Had a little delay with getting this blog live. But we're all set now, and off we go!
The first few days of an Olympics are largely occupied by two things: getting acclimated, and hitting the parade of press conferences with U.S. athletes. They bring 'em in to the Main Media Centre at the rate of three to six teams per day. It's a chance to catch up with athletes one final time before they start competition.
Women's hockey came in today, and they win the spirit award. All the players were here. Natalie Darwitz, Julie Chu, Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero were on the dais, and the rest of them were seated in the front row. Several had flip cams and were recording the whole thing to put on their blogs. (The women's hockey team is WAY into social media, except for coach Mark Johnson. Not only does he not use Twitter, he referred to it as "Tweeter'' in the press conference, cracking up his players.)
Fun things we learned: Gigi Marvin was starstruck at the athletes' village Wednesday night. She met Sandra Oh of Gray's Anatomy (a Canadian citizen who was at the village for a formal opening ceremony) and hung out with the Flying Tomato, snowboarder Shaun White. She's run into a bunch of other Minnesota athletes already, including figure skater Mark Ladwig and speedskater Rebekah Bradford. None of the older players are planning retirement, though all said they will take things year by year. Ruggiero said she doesn't want "to pull a Brett Favre'' and change her mind back and forth. And coach Johnson talked about how in 1980, when he was in Lake Placid to play with the U.S. Miracle on Ice team, players who were scheduled to do interviews had to run to a tent in a parking lot and hope a phone line was available. (When he was talking about "Tweeter,'' he also said: 'Yeah, I can see Herb Brooks doing that.'' Much laughter.)
More fun facts came from Wednesday's curling pressers. Jason Smith and Jeff Isaacson told the media something they will regret: that they sleep in bunk beds in their shared apartment. Oh, man, talk about raw meat to the wolves. Inquiring minds wanted ALL the details, including who slept in which bunk. I was six rows back and could see both of them blushing.
On the subject of accommodations: Both US curling teams managed to get the penthouse suites in their village buildings. Smith and Isaacson report their living room is larger than their apartment back home. (A sign on the building, where units are for sale, said the top price was $6 million. Enjoy it, boys!) The women have already hit the shops to do a little decorating. They've got throw pillows, rugs, all the amenities. Party at their place!
I've also talked to Ladwig, a Moorhead native whom we'll profile for Sunday's paper, and cross country skiers Caitlin Compton and Garrott Kuzzy of Minneapolis. All of our Minnesota athletes have great stories to tell.
As for your correspondent ... Mike Russo and I were the first to arrive Tuesday. I have yet to put on a coat--no kidding! I'm sure that's the last thing you poor frozen ones want to hear. But it does feel very weird to be gearing up for a Winter Games in rain and fog. The volunteers have this great gear--fleece vests, parkas, scarves, etc.--and they look uncomfortably warm.
There is supposed to be heavy rain the next couple of days. Good thing the opening ceremonies are indoors. I'm looking forward to it--it's always a great spectacle. The US athletes will be very sharply dressed.
Weird note of the day: I was watching the morning show on CTV when I was getting ready to head out this morning. On the crawl at the bottom of the screen: "Cartoon pedophile bear mistakenly identified as Olympic mascot by Polish newspaper.'' Weirder yet: This really happened!
Ponder that, folks, and I'll catch up with you later.