Timothy Goebel

Catching up with Tim Goebel

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Tim Goebel, the “Quad King,” is still keen on figure skating, knowledgeable and opinionated.

It’s been 12 years since he thrilled the home crowd in Salt Lake City, throwing three quadruple jumps in his free skate en route to a bronze medal.

Goebel graduated from Columbia University after he retired in 2006, worked for Nielsen, the ratings company, and is now back in New York City keeping busy on and off the ice.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Goebel to reflect on his career and the current state of figure skating.

OlympicTalk: What are you doing now?

Goebel: I’m working for an ad agency called MEC, doing consumer analysis. I moved back to New York City in August.

I’m still coaching a little bit, still trying to stay involved in skating. I definitely want to give back to the sport however I can. It did so much to enrich my life. I’m trying to pass that along to the next generation.

OlympicTalk: What did you think of the men’s competition in Sochi?

Goebel: I think with the new format, the team event coming first, I think everyone was at a disadvantage with not having a day off between the short and the long programs. As the performances showed, especially with the men, that’s really critical. No matter how well prepared the athletes are, you need the mental recovery of the day off in between, especially when so many of the top people did the team event first.

I like the idea of the team event, but I think the way it was executed [coming before the individual events] was not necessarily the best for the athletes.

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite skater to compete against?

Goebel: [Aleksey] Yagudin and [Yevgeny] Plushenko. Really, for the year before Salt Lake City and then into the Olympic year, we were always pretty much grouped right at the top. It was exciting because we pushed each other to be better.

It’s been 12 years since Salt Lake City and people are just now starting to do at the Olympics what we did in 2002. It took a long time for the next generation to implement the quads into the new judging system.

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OlympicTalk: What impresses you the most about Plushenko?

Goebel: The most amazing thing about him is he has been near the top of the sport for so long. It’s really remarkable that he was able to come back and train and compete at 31. There’s no way I could see myself physically be able to train like that. No one from our group would even consider it. Me and Yagudin, there was no way we were coming back.

To be doing the really hard technical stuff for that long is kind of a miracle. I can’t believe he can still do that.

OlympicTalk: Did you ever have thoughts about coming back after you retired in 2006?

Goebel: None at all. When I retired, I knew going into 2006 it was going to be my last competitive season, whatever happened. As much as I really loved competing and loved skating, I knew it was time to go on and do something else. I had always wanted to go back to school. I didn’t want to delay that any longer. I wanted to go and have a normal life, so to speak, after skating.

OlympicTalk: What changes would you like to see in the sport between now and the next Olympics?

Goebel: The biggest thing is the transparency in the judging. I think the anonymous judging — good, bad or indifferent — there’s a perception that there’s something happening behind the scenes. I think transparency is paramount if people are not going to constantly question the results.

Even in Sochi, with the Russian girl [Adelina Sotnikova] winning. Immediately, it was a scandal because it was in Russia, and she hadn’t had the best international season.

Jeremy Abbott reconsiders retirement

Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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