chicago blackhawks 2015 stanley cup champions

THREE – Chicago Black Hawks and Nine Olympians Take the Stanley Cup: The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4 games to 2 for their sixth NHL championship. On that Chicago team were Kimmo Timonen whose long and distinguished career included bronze and silver medals for Team Finland in 1998, 2006, 2010, 2014; Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith who won gold for Team Canada in 2010 and 2014 in Sochi, along with fellow Canadians Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook who won gold medal in 2014; Patrick Kane who won silver on the USA team in 2010; Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson who won silver on the Swedish team in Sochi in 2014; Brad Richards Canada: who competed for Team Canada in 2006; and Marian Hossa of Slovakia who competed in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Platini and Blatter

TWO – FIFA Scandal and Ban: The FIFA Ethics Committee banned FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA head and FIFA heir apparent Michel Platini from all football-related activities for eight years, sparking hopes of greater transparency and an end to corruption and bribes which impact FIFA decisions. For a brilliant explanation of the scandal by John Oliver, all the way back in June, 2014, watch this video.


Russia Track Banned.jpg

ONE – Russia Track and Field Team Banned: After it was revealed that Russian athletes were illegally doping thanks to a state-run program, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decides in November to suspend the All-Russia Athletic Federation, essentially all Russian track and field athletes, from participating in international competitions, including the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics. Here is the documentary that sparked the investigation.

See this link for 13 through 15, 10 through 12, 7 through 9, and 4 through 6.

Stadion St Moritz_1928 and Present Day
Stadion St Moritz, home of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics – Top – 1928, Bottom – Present Day

He was 13 years old and was visiting the site of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as he did every winter as a child. An Olympian from those 1948 Games happened to be there, under whose tutelage Rolf Sachs had his first opportunity to go careening down the icy corridor of the bobsleigh track.

Sachs, a renown Swiss artist and designer, would continue to visit St. Moritz in the winters into his adulthood and would always see a large pink building, abandoned, built for the 1928 Olympics. And while many saw the empty pink structure as perhaps an unwanted feature of the snow white background of the winter playground, Sachs envisioned a fascinating place to reside.

rolf sachs
Rolf Sachs

According to this short film by Matthew Donaldson, Sachs asked if he could buy and convert the Stadion St Moritz, and was essentially told “yes” if he could get through the paperwork. In addition to renovating the building into a winter home, he continued to build the only natural bobsleigh course in the world.

Sachs, whose father’s influence made him a purveyor and creator of art, believes his bobsleigh course is also the biggest art sculpture in the world. Not only that, superior to all other bob sleigh courses, this one has no negative environment impact.

“It’s fantastic to see that it was the first bob run and the last one that is still natural,” Sachs says in the film. “If I imagine the environmental impact of an artificial bob run, not only to run it, but to see in the summer these huge concrete walls, it’s really a joy to see how they built this in three weeks, and at the end of the season, it just melts away.”

Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu gave a performance for the ages on Saturday night. For the second night in a row, Hanyu established a new world record on the way to victory at the NHK Trophy. Not just one, but two.

Source: Hanyu smashes two more world records en route to amazing NHK Trophy triumph | The Japan Times

 Seiko Hashimoto, one of only two athletes to have competed in two different Olympic Games in the same year (Albertville and Barcelona in 1992)

Seiko Hashimoto, one of only two athletes to have competed in two different Olympic Games in the same year (Albertville and Barcelona in 1992)

The War for Talent is fierce in the industrialized world, and it is fiercest in Japan, where the demand in particular for global, bilingual talent is sky high. The bad news is that Japanese organizations and government have not figured out how to best utilize half that talent pool, women.

In August of this year, the Japanese government signed off on legislation that requires companies with 301 or more employees to share statistical data on what percentage of female hires and managers, as well as to set targets. There is a broader goal set by the government to have 30% of all managerial roles in Japan filled by women by 2020. According to a Goldman Sachs report mentioned in this Wall Street Journal article, figuring out how to fill the gender gap could result in an increase in GDP by about 13%. That’s what is meant by Womenomics.

