Fencing on the Today Show

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It’s always great when fencing is covered on television, but this segment gets low marks from me!

The Today Show had fencing coach Boris Khurgin from the Manhattan Fencing Center along with Olympic Team members Dagmara Wozniak and James Williams.

The hosts Kathy Lee Gifford and another women chatted with Coach Boris, made a few jokes, complained about the mask and then made a few head cuts. Not exactly a piece that will excite people to go out and try our sport!

The Olympians weren’t even on-camera until the last second and they were wearing their masks! Uggh.

Kathy Lee did apologize…they should really have them on again to show what fencing is all about in a better way than that!

New FIE President on the Cover of Sunday Times Business…Yikes!

Struggling Oligarchs Deripaska, Usmanov, Potanin, Fridman and Vekselberg
Struggling Oligarchs Deripaska, Usmanov, Potanin, Fridman and Vekselberg

Post by Jason Rogers

You can imagine my surprise when I opened up the Sunday NY Times, and smack on the cover of the business page was the cherub face of the newly elected president of the International Fencing Federation (aka. FIE – Federation Internationale D’Escrime). “Well, hmm…” I thought to myself, “I don’t really see this going anywhere good,” but it wasn’t until I read the words “Alisher B. Usmanov. Debt: $4.8 billion to various western and Russian banks” that my jaw hit the table. Certainly in this economy, everyone is hurting, and most businesses are hemorrhaging money,  but it would take the entire GDP of Estonia to get this guy back in the black. Yikes!

Basically, the situation is this: Most of these guys who swooped in the early stages of privatization in Russia are highly leveraged, and so most of their wealth is wrapped up in their companies. Very few have a sizable assets that are liquid with the exception of handful such as, Roman Abramovich, the infamous Chelsea Football Club owner, who sold his company Sibneft Oil and left Russia for the West. And so with the slow down of the economy, these wealth wielding demi-gods are finding it hard to make their monthly payments (it’s a bit tougher than making rent with your dealing with numbers that have 10 more zeros on the end), and many are asking for a moratorium on their payments. They are now in such dire straits that the men pictured above met at the Kremlin in January to propose “merging their assets” and in return “the government would refinance billions in Western bank debt.”

So, what does this mean for us? Truthfully, I have no speculation to offer, but I do know that the international fencing community has an important quadrenium ahead of us. If we are going to make the big push that it will take to get the two extra Olympic team event medals (the International Olympic Committee refused to allow Fencing to have more medals when it added Women’s Sabre to the Olympics, and so two teams must sit out) and to continue to show our relevance in the age of the extreme sports, we need someone with some serious clout to be behind that push. Usmanov is quoted in the article as saying “the crisis determined the situation.” Well, let us hope that it doesn’t determine ours as well.

Read the Full NY Times Article

Miss America Preliminary Beauty Pageants

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Miss Jubilee winner Claire Buffie

I’m go to file this blog entry under: Life is Good.

This past weekend I was 1 of 7 people judging a preliminary Miss America contest in Manhattan.  I got to spend 2 days interviewing and evaluating 13 gorgeous, talented and extremely smart women.

Not a bad gig, right?

Miss Manhattan Inga Schlingmann is crowned
Miss Manhattan Inga Schlingmann is crowned

Our job was to crown Miss Manhattan, Miss Metropolitan, Miss Greater Gotham and the Miss Jubillee pageant was also occuring at the same time.  I must admit that I may have had some stereotypes about pageants going in, but these women really were impressive all-around people and they do a lot of amazing things for great causes and charities.

The winners of these local pageants will go on to compete for Miss New York in June with the winner heading to Las Vegas to compete for the Miss America crown.

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It can’t be easy parading around in a bathing suit and then having to also be taken seriously on real topics, but they manage to pull it off! (I’m not sure I could get up in front of a panel of judges in a bathing suit and then have to answer questions about US immigration policy ten minutes later!)

Current Miss New York Leigh-Taylor Smith, my frenemy, invited me to be a  judge and she hosted the event wearing her crown and she also sang and told jokes.  On a good note, we were able to put aside our budding Amazing Race rivalry for the moment to do our respective jobs…

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Thanks to Erin Kennedy, the Executive Director of Miss New York, Paul Brown, my fellow judges Joe Naughton, Glenn, Erika Grace Powell, Michelle Harris-Anderson, Roy Bavaro, Becky Bledsoe, the pageant winners (Danielle Roundtree, Amada Mason, Inga Schlingmann and Claire Buffie) and all the contestants for a great weekend!

Random Things I learned at the Pageant:
* Almost anyone can run a local pageant and name it whatever they want…there will be a girl competing in Miss York who has the crown Miss Buffalo Wing…seriously…

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