I have Olympic Fever. I really do. Sure, others might call it a sinus infection, but I've got it bad. And it doesn't seem to be going away. The cure involves plenty of liquids, plus lying in bed and watching TV for the entire long weekend, starting tonight with the Opening Ceremonies (starting at 7:30pm ET on NBC). It's the perfect time to get an injection of the Vancouver Olympics. Won't you join me? I'm telling you, it's contagious.
In all seriousness now ladies and germs (sorry, I'll stop), my GameOn Podcast co-host Melissa and I have been interviewing Winter Olympians for months now, and it's given me an entirely new perspective on these games. You have people from all walks of life, who all have day jobs, and who all still manage to train, fund their training, and compete in the big daddy of all competitions: the Olympic Games.
When you're an Olympic athlete, there are probably not too many multi-million-dollar contracts (for most), there's no clubbin' with bottle service and bodyguards, and there are probably not a lot of scantily clad chicks/dudes spilling out of your Hummer limo on a regular basis. Nope. These are athletes who love sport for the sake of sport. Who, along with their families, make serious sacrifices to be able to train and compete. And who represent our country in a competition that is steeped in tradition and triumph. And I can't wait to tune in, Kleenex box in hand (for the tears and the runny nose).
Before I rattle off highlights of all of our Olympic conversations, I want to take a few lines to describe our favorite Olympic interview thus far. Now, we've loved talking to all of our Olympians -- from Hannah Teter and her love of the didgeridoo to Speedy the zany Aerialist and from Shustie the Curler to Angela Ruggiero, cap of the women's Ice Hockey team. We laughed, we cried, we've loved them all.
But one interview stands out from the pack, namely because Melissa and I were so giddy with excitement to talk to this athlete (moreso than our conversations with the mighty Venus Williams, the sweet Eli Manning or the swoon-worthy Nick Lachey!) This interview was with our new Mancrush: Figure Skater and Reality Show Star Extraordinaire Johnny Weir. (Insert giddy giggling here.) Some journalists call him a walking sound-byte because he's so quotable. So let me share some of my favorite quotes from our conversation:
On staying healthy and wearing Michael Jackson masks:
"Staying healthy is key ... On the way home from nationals in Spokane, I was wearing a mask on the same plane as the other skaters. They were looking at me like I was insane because I had this Michael Jackson mask on -- and I'll be the last one that laughs because I'm not the one getting Swine Flu sitting on the plane next to some three-month-old baby."
On his "evil nemesis" Evan Lysacek:
"In reality, I don't have many bad things to say about Evan. He's a great competitor, a talented skater, a great athlete ... I have nothing but respect for him, but I don't have admiration. I suppose that's where you could draw the line and say that I'm a callous bitch when I talk about Evan like that."
On the fur hullabaloo:
"The fur situation is very silly to me personally ... Friends of Animals used me to sound off and make everyone aware of their cause ... and you know what? Good for them . . . By saying that I will change my costume from having fur to faux fur is to really protect the Olympic Games -- the integrity of that competition ... I don't want any anti-fur zealots running down to the ice throwing blood on it while me and everyone else I'm competing with is trying to do what we've trained years and years to do ... And I may not even wear that costume with real or faux fur -- I may be wearing something completely different, so everyone needs to stay tuned for that."
On which reality show he would star in aside from his own ("Be Good Johnny Weir" airs on Sundance, Mondays at 10:30pm):
"Two shows come to mind: 'Dancing with the Stars' ... and 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta.' It doesn't matter at all [that I've never lived in Atlanta]. I just want to throw-down with Kim... I think it would be fun, I mean, I would be beautiful to her -- I have nothing against her personally. But maybe if she started spreading lies like she did about Mimi!"
On his professional relationship with the producers of his reality show:
"I don't really believe in professional relationships at all, so I mean, as soon as you're accepted into the circle, you'll get a nickname and you are subject to dirty jokes ..."
At that point, Melissa and I begged for nicknames of our own, but alas. We'll have to wait until after the Olympics. Sigh. In the meantime, we'll be tuning in the Olympics and to Sundance to get our Johnny fix.
