We always love it when a TKFLASTANI comes back on the show! Canadian artistic swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau is back to talk with us about her decision to put medical school on hold for a year and try for one more Olympics. Her road to Paris goes through Doha and the 2024 World Aquatics World Championships–will her duet be enough to get to her third Olympics?

Jacqueline’s first Olympics was Rio 2016, when she was 19 years old. She teamed up with 27-year-old Karine Thomas and took 7th. Ironically, Jackie is now 27, and her new partner Audrey Lamothe will turn 19 this month!

Jacqueline returned for Tokyo 2020, this time pairing up with Claudia Holzner and also competing with Team Canada. She took home two more Olympic diplomas (awards for 4th-8th place) for 5th and 6th place respectively.

After Tokyo, Jacqueline hung up her swimsuit, washed the gelatin out of her hair, and went to medical school. But the lure of the Olympics kept calling. In 2023, she put school on pause and jumped back into the pool for one more shot at Olympic glory, as well as a chance at becoming a world champion in the solo event (solo isn’t competed at the Olympics).

We interviewed Jacqueline back in December 2023 to hear how life in med school has been and learn more about her decision to do one more year of competition. We also get into what it was like to reintegrate with the national team and how she was picking a partner for the duet event.

Jackie’s world championships run was pretty spectacular:


We talked with Jacqueline about her return and what the experience has been like, plus have the results from Doha–will she and Audrey Lamothe be heading to the City of Light?

It’s been a big news week for upcoming Games! Paris 2024 unveiled the medals for the Olympics and Paralympics. Alison often remarks that she loves it when Games elements can be tied to a time and place, and boy, did the Paris 2024 organizing committee nail it with these:

These medals really say “Paris” — they even contain a hexagon of iron from the original Eiffel Tower! We go into the symbolism depicted on these medals. Alison initially thought “cupcake wrappers” when she saw them, but she has since come around.

Also, the construction of Porte de la Chapelle Arena (aka adidas Arena) is finished and is ready to welcome the Games. The arena included a lot of green features–seats made from recycled plastic, geothermal energy, and this enormous green roof:

The new Porte de la Chapelle Arena (adidas Arena) features a green roof and green terraces. Photo: Paris Media Centre

More safety news from Paris 2024: French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a stand on whether the booksellers along the Seine may keep their stalls on the riverbanks during the Opening Ceremony. Also, some are warning those who live along the river and are planning big Opening Ceremony parties to not crowd their balconies.

With two years to go until the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Milan-Cortina 2026 introduced the mascots for these Games:

Tina is short for “Cortina” and is the Olympic mascot.

Milo is short for “Milano” and is the Paralympic mascot.

Those happy snowdrop flowers? Those are The Flo, Tina and Milo’s posse, or as Alison likened the group to Tony Orlando & Dawn. Don’t get the early 1970s reference? Here you go:

No word on whether The Flo will be as funky.

If you’re just as confused as Jill is about this reference, Alison provided a backup:


Let us know if you’re still confused.

Last week, you may recall that Milan-Cortina signed an agreement for the construction of a new sliding center that the International Olympic Committee really doesn’t want them to build. A few days after Milan-Cortina’s announcement, we got word from Brisbane that the plan to tear down and rebuild The Gabba stadium had been killed. When IOC VP John Coates talks, people listen.

We also have news from TKFLASTAN, including word from:

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


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.

Unretiring with Olympic Artistic Swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau (Episode 324)

[THEME MUSIC]

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 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? Are you trying

Alison: to record too soon after getting out of the pool?

Jill: It’s a little chilly here for

Alison: swimming, but not in Doha.

Jill: No, not at all. Doha has been host to the world aquatics championships this past week. And we have a tie in with that. ,

Jacqueline Simoneau Interview

Jill: we always love it when a Shukla Stani comes back on the show. And we are excited to have Canadian artistic swimmer, Jacqueline Simoneau back for a visit. Jacqueline competed at Rio 2016, where she competed in the duet with , Corinne Thomas, and finished seventh.

And at Tokyo 2020, she competed in both the duet and the team competition. She and Claudia Holtzner placed 5th in the duet and Canada placed 6th in the team competition. After Tokyo, Jacqueline hung up her swimsuit and went to med school, but last year decided to put her medical schooling on hold and get back in the pool for one more world championships and one more shot at the Olympics. We talked with Jacqueline at the end of 2023 about her return and what the experience has been like.

Take a listen.

Welcome back to the show. We are so excited to have you back on.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Thanks so much for having me.

Jill: So after Tokyo, you went to med school. What has that been like?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It was a different challenge in itself.

I mean, as Olympic athletes, we love to push ourselves to the limits and this was. It’s fun because this type of challenge wasn’t necessarily physical. It was more mental. So instead of training, 10 hours a day, now I was sitting on my butt for 10 hours a day for the first two years of school.

And then internship year was a little bit more interesting where I got to see patients and it’s more critical thinking, but it was quite the adaptation at first, but I loved it. I mean, it was definitely putting myself out there outside of the box and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Alison: How was that physically from going, doing those very, very different things just in your body?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Oh, it’s, it was tough. I mean, at first I remember my first week at school where we’d have these four hour anatomy lectures and after those four hours, People would go back and study, and I’d have to go for a 5K run, and then I’d have to study.

And I’d just have to constantly have these little dosages of exercise, and it’s kind of like weaning myself off of exercise almost. but then my body got used to it, you know, training once or twice a day, which is more of a reasonable amount.

Alison: What kind of changes do you have to do for your diet? Oh,

Jacqueline Simoneau: ah, Alison, I, I still have a fond love for food that never changed.

Um, it was more portions actually that had to be modified. At first, especially after Tokyo, I jumped right into school and it took me a while to be able to adjust those portions in a couple of months. My body didn’t need as many calories as it did before, but it adjusted over time.

, it’s just something you have to be conscious about when meal prepping. You know, I don’t need to meal prep a large amount anymore.

Jill: How were the splits for you while you were at school? Did you still do them? Because I remember you saying like you had to do them every day.

Jacqueline Simoneau: That’s a great question and I, I promised my partner that I would never do splits after I retired after Tokyo. I, I didn’t really work on them to be honest.

I kept some of my flexibility and then amplitude throughout yoga and Pilates. And now that I’m back, I am back doing splits. I kind of broke that promise, but once I retire after this once and for all, no more splits.

Jill: when you went back to doing splits, how well did the yoga and Pilates keep that flexibility?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It actually kept it quite well. I was still doing a little bit of stuff in the water. So in the water, I still kept that big range of motion. And then just these little intrinsic muscles that you use in yoga and Pilates, I guess helped maintain a stable sort of limit of flexibility throughout the two years.

Alison: So what was the mindset of, wait a second, I’m not done?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Um,

Throughout the two years of retirement, which I adored, it was a nice change of pace, I still kept in touch with the sport sport in general, in many different ways, and I gave some clinics one in South Africa, and in Egypt, and in the Czech Republic, and sometimes they’d ask me to go in the water with them, so I’d go in and, I was like, I could still do this.

