Žmonės is the People magazine of Lithuania (the name even means "people.") I don't know how they found out that I was going to South Korea to support my Kalnų Ereliai skier Ieva Januškevičiūtė in her second Olympics (I really should have asked) but a few weeks ago I got a request in my inbox for an interview. Of course, I agreed (who doesn't want to be in People magazine?) And just a couple of days before I took off for Seoul, the issue came out on the newsstands.
Warren Miller didn’t teach me to love skiing; my parents did that when they put me on skis at an age before I can remember. But my parents also taught me to love Warren Miller. And what Warren Miller taught me, sitting in the cafeteria at Boyne Mountain cold and wet and happy, with a hot chocolate in my small hands, neck craned, eyes glued to the big screen, was how far my skis could take me.
Even before I left for Sochi, Lietuvos Rytas television journalist Rita Stankevičiūtė contacted me to ask if I'd mind giving an interview. Of course I never mind the chance to promote my skiers, and I quickly agreed. And then she asked me, "Do you speak Lithuanian?" Sure I said, I just can't write very well.
Off to Sochi we went, and up to Rosa Khutor on a sloppy Tuesday morning to watch the women's giant slalom. Rita found me after the race, pointed a camera in my face, and asked me if I was ready. The fruits of that interview appeared in a segment titled "Olympic Fever."
After the interview, I told Rita, still speaking Lithuanian, "I'm so embarrassed for my Lithuanian. You know, I really learned it from the kids."
In Sochi, we measured everything in hot dogs. The concessions inside the Olympic venues were limited, to say the least, and the hot dogs were the most appealing. A “classic” hot dog with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise was 150 rubles. The specialty hot dogs, which included the “Brooklyn,” covered in melted cheese product and bits of bacon, and the “Manhattan” with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, as well as fried onion bits and pickles, cost 200 rubles. Because it's extremely difficult to comprehend that an American hot dog covered with baked beans (the “Boston”) could cost over $6 in Russia, we simply ignored the conversion rate and measured the world in specialty hot dogs.
My parents taught me how to ski. We spent many winter weekends on the slopes of Northern Michigan, went to Colorado every spring, and I loved to watch ski racing in the Olympics. I remember Tommy Moe’s gold medal in the men’s downhill in Lillehammer (I was teaching a young cousin how to ski that day), but I don’t remember the first Olympics I watched—like skiing, it is something I’ve just always done.
I spent the 2009 Southern Hemisphere winter coaching young ski racers at Turoa Ski Area on the south side of Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand.
Mt. Ruapehu is famous for its crazy, nasty weather and I got a taste of it last Friday. At the base of the ski area, it was raining, but at the top of the first lift, it was snowing with visibility limited to about fifty meters. We'd already missed two days that week due to bad weather, so we had to take what we could get. At least it wasn't windy.
I've never seen anything like it: A couple of dozen cars parked alongside the road, a small building housing the generator for the "lift," police tape marking the "finish," and through a group of people, I could see the last gates of the course. It was the narrowest slalom hill I've ever seen.