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Posted By SkatingPj

Hello family!
I am currently sitting at the Covenant Guest House in the outskirts of Nairobi. It is a quaint little place. I have a room to myself, with a mosquitto net, toilet and shower! I'm not sure if it gets better than that.
Anyway, yesterday was a big day, I went out and exchanged some money to Kenyan Dipsies, and got myself a SIM card...then..THEN..I went to the Nairobi City Park (aptly called The Monkey Park), where I fed peanuts to lots of very cute monkeys, except for the one that stole a bag of peanuts...you better believe that one got no special attention after that, greedy bugger. These monkeys are like the squirrels we used to feed in Kew Gardens, they come right up to you and sit on your shoulder...I like to call it the happiest place on earth. Peter, the man that was taking me around, was very friendly and I only had to pay him 15$ for a whole day's excursion!
When I got home last night, there was no power...so I helped Regina the girl who works here make dinner by candle light. It was very romantic. We are BFFs now, in case you were wondering. I made rice, and a bunch of sauteed veggies...she was very impressed with my cooking skills, I told her I was trained at the Cordon Bleu...the joke was lost on her.
I woke up this morning at 5AM with a migraine, not a great way to start the day. I took a bunch of pills and slept most of the day until Regina knocked on my door and asked if I was going to 'take breakfast'...I said sure...even though it was 230. She had made an egg for me in the morning anticipating I would be up. While she was heating up my breakfast I sat in the dining room listening to a rousing rendition of "Satan, You Lose" on "The Christian Music Revival Station"...I have a full arsenal of christian folk songs to take with me on the road now.
I am being picked up later by the guy who drove me from the airport...I'm not really sure why, but my hopes are that he wants to show me around and not sell me into white(ish) slave labour..more on that later.
I think that's it for now. Love and miss you all.
Amanda


 
Posted By SkatingPj

The skating has just ended in Jeonju, Korea and what springs to mind is all that has happened over the last 4 days.  Not only on the ice, but the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.  I went to Jeonju for the 4 Continents Championship in 2002 and have a very clear picture in my head of the rink and the surrounding area.  I remember well that it was an area known for paper products and that there is in fact a paper museum. I also remember getting into a cab with three Canadian men and I won't mention names exactly but one rhymes with  "dead fart on".  In any event, we wanted to go to the paper district (turns out it was behind the hotel) and in their desire to please; everyone from the doorman on down kept saying "yes" to all of our questions leading us to believe that there was a level of understanding that didn't exist.  It took $10 and a half hour cab ride across the (beautiful) countryside to get dropped back at our hotel and to have an English speaking person direct us around the corner for what we wanted. 

The Four Continents Championships never ceases to provide me with moments of pure skating bliss from skaters I hadn't previously really known.  I saw Zhang and Zhang for the first time at a 4Cs.  Jeff Buttle won his title in Jeonju and I can still recall his La Strada program and the squealing Korean girls who all developed crushes on him based on his warmth and easy smile.   Yu-Na Kim I first saw in exhibition as a very young girl either the first or second time I came here and the writing was on the wall even then.

These 4Cs will be forever locked in my brain on a couple of different fronts:  the look of joy on Kevin Reynolds' face after the short program and the look on Adam Rippon's after the free - both men amazing competitors and worthy champions.   I love seeing the new talent and wondering what the future will hold for them.

The other memory for me is from the contact I am getting to have with skating fans (like me).  When I first started doing "live feed commentary" it was just about the skaters with nothing going on in the floods or during the warm ups.  It was a necessity but certainly not anything that anyone thought had potential.  Or so I thought.  Over this last season, the coolest thing yet is that TV now goes both ways and I love it.  The interactivity that is now possible thanks to technology means that we are truly sharing the experience as opposed to just being told about it.  For me, the chat, the email, the twittering and the online forum experience has added a new and exciting dimension to my job and I am grateful for it.  I get to hear from parents, skaters, fans, colleagues DURING the event.  How cool is that? Almost as good as sitting in the stands watching skating with friends.

Lots of emails to answer this time and I am looking forward to getting to all of them!


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Hi everyone.... 
I have learned so much; some of which I would like to share with you:
1. ALWAYS bring toilet paper with you to the loo.  Seems it is only put out for company so in the days leading up to an event, you're on your own.
2. Shan Dian OO Shang - either means when translated "Modern Pentathlon" - modern 5 events is the literal translation or and I am still checking with the Olympic News Service - "Original yet Modern Chinese Fire Drill". 
3. Many of you may know that I took some Chinese language lessons before I came here and in truth I think it may have gotten me into more trouble than not because when I say anything to a Chinese person they (sadly) insist on talking to me.  As anyone who knows any other languages knows at first all you can understand is what you are saying when other people actually speak to you it kind of messes you up the following is an actual Chinese conversation that took place in my venue today (day 2 at OYMCFD - see #2)
What the Chinese colleague said to Pj:  "Chinese chinese chinese  chinese chinese, chinese, chinese, chinese, chinese ? Chinese, chinese, chinese,
chinese, chinese, chinese: Chinese, Chinese, ok, bye bye."
What Pj heard/understood:  "You, chinese, chinese, chinese, chinese, chinese, macadamia nut!! Chinese, roast, chinese, chinese, duck, we, microphone, chinese, chinese, coffee? Panty lives in Greece, chinese, Olympic-u, chinese, chinese, paper, chinese, nap, ok,.bye bye."
On the Chinese lessons: That was money well spent!
4.  If you see the following on a menu, even if it is a Korean BBQ menu, as I did last night with friends, don't order it: 
Grilled Therdgrdha Icogrdmma