Yeah, I still got it. and it kind of came to the realization this summer when I was in my internship here that, you know what, I could actually do this. I could do this for one more Olympic cycle. Life is too short to have any regrets. And I love what I do right now studying, but I also still have this love and this passion for swimming.

So why not? You only live once.

Alison: So, practically, how is this working with school? Are you on a hiatus from school and only training?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yes. So, that’s, it’s actually a discussion that I had to have the director of my program, who actually was a former high performance athlete himself on the French team. He was an archer, so he kind of understood at least the high performance mindset.

At first, I wanted to try juggling my internship year that I’m in now, so you’re in the clinic for half the day, and then you’re in classes for the other half, and then try and figure out training around that. I tried to do that for about a week, and it was possible. You know what, only 24 hours in the day, but I managed to squeeze it in.

But then I realized, what is one year of my life if I put off school for one year, take a sabbatical, and then come back to it? School will still be exactly where I left it, and, this is my one chance for the Olympics. So, decided with the director of my program to take the year off and then come back next year.

Alison: Okay. I have so many questions about this. So one of the things that I had been reading about was the out of season testing for WADA and what happens when you retire and what happens when you unretire. So talk us through how that worked with you because did you officially retire and get out of that system?

Jacqueline Simoneau: I did. So unfortunately, after Tokyo, we had to let our federation know within a matter of days. days, maybe a week or two at most if we were planning on continuing or not. And I already knew that I was going to school four times. I wanted some time to be able to wrap my head around it. So I figured, you know what, the easy decision this for me to say, you know what, I’m not going to return and I could always return if I wanted to.

But it turns out that email saying, I’m not going to return and then I filled out the bunch of paperwork that came with it. That was my retirement and taking my name off the water list. So the world anti doping list. And when you do that and you want to return to sport, you need a six month period where they could test you numerous times before coming back to competition.

So. Unfortunately, that kind of delayed my debut, and my debut now will be in Doha in February in 2024 instead of the Pan American Games. But that’s okay. I mean, it gave me more time to prepare and to jump on some other opportunities as well.

Alison: So let’s talk a little bit about working with your federation and with your team again.

How was that phone call? I mean, was it a phone call? how did that go? Hi, I’d like to come back.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yeah, it was in the summer where I called, I believe the CEO and the high performance director and they were over the moon to hear that this was even just a possibility and they were willing to open a bunch of doors and help me to be able to get back.

So just hearing their enthusiasm and then. Also, there was a competition this summer and I forget what competition it was, but I was, I was getting a bunch of messages from the community here in Canada and around the world saying, Oh, we miss seeing you on the side of the pool. And it was, it was just heartwarming to receive those messages.

And so all of that kind of just led me to say, okay, you know what? I’m telling the CEO I will actually do it. I’m going to jump

Jill: in.

Alison: And what was that first practice back with the team like?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It actually came quite progressively. so I was back in September and I was there part time, I guess you could say.

day. I was still doing a little bit of school and then I was doing some consulting work for other countries on the side. So I was in training Montreal for about a week and then I’d fly out to the Czech Republic and go coach them because they’re also trying to qualify for the Olympics. And then come back and then do some choreography.

But my first full day of training back was I believe in October and full day, you know, 8am to 8pm. Hit the body hard a little bit at first. you know, I have a normatec at home. I don’t know if you’re aware of what that is. It’s like these big compression boots and these compression arms that you wear.

And I needed to sit in that for a good three hours. The first week, that’s all the time training. But I gotta say, it’s like riding a bike. After a week, my body just knew, alright, this is what we’re doing now. Turning to 40, 60 hours a week.

Alison: And the meal prep got big again.

Jacqueline Simoneau: It did. Yeah. The meal prep got bigger.

The grocery bill increased a little bit.

Alison: So how has it been for your partner and for your family where you weren’t and then you’re back?

Jacqueline Simoneau: My family supported me every step of the way. And my partner, Steven, he’s absolutely amazing. I mean, I come home and he has these meals ready for me and Norma tech already laid out and charged.

And so I couldn’t have asked for a better support system.

Jill: What was it like integrating back onto the team? Because most of the team is new from Tokyo.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yes, it’s been quite an adjustment at first. I had a little, a couple of apprehensions knowing that the team was new. Um, so I’ve been on the team since I was quite a bit younger than I am and quite a bit younger than the team in Tokyo, uh, and I did throughout my retirement, come to the pool and give a little bit of help and guidance, but really not that much.

And then integrating myself into the team, I thought it would be a little bit more challenging, but it really isn’t the team has a fantastic, fantastic drive and mindset. They’re there before the coaches even are. They’re there working on some things and staying after the coaches and they’re really putting in the effort.

So it’s really good to see this team that’s hungry.

Alison: Were they a little starstruck?

 

Jacqueline Simoneau: It’s funny that you say

Jill: that. You can tell us the truth, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Simoneau: you know, at first I think they were all a little shy. They didn’t really say much. And then, you know, over the past few weeks they’ve been admitting, you know, sharing pictures of them with me or one of them brought to the pool an autograph that I signed for them a couple of years ago that they still have.

So it’s, it’s been really sweet.

Alison: Though now it makes you feel old, doesn’t it?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It certainly does. Yep.

Alison: How did your hair adjust to going back to the pool and the gelatin?

Jacqueline Simoneau: So the gelatin I have not done yet. But my hair, I have back bangs. So the bathing cap in the back of my head, it cuts off the back of my hair. So I have bangs that are behind my neck. So my hair is fully adjusted now to the pool and swimmer look.

You need the undercut. Yes.

Jill: After Tokyo, how happy was your hair to not be ensconced in gelatin? what was the transition for your hair like?

Jacqueline Simoneau: I was fantastic. I just to see a whole bunch of split ends finally just grow out. The back bands finally grow to a normal length of hair.

My hair. Actually coming in normal color, you know, the chlorine, it changes a little bit. it was nice. It was easy to maintain. It’s something to look forward to once I retire again, is that normal sort of hair lifestyle.

Alison: You save money on groceries, you save money on hair products.

Jacqueline Simoneau: I know, right?

Alison: What feels different in the sport since Tokyo?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Ah, well, one of the main things, of course, is the judging system. So that’s changed in the past year and a half to two years, where before you’d have scores that were a little bit more subjective, I guess, no numerical values associated to it, and now each routine, very much like figure skating, has a degree of difficulty associated to it which is neat, something that we’ve never had before in our sport.

But there is a quite a heavy subjective part to our sport that still remains, because with this degree of difficulty comes. technical controller. So these are judges that say, yes, you turned your 180 degrees or no, you didn’t turn your 180 degrees. And in figure skating, that might be a little bit easier to see, but in the water, we’re half outside, half inside the water.

It still remains very subjective. So those technical controllers holds all of the power at the moment.

Alison: So now we’re allowed to have men in the pool with you. Have you seen that changing choreography and team composition and things of that nature?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Absolutely. It’s been fantastic to see the sport grow and evolve, including men, making it more inclusive.

Already with the duets that we’ve had for a while, the mixed duets, but now seeing it in the team and seeing the realm of Possibilities that teams could have as well. And the acrobatic movements with the height, the strength that they bring, I think maybe not these Olympics, then the next two to three Olympics, I think you’ll see our sport change and shift in a way where it’s, we’re going to be about that power and kind of including the male and female dynamic.

