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Feb 25 2014

A Tale of Two Olympics (Now with Kids!)

By at 10:58 am

Figure_Skating_Venue_in_Sochi

I worked my first Winter Olympic Games in 1998, as a member of TNT’s production team (where I immortalized one skater’s costume as “She looks like she was mauled by a lion while escaping a brothel.” I noted it off-handedly, but commentator Rosalynn Sumners liked it so much she repeated it on-air. It was like the movie, “Broadcast News.” I say it here, it comes out there….).

I spent close to a month in Nagano, Japan, working 28-hour days with no weekends, and came home so exhausted that I proceeded to spend the next 48 hours near-catatonic in front of the TV, catching up on all the shows I’d taped. (This was before Tivo or downloading or watching on demand, so I actually had to pre-program my entire primetime line-up weeks in advance. All on a tape that could only record for eight hours. Truly the dark ages, kids.)

My oldest son was born in 1999. And though I tried to continue working in figure skating production, his refusing to acknowledge my presence after I’d returned from yet another business trip when he was 18 months old pretty much put the kibosh on that plan. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2014

Forget the Sochi Games–We’re Watching the Shoshi Games

By at 10:27 am
Forget the Sochi games, we're watching the Shoshi Games

via Shoshi Games 2014

 

We love “Girls.” Lena Dunham‘s hit HBO show epitomizes the New York City, mid-20s, struggling writer/artist experience. One of the most exaggerated, but lovable (and Jewish!) characters of the show is the neurotic, OMG-dropping, Camp-Ramah-going Shoshanna Shapiro. Aside from her highly quotable one-liners, Shoshanna, played by Zosia Mamet, is known for the most intricately knotted hair-dos you have ever seen.

That’s why we were pretty psyched to see this perfect Tumblr dedicated to Shoshi, and her true calling, the Shoshi Games 2014–it’s, like, totes amaze. Enjoy.

Forget the Sochi games, we're watching the Shoshi games

via Shoshi Games 2014

 

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Feb 6 2014

Here’s to the Three Jewish American Male Figure Skaters at the Sochi Olympics

By at 5:04 pm
Charlie White with ice dancing partner Meryl Davis

Charlie White with ice dancing partner Meryl Davis

 

First, I was a figure skating fan, then I was a figure skating TV researcher/producer, then I was a figure skating mystery novelist, and currently I’m a hodge-podge of all the above.

I am referencing my C.V. in order to explain why, while I don’t know the total number of Jews on Team USA for the Sochi Olympics, I do know that there are three of them in the figure skating delegation: two-time World Ice Dancing Champion and defending Olympic silver medalist Charlie White, singles skater Jason Brown, and pairs skater Simon Shnapir. (Ladies’ singles skater Gracie Gold is, alas, not Jewish, despite the name.)

That’s right, the US is being represented at the Olympics by three nice, Jewish boys. The latter actually emigrated from Moscow as a toddler.

It stands to reason. Figure skating is a huge sport in Russia. It’s a huge sport in America, too. But, primarily for girls. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2012

Olympic Athletes Can Grow Up to Be Normal People, Too

By at 4:10 pm
alina adams brian boitano

Me with Brian Boitano!

Would you want your kid on a Wheeties box, Renee Septimus wondered here on Kveller. She talked about the kind of things that young Olympic athletes must be giving up to acheive their level of success–school, summer camp, birthday parties, etc.

Renee concluded: I’m glad my children lived “average” lives. They turned into well-rounded, self-actualized adults with many interests, good relationships, and satisfying careers.

As someone who spent several years covering Olympic sports for ABC, ESPN, and TNT, as the older sister and official chaperone of a brother who was the 1996 US Novice Ice Dancing Champion and, last but not least, a mom, myself, I have a different perspective on the subject. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 13 2012

Would You Want Your Kids on a Wheaties Box?

By at 12:41 pm

usa gymnastics team london olympicsWe all love Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and the rest of the USA women’s gymnastics team. They were the only team I tried to catch when they performed. I don’t enjoy watching sports, but I love ballet and I am astonished at what those young women could do with their bodies. Their movements seem to take dance to another level.

But I wonder–at what cost? What do athletes like Aly and Gabby give up to achieve perfection in their sport? Surely they give up the typical childhood and adolescence most people have. And although when you are going through it, it may seem painful, most of us cherish memories of school, camp, birthday parties, friends. I guess I mean that they miss the balance of a life well-lived. (No pun intended.) Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 8 2012

Aly Raisman: Our Golden Jewish Gymnast

By at 10:04 am

aly raisman jewish hava nagila floor routine gold london olympicsWe can–and should–all kvell over Aly Raisman today.

Not just because the 18-year-old American is a truly amazing gymnast–her teammates like the young phenoms Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber also can claim that title. But Aly Raisman is, in the parlance of our Jewish people, an “aishet chayil“–a woman of valor.

Traditional Jewish families sing the song “Aishet Chayil” to the woman of the house on Friday evenings as they welcome in Shabbat, praising the lady of the house for all the work she does. But I’m going to take it a step further and say that a woman of valor is far more than someone who makes the dinners and sets the tables–it’s someone who sets an example by way of her actions. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 31 2012

Are Aly Raisman’s Parents Stereotypical Jewish Parents?

By at 4:00 pm

aly raisman parents qualifiersAmerican Olympic gymnast–and, by all appearances, nice Jewish girl–Aly Raisman qualified for the womens individual all-around gymnastic final at the Olympics Sunday night (doing her routine to Hava Nagila, yet!). Big news–but apparently not as big as her parents’ reaction.

The video of her parents’ reactions as Raisman was doing her qualifier round has gone viral, and was posted here at Kveller as well as everywhere else in the world [ed. note: the IOC has blocked all footage on copyright grounds]. Raisman’s parents are transparently stressed out as they watch their daughter. They constantly fidget in their seats, looking, as one commentator noted, as though they were in dire need of a restroom. They move back and forth as though being shaken in a kaleidoscope, their eyes 100% trained on their daughter. They mumble and mutter encouragements (possibly dropping one f-bomb) in a Tourettes-like stream of words. Vanity Fair called their parental reactions “hilarious” and “SNL-worthy.” When watching them, anyone can see that they are clearly completely focused on and invested in their 18-year-old daughter’s performance, finally letting loose with a relieved yell at the end of the routine (thank you, Mr. Raisman). Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2012

Jewish Parents at the Olympics are Pure Gold

By at 10:35 am

aly raisman london olympics 2012Which Jewish parents are the biggest kvellers in America today? That would Lynn and Ricky Raisman, whose 18-year-old daughter Aly Raisman scored one of the two American spots to contend for the all-around title in women’s gymnastics at the London Olympics yesterday. Not only did their daughter score high enough to replace the reigning world champion, Jordyn Wieber, who was a heavy favorite for a gold medal, she performed her floor routine to Hava Nagila. So much nachas!

But the best thing to come out of all of this does not even feature Aly–it’s all about her parents. One genius videographer chose to zoom in on the Raismans during Aly’s bar routine, and the footage that came out of it is pure (Olympic) gold. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have your child compete in the Olympics, check it out:

To see her parents in a slightly calmer light, check out this interview with them for NESN.com, in which the key to Raisman’s success is revealed: Mommy & Me gymnastics classes at age 2.

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