this year. She took the European title, which was huge. And she’s looked amazing. Israel as well. They are incredible. Even after the retirement of Illinois Ashram they have so many promising individuals and one who’s actually making a comeback this weekend named Daria at ov who is the European champion in 2022.

And she was injured as well at the World Championships, like five minutes before she was supposed to perform her first routine. It was a really shocking day at that, at that world Championships. And everybody’s so excited to see her back. And just, yeah there’s opportunity in rhythmic gymnastics like there never has been before, and we’ve got nations like Brazil and Mexico that are recording historic results.

So it’s a very exciting moment.

[00:09:10] Jill: What kind of injuries do you see in rhythmic.

[00:09:14] Blythe Lawrence: Ankles, some knees, some hips some back problems. Rhythmic in the eighties and nineties was really based on flexibility.

It’s not so flexibility heavy now, but you’ve still got balances and splits and things like that that the gymnasts have to do in order to bolster their difficulty. And they take a toll, much like say Mm, a ballerina might have certain hip back injuries later on in their career.

[00:09:43] Jill: So what is the focus today?

[00:09:46] Blythe Lawrence: The focus today is on balances, on pivots, on leaps, and on what you can do and how much you can do in terms of things like [00:10:00] turns and rolls and leaps while the apparatus is in the air. So every routine you will have like two or three really large catches and throws where the gymnast just LOBs the apparatus towards the ceiling and then executes say three ney turns and a forward roll or two back walkovers and two ney turns, and then catches the apparatus while doing an illusion turn, that kind of thing.

The basis of rhythmic gymnastics is about. When it comes to building your difficulty, these sort of things that you are able to do while you are also manipulating the apparatus. So for example, you throw the apparatus and then you do a series of turns and you do maybe a change of level, which would be like a roll or something like that.

And then if you can catch or throw the apparatus while you’re in the midst of doing something else, like a walkover or an illusion turn or something like that, then you get even more bonus points. And so it becomes very intricate and it becomes about how much detail you are really able to do.

And once you understand that, the sport becomes a lot clearer.

[00:11:09] Alison: I don’t know why they would get hurt because they have no bones.

[00:11:15] Blythe Lawrence: It’s a lot of stretching. In order to get to that point. Yeah, just, just a lot of stretching, a lot of bar work.

[00:11:22] Alison: So one of the things we saw in Tokyo was a lot of scoring controversy. What was that about? And do you expect to see it again in Paris?

[00:11:31] Blythe Lawrence: Any time an apparatus is dropped, it’s the equivalent of having a fall from something like the high bar or the balance beam.

And the thing that really graded on a lot of people in Tokyo was that Leno Astrom dropped her ribbon momentarily about two thirds of the way through the routine. Now, unlike artistic gymnastics, it’s like in artistic, if you have a fall, you are docked one point, [00:12:00] and that’s the end of the story. In rhythmic.

How much you are deducted if you drop the apparatus basically depends on how many steps you have to take to retrieve the apparatus. So if you lose the hoop and then you have to go chasing across the carpet to regain the hoop, like you’re gonna lose a certain number of tents for every step you take.

And also, if you have to go out of bounds to retrieve the hoop and, and that kind of thing. But while there is a, a standard deduction for just if you drop it and then you can just pick it up without having to take any steps, it’s a fairly small one. And that’s what happened to ashram. She didn’t have to, you know, take three lunges in order to regraft the ribbon.

She just bent down and picked it up again. So the deduction, while it was obvious that she’d made a mistake wasn’t that bad, to be honest. But it’s one of those things where a lot of people maybe judge things a bit subjectively. And it’s easy to do that in rhythmic, but once you look at the code of points, you can see where certain deductions are, certain deductions for, say, how you grip the ball, when you catch it, or how you grip the hoop.

Your wrist actually has to be a certain way to avoid deductions. So these things they can be really hard to spot if you are kind of a lay person who’s just turned on the TV at the Olympics. But they are there and the judges know how to spot them. And that was really one of the things that made the difference in, in Tokyo, in the all around competition.

[00:13:31] Alison: And there was a lot of scoring protests as well that really slowed down the competition. What, what is a protest and how does that work?