Jill: Do you think that there are going to be teams with men on them in Paris?

Jacqueline Simoneau: I believe so. The States is actually a great example where they have Bill May that if they do qualify for the Olympics will most likely be there. And I think that this is a fantastic example of that great sort of partnership.

Jill: Because I wonder when the With the sport, one element of it is celebrating the inclusive, inclusivity and seeing what we can do, like, Oh my gosh, this opens up the door for what we can do. On the other side, you’ve got maybe all women teams who can’t do that same level of power. could there be score imbalances just based on who can go into the pool for the team?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It’s possible. I mean, and with that maybe lack of strength and power that a male could bring, you can maybe bring more of that homogeneous look with an all female team. So sort of that like synchronicity look, that artistic look. So I think you’re able to make up for it in a certain way. At the very least.

Alison: Has your role in the choreography changed in terms of being a bass, being a flyer, being, to use cheerleading terms, but where you fit in with this very young team?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Especially now going into the Doha World Championships, my main focus right now is more the solo event and the duet events and maybe going to swim one team event.

And the role has changed. Yeah, I think. I’m not scared to bring that athlete’s voice to the decision making table to the high performance director, whereas these athletes, they work very, very hard and the organization may have different objectives. You know, the organization will still be happy if we don’t qualify for the Olympics and these athletes are hungry, you know, they want to be in Paris.

And so just bringing that voice to these, to the organization, I think is one leadership role that I’ve definitely taken on. and just helping them optimize certain ways of their training too.

Alison: Is there a program that you haven’t done yet that you would love to do? And that’s why, like, you had to come back to use x piece of music.

Jacqueline Simoneau: So there’s, there’s one piece of music that I’ve always loved. It’s by Michael Bublé. I won’t say this one because it’ll be my debut in Doha. But I’ve always loved the artist.

And so I’m swimming one of my solo routines to it. And I’m really happy that it’ll be, maybe one of my final last dances to the, to this music.

Alison: I was hoping it would be like Spaceman.

Jacqueline Simoneau: That would be neat. You know what? There’s one theme that I’ve always wanted to use for a duet routine, and if we qualify for Paris, I think we may use it. It’s more of like a spy themed routine. I’ve always wanted to do one of those, so this might be the chance.

Alison: So for Paris, what are you thinking in terms of what you would like to qualify for?

Jacqueline Simoneau: I think if we’re looking realistically at the moment with the amount of spots that are left and the preparation that Canada has had, duet may have a better option. Better easier time qualifying doesn’t mean that the team will not qualify.

It’s just a little bit more difficult, especially with the way that the high performance director and the organization is leading the team at the moment. It’s not really preparing them for a qualification event. It’s more of a longevity is what the organization is planning them for. But Paris for duet is.

with a degree of difficulty now, I’m aiming for a medal in Paris, and I don’t know if you both know, but the fun part about these medals in Paris, which will be the first time ever, these medals will be shareable. You could take parts of the medals off and split it into four and share it. And I think this is one thing that I’m looking forward to the most if I make it there is to just share that experience, especially after having the COVID games.

Jill: How has it been trying to find a new partner to duet with?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Ah, it’s, it’s been challenging. You know, I remember after my first Olympics, it was more seamless. I was already in the team Claudia is somebody that I’ve known and grown up with over the years. And now. These girls are all fantastic, but, uh, now it’s just trying to fit, the match see what’s right.

So now I’m, I’m a little bit in between two partners, leaning maybe a little bit more towards the one. We’ll see how it goes in terms of Doha. But two young ones. One is Audrey. She’s 18 years old. Another girl Olena, 16 years old. A lot of potential for these athletes and they each bring their different strengths.

And so I guess we’ll make a decision in the coming weeks, but I’m right now I’m training kind of a. One day with one, one day with the other, and seeing what will match the best.

Jill: Yeah, what sort of things do you look for to match with?

Jacqueline Simoneau: So of course there’s all the physical attributes, right? In the water, do we look the same?

And there’s the technical aspects too, you know. Is our height the same? Is the flexibility level somewhat the same? But then, you could have all the physical attributes in the world, but if you don’t have that mindset It’s practically nothing. So I, ideally, you’re looking for somebody with a strong mindset who is able to handle the pressure, perform under pressure, and also has a good physical package as well too.

Alison: So this is really surprising to me on how quickly you’re putting partnerships together because we are, a few months from Doha, less than a year from Paris, and it’s still not clear who you’re going to be competing with. So how you How does that hamper you when you’ve got so little time?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Ah, it’s, it’s definitely a challenge.

But we are training, so I’m, we are most likely going to be with, I’m going to be swimming with one partner and the younger one, Olena, is probably going to be reserved for junior worlds and then be Olena, Audrey’s partner afterwards. So Audrey, the 18 year old, is most likely going to be the choice that we’re going to make for Doha.

But of course you look at other countries, right? When I even went to go and consult in South Africa, they had their duet set for over a year now. So it’s definitely putting us at a step back, but I think with the technical strength that we bring, I think it’ll make up for a lot of that lost time. Now it’s just being able to get that coaching in to be able to match.

Alison: How long will it take to put together, because I’m just going to say you’re going to qualify, I’m going to put that out in the world. How long does it take to put together that duet program then? after Doha. I’m assuming it would be different for Doha , and Paris.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Absolutely. So I guess it depends how early on you start with the terms of research of music.

Right? It all costs to start with an idea and inspiration with music that could take days, that could take weeks. But if we’re already starting off with an idea, then the choreography itself can maybe be built in about a week. And then trained to be able to fully match, maybe at about another three weeks.

And then you want to be able to get that specific stamina, right? So it’s, it’s one thing to be able to train other routines, but you, the breath control that you have in one routine, you need to know what, like the back of your hand, you need to know when you inhale, when you exhale in a routine to be able to be on top of everything.

So maybe about a month and a half total. And then the rest is finesse. Yes. Exactly. All that detail work.

Alison: That just seems so fast to put that together. That’s amazing.

Jacqueline Simoneau: And obviously with the experience, it comes a lot faster. I mean, if you’re looking at different levels, it may take months, but at this Olympic level we’re pretty much experts now at building choreographies and swimming it.

Jill: So you mentioned stamina. The other thing I thought about when I was getting ready for this interview was how long you could breathe underwater when you came back What was that difference because you could do like four minutes or something?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yeah, five minutes before and then coming back and just swimming one pool length underwater

It was right.

Jill: Are you back up to five minutes?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yes, I am back. And it surprisingly only took me about two weeks to get back to where I was. I was quite shocked. I was expecting, you know, the support staff that I have, we’re building this back to training program. And it took about a month. But in a span of two weeks, I was exactly where I left off, which was quite shocking to kind of see how the body adapts so quickly like that.

Alison: So you didn’t have time to get discouraged, but did you ever get discouraged as you were starting that, that journey back?

Jacqueline Simoneau: I’d say in the beginning, not so much. I was so driven to, to be able to one, get back to where I was in Tokyo. And now I’m just trying to build those steps on top of that discouragement, I mean, There’s tons.

