|Editor's trip to 2002 Olympic Games|
|Wednesday, February 19, 2014 11:25 AM|
This article about a trip to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002 was originally published in the Progress on March 6, 2002.
The fire within: Going to the Olympics is a thrill for spectators as well as athletes
By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Feature Writer
Paulding resident Melinda Krick will never forget the sight, sound, and emotion of watching the medal ceremony for the Men’s Figure Skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The excitement of America’s Timothy Goebel receiving a bronze medal represented the spirit of the Salt Lake City event.
“He (Goebel) was not really expected to win a medal,” Krick said. “It was a surprise for him. He went out and had a good skate, and there he was in the ceremony.
“There’s no way to put into words the emotion you feel when the flags come out,” continued Krick. “You know they worked so hard for this moment. The happiness he experienced over coming in third really got to me. It was something for them just to be there and to do well.
“And for me, to be there at that moment, to be a part of it; it was a dream come true,” added Krick.
Krick, editor of the Paulding County Progress, iced the opportunity to attend the Winter Olympics, when she and a close friend from Seattle decided to apply for tickets two years ago. She was overwhelmed when she learned that the request had been granted.
“Cheri and her husband (Kevin) drove from Seattle to Utah, and I flew to Salt Lake and met them,” Krick noted. “I fell in love with the beauty of the country – I had never seen mountains so beautiful or a sky so deep blue and clear.
“I’m not a sports fan, but I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics,” continued Krick. “When the Olympics were in Lillehammer (Norway), I found it to be so fascinating. I’m half Norwegian, and I thought, ‘I would really love to be there and be a part of that.’ I felt the same when it was in Japan (in 1998).”
Because of the cost of staying in a motel, Krick and her friends decided to bundle into a KOA campgrounds, although she admitted that there was a price to pay.
“The first several days I wore eight layers of clothes,” said Krick. “I wore two layers of long johns, a turtleneck, sweater, ski bibs, Polartec, and everything else that I could get on. In the morning we went to park-and-ride for Snow Basin, which they said was the coldest place in Utah.
“I was surprised at how well they were organized. With all of those people there, there was never a traffic jam. Every venue had a park and ride spot. It was amazing to see the buses from all over – Atlanta, Cleveland, St. Louis, California, Washington, D.C. – there were hundreds, thousands of buses,” observed Krick.
One area that wasn’t quite as organized was the matter of food and restroom facilities at the sites. Krick noted that she stood in line two and a half hours to get food at the Men’s Downhill Skiing event. The situation was very similar for restroom usage.
“The first day, they wouldn’t let you bring your own food. You had to eat at one of their tents. People must have complained, because you were allowed to take your own food after that,” noted Krick.
“In the first event we had bleacher seats at the end of the run. It was unbelievable. You look up at this thing that looked like a cliff of ice. You wondered how they could stand up, let alone compete under these conditions.
“Television can’t capture it. It just can’t capture how steep or dangerous these situations are,” Krick said. “Nothing can capture the emotion of being there and feeling the excitement,” continued Krick.
“As each skier came down, they would knock the person ahead of them out of first place. The American, Bode Miller, was not expected to place, but he won a silver medal. To see him come down, knowing he won a silver medal, it just made tears come to your eyes.”
During her visit, Krick attended the Men’s Combined Downhill, Men’s Figure Skating, Men’s Double Luge, Team Ski Jumping, Biathlon, Ladies Super-G Slalom, and Medal Ceremonies. An extra bonus occurred when another spectator offered tickets to Women’s Ice Hockey.
While Krick was thrilled to see the medalists, it was the “victories” behind the scenes that often moved her heart. She noted one situation where a man from China fell during the figure skating. The crowd cheered and supported him to the extent that he finished his event, even though he was obviously injured.
“On television, all you hear is, ‘America,’ and the American performances, but it was much more than that. People would rally behind the underdogs, even though they weren’t from their country. The real story was all of the countries there, and how everyone pulled together to cheer and support each other,” observed Krick.
“A lot of the stories were about people you never heard about on TV or read about. Their names weren’t listed with medals, but they were proud; they had been there, and they had finished. They had worked hard, they did their best, and they knew they had accomplished something.”
Krick noted that such a closeness had developed over a short period of time that a sense of sadness pervaded the closing ceremonies, as though onlookers were saying “good-bye” to family or friends.
“It was really hard to watch the closing ceremonies,” said Krick. “Even as a spectator, you felt like you were a part of it in some way.
“You think, ‘I was there, I saw this venue, I saw this athlete.’ It was hard when they extinguished the torch. It seemed like it was closing the door on such a beautiful experience. You couldn’t help but feel the emotion of being one, not only with people from your own country, but people from around the world who were there.”
Would she go again if she had chance?
“It’s hard to think of not going again,” said Krick. “There’s rumors that there might be one in Vancouver sometime. I said to Cheri, if that happens, we’ll have to get tickets and go.”
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