[00:13:39] Blythe Lawrence: You can protest. Your difficulty score more or less, it’s a little more complicated than that. But if you think that the judges have missed a sequence of difficulty or you haven’t been given credit for a sequence of difficulty and you don’t understand why, you can, you have a, a limited amount of time to formally lodge a protest and [00:14:00] to have your routine reviewed.

And a lot of gymnasts, and a lot of nations tend to do this because sometimes the score is raised, sometimes the judges really have missed something, and so it’s worth having it reviewed. And sometimes they do it just maybe because they think that they might receive an increase in their score. And routines in rhythmic are so complex that.

It’s understandable actually if the judges do miss something and the athletes and the coaches who know their routines and what they do inside out, I think have cause often to say, Hey, you know, I did this and you didn’t see it, and so I’d like it reviewed. And so the result is a lot of scoring inquiries in group competition as well.

[00:14:53] Alison: Other thing, can we talk about the costumes a little bit?

In the old days, rhythmic gymnasts used to just wear leotards. Very simple. And now they are feathered and beaded and bedazzled to the hilt. Is, do you think that makes the sport less serious in terms of how spectators take it? No,

[00:15:17] Blythe Lawrence: I, I don’t. And the reason is because you can say the same thing of artistic gymnastics leotards.

You look at the leotards, the US women were wearing in 2016, and there were articles that were being done on how many crystals and the you know, like the custom fits that they went through while the leotards were being made and things like that. And, I think that it enhances the artistic component of rhythmic gymnastics.

A gymnast often in a routine is playing a character or performing to a certain theme about something. And so it seems normal that she would wear something that plays up to that. And yes [00:16:00] the leotards, you might argue are as much works of art as the routines themselves. I know that a lot of the leotards are custom designed and handmade and used like Swarovski crystals and are really preserved after the Olympic games.

There’s at least one that has gone into the Olympic Museum and they’re just really beautiful and. When you think about rhythmic gymnastics as a craft, like the entire sport, the creation of these routines, the way that they’re performed, the music that’s chosen and the leotards it all seems rather pieces of a certain whole.

And what you get out of it is the whole artwork.

[00:16:45] Jill: What apparatuses are they using for Paris?

[00:16:49] Blythe Lawrence: So in individual, the apparatus are the four that are the most common, the hoop, the ball, the clubs, and the ribbon. They used to use the rope in rhythmic gymnastics, but for the past couple Olympic cycles the rope has been out.

It still exists in the junior divisions, but in the seniors they don’t use that anymore. And then it will be for Paris five of, there will be two group routines, so five of one apparatus, and then there will be a, what they call a three plus two routine. So it’ll be three of a second apparatus plus two of again, another apparatus.

So like Right now the groove routine is five hoops, and then the three plus two is three ribbons and two balls. So for Paris it will be, the group exercises will be one with five hoops, and then the second one with three ribbons and two balls. Just like Now

[00:17:45] Jill: that’s really complicated just because of the. Properties. I mean, you’ve got a ball that’s heavy and this ribbon that will like float in the air.

[00:17:55] Blythe Lawrence: Absolutely. And often organizers get a bit finicky [00:18:00] about the air conditioning in an arena during a, a ribbon competition. So there have been competitions in rather hot places where they have actually turned off the air conditioning for the ribbon competition because the gymnasts and the coaches don’t like it.

If you’ve got air blowing from a certain direction, it, it throws off what they do with the ribbon.

[00:18:19] Alison: Do you have a favorite apparatus?

[00:18:21] Blythe Lawrence: Oh, oh, no. No. That’s difficult. I really like them all, honestly. Maybe the most memorable for a lot of people is ribbon.

I ball can be so elegant and so interesting. Clubs is always interesting and the things that people can do with clubs is just amazing. And hoop also you can get a lot of very poignant performances with the hoop. So no, no favorite

[00:18:49] Alison: Are particular countries good at particular apparatus? Mm,

[00:18:57] Blythe Lawrence: that’s difficult.

I wouldn’t say so. No. Sometimes and only sometimes it seems like particular gymnasts are particularly good with particular apparatus. But again, unlike an artistic, where you can kind of pick out apparatus sometimes and say, well, you know, China is very good for being known. China’s known for being very good on the uneven bars and that kind of thing.