Feel free to order a piece of grilled steaf

5.  If you are foreign and work at the Olympic Games in China...be prepared to have your picture taken a lot...and to be introduced to local people of varying degrees of importance.  Tonight, I was presented to the deputy director of the Olympic Sports Center complex whose job it is to oversee all of the venues there.  So...handball, water polo, modern pentathlon and I am sure other things all fall under his jurisdiction.  I smiled my warmest smile and said in my best Chinese I was very happy to be in Beijing and that I thought that this was a wonfderful Olympics!

At least that's what I hope I said. As usual I had a Chinese person translating my Chinese into Chinese.
Hopefully this Chinese friend did a better job than the last one who let me walk around for a couple of days doing my thumbs up to people and telling them: Good job!  As I started to get sassy with my new found phrase and  I used it unsupervised and started getting strange looks.When Cissy (who taught me the phrase) stopped laughing; I found out that I had been randomly doing the thumbs up and telling people (a whole lot of people)  "girly fat". So around the groups I go pointing to people; smiling and t humbs-upping them and saying "girly fat!!!". "girly fat!!!"  Because I also know superlatives, I could also say "most girly fat!!!!"  to those singled out for additional praise.
There's nothing else to say really is there?  As usual...I have watched no sports and haven't a clue as to what is going.
Pretty much business as usual.
Cheers,
Pj/mom
 

 
Posted By SkatingPj

While at Canadians, a fan sent me a note asking me to please stop using skating jargon like triple or quad toe.  They wanted me to use the "correct" term of triple or quad toe loop.  The only problem is that if the takeoff edge is an inside and not an outside, then correctly it is called a triple or quadruple toe walley.  In other words, "toe" works; skating jargon or not.

Another fan asked me to stop talking altogether. ( Actually maybe not so much of a fan?)  Truth is, I am more afraid of my bosses wondering why I am not talking, as they are paying me to comment about skating,  (hence the term "commentator") than I am about a "notfan" asking me not to.

I digress...

The same could be said for my initial confusion and TV lingo.  My education was not in TV (except watching it) and the words and terms at times are a little confusing.  The first time I heard I was working for "host" I thought to myself ....hmm...does that mean as low person on the ladder I will be the one going to be doing the coffee runs?

My Australian friend Jon (or as we like to call him Jonny from The Block) got the nod to work for "host" at the Games in Beijing at volleyball.  Like me, his background wasn't in TV and when he went into the office to talk about it, they said that this was the "number" they they were working with in order to make it "happen."   He quickly did the math and thought it manageable, because it was going to be the chance of a lifetime. He tried to think about how he was going to present it to his wife and what it was going to cost him over the long haul with respect to anniversary/Valentine's/birthday gifts and the like.  In a blink, he said he would do it. After all what were savings for?   Handshakes all around until J-Fo asked when he had to bring the cheque in?  "For what?" he was asked.  "You know, the amount you said so I can go to the Olympics" he ventured with confidence.  A look of confusion crossed the boss' face until he said "Jon there is no cheque necessary.  We pay YOU."

Hmmmph - and I thought I had a lot to learn!


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Saturday at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships was memorable to say the least and it started me thinking.

 

Canadians watched the podium story unfold in such a way that not only were titles defended in the  pairs, women and dance but  that the skaters in each dominated their event to the degree that not only did they become the gold medallists they earned the right to be called Champions.

In my mind, winners aren't always "champions" and it takes a special kind of performance to really earn the moniker. 

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were more than memorable in their free program to The Way We Were.  On the surface the program was always lovely to watch with a romantic quality that was able to draw the spectator in.  What was different in their winning free program was that beyond that "soft" quality, they showed that they have the "technical goods" to compete and the gritty determination it takes to deliver.

Ice Dance is being re-defined by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir whose free dance is among the fastest 4 minutes in skating.  You blink and the program is over. Scott's Uncle Paul, who won't be at the Olympics, told me that the service clubs like the Lions Club in Ilderton have helped in booking a hall and renting big screen TVs in Ilderton for Scott's hometown to be able to watch their Olympic performances and if they skate like they did here, there will be lots to see.

My favourite had to be the women's free:  Joannie Rochette connected with the complex Delilah in her free program and skated with a vengeance.  It was like watching someone on a mission.  She skated with passion and fire and every step of the way seemed to be daring the viewers to doubt her. Her skating said "bring it on." 

As I said: not all winners are "champions"  but all champions are definitely winners in one way or another.

 


 


 
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