The Olympic Spectator
by jim moran
It was another tough day at the office. In 1994, the office moved to Breckenridge Colorado. The US Ski Team had been there for three days preparing for a competition. I was very psyched. I had won the gold there the year before, and all eyes were on me. I had a very good warm-up slip, and the time had come for real training. I stamped my feet hard and slid into the gate. My coach gave me a pat on the back and said, "lets do it again Jim."
I pushed off and bumpedy bump bump my training had started. I saw the top air coming up and I figured I would just throw a helicopter. When I was almost through it, but still airborne, I realized I was not going to make it to the top side of the landing bump. I had done this before; it sucks because the impact is bigger, and it hurts.
WHAM! It was a weird landing, and my knee felt odd. I picked up my foot and felt my knee separate a bit more than usual. "I think I've just blown my knee," I thought to myself. I skied to the side of the coarse and took a seat on my rear end. My coach had already started to run down to me.
Even though I had a very high tolerance for pain, this hurt. Oh my god! The Olympics were in two weeks! Everyone probably thought my leg was killing me, but the thought of missing the Olympics hurt enough to make me start balling.
Later on, the physical therapist gave it a bit of a tug. He looked at the coach, and gave a little nod. I knew what that meant. My year was officially done. Off to Doctor Steadman I went. The good part is that he was the US Team Doctor; he was also one of, if not the best in the world, at knees.
At that time, I had a very beautiful girlfriend named Hallie Hawkins. Her father Scott and mother Karen had already bought the whole family tickets to watch me at the Games. Scott and Karen felt that it was not that much of a financial difficulty to take me. That gesture still means a lot to me to this day. I accepted, and off to Lillehammer we all went.
The ski mountain was small, but the competitions were very well hosted. First we went to the mogul semi-finals. My replacement, Troy Benson, was put head to head with the other competitors, and kicked all of their butts. I had a new favorite skier at the Olympics.
Two other Olympic mogul competitors, Craig Rodman, and Sean Smith, were great friends of mine. Both Sean and Craig were Park City locals. Sean was on fire that season.
All three guys had great runs, but Craig just missed the cut for finals. They were all staying in the Olympic village, so I could not spend much time with them.
My next stop would be the alpine giant slalom. Park City local Eric Schlopy was competing. (He and I are both from Stowe, Vermont, and are long-time friends) Eric had a few problems with the ice, and as you know, alpine skiing comes down to hundredths of seconds.
After that, we went back to the finals for mogul skiing. Sean Smith and Troy Benson still had a good shot at the gold. Sean was the first to ski. In all honesty, his run should have gotten a better score than the judges gave it. It was fast, and he went big.
Troy had a very good run as well. He finished as the top American, and Sean was right behind him. The day would belong to our friend Jon Luc Brassard from Canada.
We also went to see the Nordic jumping finals, which were incredible. (You think mogul skiers go big!)
After my Olympic spectating was over, we decided to take a train trip up to Bergan, Norway. It was as beautiful as we all expected. History was everywhere we went. The bar that we stopped at was the command for the Nazi army. It was incredible.
I never see Hallie's family anymore, but thanks again! That trip can never be outdone.