It’s not necessarily the case with rhythmic, I don’t think.

[00:19:29] Alison: If you want people to fall in love with rhythm, with rhythmic gymnastics, are there routines that you can point to say over the past few years that you said you watch this, you, you will not believe this?

[00:19:42] Blythe Lawrence: There are so many, so many. At the moment, if you want, I. Your jaw to just be on the floor, or you want your friend’s jaw to just be on the floor.

I think that you could show them just about anything from the Last World Championships and they’ll go, [00:20:00] wow. Because that’s what we were doing.

[00:20:03] Jill: Do different countries have D different styles?

[00:20:05] Blythe Lawrence: Hmm. Somewhat. I think. Yes. but that’s as much about perhaps who they’re being coached by and who they’re being choreographed by then about actually being known for this style of dance and so doing routines that incorporate this style of dance.

We see that a little bit, but not as much as you’d think.

[00:20:26] Alison: Is there a piece of music that you’re tired of?

[00:20:32] Blythe Lawrence: No, there isn’t, but there are pieces of music that tend to be very popular amongst rhythmic gymnasts. Things from the Ballet, Carmen Bolero, the soundtrack to the movie Gladiator. There’s a fair amount of Michael Jackson Gosh. anything else? No. But really at every world Championships you hear Carmen, two or three times at least

[00:20:58] Alison: it’s like figure skating. Carmen just will not go away.

[00:21:02] Blythe Lawrence: It’s a piece of music that speaks to so many people and is so versatile, you can do so many things with it.

Now, rhythmic gymnasts are getting a bit more contemporary. One of the most showstopping routines at the moment is by Brazilian Barbara Domingo, who does, uh, a cut of Lady Gaga to her ribbon routine. it’s Bad Romance but with a different vocalist and it starts and stops. It’s a little kooky.

It’s very interesting.

[00:21:32] Alison: What have we missed talking about for rhythmic? That people should know and get excited about for next year.

[00:21:39] Blythe Lawrence: I think the passion of the gymnasts and the way that they strive to qualify, whether it’s for world Championship finals or for the Olympic Games and abor, an Olympic qualification process is always something that is difficult and you can really [00:22:00] easily lose sleep over it, over how you approach it. And this quadrennium in particular, there are several rhythmic gymnasts who are vying for qualification.

And you can just see that it means the world to them. To be able to potentially call themselves Olympians and the way that they have constructed their routines and the way that they are competing, those routines and the pressure that they’re under is just so, it’s a lot. And the way that they rise to it and perform is also something that is almost as beautiful to watch as watching the routines.

They’re putting themselves out there, they’re taking huge amounts of risk. They’re investing so much of their lives into this dream, and it all comes out on the carpet when they perform those routines. And it’s some of the most emotional play in all of sports. And that’s what really captures me in addition to the, the beauty of the routines.

But the stories. That have gone into the making of those routines and the getting to that moment,

[00:23:17] Alison: do you think we’ll see an American make it to Paris?

[00:23:21] Blythe Lawrence: Yes. I, I think we might see in the individual competition two Americans in Paris. and who are they, the Americans to watch at the moment?

Evita que the 2020 Olympian who had a top 15 finish at the Tokyo Games. And, uh, Lily Miso. Uh, a phenomenal young gymnast who has really come up over the past few years as an individual. She actually competed as an individual and was number three or number four in the us for quite a lot of the 2010s.

And then she joined the group and she did the Olympics as the group as a member of the group in [00:24:00] Tokyo. And now has gone back to individual competition. And she’s so interesting too because she said that that transition from individual to group and back to individual, she was like, it’s like a different sport.

You know? My body felt completely different. And the things that you have to and emphasize and focus on what you’re doing group and when you’re doing individual are not at all the same thing. And so she’s somebody who is extremely exciting to watch as well.

[00:24:24] Alison: Blythe Lawrence, thank you so much for joining us. This was a lot of fun.

[00:24:28] Blythe Lawrence: It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Thank you so much.

[00:24:31] Jill: Thank you so much Blythe. You can follow Blythe on Twitter. She is at underscore Blythe Lawrence and on Insta she is Rose Blythe Lawrence. We will have the rest of Blythe’s interview talking about the other gymnastics disciplines in a few weeks, so be on the lookout for that. We would also like to give a special thank you to our patrons who keep our flame alive every month.