But we digress -- back to our love of the Olympics. Check out the amazing Olympians below that we interviewed for The GameOn Podcast on GoGameface.com. (You can also visit NBCOlympics.com and TeamUSA.org for photos, videos and the full schedule of Olympic events.) But check out the GameOn Olympic Roster first:
SHANNON BAHRKE, Freestyle Skiing
Shannon consistently placed in the top five in many events this season. She will be competing in her second Olympics and is looking to repeat her 2002 medal performance. Shannon's event is scheduled for February 13 and as a result is one of the first events scheduled at the Winter Games. BREAKING NEWS: Shannon won a Bronze Medal in the Women's Moguls! CONGRATULATIONS!
To listen to Shannon's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
To find out more about Silver Bean Coffee click here.
To find out more about Shannon go to ShannonBahrke.com.
ALLISON BAVER, Short Track Speedskating
Allison will be competing in her third Olympic games in Vancouver where she'll be skating in the 1000M, 1500M and 3000M relay. The speedskating competition goes on for nearly the entire duration of the Olympics. For up to date results during the games you can visit the Results page on NBCOlympics.com.
To listen to Allison's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
For more on Allison check out AllisonBaver.com.
You can also follow Allison on twitter as @SpeedSk8Chic
MICHELLE GORGONE, Snowboarding Slalom
Michelle is making her second Olympic appearance in Vancouver. Last season Michelle earned two top-three finishes and ended the season in eighth place on the world cup overall standings. She opened the 2010 season with a victory in Copper Mountain and as a result, obviously has a lot of momentum heading into the Olympic competition. Michelle's event is scheduled for February 25.
Be sure to check out GoGameFace.com on February 23 for Michelle's interview.
ERIN HAMLIN, Luge
When Erin won the world championships last summer, not only did she end Germany's 99-race winning streak, but she also solidified herself as a medal contender in the women's luge event at the Winter Games. Erin's trip to Vancouver will be her second Olympics (she finished in 12th place in Torino) and as she told us on the GameOn Podcast, she is much more consistent this time around and very much looking forward to competing. The women's luge event is scheduled for February 16.
To listen to Erin's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
STEVE HOLCOMB, Bobsled
Steve will be competing in his second Olympic games. He is the reigning world champion in the four-man bobsled and is considered a medal contender in both the four-man and two-man events. His events are scheduled for February 21 (two-man) and 27 (four-man).
Be sure to check GoGameFace.com on February 18 for Steve's interview.
For more on Steve check out BobTeamUSA.com.
JERET "SPEEDY" PETERSON, Aerialist
Speedy is a member of the U.S. Freestyle team and will be competing in his third Olympics in Vancouver. His signature jump, the Hurricane, makes him an instant medal contender. The mens' aerials competition takes place on February 25.
Be sure to check GoGameFace.com on February 16, for Speedy's interview.
For more on Speedy check out JeretPeterson.com or follow him on Twitter at @SpeedyPeterson
KATHERINE REUTTER, Short Track Speedskating
Twenty-one year old Katherine is a three-time Short Track National Champion. She will be making her first trip to the Olympics this year and will compete in all four of the short track events in Vancouver (500M, 1000M, 1500M and 3000M Relay). Despite being an Olympic newbie, expectations are high for Katherine as she is considered a medal contender in each of her events. The speedskating competition takes place throughout the entire duration of the games. For up to date results during the games you can visit the Results Page on NBCOlympics.com.
To listen to Katherine's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
For more on Katherine check out KatherineReutter.com.
MICHELLE ROARK, Freestyle Skiing
Michelle will be competing in her second Olympics in Vancouver. She is skiing very well this season, consistently finishing in the top 10 and earning some podiums, as well. She is part of the very strong American freestyle team and is certainly a medal contender in her event. Freestyle Moguls is one of the first events of the Olympics as it is scheduled to take place (qualifying & medals) on February 13. BREAKING NEWS: Michelle finished 17th in the Women's Moguls after she fell on the landing of her risky, 720-degree spin on the top -- a bold trick that is sure to either win you a gold, or put you at the bottom. We applaud Michelle on her "Go Big or Go Home" attempt.