Every day will not be perfect the organization is leaning more towards a longevity, you know, being on the podium in Brisbane 2032, and not even thinking about Paris at the moment, but I still have this objective, and I have some other people here around me that are supporting me towards that, so sometimes it’s frustrating when, you know, you’re not given all the tools to be able to succeed but make the best of what you have.

Alison: What kind of practical things were the hardest to get back into that routine?

Jacqueline Simoneau: The breath holding was definitely one of them. Jill, you hit that right on the nose there. And that was a little bit harder because it wasn’t necessarily a question of technique. My body was able to do the things, but just to be able to hold my breath for 30 seconds to a minute at a time, that took some getting used to.

and then. I guess that the longer training hours, that took about a week, but apart from that, the rest has been quite seamless.

Jill: When you go and consult with other countries, What are their teams like?

Are they hoping to be able to qualify? Or what sort of things do they bring you in for?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It depends a variety of things. So for instance, the Czech Republic that I was recently in this fall, they’re They were just looking to be able to qualify for the World Championships. So they need to attain a certain score at an international level.

And so I coached them in the Czech Republic for a number of weeks, and then I went with them to the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, and they were able to reach that threshold to just qualify for the World Championships. So for that, it was more of a whole package, synchronization, choreographing the routines.

But if you look at something like South Africa or Egypt, for instance, where it’s more technical. These are countries that don’t necessarily have, one, all the pool resources, but also that, that Um, and that wealth of knowledge from a coaching perspective where they may be have one coach part time. So coming in and showing them how to do certain moves and then getting them to work on it, giving them specific drills, and those are, I think, the ones that I love to do the most because the learning curve is so rapid for these athletes.

They’re already keen and willing to learn. And once you hop in the water with them and just show them these little tips and tricks, it’s. amazing to be able to see them succeed and be able to master those

Jill: techniques. Well, and grow the sport too, because. it’s just helpful to grow the sport and to see what different countries bring to the table in terms of routine and technique and showmanship and athleticism.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Absolutely. And it’s great to be able to see now, not only do these countries bring smaller contingencies, but their contingencies are growing at these competitions. So it’s, it’s been great to see.

Alison: Did you get any pushback of why are you coming back? You’ve done this already.

Jacqueline Simoneau: my grandparents actually were one of the first ones.

Now that you’re done already, finished your schooling and they were already ready to see me graduate. they were the first ones to kind of give me that pushback. You know, you’ve accomplished what you wanted to accomplish. Why? But now that now they fully support me in my dreams. And in terms of the sporting world, no sort of pushback.

Of course it, it sort of bites for the athletes who were. 11, 12. So there’s only 12 athletes that they could take the Doha, the world championships. And fortunately I do take one of those spots. but they’ve been incredibly supportive and there’s been no bad blood between any of that either. I’m

Alison: not trying

Jacqueline Simoneau: to cause trouble.

Jill: What is the atmosphere like competition wise with Russia and Belarus not being able to be part of the show.

Jacqueline Simoneau: I think a lot of countries in our sport because Russia is known to dominate in our sport, at least in the previous judging system, almost a sense of relief and I feel internationally. Now that the new rules are out I think everybody’s on a level playing field.

Even Russia themselves. And so it’s, it’s possible that Russia and Belarus, they are permitted to compete in an individual event at the World Championships. So we won’t see them in team, we won’t see them in duet. But for a solo event, it is possible that we will see them. And I think they’ve been a little bit missed on the sidelines in terms of choreography standpoint.

They always bring something unique to the table. but from an Olympic standpoint, they won’t be there in our sports. So it doesn’t really change much on our end.

Jill: Although it would be interesting with the whole new scoring system, just to see how it plays out.

Jacqueline Simoneau: It

Jill: certainly would be. you know, when some team is so dominant, you just want to bring everybody up and maybe this will help level that playing field in a different way.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yes, I think we’re already at that point, if I may say so. I mean, after a year, we’ve seen Russia who’s held internal competitions with Belarus and.

I’d say now that the world has finally attained that same level and that same sort of knowledge of the new system. And so I think if they were to return anytime soon, that we would be all on the same level playing field now.

Alison: And now that you say they were not allowed to send teams or duets to worlds, I’m realizing duet counts as a team.

So we likely won’t see them at all in Paris since they can’t send any kind of team, only individuals. Exactly.

That is so fascinating. I know. I’m like, oh, wait a second. This is a whole other piece I hadn’t thought in my brain yet.

Jill: I’m curious about the choreography element. as somebody who put together a routine for another team, where does that process start? , do you watch them in the pool and see what they can do, and then say, okay, let’s capitalize on these strengths and maybe put these stretch elements in?

Or, how, what do you, how, take us through that process.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yeah, so it’s, it’s a whole sort of strategic process. So it really starts off one with that music brainstorming. First of all, you want the athletes to like the piece of music that they’re swimming to, that they like the genre, because they will hear it hundreds and thousands of times.

So that’s key element number one. Once that’s out of the way and the music’s being cut, and I usually have a way where I like there to be a certain beats per minute for the music to at least be catchy, a beat, uh, you know, it also helps with the heart rhythm of the judges that are watching at the same time.

There’s this whole subconscious that goes into it. Once that’s out of the way, then I’m in the water, or at least I’m watching the girls in the water, seeing what their strengths are, whether it’s height. Dynamic movements or flexibility. And with that I kind of brainstormed some hybrids. So that’s the part where the legs are up in the air and they’re upside down.

And we think about placements on the music and placements within the pool too. So you want some of these key hybrids to be placed in front of a judging panel. So you’re really showcasing your strengths. And so once we have those pillars that are set, that there’s hybrids or there’s figures, that’s when we fill in the gaps with all the arm parts.

So when your head’s above the water. Filling in all the rest of the choreography. So that’s kind of how I like to build a routine. Having the meat kind of done and the way the DD set checked and then afterwards filling in the blanks

Jill: Is there like a music service that goes and puts all the music together

Jacqueline Simoneau: for you?

Yes. So there we have a Fantastic music cutter here. He does a lot of physic Figure skating cuts as well. His name is Hugo, and he has been doing all of my music since I started in this sport. He is absolutely phenomenal. Does Tessa and Scott Virtue’s music too. All of the, the main figure skaters that you’ll see on the Olympic stage, he’s the guy behind all the music.

Alison: So what does your life look like for the next, what is it, eight months?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Eight months. It’s very different than what the last eight months have looked like in the past. But now it’s Really leading up to Doha, so building on that consistency of daily training honing down on that duet, really perfecting the synchronization things the hybrids really maximizing our DV, uh, in solo and duet.

And then hopefully after our qualification in Doha. We’re looking at new choreographies for the duet routines maybe something a little bit French inspired, or maybe Canadian inspired just throwing some things out there, and then a World Cup season for us. So depending on where we are in terms of choreography, we have the French World Cup, the Hungarian World Cup, the Chinese World Cup, and one in Canada as well, so about four that we could test out our new routines in, see, uh, How the judges like their new routines, get some feedback, and then focus on Paris, training camp prior to Paris, and hopefully going for a medal there.