But for women to achieve, they have to want to achieve. And very often it is the very lack of role models that keep the number of female managers and leaders down.

Enter Seiko Hashimoto. No one in Team Japan has participated in more Olympic Games than the woman from Hokkaido. Hashimoto, now Ishizaki, has appeared in the Winter Games of Sarajevo (1984), Calgary (1988), Albertville (1992), as well as Lillehammer in 1994, competing as a speed skater. She also used her powerful legs to compete as a cycling sprinter in the Summer Games of Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), and Atlanta (1996). That’s seven Olympic Games from 1984 to 1996!

Hashimoto, who is also a member of the House of Councillors in the Japanese government, has been named as the chef de mission of the Japan Olympic team for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The chef de mission, according to the IOC, is the main liaison between the National Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, and has the responsibility for all the competitors, officials and staff members of that particular national team. Hashimoto, as well as Kitty Chiller in Australia who was also named chef for Rio, are the first female chef de missions in the history of the Olympic Games.

Kitty Chiller, Australian pentathlete in the 2000 Sydney Games
Kitty Chiller, Australian pentathlete in the 2000 Sydney Games

The chef de mission of an Olympic team is the sole spokesperson, in a way, like the CEO, who represents the team not only to the IOC, but to the public. Most commonly, it is the chef de mission who has to put on the brave face when athletes or officials misbehave, but they also have the potential to rally the troops and inspire.

Why has it taken so long for women to lead an Olympic team? There are multiple reasons. Hopefully, the examples of Hashimoto and Chiller will be another step in breaking barriers and allowing talented women to show the world that leadership is far more abundant than previously believed…if only gender is ignored.

The Women's Quarters in the Olympic Village, Tokyo, from the book,
The Women’s Quarters in the Olympic Village, Tokyo, from the book, “The Games of the XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964”

The men stayed in military barracks inside the Olympic Village. But the women were housed in a four-story building that was fenced off from the men, and according to one report, its borders demarcated with barbed wire.

The women actually had full rein of the grounds, so to one Olympian, it seemed like overkill. It’s a “bit pointless,” the coach of the women’s British gymnastics team, June Groom, told The Japan Times. “After all the girls can go anywhere they please and have access to the men’s quarters, but there you are.”

Ada Kok, a teenage swimmer on the Dutch national team, remembers being able to see people on the road, and thus was warned to watch out for peeping toms. “Our chaperones from our teams warned us to close the curtains when we were about to sleep.”

Apparently, the barriers weren’t so great that husbands and wives couldn’t connect. Discus thrower, Olga Connolly, was reported to assist her husband, hammer thrower, Hal Connolly, with his laundry. As the AP reported, Olga would wash and iron Hal’s wear, and then pass the clean clothes over the wire fence.

On the Friday before the Opening Ceremonies, the organizers offered the women in the

1980 US ice hockey team locker
1980 US ice hockey team locker

It was February 22, 1980. The American men’s ice hockey team were in a locker room in upstate New York, preparing for a game against the Soviet Union in the Olympic Winter Games. Bill Cleary was the head coach of ice hockey power, Harvard University, and he stopped by the locker room to wish his friend, Coach Herb Brooks, good luck. They talked, and then Cleary left the room.

“Then I see the trainer chasing after me and says Herb wants me to go back in to talk to the boys. So I went back and this is what I said: ‘I know what’s going through your mind. You feel isolated here in upper state New York, oblivious of what’s going on in the rest of the world. But you have captivated our entire country and everyone is pulling for you. There are 20 guys pulling for you more than anyone. And that’s the 1960 team. There is only one outcome. You’re going to win!'”

To Cleary, member of the 1960 US ice hockey team, the first American team to win gold in the Olympics, being an Olympian is an honor. When he attended his first Olympics in 1956 in Cortina Italy, he remembers being 21, a kid who never left Boston thrust into the incredible beauty of the majestic Alps. “I thought the sky was so beautiful and was so close it was going to come down on you. Heaven was right there. And we were marching in the parade during the opening ceremony, not long after World War Two and the Korean War, and in came the Russians, the ogres.” But they weren’t there to fight. They were there to compete in sports. “That’s what makes the Olympics so special,” said Cleary. “Olympians can do more for world peace and good will than all the politicians in the world.”

