Olympic gold medalists. Apparently, they're just like "normal folks." Three-time Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter, who won gold in the halfpipe at the 2006 Games when she was 18 as well as a silver four years later, was taking in her first Super Bowl experience Tuesday and was bewildered by the enormity of it. After finishing fourth in 2014, she's now the first alternate for the upcoming Games in Pyeongchang. The 31-year-old was doing the media rounds for the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics, for which she is a global ambassador, and stopped to share her thoughts with the Star Tribune's Megan Ryan.
Q: What's it been like?
A: It's been fun, you know. We're staying at the hotel that the Patriots are staying at, so it's been a little crazy securitywise. There's, like, guys with machine guns everywhere. I didn't know football was so big. Obviously, it's huge in the United States. But yeah, this gave me a whole new perspective.
Q: Have you run into any Patriots players yet?
A: No, I don't think they come and mingle with the normal folks. They're up in the top-floor suites. So I haven't seen any of them. But it's early, so they'll be around, I think.
Q: Is an Olympic gold medalist considered "normal folk?"
A: Right, so we almost didn't get let into the hotel last night. That's where that gets you. They were like, 'You're going to have to walk in with your bags from, like, out here in the mall.' And we were like, 'What? But we're staying here!' "
Q: Do you have a Super Bowl prediction?
A: I grew up in Vermont, so we didn't really have a TV growing up or a football team. So I can't say I really knew much about it. And I've been, like, in the snowboard world for the last 15 years. So I'm like on the outside looking in now. … I'm voting for the Patriots because they're East Coast-ish, and I grew up on the East Coast. So that's my connection to them. And the score I'm predicting is 40-32. So it'll be a high-scoring game. But that's what they do.
Portrait of a heckler
Just before noon, in broad daylight softened only by the Mall of America's skylights, one brave man stepped into the "fan gallery" outside radio row and heckled Stefon Diggs.
"What's up, Stef? What's good?" the man clad in a Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt, beanie and lanyard shouted at the Vikings wide receiver, who was trying to conduct interviews with various outlets.
This heckler was lifelong Eagles fan Rashid Lucas. The 45-year-old has lived in Plymouth for four years, but he grew up just across the river from Philadelphia in Camden, N.J.
"It's like being in a cult once you're an Eagles fan," Lucas explained. "It's like a religion. It's like, it's baptized once you're an Eagles fan. You can never turn back."
Lucas said he "loved every minute" of the Eagles' "beautiful" dismantling of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. So, naturally, he had to jaw at Diggs when he had the golden opportunity.
"I got to. The Miracle in Minnesota turned into the nightmare in Philly," Lucas said. "But I told him, he's from Maryland, he might as well just go on, come out to Philly. He can buy a house next to his mom. He can live an hour and a half from his mom's house when he plays in Philly."
So, see, his jeers came from a good place.