Alison: And then, after Paris, what is it, what does that look like in your brain?

Jacqueline Simoneau: At the moment, after Paris spending time with my friends and family, who will hopefully be there in Paris, and then a return to school in September. And seeing, is it a possibility to maybe continue sports at this point?

It’s definitely some questions that I’ll have to ask myself at that point in September. but my main focus after Paris will definitely be finishing my studies. I only have about two semesters left of actual schoolwork to do and the rest is just externships and seeing patients and doing different rotations, and that’s the fun part.

But finishing school and, and seeing Where I’ll stand in terms of sport after that.

Alison: Now you know that email that you get is a lot more complicated than you thought to answer.

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yes. Now I will definitely bear that in mind. And I may hold off on the submitting that WADA paperwork.

Jill: Did they do that quickly after Rio? Do you remember?

Jacqueline Simoneau: After Rio, no. So this was more of a federation decision, from my understanding, where they needed to be able to clear out some carding, so in terms of funding, to be able to get some people out so they could fund some new people, and with that, you needed to be able to officially retire.

After Rio, that wasn’t necessarily the case since I was only there in duet with Corinne, and she was definitely retiring. Actually! She’s, she stayed on for a year. I should have learned from her. So it’s, it’s been different after every Olympic cycle so far.

Jill: Yeah. I wondered if having the three years between games made a difference in how the Federation had to act with this quad, which was only three years long.

Jacqueline Simoneau: , that might be a possibility, especially with the funding aspect that I mentioned earlier.

Jill: Let’s talk about some of the other opportunities you’ve had being an Olympian, because you just spoke to the UN. Not that long ago.

How’d you get that gig?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Yeah, I was honestly truly a little shocked myself when I first got invited. So I’ve been working with the IOC on this Believe in Sport initiative for over a year now. And it’s just raising awareness about competition manipulation and all the rules and regulations around it and mostly educating athletes.

And so they work really closely with the FBI and Interpol and the UN Office for Drugs and Corruption. And so they had this conference that was specialized at the United Nations Drugs and Corruption Conference in Atlanta. And they wanted somebody from the IOC and an athlete to be able to speak on this.

And I suppose my name came up. I received an email a couple of weeks before, uh, the UN conference, and at first I thought it was spam email, to be honest. Uh, but it’s a good thing I knew the people who were on CC, otherwise I maybe would have tossed that to my junk, but no, answered it, and it’s It was a phenomenal experience.

Just seeing security that you need to be able to enter a United Nations conference was out of this world. And then sitting in the plenary seating, listening to all the legislator and then how the voting process goes on. It was truly eye opening. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience.

Alison: I hope this email finds you well,

Jacqueline Simoneau: can’t be,

Jill: what other kinds of opportunities have you had just being involved with the Olympics and even the COC? I know you had been named chef de mission for the Pan Am games. what kind of things, what kind of doors has it opened for you?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Oh my goodness. I mean that one opportunity itself was a, a phenomenal one, just heading to a major multi-sport games, not an athlete’s position, but in terms of an athlete, mentor and support position.

That was eye-opening to me as well, getting to see everything that happens behind the scenes. So the Canadian Olympic Committee does a phenomenal job at. When athletes come into the village, you have no idea what happened behind the scenes to be able to get you that banana and breakfast in the morning so you don’t have to go to the cafeteria and wait in line for the coffee machine and, everything that happens behind the scenes, I got exposed to in that little piece of time and it just grew my amount of respect, I mean, tenfold for everything that the COC does and even organizations from major sport games everything, all the work that goes into it.

it’s not just a couple of weeks of planning. It’s years of planning in advance.

Jill: Did it plant a seed of maybe doing more opportunities like that in the future or being more involved with the committee as on the administration’s side?

Jacqueline Simoneau: It definitely did. After Santiago, now I’m sitting on two different committees leading up to Paris.

From the Athletes Commission standpoint, so they always have an athlete sit on these different commissions and it’s really been neat, it’s been a great learning experience on the legal side, especially you know, I went a little bit from finance to marketing, and now I’m more learning on the legal aspect, everything that happens behind the sport in terms of team selection, so I definitely would like to continue learning in this

Alison: Has the medical training that you’ve done changed your thinking? I should have asked this when we were talking about WADA, but about the doping side of it and the WADA side of it as well.

Jacqueline Simoneau: I definitely understand a little bit more than I’ve had now. My pharmacology class is all done. Reading through that whole list of prohibited substances, I can now say, you know, mechanisms of X, Y, and Z drug.

Whereas in the past, it would just be a name and it would come right in one ear and right out the other. So it does open my mind a little bit and also to see, you know what, I understand how this drug could be a certain advantage to an athlete and how this would work. So, it’s definitely grown my understanding a little bit more.

I’ve never gotten to

Alison: ask this question. Is there any concern, I know you’re not doing clinicals, but when you were still doing both training and Working of exposure to a drug that you didn’t intake but then you could test positive for

Jacqueline Simoneau: so not quite You know, I’ve done a couple of injections where there’s some things that I would inject that would necessarily be prohibited but I’m wearing gloves sterile gloves and We have a rigorous process that we follow in terms of you know, no contamination So if we follow that process to a tee there shouldn’t be any sort of risk. .

Jill: Are you still thinking about going into podiatry or are your rotations that you’re planning all going to be different?

Jacqueline Simoneau: Oh, that’s a great question.

Definitely. At first I was all gung ho with podiatry and I think I still am, but I think I’d like to delve even further in this and go into more foot and ankle surgery. Yeah, especially Aaron Rogers coming back from an Achilles rupture. And I’ve had the privilege to sit on the California Podiatric Sports Medicine Committee, where there’s actually some of Aaron Rodgers surgeons that are sitting on there and going through different protocols and procedures bi monthly so I’ve loved, I’ve been, I’ve loved sitting on this committee, learning from them, hearing about these different procedures, I think it’s definitely lit that flame inside of me that I, I might want to go and explore that aftersport.

Alison: What did you miss the most about training about competing? What was it that you just said? Nope. That no can’t miss. I can’t miss out on this one more time

Jacqueline Simoneau: a few things. Performing obviously winning one of the main ones It’s not something that you get to experience in everyday life with Performing out there and truly loving what you do and training hours and hours for this one moment there’s just something so magical about that and then just living the high performance athlete lifestyle.

I mean, it’s not every day that you get to, you know, travel around the world and go train and do what you love and have an amazing support system around you. My main focus right now and what has been for the past few months is really just training. Training, eating, and recovering. And when in your life do you ever be able, are you able to have these types of priorities there?

I, you know, with studying, you know, it comes first, and then afterwards with working, all these things will get pushed aside. And just focusing on, on what I love to do, and trying to do it to the best of my ability, it’s just That’s what I really missed. .

Jill: Well, Jackie, thank you so much. It’s so exciting that you’re back. It’s exciting that you’re doing the medical school thing too, and getting involved with the Olympics. It’s cool to see you evolve as an athlete and as a person and see what comes next and what else, what, how else you can impact the world. That’s

Jacqueline Simoneau: very cool. Thank you.