Our monthly episode with changes for Paris 2024 is coming out soon, so check out Flame Alive pod.com/support to make sure you get it. If supporting us now through Patreon is not an option, but you’d still like to give some love to us, tell a friend about the show and we will also have a Kickstarter in the fall to help us get to pairs 2024.

[00:25:12] Alison: Couldn’t have done 300 episodes without the Patreon support. Exactly.

Seoul 1988 History Moment

[00:25:17] Jill: Now is the time of the show where we have our history moment all year long. We are looking at Seoul 1988 as it is the 35th anniversary of those games. Alison, it is your turn for a story. What do you got for us?

[00:25:35] Alison: Very excited about this story because I did not remember this. And when I read it, I did.

Once I read it, I said, oh, I gotta share this. So we’re gonna talk today about the 100 meter men’s butterfly. Okay. Sounds like it’s very specific and wouldn’t have much to talk about. But, oh no, you’d be wrong. So in the run up to the games Pablo Morales was the world record holder and the [00:26:00] 84 gold medalist.

[00:26:01] Jill: I remember Pablo Big deal. Yes. Big deal for little swimmer, Jill.

[00:26:05] Alison: Absolutely. But Pablo didn’t make the team at the Olympic trials so that we knew we’re gonna have a new gold medalist, but that did not leave the field empty. We had Michael Gross, the Albatros from West Germany. Oh yeah. Yes. Known for his long arms.

An amazing win wingspan. And you had American star Matt Biondi. Mm-hmm. Who at this point in his career already had five gold medals. He went on to have a total of 11 Olympic medals. He was really expected to come out on top of this race. Also in the pool was Anthony Nesty from surname. He was born in Trinidad and Tobago, but his family immigrated to surname when he was a child and he attended high school and college in Florida, which is where he really did most of his training.

So we get to the finals at the start, Michael Gross, purposely false starts, which was very common at the time because that first false start did not disqualify you.

[00:27:11] Jill: Right? Right.

[00:27:12] Alison: It just psyched the other people out. So, he gets outta the pool. Everyone is booing at him for having false Started. Race starts for real.

Matt Biondi takes the lead for the first 50. He’s on world record pace with about 20 meters, 20, 30 meters to go after the turn. Biondi is a half body length ahead of the field. Looks like he’s gonna cruise in for an easy gold medal. No, no, no. Over in lane three Nesty pushes from behind. At the very last split.

Second, Biondi makes an error. He got caught between strokes at the finish so he could either do a half stroke or a glide. He chose to glide and Nesty reaches for the wall, wins the [00:28:00] race by 100th of a second.

[00:28:03] Jill: Wow. You never choose the glide. You never, I know that and, and I can tell you when you were in that position, It is a hard decision to make and you gotta make it really quickly, but when you choose the glide, it just slows you down.

Like you, you have to have a comfortable lead to do that. Glide

[00:28:23] Alison: Biondi is crushed. He is the last to leave the pool after the race. He’s comforted by Michael Gross. Who finished fifth. So both of them had a disappointing race, but I will say on the podium, Biondi was incredibly gracious and not a sore loser and very happy Nesty, needless to say, was a hero in his country.

He is the only medalist in any sport from surname to this day. Wow. He has planes named after him. The National Stadium is named after him, and for a while, his pa, his face appeared on the 25 Florian Bank note, get out of town. Currently he is the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Florida, where he coaches both the men and the women.

And he was an assistant coach for the men’s team in Tokyo. Oh wow. For the US. And Nesty also as a coach, served as a flag bearer for Surinam at the opening ceremonies in Beijing in 2008.

TKFLASTAN Update

[00:29:30] Alison: Welcome to Shuk Stan.

[00:29:39] Jill: Now is the time of the show where we check in with our team, keep the flame alive. These are ge past guests of the show and also listeners who make the up the citizenship of our country of Stan. Last week we didn’t have much. All of a sudden we’ve got some news.

[00:29:56] Alison: Felicity Passon competed at the World Aquatics World Championships. [00:30:00] She finished 41st in the hundred meter butterfly and 50th in the hundred meter backstroke. Doesn’t sound too great, but as an but in terms of continental results butterfly was second and backstroke

[00:30:12] Jill: was fourth.