To listen to our February 9, 2010 interview with Michelle on The GameOn Podcast click here.
To listen to our September 2009 interview with Michelle on The GameOn Podcast click here.
To learn more about Michelle's Phinomenal perfume visit phinomenal.com.
ANGELA RUGGIERO, Women's Ice Hockey
Angela was just named an alternate captain to the U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team. She will be competing in her fourth Olympics in Vancouver. One story line to watch will be the U.S. Women's matchup against Canada. While on the Quest Tour, Team USA lost three games against Canada, the team that poses the biggest challenge to them at the Olympics. Team USA begins the Olympic tournament when they face off against China on Sunday, February 14.
To listen to Angela's February 2, 2010 interview on the GameOn Podcast click here.
To listen to Angela's September 10, 2009 interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
For more on Angela check out AngelaRuggiero.com.
You can also follow Angela on twitter at @Angela_Ruggiero.
JOHN SHUSTER, CURLING
John will be competing in his second Olympics in Vancouver and will be looking to match his 2006 medal performance (John won a Bronze Medal in Torino). The curling medal round is scheduled for February 27. If you're new to this sport, listen to our podcast to get the skinny from Shustie. It's definitely one of our new favorite sports to watch during these games.
To listen to John's Interview on the GameOn Podcast click here.
HANNAH TETER, Snowboarding (Halfpipe)
Hannah is part of a very strong American Snowboarding team and is looking to repeat her 2006 gold medal performance in Vancouver. She recently showed what a true champion she is when she announced that she will be donating her $10,000 winnings from a recent Grand Prix to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. You can also check out Hannah in the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. (And in Melissa's Op-Ed about the SI/female Olympians saga.)
To listen to Hannah's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
To learn more about Hannah's Gold click here.
KATIE UHLAENDER, Skeleton
Katie will be competing in her second Olympic games in Vancouver. She is a two-time world champion and although she is not 100% healthy (she shattered her knee cap last year), she is confident that she can be competitive in Vancouver. The Skeleton is scheduled for February 19.
Be sure to check out Katie's interview on The GameOn Podcast on Tuesday, February 16.
For more on Katie (& why she told me to say "Go Nike") check out her Facebook page.
JOHNNY WEIR, Figure Skater
Johnny, our Mancrush, will be competing in his second Olympic games this month. He is a three-time national champion who dazzles people everywhere both on and off the ice. Not only is Johnny competing in Vancouver, but as you know, he is also the star of his very own Reality Show: "Be Good Johnny Weir" on Sundance. The Men's Freeskate is scheduled for February 18.
To listen to Johnny's interview on The GameOn Podcast click here.
For more on Johnny check out FigureSkatersOnline.com/JohnnyWeir.
You can follow Johnny on twitter as @JohnnyGWeir.
HONORABLE MENTION: SASHA COHEN, Figure Skating
Sasha has always been a favorite of ours. She's stylish, saucy, has appeared in "Blades of Glory" and sometimes gets confused with Borat. What more can you ask for in an Olympian? Although she did not make the comeback she so badly wanted to this year, we admire her drive and will be watching to see what she's up to next. Fashion design? A contestant on "Project Runway"? Or perhaps, "Blades of Glory II" with co-star Johnny Weir and Sasha BARON Cohen!?
HONORABLE MENTION, PART DEUX: ELLERY HOLLINGSWORTH, Snowboarding
Although she didn't qualify for the Olympics, we loved chatting with Ellery Hollingsworth. She was neck in neck with Elena Hight for the fourth spot on the team, but wasn't able to pull ahead. She did however land two back-to-back 900s, which was one of her goals for the Olympic qualifying events (which is also unheard of in women's halfpipe snowboarding!)
Wowza. Now do you see why we got the fever? Pretty sure that you've caught it by now, too. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ejboeke or @melisgreenhawt and let us know what you think of our epidemic of exciting podcasts and rash of Olympic coverage. (I'm really sorry, it must be the Theraflu talking!)