Jill: Thank you so much, Jacqueline. Jackie competed at the World Aquatics World Championships last week in the solo, which is not an Olympic event and duet categories and do it is an Olympic event at world champs competitions are divided into solo and technical events in the solo technical.

Jackie got a silver medal in the solo free. She won gold. And in the duet, she competed with Audrey Lamothe. They earned 7th place in the technical, 5th place in the free, and they have qualified for Paris. And

Alison: surprisingly, you know, given what Jacqueline was telling us when we spoke to her, Canada has also qualified for the team event.

They

Jill: have.

Alison: It’s a big deal. So this was huge for both Jackie personally and for the program in Canada. So we’re super excited that she’s going to be in Paris.

Jill: Exactly.

And you should follow Jackie on the road to Paris on Insta. She is Jacqueline underscore Seminole and on Twitter, she is Jackie underscore Seminole.

And we will have links to those in the show notes.

Paris 2024 News

Jill: Ooh la la. We have a lot of games news this week. First is the medals for Paris 2024 came out this week

Alison: is It’s such heaven for me because medals and mascots are everything for me. I could skip the competition if you just give me medals and mascots. And we got these medals from Paris that have so much story to them.

Right? I mean, they always do, but this felt intentional in a way that we haven’t, that we didn’t even see from Tokyo and Tokyo was intentional.

Jill: Yes. And the French did it with. Very much if you always talk about how you love things of against being of a time and of a place boy, or did they nail it with these metals being of a place literally because they contain a little portion of the Eiffel Tower within them and.

the Eiffel Tower, had undergone reconstruction, back in the last century sometime. And so they had, they saved some metal, it’s been sitting in a warehouse, and they were like, hey, can we use this metal, or iron, from the Eiffel Tower, and they did, so the centerpiece of each metal is a little hexagon of iron from the original Eiffel Tower.

Alison: And apparently the hexagon is the official geometric shape of France. That was in the release as well. So who knew we were supposed to have, I think the US should be like a rhomboid or something. But yeah, so and then the rivets. that keep the piece of the Eiffel Tower to the gold, silver, and bronze are the same shape as the rivets of the Eiffel Tower.

The ribbons for both the Paralympic and the Olympic, , medals have that shape, the geometric shape of the Eiffel Tower within it. This was my other favorite detail. The Paralympic medals, red. is the original color. It’s a mix of the two paints that were used on the original version. of the Eiffel Tower.

Jill: And that is for the ribbon of , the metal ribbon, correct? Correct.

Alison: For the Paralympic medal, the Olympic medal is blue

Jill: ribbon. And then the, medals themselves are fluted. I understand you thought it looked a little like a cupcake wrapper. Well,

Alison: it wasn’t just me. Thankfully, apparently it’s my family has this issue.

I showed it to both my husband and my daughter and the first thing out of their mouths were it looks like a cupcake paper. So, I felt a little. Reassured that I guess my family has a cupcake issue.

Jill: Yeah, and, and they aren’t etched in lines, ripples, or I don’t know what you want to call them, creases, pleats.

, they are forged into the metal and will have this 3D effect. I, I thought they looked nice. and for the Olympic medal, the reverse side is the statue of Nike. You see? In the Pan Hellenic stadium from the original 1896 Athens Olympics. , so very much, placing it in the history of the games, the reverse side of the Paralympic medal has a geographic pattern that looks like if you were standing underneath the Eiffel Tower and looking up, that is kind of around the edge with the, Aegidos in the middle.

And then there’s also Braille writing on it because, Louis Braille is French and developed the system of reading for visually impaired athletes. And then the rim of that medal also has, etchings in it so that you can feel it and know what the event is for.

Alison: I hesitated on my opinion at first. I said, I need to live with it for a couple days and I love it. I was a little concerned at first by that iron block in the middle, because we have talked before about putting other materials. We weren’t a huge fan of like the Sochi metals, or I wasn’t a huge fan of the 92 metals with all that Lalique crystal.

Right. But again, because the Eiffel Tower is playing such a huge part in these Olympics, it makes perfect sense to have that piece and that the reverse is the solid metal also balances it out. So nice, nice job, to these designers, but they took away, we talked about this, I want to say two years ago, originally they had talked about the metal being stackable.

Do you remember that? Yes. You were going to be able to take it apart and hand out pieces of it to whomever you choose, but that idea seems to have been completely eliminated.

Jill: Yeah, that’s one of those. It feels like, oh, let’s brainstorm an idea or have something to have people talk about. I don’t know, but it was a really, it was a very unique idea.

And it’s, it’s. Very interesting that that idea did not come to fruition. These medals were created by the LVMH Jewelry House Chaumet. And, they put a lot of time and effort and craftsmanship into building or into creating them. So, I am very hopeful that when we go to New York for Team USA Media Days.

That they will have them there because remember they had Pyeongchang medals when we went to 100 Days Out.

Alison: Wow, and do you think like they’re gonna put us in hexagons in waiting areas? Like all the things will be hexagon shaped? That would be awesome.

Jill: So medals are here. Very, very exciting time. Also exciting is that Paris just finished construction on one of the brand new venues for these games. There’s only a few being built specifically for in, in concert with the Olympics. , this is named right now. It’s called the Adidas arena. It will be called Port de la Chapelle arena for the games because We don’t brand them.

they will host badminton, rhythmic gymnastics, para badminton, para powerlifting. After the games, the legacy plan is already place in place. Uh, it will be open to local sports groups and residents, and the Paris basketball team will also play there. The acoustics are supposed to be good. Important that that note, I will look for, and it’s incorporated many energy efficient elements, such as a big green roof.

Have you seen pictures of this? I have. It’s beautiful. Yes. it’s a big looking arena, but the entire round roof is. Green, and they also have terraces around that have that will be green as well to try to put some energy efficiency into it. The 7800 seats have been made from recycled plastic.

They said nine kilograms of plastic went into every seat. And then there’s also a use of geothermal energy and a lot of accessibility measures also went into this arena. One of the things. That this was part of Paris’s plan and hope anyway, they wanted to build a mid sized venue.

They have a bunch of venues that are four to 5, 000 seat venues, and then you skip everything and go right to 15, 000. So if you have an event that needs that mid sized venue, Paris doesn’t have it. until now. So it’ll be interesting. I love the fact that it’s going to be open up to the public for use afterwards.

And it’s going to be cool to be able to like work out and do stuff at the same arena that the basketball team plays at.

Alison: That green roof is really impressive. So if we can share some pictures of that, that’s pretty cool. And just, we will know the acoustics from Rhythm Gymnastics.

Jill: Right? We’ll, we’ll let you know

Alison: how it sounds.

Jill: I really feel for the people in security in Paris, in the city who have had this event called the Opening Ceremonies foisted on them in a way that has been one of the most challenging things ever. And hopefully Um, when this is all over, we will have a lot of lessons learned.

Somebody might be going on a speaking tour, I would think, or writing a book. There’s a book coming out of this at the very least. if you remember, so now we have a couple of other issues that have come up with the opening ceremonies. And if you remember, all along the Seine, there are book stalls with booksellers.

