Olympic Diary - Days Eight, Nine And 10, Feb. 15-17, 2002Feb. 18, 2002
Baylor University graduate Erika Snoberger, who is covering all speed skating events for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the Winter Olympics, is filing a daily diary with Baylor Public Relations, as she experiences the "shining moments" that only the Games can provide.
Days Eight, Nine and 10, Feb. 15-17, 2002
Sorry you haven't heard from me in a couple days. Things got busy, not because anything really exciting was happening, just because we've had lots to do!
Of course, things got very exciting Saturday night (Feb. 16) at the short track competition at the Salt Lake Ice Center. Apolo Anton Ohno, who I think I've mentioned before, was part of one of the most bizarre, unpredictable crashes in the history of short track speedskating. If anyone saw it, you'll know what I'm talking about. In the finals of the men's 1000m, on the LAST turn of the race, the leading four skaters crashed and the dead-last skater, who was a good 20 meters behind everyone else, avoided the crash to win a gold medal!
Lots of journalists I see everyday have been to four, five, even as many as 13 or 14 Olympics, and everyone said this was the strangest thing they'd ever seen. The race wasn't restarted and the Australian guy who would have finished last kept the gold. It was amazing. Apolo came in second and at the press conference seemed OK with it, but knowing what I know of him, I think he was probably pretty disappointed and upset.
But you really had to laugh and be happy for the Aussie. He had had some rough luck in his career...in a race in 1994, he was in a crash in which he was impaled by a skate (keep in mind, the blades are razor-sharp). He lost four pints of blood and had to have 111 stiches! The guy almost lost his life. Then eight years later, he comes to the Olympics and wins a gold medal, basically by dumb luck! It was a neat story and, like I said, you just had to smile at the circumstances.
Another irony is that the Aussie who beat Apolo actually makes his skates! He has a skate repair shop where Apolo often takes his skates. The night before the race, the Australian e-mailed Apolo and asked him to mention his business when he won a medal (I'm sure he expected gold!) the next day! Both Apolo and Steven (the Australian) were laughing about that.
Today (Sunday, Feb. 17), I will watch the women's 1000m race (long track), where American skaters (Jennifer Rodriguez and Chris Witty) have a great chance to win a medal. I'm looking forward to the relatively slower pace of the long track venue. Everything is completely crazy at the short track venue and it's easy to get stressed out! I might head in that direction tonight, though, and try to catch some of the Train concert at the Medal's Plaza.