Which Winter Olympic athlete will you remember most?

February 24, 2010

This bronze is gold
Candy Thomson

Baltimore Sun

I'll take Petra Majdic of Slovenia, who won a cross-country sprint bronze medal despite having four fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.

While warming up, Majdic slipped on ice and plummeted into a ravine, where she had to be rescued. After each heat, she was helped from the finish line by team officials.

"I couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't walk. But my desire was so strong," she said. "You know what it is like when you came from a small country. And you never know whether you will get such a chance again."

She went to the medal ceremony in a wheelchair.

"This is not a bronze medal, this is a gold medal with little diamonds on it," she said. "I already won a medal for going to the start."

cthom son@tribune.com

A decade in the making
Philip Hersh

Chicago Tribune

Focusing on the big picture at an Olympics is hard when your view is limited. I have been covering figure skating, which means my perspective on the rest comes from television.

From that distance, I have marveled at Lindsey Vonn's beating pressure and injury to win the downhill; Bode Miller's redemptive medals, establishing himself as the greatest U.S. skier ever; and Shani Davis' graceful appreciation of his second set of gold and silver speedskating medals.

But the performance I will remember most is the one I saw live: Evan Lysacek's unrestrained brilliance to take second in the men's short program, then his near-flawless skating to win the gold. And, yes, the moment was more special because I have known and written about Lysacek for a decade. Being objective does not mean denying human emotion.

phersh@tribune.com

Won for the ages
Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

Let's start by halting those "Miracle on Ice" comparisons. This wasn't a group of U.S. college kids staring down the cold-war combatants from the Soviet Union.

But while Ryan Miller isn't Jim Craig, he's still the athlete I'll remember most from the Vancouver Games. Facing a far more talented team from Canada in a hostile environment, Miller was magnificent in the upset victory Sunday.

Not only did he outduel Martin Brodeur, he singlehandedly carried his team at the most crucial moment. When Miller stopped Canada's Rick Nash on a clear shot from the slot with two minutes left, it breathed life into USA Hockey.

Miller won the game for the U.S. And no matter what transpires the rest of the way for the U.S. hockey team, Miller delivered a performance for the ages.

pdoyle@tribune.com

Weir stands alone
David Wharton

Los Angeles Times

Maybe you think Johnny Weir's costumes are too frilly or that the figure skater shouldn't have told people he dealt with Olympic nerves by running around his apartment naked and watching "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."

Weir doesn't care what you think. He isn't pandering for endorsements. Granted, the veteran skater arrived in Vancouver with slim medal hopes. But he was realistic about it, devoting himself to the best-possible performance.

Weir skated hard and spoke his mind: "Even when I was little, I was playing on a soccer team and running the complete opposite way pretending to be a zebra, an ostrich or something."

In a realm of one-dimensional or otherwise corporate-sanitized athletes, he stood out.

And it wasn't just the pink tassels.

dwharton@tribune.com

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