They’ve been there for a long, long time. It’s a very historic element of the city, a very, , much, an element that makes Paris Paris. And during the opening ceremonies, the organizing committee wanted them to move and security wanted them to move for security reasons. And they were like, no, no, no, we don’t want to move.

We got hit really hard during the pandemic. We really need this lifeblood of the Olympics to help our businesses. And, and still security’s like, uh, we think it’d be safer if you left. But France24. com has reported that French President Emmanuel Macron has inserted himself into this controversy and said, no, the booksellers could stay.

Security, you work around them.

Alison: You came up with this wild idea of having the athletes parade on the river, now deal with the consequences of your actions.

Jill: Oh, man. And poor security, stuck in the middle.

Alison: And speaking of consequences of your actions.

Jill: Oh, boy. So there’s other safety issues at play here. AFP reports.

that real estate experts are concerned that people will cram onto the balconies along the apartment buildings, uh, and office buildings along the sand to watch the ceremonies. some of these balconies are designed to hold just two or three people and they’re worried that an influx of people will cause them to collapse.

Now, balcony collapses don’t happen very often in Paris, but when they do, they can be deadly. And I don’t, I think you were already gone from Chicago when we had a major balcony collapse. In the city. So it was 2003, a balcony, fell in a neighborhood, not far from where I lived and killed 13 people and boy, balcony safety became a hot issue in the city after that, and a whole lot of restrictions and regulations went into play to not have that repeated ever again.

So yeah, people of Paris. Only two people on the balcony if it’s a small one, please don’t please don’t do this

Alison: and we talked about this I think it was two weeks ago where Are some of these buildings going to be closed because we talked about people on the roof of those buildings and saying, Oh, is that a sniper risk?

And now are we going to have buildings actually shut down or how many people they allow in your apartment building during this opening ceremony is going to be regulated. You can’t have an opening ceremony party and the French and I would say New Yorkers and probably most American cities are like that are not going to like any restrictions.

on the use of their own private apartments or offices. And yet, how do you balance that? And this is why the Olympics, for a while, kept going to autocratic countries. Because none of these issues would have come up in Beijing or Sochi or some of these other places. But that’s not a good thing.

Jill: Yeah, I don’t know.

I hope that there’s a lot of sensibility involved when, when dealing with this and that. At least some, bringing the issue to the forefront and highlighting it could do a lot in terms of prevention. Oh,

Milan-Cortina 2026 News

Jill: and with two years to go until Milan Cortina, they released their mascots.

Alison: Now these

mascots. Looks significantly different than the original drawing.

Jill: Well, I’m sure they had to take the idea and enhance it a little bit. I

Alison: am not mad about it.

I did not need time to think about Tina and Milo. I loved them the minute I saw them.

Jill: They’re very cute. Remember this was a contest. And we ended up that it was a vote between Stotes. And flowers, and we were on opposite camps. I like the stoats and you like the flowers and it turns out we get the whole kit and caboodle but the vote ended up being the stoats and they have now been fleshed out in terms of characters and backstory.

We have Tina, , who is the Olympic mascot and she’s named Tina after. Cortina, and Tina, the backstory is that Tina, who lives in the city, is creative and enjoys going to concerts and shows that have introduced her to the transformative force of beauty. The sentence that represents her is, dream big.

Alison: She also grew up in the mountains.

I mean, they really gave her a whole life story. She grew up in the mountains, but she didn’t like small town life and wanted to move to the city. And she’s got this beautiful ruffled scarf. She’s gorgeous as an Italian woman would be.

Jill: And then we have Milo, the Paralympic mascot, who is from Milan. So you get the Milo Milan thing.

Milo is a dreamer and loves to play in the snow. He lives in the mountains and invents his own musical instruments in his spare time. Born without a paw, Milo learned how to walk with his tail.

Alison: So they’ve continued that idea of having the Paralympic mascot. have an impairment, like they did with the Phrygians.

And Milo, also I want to squeeze his little skinny head.

They’re charming. They’ve got the charming faces like Bondibi and Suharang and we’re not going to have them top heavy because they’re kind of skinny and tube shaped. They are going to have trouble fitting in things, though. There’s going to be a lot of ducking involved, but they already are hitting the tour.

They’re heading to, skiing events and world cup events. So they’re already making appearances and they’re fantastic.

Jill: They are. I totally agree with you on this. They are adorable. There’s a lot of, there’s cartoons with them out that are just adorable. Thank you Milan. Cortina for getting something that is great.

And

Alison: they have names. Tina, the Friege.

Jill: They have names. Why do you hate the Friege?

No, but they are very cute, but they also have a posse. So this is the best of, well, we couldn’t deny that these flowers were something. They do have a posse that is. Six little snowdrops called The Flow and the little flowers will be Tina and Milo’s best friends, bringing fun, games, and happiness to the great adventure of Milan Cortina 2026.

Alison: It’s like Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Jill: But there weren’t six Dawns. It wasn’t Tony, Tony Orlando. Let’s date yourself here right now. Tony Orlando and Dawns. There was one of them. There was two of them. Oh, okay. Well, I didn’t, you know, I just knew the songs. I probably heard a song in the dentist’s office the other day.

Alison: Or Daisy Jones and the Six. There, I’ll move it up a little bit. Like,

Jill: I don’t even know who that is. Now you’ve given me research, we’ll put links, if you go to our website for the show notes, you will find videos of Tony Orlando and Dawn and Daisy Jones and the Six. Really? Okay. Anyhow. You know what I thought?

Okay, the Flo are really cute too, because they did do a really good job at making all of these adorable, but I immediately thought, I had two thoughts. A, well no, I had three thoughts. They couldn’t make a decision, really. B, I instantly thought about the five furries, the, Beijing 2008 mascots, of which there were five, and that was too many.

Too many mascots, right? Yes. So now we are on this, why do we have six additional mascots? they won’t have names. They’ll just be a group, but I mean, it’s kind of how much more do you want to sell, I guess, but then three, I thought, well, this is what they want to do for the figure skating in the. They can toss the Flo out onto the ice for the skaters instead of flowers or instead of other kind of stuffy things.

Yeah, I

Alison: think the way they seem to be presenting it is that Tina and Milo are the mascots. The Flo, I don’t even think there’s going to be costumes for them. You know, full costumes. The way they’ve designed them, it looks like people can dress up as the Flo with their own heads. Do you understand what I mean that it’s not a full costume?

That it’s just an outfit and a hat.

Jill: Oh, okay.

Alison: So that’s going to limit the size and spread of the flow. It’s not sounding

Jill: good. It’s the flow contagious.

Alison: But you could also make some beautiful merchandise like all the flow on a bracelet. For all the flow on a necklace, but then you have a stuffed Milo and a stuffed

Jill: Tina.

And we are available for merchandise consulting, Milan Cortina.

Alison: We have come up with some great merchandising ideas. There are stackable bracelets. I know. Olympic

Jill: rings. I know. I know. so that is the good news coming out of Milan Cortina. So thank you for giving us adorable mascots that we can love. uh, there have been protests outside of the Olympic Village construction site in Milan, which, hey, there is a construction site for the village in Milan, so I thought that was great.

