BOOKRING: The Second Mark : Courage, Corruption, and the Battle for Olympic Gold

by Joy Goodwin | Sports |
ISBN: 074324527x Global Overview for this book
Registered by booklemur on 5/30/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by booklemur on Sunday, May 30, 2004
This book does a great job of relating the personal stories behind the 2002 Olympic judging scandal in figure skating. While none of what's revealed here will be news to dedicated figureskating fans, it's gripping reading nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Shen and Zhao, who are rapidly becoming my favorite pair ever, and who have an amazing history behind them. The story of how they learned quadurple throws is one of the greatest sports stories ever. Eat your heart out, football fans!

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.)

Released on Thursday, June 17, 2004 at Postal Release in Royal Mail, England United Kingdom.

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.

Journal Entry 3 by Readinator from Woodend, Victoria Australia on Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Received from booklemur as part of a book ring, along with some great extra info on the figure skating judging system. Thanks, booklemur! Will read and pass on.

Journal Entry 4 by Readinator from Woodend, Victoria Australia on Tuesday, July 06, 2004
This was a really interesting read, my thanks to booklemur for offering it as a ring. I really enjoyed reading about the main protagonists and their backstories, as well as the dramatic events of 2002. Thanks so much, booklemur for the additional material which help round things out. Without the additional material booklemur has provided, the book really seemed to end on a sour note (ie the bastards had won). Thanks for the opportunity to read this, booklemur - I'll be glued to the screen in the next winter olympics!

Will pass on to next person.

Journal Entry 5 by Readinator from Woodend, Victoria Australia on Monday, July 19, 2004
Posted to Rampallion in Illinois, by airmail. Should reach you in about a week. Enjoy! (and thanks, booklemur)

Journal Entry 6 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Monday, July 26, 2004
Arrived today. Thank you, booklemur, for starting this ring. And thanks, Readinator, for spending the extra cash to send this airmail!

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!!

Journal Entry 7 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Friday, July 30, 2004
"Everybody watching monkey show." --Yelena Berezhnaya's public comment, in English, at the beginning of the double-gold-medal ceremony for the Russians and the Canadians

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!

Released on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 at Controlled Release in Controlled release, to another bookcrosser Controlled Releases.

Sent to hotflash today by mediamail. Should arrive in about a week.
USPS delivery confirmation number 0304 1070 0001 5967 1907
Visit for updates.

Journal Entry 9 by LynnWrites from Tucson, Arizona USA on Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Just received today from rampallion. Will begin reading this weekend. After reading other journal commentaries I can hardly wait.

Journal Entry 10 by LynnWrites from Tucson, Arizona USA on Thursday, August 19, 2004
I am so pleased that I fell into this book ring. This was an extremely well done, well documented book.
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.!]

Journal Entry 11 by LynnWrites from Tucson, Arizona USA on Monday, August 23, 2004
This book is on its way to SwissToni in the UK. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 12 by SwissToni from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Monday, September 13, 2004
Hi - this book has arrived safe and sound with me in the UK. I'm just back from a trip to the summer games in Athens, so this should make an interesting contrast to some of the stuff I watched when I was over there (watching Matthew Pinsent win his 4th Gold medal in the rowing has to be one of the greatest sporting events I have ever been lucky enough to be at...)

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.

Journal Entry 13 by SwissToni from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I have sat on this book for far too long and I think it's time to move it on. Thanks for being so patient, but I just seem to be in a "not reading" phase at the moment. Thanks to Booklemur for sharing with me, and sorry again for the delay. Off to Myntti in beautiful Finland, where my love affair with skating began....

Journal Entry 14 by wingmynttiwing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Received in the mail today. Thank you, SwissToni.

Journal Entry 15 by wingmynttiwing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Thursday, January 27, 2005
My apologies for keeping the book this long. I finished reading it almost three weeks ago... I'll mail the book to caligula03 tomorrow and add my comments about the book later.

Journal Entry 16 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Tuesday, February 08, 2005
The book has arrived. I will read it as soon as I can.

Journal Entry 17 by caligula03 from Hayward, California USA on Saturday, March 12, 2005
The book was not my cup of tea. I don't remember the events enough to care about any of the people covered in this book. The part I was most interested in was the scandal with the judging, not with the lovingly written back stories of each of the skaters. By the time the book got to the bit I was interested in I was bored and put the book aside.

Journal Entry 18 by caligula03 at on Monday, March 14, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (4/2/2005 UTC) at



Returning book home.

Journal Entry 19 by booklemur on Wednesday, October 05, 2005
This is home for now (I realized that I never journaled when it arrived). Perhaps I will send it out again pre-olympics.

Thanks to all bookring participators!

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