Malcolm Gladwell on Korean Pilots and Plane Accidents

I wonder if anyone is thinking the San Francisco Asiana 214 crash might have been a case of this situation rearing its head again.

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Joannie Rochette Wins Figure Skating Olympics Bronze Medal in Inspirational Skate (video, photos, story)

(Great live video from spectator with only crowd reaction, includes receipt of marks!)


Just days after setting the bar on the best 2010 Winter Olympics moment so far, Joannie Rochette came back out for an encore.

The crowd roared when Joannie came on to warm-up with the final flight, and did the same as she took to the ice fifth of six skaters by order of random draw. Just as on Tuesday, she took the full minute allotted to get ready. See official broadcast video of Joannie Rochette’s free skate (CTV Sports).

Dressed in a sparkling deep sky blue outfit, Joannie opened with a triple Lutz, double-toe, double loop and nailed it! However, she leaned and had to step out on her triple flip next, an element that has historically given her trouble, but brought it back with a triple loop next, one of her best elements. She also had to step out of the second double Axel in a two double Axel combination. However, the rest was perfect, jumps, very smooth poses and spins in between. The crowd was with her on every move. It was just beautiful, and, of course, there was an unbelievable roar and ovation after it all.

Appropriately, Joannie earned 131.28 points for the long skate and a total of 202.64 overall. It kept her in third place, as she was after the short program, with one skater to go. But it was well good enough as Mirai Nagasu of the United States, skating last, could not make up the gap after the short program, falling short with a 190.15 total.

Still dealing with the sudden loss of her Mother just four days ago Sunday, Joannie held her emotions in check better tonight after her skate than Tuesday night in the short program, when she performed in public for the first time since the death of her Mother. It was very nice to see her smile again, without tears sharing the same face. However, now will come the hard part, which will be dealing with the full impact with that loss without anything else on her mind. Joannie never got to see her Mother at these Olympics, her Mother passing away before she saw Joannie.

“I still don’t know how I could do this and not start crying before the music starts. But that was my goal and I’m just really proud that I could skate.”

“It was my goal coming here to be on the podium and even with what happened it was still my goal. It was more my goal than ever. But to be honest, when I stepped on the ice for the short program, I didn’t think about results. I didn’t think about anything because I didn’t know if I could do it. I stepped on the ice, my legs were shaking and I don’t know how I went through this whole program. I’m sure my mom was with me with every step and I’m really glad I could do it.”

“My mom always taught me to be very competitive with myself, with the others also, andย I always was,” Rochette explained,ย “And it was almost like a relief going on the ice and seeing Yu-Na and Mao landing triple-triples, triple Axel, and I got so fired up and it kind of brought me back outside of reality for forty minutes.”

“I really want to thank all of Canada and everyone, the whole world – I got messages from everyone in the world – to support me and it really helped me, it will really help me get through this tough time and I’m really thankful that the fans and all the kind messages that I received in the past couple days.”

โ€” Joannie Rochette, see video of her interview on CTV sports
(speaking to the media for the first time since the death of her Mother Sunday)


(Joannie talks about her Mother with Brian Williams in another interview, very touching)


Congratulations, Joannie! We’re all so proud of you, almost as much as your Mother. We will still be thinking of you in your difficult days ahead, but we look forward to seeing you again on the world stage soon.

Thank you so much for inspiring us all!

(please click on thumbnails below to see larger versions of photographs)





Free Skate Recap

American Rachel Flatt opened the final flight with a good technically sound program filled with jumps, including a bunch in the second half of the program for the 10% bonus points. However, she had downgraded some triple jumps to double and lost points there. Consistent all year long, she did not waiver despite pressure of studying for a calculus exam a few days after the Olympics. Stanford would not give her an extension, which is nice to see the “no special treatment”, but how’s about the same for the football players? She should also sell some of those jumps to fellow American Evan Lysacek to make his program more challenging. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Miki Ando of Japan came out next with a clean program filled with a bunch of altered jumps from her plan. However, the altered jumps gave the program more difficulty as it paid off to leave her in first place at the time. The program was a little quiet otherwise, but very pleasant to watch.

Then came the Queen. In a land of short track speed skating and baseball players, Yu-Na Kim of South Korea is a rock star queen. She skated third and showed why. She put everything beyond reach with her dazzling array of triple-triple, triple and other combination jumps. This was in addition to her usual artistry and full ice coverage. She was simply spectacular in being flawless and in a league of her own. Definitely the best free skate I have ever seen, Olympics or otherwise. I’m glad the Canadian commentators didn’t say much during the free skate because it was just breath-taking. They were breathless for most of it, as well. Not surprisingly, she broke the world record score with a 150.06 and a 228.56 total! Finally, as a Canadian, I have to note she was coached by former Canadian men’s champion and Olympic silver medalist, Brian Orser. He finally got his gold. As for Yu-Na, goddess status awaits, I predict! See video of Yu-Na Kim’s free skate (CTV Sports).

Unfortunately for Mao Asada of Japan, she had to skate after that stunning performance. She was Queen of the Triple Axel, but she was following the Queen, period. However, Mao had two triple-triple combinations planned and executed them. All went well until a couple of uncharacteristic edge slips and one big downgraded jump after a fluke misstep leading up to it. When going up against perfection, unfortunately, you can’t afford those. Mao scored a season’s best 205.50, which was far behind Yu-Na Kim but easily good enough for second place in a very game competition with Yu-Na Kim. See video of Mao Asada’s free skate (CTV Sports).

Joannie Rochette skated fifth.

Mirai Nagasu of the United States was the final skater. She needed the skate of her life if she were going to medal from where she stood after the short program. That she gave with a near flawless program and a bunch of super jumps and among the best spirals in the group. However, it was not good enough as that 7.5 point gap to Joannie Rochette was just too much to make up. Mirai scored 126.39 for the long skate and a 190.15 total, after a long time taken by the judges. It left her in fourth, and gave Joannie Rochette the bronze!