But, these protesters were rallying against the construction of the sliding track, depending on your source, the crowd was anywhere from 150 to a thousand people don’t know, but it was organized by unsustainable Olympics committee, which is against the environmental impact of the games and, there’s always going to be protests, no matter what games you.

Talk about because you’re going to have a faction of people who don’t want them to happen and are worried about the environmental impact. But by golly, you know, protest against this sliding track, man.

Brisbane 2032 News

Jill: Here’s the thing. Brisbane 2032 is so far away that a lot of times it flies under the radar except for. What happened this week? Oh my gosh, this was amazing. So last week when we recorded, we were able to talk about Italy saying, yes, we want to build a sliding center in Cortina.

We have to have a sliding track in Italy. It would be un Italian not to have that in our backyard. Well, meanwhile, in Brisbane and Queensland, there has been controversy over, uh, one of the stadiums called the Gabba and it has been a big fixture in the area hosts, Australian football, it hosts cricket. And so when the Olympics were coming around, they did want to build a new stadium and the host commission was like, you don’t need to build a whole new stadium.

You could use the Gabba that you’ve got for this and you can use another stadium for athletics and everybody will be happy. But, no, Brisbane said we would like to go ahead. With demolishing the GABA and rebuilding it and part of that was, Australian football league and cricket. We’re not happy with the old stadium anymore.

They wanted upgrades. And of course, you know, when, when upgrades happen in a stadium who pays for them, not the sports that want them. It tends to be the public and the government, and they wanted the upgrades so badly that, . The GABA usually hosts the first cricket test event of the summer, and then in 2018, , that event was pulled because , the event organizer said, no, the GABA is too antiquated.

We will pull our big event until you fix it. In 2021, the government said it’s going to redevelop the stadium because now it’s got the Olympics. Now we got another reason to tear it down and rebuild and there’s all this controversy with going on with. Oh, you know, there’s a school nearby. Does that have to be closed?

,what do the sports do when there’s no stadium there? Where are they going to play? , a lot of fighting going on with the government. And, some people wanted this rebuilt, some people didn’t want it rebuilt. Some people said, Hey, football and cricket are not contributing here and they should be because they get to be the beneficiaries of this.

, and there’s been a lot of let’s, let’s do another report. Let’s do another study. But then mysteriously a day or two after Milan Cortina announced that yes, we’ve got a contract to build the sliding track. The Gabbadiel just got the kibosh. And, who’s behind this?

Alison: John Coates. Oh, John Coates. Even retired, he’s going rogue.

Jill: Oh my gosh, it was I saw the headlines come through that the rebuild was a distraction. They’ve risked turning people against the games. I saw these headlines. It is over. No more rebuild of the GABA and just went what is happening in Brisbane that and this is totally like, bam, not going to do and and basically.

You know, John Coates said, look, you demolish the stadium, you rebuild it for the Olympics, even though it’s going to get used for some other stuff, but the Olympics is going to take the heat for this. And we don’t want that. We are trying very hard not to have new venues built. And this is a big, new, expensive, multi billion dollar venue.

Don’t do it. And somehow that message got through loud and

Alison: clear. Well, you got John Coates. And I mean, I don’t mean that sarcastically. I mean, he’s got a lot of gravitas in both Australian sports communities and the government. So if he comes in and says, do not do this, I think that’s going to carry a lot

Jill: of weight.

I, Messaged with our friend Ben from off the podium, and he said the money is there to rebuild the stadium. There’s a lot of panicking and, , tenants not being able to use it during the rebuild, but he, he’s hopeful that it will still happen. I bet there are a bunch I bet there’s some people who still want this to happen.

I just think it’s not. It may not be worth the money. I don’t know. Yes, you, you might have a stadium that needs some upgrading, but can you do upgrades and keep the original structure of the stadium or does the whole stadium really have to go?

Alison: I love that this controversy over new stadiums versus old stadiums versus upgraded stadiums exists all around the world.

This is not a uniquely American problem that the Australians are having, and we’ve seen this discussion with no new venues. But then sometimes a city Needs a new venue because something is old or not big enough or it doesn’t have the facilities to attract sports teams and concerts and weighing

Jill: that out.

Right? So, uh, we will see what happens right now. No gabba gabba.

TFKLASTAN News

Alison: Welcome to Shookflastan.

Jill: And now it’s time to check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show and listeners who make up our citizenship of our very own country, Shookflastan.

Alison: Marathoner Abdi Abdirahman. He has decided he cannot stop running. He competed at the Olympic, , marathon trials in the U. S. He dropped out at mile 10. He’s 47.

Jill: That is amazing. good for him for trying, you

Alison: know. And apparently he was welcomed with open arms. There was a lot of fan excitement to see him again.

Excellent.

Jill: Excellent. Speed skater Erin Jackson is first in the 500 meter in the overall World Cup rankings for the season, and she competes at the World Championships in Calgary this weekend.

Alison: After a two year break, McKenna Geer competed at the U. S. Parachuting Paralympic Trials, and she officially announced her return to competition and hoped to make the

Jill: Paralympic team. Good also good for her. This was very exciting. And, uh, she faced a lot of burnout. On Instagram, she mentioned that the delay of Tokyo by a year really had a big effect on her competition wise, because, and we’ve talked about this before, where there are many athletes and many sports who set up training plans for the four year quad and she was peaking when she was supposed to peak.

And then covid put the Paralympics on a hiatus for a year, and then she was not at a peak when it was time to peak. And that’s really tough. I wonder how many other athletes that happened to that. Really? It messed with their training plans and then

Alison: between she got married. She had a baby. So she had personal.

life scheduling that I think Tokyo probably messed up as well. So that’s got to be hard on your brain when that happens.

Jill: So good to see you back and I’m glad you’re excited about shooting again. Speaking of shooting shooter, Kim Rhode teamed up, teamed up with Vincent Hancock to compete in the mixed team event in skeet shooting at the ISF World Cup in Morocco.

And they , took the gold medal in their qualifying rounds. Their score tied the world record, so , good event for them, too.

Alison: And the documentary Kikkan, about Kikkan Randall’s cross country skiing career and battle with breast cancer, debuted on February 3rd at the Center for the Arts in Crested Butte. Colorado. It will be streaming starting March 8th. We don’t know where. We’ll keep an eye

Jill: out for that.

And Bree Walker will be competing this weekend in the two woman bobsled and monobob at the World Cup in Altenburg.

And that’s going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you’re excited about seeing in terms of artistic swimming and also what you think of the medals and mascots that got introduced this week.

Alison: You can connect with us on X threads and Instagram at flame, a live pod, email us at flame, a live pod at gmail.

com call or text us at two zero eight. 3 4 8, that’s 2 0 8 Flame It. 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 at flamealivepod. com.

Jill: Next week, we will have Book Club Claire here to talk about our latest book club choice, If Gold is Our Destinary, by Sean P.

Murray. If you’ve read it, let us know what you think. Also, Movie Club is coming up soon, and we will be doing Boys in the Boat, so if you’ve seen that, we know a bunch of you had selfies at the movie theater, so let us know what you think. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.