VANCOUVER–One of the lesser-known duties of an Olympic-bound athlete is the media summit. Think speed dating with a twist. The nation’s sports media don’t want to know about a preference for sunset walks on the beach but are plenty keen to rehash an athlete’s latest injury or the potential to choke at the Olympics.
Here’s the lighter side of what 25 Sochi hopefuls had to say on Monday about their hidden talents, travel quirks, junk food dreams, Olympic memories and workouts they hope never to see again.
Chris Del Bosco (ski cross): Golf. I’m not as good as I wish I was. It’s a simple game but it’s hard, the hardest game I’ve ever played. Trying to whack a ball around with a metal club, it’s so frustrating. I love to hate it.
Kaetlyn Osmond (figure skating): I design clothes that I’ve yet to learn how to make. I have a sewing machine, my parents bought it for me, but I’ve yet to use it.
Dominique Maltais (snowboard cross): I play classical piano. I’ve never had lessons but I’m not too bad. I’m going to take some lessons this summer for Blues.
Alex Bilodeau (moguls): I study accounting. I love the business world and accounting is a great base. I love numbers, I love the economy and how everything works.
Dominic Larocque (sledge hockey): I built my house this year.
JUNK FOOD DREAMS
Kaya Turski (ski slopestyle): I love pizza. I actually took a week off this winter … and decided to go to Italy on my own and ate pizza for a week straight. I rented a Smart car and went to Naples because that’s where pizza was invented.
Michael Gilday (short track): I love maple syrup, really a lot. It goes in everything, I use it in cooking, salads and sauces. I drink it straight out of the bottle. Real maple syrup only.
Dara Howell (ski slopestyle): Anything–candy, chocolate, chips. I get it from my mom. And I have braces right now so it’s hard, I’m struggling.
Maxence Parrot (snowboard slopestyle): I eat a lot of junk food actually. I have to watch my nutrition. My favourite is the Junior Chicken at McDonald’s–I can eat a lot of them.
Tyler Williamson-Derraugh (long track): Chips. Don’t put chips in front of me.
Christine Nesbitt (long track): I always take Parks and Recreation (TV episodes) with me. It’s pretty goofy and silly. Sometimes you’re really stressed or sad and … it can always put a smile on my face no matter how I’m feeling.
Mark McMorris (snowboard slopestyle): I bring a skipping rope everywhere I go.
Rosalind Groenewoud (ski halpipe): I’m definitely not a light traveller. People always brag about light travelling, but, you know, there’s not actually a prize. I travel with my own memory foam pillow … a heat pack … every kind of cold and flu medicine … and a lot of clothes, too.
Kevin Reynolds (figure skating): I always have my electronics with me. I have a laptop, my Ipod and video game systems … I have every Japanese system known to man.
Travis Gerrits (aerials): Cereal. Anything that I can buy back home and shove in my bag I take to all these foreign countries, Russia, China, so when I get there I have a piece of home. It’s so comforting.
Denny Morrison (long track): There’s no one Olympic moment that sticks out until Simon Whitfield (came from behind in 2008 Beijing and) won silver. He threw his hat off and just went for it. If I’m in a hard training day and I think I can’t make it through a set … I get this image of Simon and I say ‘I’m going throw my hat right now.’
Mikael Kingsbury (moguls): In 2002, I was 9 years old when I watched men’s moguls in Salt Lake City. This is the point I got the Olympic dream (and decided) one day I want to be that guy on the TV.
Mellisa Hollingsworth (skeleton): I’m not a water person, I’ve never been in a boat but I remember Marnie McBean from when she won her Olympic gold medals in 1992. She captivated me. She is amazing, she has a personality, she’s not a robot.
Mike Riddle (ski halfpipe): Jonny Moseley’s 360 mute grab (to win moguls gold in 1998 Nagano.) That’s what got me into jumping. That was a trick that I could go try the next day. To see that on the Olympic stage was pretty cool.
Spencer O’Brien (snowboard slopestyle): I remember the first Olympics after I started riding, 1998 Nagano. Nicola Thost won (snowboard halfpipe) and she ended up being one of my favourite riders. When I rode pipe I really looked up to her.
Workouts from hell:
Kelsey Serwa (ski cross): Sled poles. You’re dragging a sled that stacked with weights. It was a race, you get competitive and I was so exhausted. It felt like I stepped away from my body and I was watching this person suffer. That was the only time that ever happened to me and I hope it never happens again.
Jesse Lumsden (bobsled): When I signed with the Seattle Seahawks we had a conditioning day the first day. I was right off a plane. I was half way through a circuit and I puked my brains out but I didn’t want anyone to know so I just splashed water on my face and ran back and joined in.
Olivier Rochon (aerials): Bootcamp with a retired sergeant from the Canadian army. It was 14 days of pain and terror. He really pushed us to our limits. Looking back at it now I think it was great but at the time I thought it sucked.
Caroline Calve (alpine snowboard): We put big elastic bands on a squat bar and put my snowboard on top. I would have to squat on my snowboard for minutes while it was bouncing around.
Atsuko Tanaka (ski jumping): We hired this new strength trainer and he started us off the season with 100-metre sprints. Nonstop going back and forth and doing something like pushups in between. There was puke on the ground. It was hell.