I don’t know what all the qualifiers are like for swimming, especially coming from Africa. But when I looked at that, I saw, oh, she might still be able to get in. All depends on the times. Mm-hmm. Pole Vaulter Katie Moon Hammer Thrower, Deanna Price and Race Walker.

Evan Dunphy are on the start lists for the World Athletics World Championships in Budapest, which runs August 19th through the 27th. So,

[00:30:40] Alison: Erin Jackson was named a team U S A for the 2023 World Inline Speed Skating Championships in Italy that will run August 26th through September 3rd. Erin will also appear on season two of Special Forces World’s toughest text on Fox premiering September 25th.

No way. I love this show. Yeah. You know who else is on this show? Tom Sandoval. So I met Erin hasn’t answered me yet, but I messaged her if she could just punch him in the face for me,

hit him with her skate. Erin

[00:31:16] Jill: and George Hurler has written an article for olympics.com on Paris 1924 and Pierre de Cooperton. We will have a link to that in the show notes.

Paris 2024 Update

[00:31:24] Alison: Bois

[00:31:32] Jill: Bois. Yes. We are taping this at night tonight. Nu. But yes, we do have news from Paris. A lot of people have been struggling to find hotel rooms and inside the games had a story noting an investigation by La Parisian that hotel rooms and Airbnbs are being increased up to six times the price that they are this summer.

And [00:32:00] the French government last week signed a bill requiring homestay platforms to advise users when prices advertised for accommodation are abnormally high. Are we surprised? No. No. And this is the case for any special event that prices get way increased because everybody’s wanting a payday and there’s a huge demand.

We’ll see what that demand is like as time goes on. Like our friend Ken Hanscomb always talks about. Some infrastructure news, a footbridge across the a one highway between DNI and Leor in San Deni has been installed. And this will make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to go back and forth between the sport climbing venue, the Sta de France, the aquatic center, and the media village.

So it is not yet publicly opened, but the big part has been finished, and that is good news.

[00:32:50] Alison: We will be so glad to see a building and be able to walk to it and not be held captive by the buses.

[00:32:58] Jill: Did I ever tell you, I don’t know if this ever made the show. One time I went. Early on in the Olympics, I went to ski jumping and I got off the bus.

It was another, this was out at Tic Chen. So of course you took the bullet train, and when you got off you had to take a bus to a bus. And when I got to that second bus stop the ski jumping venue was just down the road a little bit and. I asked where, which direction it was, and the lovely volunteer said, is that win?

I’m like, oh, can I walk? And he’s like, yeah. I’m like, I can walk. And he said yes. So I proceeded to walk uphill.

[00:33:39] Alison: But you were so

[00:33:40] Jill: happy to walk up that hill. You did not care. Oh my goodness. I was so happy that It’s very true.

[00:33:45] Alison: Very true. So I, I saw this a the bridge and there’s a hole. Story about the kind of wood that they used and where it came from.

So I think there’s a lot more history within this footbridge, but for us, we don’t care. We will [00:34:00] just be so happy to be able to walk between sites and that probably will be the most efficient way. Mm-hmm. To get around because yeah, there can be crowds, but. I’m a little New Yorker. I can manage that.

[00:34:14] Jill: And of the Olympic Broadcasting Service, or O B S as we like to call them, or o BSS are more commonly known, has announced that it will provide 11,000 hours of content during the Olympics and Paralympics.

And they will have more behind the scenes materials pre and post competition. This time they will also have more athlete focused features. So I feel like they’re taking a page outta the N B C playbook.

I hope, I mean, that sounds good and it sounds like. It’ll be fun to be able to get to know different athletes, but I hope that doesn’t take away from the feed.

[00:34:49] Alison: Agreed. And were those athlete focused features, are we gonna get to see practices and are we gonna get to see some of those things when they’re saying behind the scenes?

Or is it going to be the packaged stories of, my mother has cancer and I got injured and I’m here, and triumphing overall?

[00:35:09] Jill: Right. I mean, who’s O B S’s version of Mary Carillo?