(L-R): Bill Cleary, Dick Meredith, Weldy Olson, Dick Rodenhiser, and John Mayasich were on the 1956 and 1960 US teams
(L-R): Bill Cleary, Dick Meredith, Weldy Olson, Dick Rodenhiser, and John Mayasich were on the 1956 and 1960 US teams

But Cleary believes being an Olympian is also an obligation, an obligation to demonstrate a bond across nationalities and generations, to continuously uphold an Olympic spirit. He remembers the performance and the behavior of the US Men’s ice hockey team at the 1998 Nagano Games. He didn’t like the addition of professional athletes, but when they reacted to poor performance at the Games by vandalizing the locker room, he was miffed. “I was really upset about that. They should have been proud to compete, but instead they were burning their uniforms. We are Olympians. We should take great pride when we represent our country.”

In contrast, Cleary remembers a time in Czechoslovakia he will never forget. In 1983 Coach Cleary took his Harvard hockey team over to Prague. It was Christmas time, but you could tell the locals were having a tough time, he said. On the second to last night of this tour, the interpreter informed him that a fellow Olympian from the 1960 Czech ice hockey team wanted to see him. And when they pulled into a small coal-mining town called Koln, Cleary stepped off the bus to be greeted by Czech goaltender, Vladimir Dvoracek.

“And all of a sudden Dvoracek, he sees me, and shouts ‘Bill, Bill!’ He brings me inside to a room and says ‘coffee, beer, coke?’ He wanted to know what my life was like, about my teammates, about the US. It was almost like he was interrogating me, he had so many questions. Finally, I said I got to go and prepare the team for the game. We warm up, and at the end of the warmups, they play the national anthems. I see my friend Dvoracek and he grabs the microphone. He tells the audience, ‘I want you all to welcome my good friend Bill Cleary. We have not seen each other in 25 years. Our countries are not friendly, but we are friends. We are Olympians and we are friends.’ I am getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it.”

Czech goaltender, Vladimir Dvoracek, sits in the front row, fourth from the left.
Czech goaltender, Vladimir Dvoracek, sits in the front row, fourth from the left.

After the game they met again, and Dvoracek brings out a scrapbook with pictures of his hockey career until it comes time for me to leave. “He was sad, kind of tearful that I was

Bob (14) and Bill (7) Cleary
Bob (14) and Bill (7) Cleary

The team was set. Nobody on the team wanted the new guys. So when Bill and Bob Cleary joined the US ice hockey team at the deadline, just prior to the start of the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley California, their reception was, well, icy. “When we arrived on the rink in Denver, the other players walked by us without saying a word,” Bill Cleary told me recently.

“I thought, well, this is going to be fun.”

The brothers Cleary were members of the US ice hockey team and Olympic champions, not in 1980 – the Miracle on Ice- but in 1960, the so-called “Forgotten Miracle”. While Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, and Mark Johnson became house-hold names at Lake Placid in New York, by beating the Russians on their way to gold and glory, the 1960 US ice hockey team did that first.

Captain Jack Kirrane, star goaltender Jack McCartan, John Mayasich, the Christian brothers, and the Cleary brothers shocked the hockey world by knocking off perennial powers Canada, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in succession. The Cleary brothers alone accounted for 24 points in the seven Olympic games, and they weren’t even on the team two weeks before.

As Bill told me, they were businessmen first. He and his brother Bob were just starting a fledging insurance company. Bob was married and Bill was soon to be. Playing in the Olympics would have meant lost revenue. But the coach of the US team, Jack Riley, was heading a team that was struggling, losing to teams across the country. So Riley was persistent. “He kept calling me. I don’t know how many, but quite a few. I finally said, if you want to take me, you have to take Bobby too. Bobby was good, the leading collegiate scorer in the country, and was on the 1959 World Championship US team.”

