Shea says he heeded the advice. He remembers being surrounded by family and friends, “having a great time” and feeling the excitement of the “thousands and thousands of people” who walked up and down the blocked-off streets of Park City, soaking up an atmosphere that Shea compares to Christmas — with lights, decorations and happy people.
“It really had a great vibe to it,” he said.
In fact, other than the competition, that’s what he remembers most about the Salt Lake Games: the welcoming, open feeling of a beautiful area and a sea of volunteers who created a special atmosphere just months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Shea said he’s been to other Winter Games, and nothing compares with the complete involvement of the people in Utah, his adopted home.
“Everybody was in Olympic fever,” he said.
The skeleton races were held late in the Games, so Shea had to be patient and train. He posted a great time on his first of two runs, then was just fast enough on his second to hold off world champion Martin Rettl of Austria to earn gold.
Today, Shea is a motivational speaker and full-time dad, taking care of his daughters, ages 3 and 1. He’ll be involved in the 10-year anniversary celebrations.
These days, too, he’s still sliding downhill — but in abobsled. With the next Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, Shea, 43, is looking ahead and making runs on the Park City track, doing pre-qualifying work and thinking that maybe — if things come together — he might have yet another Olympic experience.
“Who knows, if I get a good push crew in, anything could happen,” he says, laughing. “I just need to find some fast pushers and I’m all set.”
Gale: A hometown victory
Much has happened in Tristan Gale’s life since she held off teammate Lea Ann Parsley by the slimmest of margins in a 1-2 American finish.
Now she’s Tristan Gale Geisler, the wife of a Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who’s been deployed four times to the Middle East. After living several years near Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., Tristan and her husband, Jon, live near Lake Tahoe, and the now-retired Olympic skeleton star is finishing up her college education at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she’s majoring in art with a minor in geology.
After the Salt Lake Games she returned to the same track in 2003 to win the bronze medal at the world championships, then retired in 2005. She was back at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, however, as coach of the French men’s skeleton team.
“It was very strange walking in with another country,” shesaid. “It just seemed a little bizarre. But since France is blue, white, red, it wasn’t a huge shift for me,” she added, laughing. “I was still in my comfort zone.”
That “comfort zone” included a red-white-and-blue performance at Salt Lake, from the color of her hair to the glitter