[00:35:13] Alison: The athlete, the Rio,

[00:35:17] Jill: there are things that you can look forward to from the O B SS coverage. They’re going to use cinematic lenses for the first time, and this has shallower depths of field, which will better help convey the emotions of athletes. So that will be interesting to see. They will increase the number of replay systems that they will have.

They will also have more dynamic graphics. So li they called it live pinning. They also said biometrics data. So we’ve seen some of this in certain events, like archery had heart rates going on, so they’re sounds like they’re going to be. Sounds like there’s going to be more of this, which is really exciting.

And then they will be filming some of the opening [00:36:00] ceremonies from boats on the send. They have developed three custom boats to help them film. We have a few friends

[00:36:06] Alison: at O B S. Do you think we can make some more friends and maybe get on a boat? We’re small. We don’t take up much space.

They can smuggle us on.

We’ll be stowaways on the opiates boat.

[00:36:21] Jill: Before the show, we were talking about Shelly Ann Frasier Price and how tiny she is and that’s one of the reason, one of the many reasons you love her and how her nickname is Pocket Rocket. And I know that we are both short, but there’s no way neither either of us are fitting in anybody’s pocket.

[00:36:38] Alison: This is true. We are not pocket rockets, but we are lovely on a boat. We we

[00:36:44] Jill: are lovely anywhere.

Milan-Cortina 2026 Update

[00:36:46] Jill: Oh, Milan. Oh,

[00:36:54] Alison: Milan. Corina. We knew this was coming. We knew this was coming. I

[00:37:00] Jill: think we said the same thing two weeks ago or three. The last time we had Milan Cortina news. It was, we knew this was coming and this just keeps coming and we knew this would happen.

[00:37:10] Alison: Everyone knew this was ha would happen.

Everyone who did not vote on 2026 knew this would happen. The only people who didn’t seem to know this would happen is the people who voted against the Swedes, am I so salty about this? Am I gonna be salty for about this forever? Probably.

[00:37:29] Jill: So the new news in Will Milan, Corina 2026. Have any buildings? Yeah. Thank you. A little hat tip to Rich Perlman at the Sports Examiner for this one. So Italian National News Agency, ANSA has reported that no company has bid. To construct the sliding center at Cortina. Ezzo. Now, if you remember, they had a [00:38:00] sliding center there from 1956.

It kind of felt it. Obviously over time, stuff needs to be renovated. It really wasn’t renovated. It was closed. They were going to renovate it or they were going to tear it down. Oh, let’s tear it down and we’ll build a brand new sliding entertainment center. It will be wonderful. Nobody wants to build this.

Meanwhile, costs for constructions have risen from 51.6 million in 2019 to 136,000,136 million today. And the, uh, socie infrastructure, Milano Cortina 2026, is now negotiating with potential contractors to get them to do this.

[00:38:46] Alison: That translates to begging. Right?

[00:38:50] Jill: Right. And you know, if we’re begging construction workers to this, you know, either it’s not gonna be good on, you know, who is getting involved with what construction companies will take on this project.

And will the, we gonna fall into the same thing that we had with the Torino 2000, 2006 sliding track, which is lousy construction. That’s why we don’t have a track in Torino anymore that we could have used as a backup. Now the sliding track needs to really be finished by November, 2024, which is next year because it’s gotta be ready for the test events in early 2025.

I love the fact that Rich closed out his story with, well, you know, if you go to Innsbrook, it’s only two and a half hours away and Sam Moritz is five hours.

[00:39:40] Alison: Well, I mean, we have an event in Tahiti for Paris. I think we’re okay going to Innsbrook two and a half. I mean, this Olympics is already spread out.

We already have Milan and Cortina. Mm-hmm. How can you possibly justify a sliding center that’s gonna cost when the time they’re done at least $150 million? [00:40:00] Oh, at least.

[00:40:01] Jill: At least. And to call it an entertainment center, you’re not gonna have that many people taking ’em up on that entertainment.

Let’s be honest, you might get people training for sure. ’cause it’s another place to go and train, but I don’t. I have a hard time seeing how it’s gonna make its money back.

[00:40:20] Alison: And speaking of things that don’t have locations.

[00:40:23] Jill: I’m holding my head here ’cause this is just, I, I cannot believe we are having these conversations less than three years to go. The Women’s Hockey Tournament has now been moved to its third location according to inside the Games.

