Winter Olympics: Parting words from the athletes of the Vancouver Games
By MIKE LOPRESTI
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - So they’ve turned out the torch and everyone can go home. But first, let’s give the athletes the last word on the Winter Olympics.
“My sister locked me out of my Facebook.” - Canadian bobsledder Helen Upperton, on how she focused for competition.
“These are tears of joy, and I haven’t cried those in 15 years.” - Jeret Peterson of the USA, after a silver medal in freestyle skiing.
“Once you see the Olympic rings and you see everybody, you think, “What am I doing here?’ This time they thought, `The poor old man, let him race.”’ - Hubertus Von Hohenlohe of Mexico, who competed in the giant slalom at the age of 51.
“The problem with this team is they have no passion. It’s their job. This national team has been together for six or seven years and most of these players have been on the team far too long and take it for granted.” - Dan Rafael, who coaches the Chinese women’s curling team. Think what he would have said if it didn’t win the bronze medal.
“He’s our coach, our sponsor, our manager. Without him, we wouldn’t be here. It’s great to have parents with that faith in their kids.” - Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, whose father sold the family house to support his sons in the skeleton.
“You can taste blood in your lungs. That’s how I would describe it.” - Canada’s Kristina Groves on speed skating in the 1,500 meters.
“The Canadians have a fireplace in their apartment. We painted one on our wall, so now we have one as well.” - Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands, on the difference in accommodations for the speedskating teams.
“Me, I’m not so good an athlete. I just get by. The only thing I want to do here is make my country proud.” - luger Ivan Papukchiev of Bulgaria.
“My favorite thing is when I am watching me.” - Switzerland’s Nadia Styger, on her favorite alpine skier.
“I have no memory of having skated the short program. And at the end, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. It was hard to realize there was someone missing in the stands at the end of it.” - Canada figure skater Joannie Rochette, who skated two days after her mother died of a heart attack.
“This is my last Olympics. A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have said that. I wanted to keep going. Yesterday, it gave me perspective. There are other things to do in life.” - Argentina’s Ruben Gonzalez, after Georgia’s Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in luge training.
“I think we need to take all the Russian coaches back to Russia.” - Bronze medalist Maxim Shabalin, on what to do about Russia not winning a gold medal in figure skating for the first time since 1960.
“I’ll be excited to be known as the first biathlete to represent New Zealand. I’ll be pleased when I die that I created history.” - Sarah Murphy.
“It hit the padding and made a huge noise. I heard him yell something in Korean. I don’t know what he said. You should have it on tape. You can translate it for me.” - China short track coach Yan Li, on an incident when a Korean coach threw a water bottle at another Chinese coach who was filming a Korean training session.
“They had to do that one year earlier, not when one is dead. It’s too late. They are afraid now.” - Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger, on officials shortening the luge track after an athlete from Georgia was killed in training.
“Four clowns coming down the ice.” - Description by Sweden’s curling skip Niklas Edin of the multi-colored patterned golf pants of Norway’s team.
“There are no rules against the pants, but there may be after this.” - Norway curler Christoffer Svae.
“I spent maybe three hours yesterday writing on my sled. I wrote everybody’s name who helped me get here. I have, like, 500 names on there, hundreds of loved ones, 10 years, four runs, one sled, one dream.” - USA skeleton athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace.
“It is never good to be alone, but it is as long as it’s for my country.” - Alpine skier Erjon Tola, the sole athlete from Albania.
“I told them I’d prefer them at my wedding. I should have known that they were going to come.” - Australian halfpipe athlete Torah Bright on her parents showing up in Vancouver.
“When you become a mother, something inside you changes. My view of sport is different now. You learn what is life, and what is sport.” - French ice dancer Isabelle Delobel.
“I guess not everyone is born to get on the podium.” - Russian speedskater Yevgeny Lalenkov, after finishing 11th.
“Saturday will be the last one. Definitely, seriously, forever. I have no plans yet. The only thing set is my flight home.” - German bobsledder Andre Lange on retirement.
For him, for all of them, the Olympics are over.