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Michigan shines at the 2014 Winter Olympics

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Michigan’s presence at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, offers verifiable proof that globalization has permeated every aspect of our lives.

Beginning with Russian tennis champion Maria Sharapova, who has been reporting for American NBC television network during the figure skating competitions, and with “Avocados from Mexico", a trade marketing group, sponsoring a segment of the NBC SN transmission of the Sochi Winter Olympics, globalization and sharing can be felt everywhere at this year’s most important winter event.

At this year’s Winter Olympics, new and extraordinary situations have arisen. Skaters and skiers born in one country are representing another, mostly their ancestral homes. They have foreign coaches, are represented by royalty, and in fact, some like the U.S. and Canada, train at the same Michigan rink and even share the same coach, Russia’s Marina Zoueva.

Siblings Cathy and Chris Reed (born in Kalamazoo, but of Japanese/American descent) are representing, not the US, but Japan, their mother’s home country. They are dancing to Japanese music, training in Novi, MI, and their coaches have been from Israel, Russia, and Canada. At the same time, Canadian born Paul Parkinson is representing Italy, his mother´s home country.

Years ago, who would have thought this could happen? Teams and coaches used to all be from the same country they represented.

Times have definitely changed, and globalization is very much responsible for this phenomenon

Another interesting example is the fact that in 2104, Mexico is represented at the Sochi Olympics by Prince Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, named the “Most Interesting Athlete in the Olympics” by NCB TV network.

Von Hohenlohe, a Mexican slalom skier, is a direct descendant of Kaiser Franz II of Germany. He was born in Mexico, and is the founder of the Mexican Ski Federation. His father, Prince Alfonso Von Hohenlohe, introduced Volkswagen to Mexico, and his mother, Princess Ira of Furstenberg, is one of the heirs to the Fiat Group.

In the case of Michigan, the state´s presence has been strongly felt particularly during the figure skating and ice dancing competitions due to its training facilities like the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, the Arctic Figure Skating Club in Canton, the Novi Ice Arena, and others around the state.

In fact, Michigan has become the Mecca of skating, because of outstanding skaters like U.S. Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and for its excellent ice rinks, available to skaters from other countries, like Italian team skaters Marco Fabbri and Charlene Guignard (who was born in France!) who train in Novi, Michigan, and Valentina Marchei, from Italy, who trains in Bloomfield Hills.

Davis and White are proud University of Michigan Wolverines who left their mark on the ice at this year´s Winter Olympics with their elegant, smooth, and effortless performance.

Even music at the competitions demonstrates today’s globalization. While Japanese figure skater Akiko Suzuki performs at the sound of English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, and U.S. competitor Gracie Gold skates to Russia's Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet “The Sleeping Beauty”, extraordinary 15 year old Russian skater Yulia Lipnitskaia (2014 European Champion) plays the role of the little girl in the red coat from “Schindler’s List”, while ice dancing to the music written by American composer John Williams.

Michigan’s contribution to this year’s Winter Olympics is of vital importance, and not only to boost the state’s economy. It will also serve to improve the state’s image and reputation before the rest of the world, something urgently needed after the bad publicity that resulted from the 2013 Detroit bankruptcy.

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