BOOKRING: The Second Mark : Courage, Corruption, and the Battle for Olympic Gold
7 journalers for this copy...
I do, however, have two gripes with The Second Mark. First of all, it is too weak on the technical details of skating, leaving the impression that showmanship and technical skills are of equal value. Goodwin doesn't make it clear that the second mark that the skaters were all struggling to raise in 2002 included measures of skill like ice coverage, speed, and program balance. The Olympics ends up looking like Vagas (canada) vs. Muscle Beach (china) with a misplaced ballet company (russia) caught in the middle.
Secondly, the story ends for Goodwin long before it did for skating. In fact, Goodwin deliberately ends her narrative at a point where it seems that things have actually gotten worse. By choosing to end on an ominous note (the introduction of the "interim system" of unnamed judges), Goodwin suggests that more scandal of the same type is on the way. In reality, judging reform has come a long way since then, with the new Code of Points already in use (as of the 2004-2005 season) for the Grand Prix, Junior Grand Prix, Worlds, Junior Worlds, Europeans, 4 Continents, and almost all other major international competitions. The COP isn't perfect, but it does address many of the problems that have plagued skating for years, and its improved transparency and greater objectivity have already made a big difference in the sport.
This book is going out as my "Dortmund trip memorial bookring". I had planned to do some releases at the World Championships in Dortmund, but it didn't happen because I was worried about distracting arena security. I'll include a travel diary and a packet of info about skating and the COP for anyone who wants to read more.
This is an international bookring, surface mail is OK. This is a hardcover.
(Journal entry edited on October 9, 2004 to update the details of the COP adoption.)
The Ring Order:
1) Readinator (Australia)
2) Rampallion (USA)
3) hotflash (AZ, USA)
4) SwissToni (UK)
5) Myntti (Finland)
6) Caligula 03 (USA)(I may add new joiners ahead of Caligula03 by her request)
Back to me in either the UK or US whenever the ring's done!
As usual, how you send the book on is up to you. Surface mail is fine.
Will pass on to next person.
I became interested in this book because (a) I want to learn more about figure skating, (b) I enjoyed Christine Brennan's book, _Inside Edge,_ and Brennan did a blurb for this book, (c) _The Second Mark_ has gotten good reviews, and (d) I have read reviews that mention that the book contains a huge number of catty remarks about Jamie Salé. I have nothing against Ms. Salé, but I do enjoy catty remarks, as long as they are not directed at me.
My husband took one look at this book's cover and growled, "Figure skating. NOT A SPORT." This is an argument we have had many times. And he is not only a CURLER but also a FENCER, so I don't see where he gets off maligning people who can make three and a half revolutions in the air and land on a tiny sliver of metal.
(...and then get points deducted for not smiling or wearing the wrong color or picking the wrong music.-- Mr. Ramp)
Feel free to provide me with information that will prove Mr. Rampallion wrong. Thank you.
OK, enough chitchat. I have reading to do!!
A fascinating book. I'm not much of an athlete myself, but I admire people who dedicate themselves so completely. And _The Second Mark_ has a lot to say about the personality and background and culture of these skaters. Reading about the Chinese and the Russian skaters just about broke my heart. Shen Xue surely can "eat bitterness." (The chapters on her reminded me of the passage in Lance Armstrong's autobiography where he explains that his hand-eye coordination is terrible, and he could never catch a ball as a kid, but long-distance cycling is really about who can suffer more, and he has always been able to suffer more than anyone.) I was amazed that David Pelletier would tell an interviewer that at one point skating was more important to his mother than he was. Also, I was surprised that the author didn't use Pelletier's public comment about the second medals: "Well, I 'ope they give us the bronze, too, so we can 'ave the whole set for our living rooooom."
There ARE quite a few barbed comments about Jamie Salé, but I thought Goodwin was too hard on her. After all, Salé can't help it that she was born to a middle-class family in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. She's never going to have the drama and perspective of Berezhnaya or the raw bravery of Shen. Sure, she's rather fond of herself, but she's very talented, and I think her brashness would be considered competitive fire in a male athlete.
This is a good book, but not a perfect one. For instance, I couldn't figure out why the author didn't include information about school figures, since the sport changed so dramatically once they were removed from competition. I know enough about skating to realize that the info was missing, but not enough to fill it in myself. I guess the author was trying to narrow her focus. According to the blurb on the jacket, she is an Emmy-winning producer and has a graduate degree from Harvard. Which is interesting, because in the photo she looks about fifteen.
Booklemur, thanks so much for the info packet and your explanation of COP. I wonder if you would answer a question for me that has to do with ladies' figure skating: A few years ago, I read that it was becoming more like gymnastics, in that participants had to be tiny and underweight so they could manage the jumps. Is this trend continuing, or are there still a variety of body types in skating?
I have hotflash's address and hope to send this out next week. Thanks again for sharing this book!
Sent to hotflash today by mediamail. Should arrive in about a week.
USPS delivery confirmation number 0304 1070 0001 5967 1907
Visit www.usps.com for updates.
I have read a lot about China during the years of the revolution, but I was still shocked to read about the desperately bleak living conditions endured by these athletes and their families. I truly began to understand how the whiplash effect of Chairman Mao's constantly changing policies formed the personalities and characters everyone who grew up during those years. I have developed a much deeper respect for the Chinese skaters.
This book was also an eye opener into the abuse suffered by the female Soviet skaters. I had no idea. I also never fully understood the extent of the head injury suffered by Berezhnaya. Again, a much deeper respect and understanding of both their culture and the athletes themselves.
It was interesting to read Tamara Moskvina's comment on being a young athlete in Russia rather than in the west. In her eyes, she was "lucky to have been born in the Soviet Union" where everything would be paid for by the State. She said that had she been born in the west, she would not have had the same opportunities because her family would have had to be wealthy enough to support the cost of her skating ice time, coaches, costumes, etc.
Comparatively, even though Sale and Pelletier had to work harder to support their dreams and their families had to give up an awful lot to help them financially, their lives were still their own, and yet they come across as a bit spoiled and petulant. Extremes of personality seem to be par for the course - maybe this is what it takes to succeed in this (or any) sport at the Olympic level.
After becoming intimately familiar with the lives and struggles of all these athletes (and remembering my own gasp when the Canadians didn't get the gold medal), it just made learning the details of the judges plotting for position and manipulating of scores so much uglier.
I highly recommend this book. I will get it off to the next reader early next week (by the 24th at the latest)
[yup, that's me skating, celebrating my 55th birthday last Feb.!]
My knowledge of skating is limited, although I present my credentials for your assessment:
1) I once holidayed in Finland, and spent the long nights curled up with my girlfriend watching the world championships on a very fuzzy Eurosport...
2) I live in Nottingham - home to Torville and Dean!
I'll get round to this in a little while (not too long). I'm looking forward to it very much. Thanks for sharing.
Released 14 yrs ago (4/2/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Returning book home.
Thanks to all bookring participators!