What Should Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle Sing Next on Britain’s Got Talent?


Hollie Steel

Hollie Steel

Update: May 24 2009 – I got Susan Boyle’s prediction correct! Waiting on Hollie!

Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle both made great use of the surprise element to enhance their dazzling auditions on Britain’s Got Talent to stratospheric levels. Hollie started off dancing, dressed in a ballerina outfit before she opened her mouth the blast away everybody with her stunning singing. Susan Boyle, meanwhile, looked “frumpy” and over the hill, incapable of having such a polished voice since nothing else about her said “polished”.

But now, we’re getting ready for the next round and those elements of surprise are gone. People will be expecting great performances out of both. What should they each sing to get them the edge over the other?

Simple answer, in terms of concept, if you ask me. Difficult as heck of an answer, in terms of details, if you ask me.

I think they should both sing something which demonstrate the strengths in their vocal abilities, as well as show us a new element of their singing and/or character to add a little surprise. That is, keep the same formula as much as you can. But without both elements, the expectations of another great song would just be too great for either to fully satisfy now that people have an idea of how great their voices are.

There are many songs that suit the strength criteria, with all of breadth, power, great lyrics and such. A British crowd pleaser would certainly be a bonus. Susan’s strength is seriousness and grandeur. We heard her sing I Dreamed a Dream that was slow, with notes held long and several grand flourishes. Hollie, meanwhile, has more dexterity and range in her voice, singing a suitably playful and light I Could Have Danced All Night to suit her girlish looks.

That said about both Susan and Hollie, what might they be able to surprise us with, then? Well, I find it hard to imagine Susan doing most fun number convincingly. She might look like a granny, for example, but can you imagine her singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, for example?


The best I can imagine Susan to do for fun is Honey Bun from South Pacific, like Reba McEntire does below, hip twisting and all as Susan showed she could do in audition intro to Simon Cowell while saying “and that’s just one side of me” that drew quite the reaction from the crowd. Susan would never win on that number, but it’d be hilarious and I’d pay a lot to see it!


Susan might do well in the style of fun if she were to choose something like A Wonderful Guy from South Pacific. It’s the prototypical fun song for the “frump next door”. Hahaha. I can’t believe I just came up with that! Frump next door. That’s my new affectionate nickname for Susan. Anyway, Susan can even seduce the judges with this song by dedicating it to, say, Piers Morgan, who had asked her on a date to apologize for his cynicism of her abilities on the show and she had accepted. I don’t think Simon Cowell would fall for it, though. It’s all in the lyrics so listen carefully! Brilliant choice for Susan, in my opinion. But, alas, can’t you also imagine how cute little Hollie would be doing something like this??? Susan would be beaten at her own song, even if Hollie could not try to seduce any of the judges with it like Susan could given her age.


Hollie, meanwhile, I think could go serious in any number of ways while still retaining her childish charm. That is, she could be on Susan’s turf and still keep her identity in all this. What if Hollie stepped out and did the Liverpool soccer team favourite of You’ll Never Walk Alone, in the style Sissel does below with the ravishing surprise ending? I think they’d go nuts for her! Susan couldn’t hit that note, but wouldn’t sound all that unique or special if she were to sing it, even though she’d sing it well.


Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

I thought about Josh Groban‘s You Raise Me Up, but that was recently done by former BGT super contestant Connie Talbot. It was outside of BGT at the age of 8, and as much better as Hollie would be able to do it, it’d be too close in time for comparisons. I think if Hollie were to really dazzle, she’d sing For Good, from Wicked. It’s one of my favourite 10 songs, and so thoughtful a song it’d be the one I’d play at my funeral to share a last thought if I could only have one song. Turns out, it might also be one of Hollie’s favourites as Hollie had said on the Today Show that she would love to sing in Wicked in London’s West End! She might well do this song! I only found out in trying to find hints Hollie might have given for her next song and saw she was thinking something similar, if not the same thing. Imagine that! I might just get my wish, and wouldn’t that just be Wicked? Listen to the lyrics in this duet version that I’ve heard interpreted solo before, and imagine a 10 year old singing that to you! I think I’ll need to Kleenex to sponsor me for that one! Ironically, Susan might be old and more suited to give this kind of advice, but she just wouldn’t move me the same way Hollie would. Not even close!


So what’s Susan to do then, if going fun isn’t suitable for her? I say stick to the powerhouse classics. Maybe she could try one sung by her idol Elaine Page? There’s an emotion filled rendition of Memory from Cats below by Elaine. If Susan could do it with that much emotion, given her voice and less polished look to look like a character who might say those lines, and add in a few growls, it’d be stunning! Even better, I’d love to see Susan sing it in costume! She’d be quite the cat! A “little tiger”, as Simon Cowell called her during her audition on Britain’s Got Talent… ๐Ÿ˜‰


Of course, if Hollie showed up in a little cat outfit, everybody would all be melting over how cute she would be! And even if the audience could immediately predict she’d be singing Memory upon seeing her in her cat suit, I think the voice power and the image of a little girl pouring out such maturity would confound them and dazzle them enough to stun them like Susan could not.

Ah, let’s face it. I’m convinced Hollie Steel will win Britain’s Got Talent 2009, even if the odds are not with me. But whatever Susan and Hollie come up with, though, I’m sure it’ll be good and frankly, I can’t wait! When is that next round anyway?

What would you suggest Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle sing next on Britain’s Got Talent?

By the way, WordPress just enabled videos in Comments. I don’t know how it works yet but if you want to try, see if you can make it work with a video to illustrate your choice of song/s!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5