A good article written by Owen Lloyd there. The tournament has been moved to the Fiera Milano role, which is a fairground complex, and the complex is hosting speed skating. And if you go, wait a second. Wasn’t speed skating supposed to be someplace else? Yes, it was. And it got moved there too.

[00:40:55] Alison: Yeah.

Speed skating was going to be in a convention center after they couldn’t get the money for the building.

[00:41:02] Jill: Yeah. They were gonna rent it. Well, this is the convention center type thing. It’s a, it’s apparently a fair ground. I don’t know if it’s like what we would think of as a state fairground, but it looks like a number of buildings and not like a big convention center.

Okay,

so the women’s hockey previous location was called the Palace Sharp Building and it, it had been abandoned in 2011 due to quote, total degradation and renovation work for that is now at a standstill. Hence why they don’t think it would be ready in time.

[00:41:35] Alison: You know what, I think we’re actually gonna end up, we’re gonna end up with women’s hockey and speed skating on Lake Como, which would be beautiful.

You know, just freeze it up. It’ll be fine. Wow.

[00:41:48] Jill: What a mess.

[00:41:51] Alison: No, this is actually, you know, we joke about this, but this is actually really very concerning for this Winter Olympics because 2030 hasn’t been [00:42:00] awarded yet. There’s been a lot of issue with awarding 2030, and this doesn’t help. No. And the fact that 2030 hasn’t been awarded yet and we can’t.

Use old facil. It’s not like we can go back to Beijing and reuse some of the, we’ve got no backup. We have no plan B for 26.

[00:42:20] Jill: Right. Well you know what the Plan B could be, I’m sure. Well, it would be a bad plan B. It would be Salt Lake City. ’cause they are ready to go basically. They are ready to go. They wouldn’t want to, but just No,

[00:42:32] Alison: just the, I think.

This is going to be worse than Torino, simply because the Winter Olympics is now bigger than it was in Torino. So you have more events and more places for things to really go wrong. Mm-hmm. And that’s awful. ’cause Milan is such a beautiful city and it deserves to be showcased. And the Italian Alps deserve the attention.

The French Alps get all the, sexy shots, but the Italian Alps deserve to be traveled to. They’re just blowing it and that hurts my heart.

[00:43:04] Jill: Yeah, I don’t know you, there’s gonna be a games they’re gonna pull together something and put on a games, but I. How it will end up. It just, all of the fallout after Torino with buildings going unused, the athlete’s village being pretty much wrecked, knowing that this is likely happening again. It just makes you sad. The athletes

[00:43:30] Alison: deserve better. I mean, when we talked to Kathy O’Connor, who was the doctor for the. Women’s hockey team and she was talking about the athletes’ facilities being unfinished in a way that wasn’t safe for them to be in them.

Mm-hmm. Like no hot water or walls crumbling. It’s one thing to have taped up wallpaper, like we talked about in Beijing. It’s another thing to not have hot water. Right.

Do better. [00:44:00] Do better, Milan, right?

[00:44:01] Jill: Get that Prosecco money. Put it to good use.

[00:44:04] Alison: Maybe that’s their plan to just fill us up with Prosecco so we don’t notice that the wall is crumbling and that there’s actually no speed skating happening.

[00:44:16] Jill: Well, I think it’s time for Prosecco for me, so it would work on us. That’s right. That’s gonna do it for this week. Let us know what you think of rhythmic gymnastics. You

[00:44:26] Alison: can connect with us on Twitter and Instagram at Flame Alive Pod. Email us at Flame Alive pod@gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348.

That’s 2 0 8 Flament. 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 episode. You can sign up for that@flamealivepod.com.

[00:44:54] Jill: I was reading the newsletter this week and I had totally forgotten about that Barbie doll with the tumble ring.

Oh man, that’s classic. So if you’ve had Barbie fever this summer, you’ve missed out on a good newsletter. So be sure to shine up for that. Alright, next week, it’s gonna be one year to go to the Paralympics. Yay. That means it’s gonna be one year closer to you sitting in a wheelchair rugby venue.

I’m so ready. So we will be talking with sitting volleyball player Lo Nigrosh. So we’ll want to be. Sure to tune in for that. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.