Olympics: Faster, Higher, Stronger and Most Unusual, too What happens when you invite 2,400 athletes to your city for 17 days, then include their entourages, thousands of fans and hundreds of reporters, a few pop stars and an abundance of politicians?
Image Courtesy: www.paperbackswap.com - Salt Lake 2002 XIX Olympic Winter Games
What happens when you invite 2,400 athletes to your city for 17 days, then include their entourages, thousands of fans and hundreds of reporters, a few pop stars and an abundance of politicians?
You get enough odd, goofy or interesting moments to win a gold medal in the category, “Best Reality Show.”
For as much as the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games were about athletes being “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” they also were about human foibles, mistakes and awkward or memorable incidents and quotes from behind the scenes, in the stands or on the global stage.
Take Steven Bradbury, for instance.
The 28-year-old Aussie began the 1,000-meter short-track speedskating final thinking his best strategy would be to stay in the back and hope the leaders fell.
When that’s exactly what happened and the four finalists in front of him got tangled up and tumbled to the ice, Bradbury skated through the carnage and won a gold medal, his nation’s first in a Winter Games.
He called the win “freakish,” but happily accepted it.
“Those were my tactics and they worked like a charm,” he told reporters after the race. “This is the ultimate way to finish.”
One of those who Bradbury passed was American Apolo Anton Ohno, competing in his first Olympic Winter Games. But Ohno was able to get up and cross the finish line second, claiming the first of his eight career Olympic medals — and becoming an Olympic sensation in the process.
The XIX Olympic Winter Games came to a close 10 years ago tomorrow (Feb. 24). We recall some of those Games’ most interesting moments:
Sasha & The Prez: During the Opening Ceremony, U.S. figure skater Sasha Cohen sat next to President George W. Bush — on hand as the first sitting president to open an Olympic Winter Games in the United States. Cohen told Time magazine the experience was memorable: “I knew he was going to be sitting there because the Secret Service was planning a space for him. So I called my mom on my cell phone, and she didn’t believe me. So when he was sitting next to me, I thought I’d better call her back. I asked him to say hi to my mom to prove he was there, and he was really great and nice and talked to her for a couple of minutes. My mom said she nearly fell off her chair, she was so excited.”
Gold substitute: Figure skater Michelle Kwan earned the bronze medal, a disappointment for the American favorite. Still she maintained her composure and continued to endear herself as a champion to her many fans. After the finals, Kwan showed off a plastic gold medal given to her by friend and Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill, telling reporters, “I know it’s not as heavy as this one” — referring to Sarah Hughes and her real gold medal.
Doc Heiden: After his Olympic career, speedskating great