Coach Riley convinced Bill Cleary to join, and with him came his brother Bob. This led to two cuts from the team, one very famous one – Herb Brooks – the eventual coach of the 1980 US team. But this decision proved decisive. Once the brothers Cleary joined, the team did not lose a single match prior to or during the Olympics.

Bob Cleary passed away a month ago, on September 16.

“Bobby was a classic centerman,” said his brother Bill. “He had a great ability to know where people were on the ice, a sixth sense. And he smelled the net. In the game against the Canadians, he scored the first goal. If you ever watch the game, he won the face off, and when Mayasich passed toward the net, Bobby was prone in the air when he chipped the puck into the net.”

Bill and Bob Cleary were brothers on the team, but when they first arrived on the team, as remarked on earlier, there was no brotherly love for them. It took one game in the Olympics to turn that around, according to Bill. “When we first got on the ice for the first game, my brother passed it to me. I shot the puck and it hit the other winger, and the puck went into the net. There’s a great picture of the three of us hugging each other. And when we started to win, it got better.

“Today, you would never know we had those problems in the early days. We’re all very close today.”

Many remember the 1980 Men’s Ice Hockey Team. But we cannot forget the 1960 team. Here’s the trailer of the film, “Forgotten Miracle”, depicting the journey of that pioneering American hockey team.

It’s spelled “Pyeongchang”, but apparently, IOC officials have taken to spelling it “PyeongChang”.

CamelCase strikes!

But why?

Map from the New York Times.
Map from the New York Times.

Who knows. I suspect the reason is – even if you had the slightest memory that PyeongChang was hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2018, you might confuse it with Pyongyang in North Korea. In fact, according to this New York Times article, IOC members actually did confuse the two in the initial bid for the 2010 Winter Games.

So the host in 2018 is PyeongChang, South Korea, not PyongYang, North Korea. Having said that, PyeongChang is not far from North Korea, and a large number of its inhabitants had parents who escaped from North to South in the early 1950s, with the hopes that a resolution to the Korean War would allow them to return. Instead, they remained in the part of Korea that would continue to be one of the least developed in the country.

And yet, as time passed, Koreans appreciated more and more the winter beauty of the Gangwon Province, where Buddhist Temples and ski lifts abound. South Korean officials have been driving the vision that PyeongChang will again place South Korea on the map, completing a sporting cycle – hosting the track and field world championships, the World Cup and both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games – as well as revitalize a part of Korea that has languished economically.

While the mountain events will take place in PyeongChang proper, the indoor events will take place in Gangneung by the Eastern seaboard of Korea, about 30 kilometers away. Not only will world-class facilities be developed, a high-speed railway system is also being built to transport people between the two sporting venues in less than 30 minutes.

So remember, it’s PyeongChang, not Pyongyang, and it’s Gangneung, not Gangnam.

We don’t all let loose that mighty yalp in victory, jump on the pile, brother upon brother, bonding with a screaming universe that borders on the spiritual.

We sometimes go inwards, burrowing towards the source of the volcano, feeling the rumble grow. But we won’t show you. This moment isn’t for you.

When I read this passage below in “All Together“, by William Stowe, about his eight-man crew’s victory at theAll Together US trials for the chance to bring Olympic Gold back to America, I am reminded of the film “Miracle“, about the stunning 1980 victory of the men’s US ice hockey team over the USSR. In this scene, just after play-by-play announcer Al Michaels screams “Yes!”, the coach of the team, the legendary Herb Brooks, finds his way to the end of the bench, smiles at his wife, and then vanishes alone into the passageway under the stands.

He is alone. He is feeling the rumble grow. And he is happy.

Stowe had a similar experience, 16 years earlier. As he writes, his team has pulled off a mammoth, and somewhat unexpected victory to win the US trials.

We were all basking in our victory and had no reason to hurry in packing up the boat for its return to Philadelphia. I could only think about getting the USA uniform and being a part of the American team. Later when I got to my car in the parking lot, I looked around and saw that no one was watching. Only then did I let out the victory whoop, the one I had been holding back for hours, and dance a victory jig. I had no conception of what we would have to do and how hard we would have to train to best represent America in the Olympic games three months hence. I simply was savoring the moment.