Joel Reichenberger: Going ‘Inside the Olympics’
January 30, 2018
We were already deep into planning our coverage for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, when I stumbled across an idea a journalist probably shouldn't need to stumble over.
Mikaela Shiffrin often didn't just win slalom races. She won them by seconds, truly unique in a sport that's traditionally decided by fractions of a second.
I wondered why.
There are a lot of answers to that question, from opportunity to dedication, and I don't discount any, but, still, why? Other athletes work hard too, right? When ski gets put to snow, Shiffrin does something different than everyone else.
I started to ask that about the athletes I write on a more regular basis about.
Nearly everything I know about skiing I've learned since I moved to Steamboat Springs a decade ago. That's made reporting on skiing and snowboarding difficult at times. I didn't grow up with it. It's not second nature to me.
So, I have to ask questions.
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Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier Taylor Fletcher is one of the fastest skiers on the World Cup circuit. He works year-round to maintain that advantage, sacrifices beers and cheeseburgers — some at least — and hours on the couch or in bed.
Surely that helps him put on the performances he does, but there's something different the day it happens, something inside the way he thinks about a race, the way he attacks a course, the way he skis.
To be honest, I struggle to watch a skier like Shiffrin in slalom. I could watch her all day, and without aid of a watch, I wouldn’t be able to tell you she was faster than the next skier, let alone why.
People I interview for stories, however, can. They can take us inside the "why."
There are so many good stories to be told about the athletes Steamboat Springs is sending to South Korea to compete on the world's stage, and we'll strive to tell them through the next three weeks, the rest of the season and the next four years.
But, that's not exactly the goal here. The goal here is to go inside, to understand, at least a little, life through the eyes of an Olympian — to understand what sets moguls skier Jaelin Kauf apart and what happens when Taylor Fletcher puts ski to snow on a cross-country course.
We'll spend the next month telling stories. Today, we go inside them, Inside the Olympics.