Carr, Grimmette, Shinn and Simson share their Olympic prospects – The Daily Gazette

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The first events of the 2022 Winter Olympics begin in just a few weeks and expect coverage to air continuously on network and cable television throughout the event. The Games have always been synonymous with competition at the highest level, but there is more to the Olympics: the pageantry and mix of athletes creates an atmosphere like no other sporting event. For most of those who have been involved over the years, the experience is unforgettable.

This year will be different.

COVID has changed everything.

Those who go to Beijing to compete or be part of the competitive world will not mingle, watch other athletes and sports in person, walk around venues, or share the experience with the family and friends who have traditionally come to watch and cheer.

The Games, this time, will take place in a sort of “bubble”, and are a competition framed by a quarantine, and the efforts of the host country and the participants to organize an event despite the virus.

Four people with regional ties traveling to Beijing recently shared their thoughts on what they expect from this year’s Olympics:

– Jim Carr, of Carr Hughes Productions in Saratoga Springs, will produce the figure skating cover for NBC. This will be his 17th Olympic Games.

— Five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette is the Athletic Program Director for the Lake Placid-based US Luge Federation. He has participated in the Winter Games every year since 1994 and was the American flag bearer at the opening ceremonies in 2010.

— Peggy Shinn, author of “World Class,” the book about the 2018 gold medal-winning women’s cross-country team and journalist from Rutland, Vermont, will report on board sports for the U.S. Olympic Committee. These are his seventh Olympic Games.

— Sarah Simson of Niskayuna is the USA’s choice for the nine-member jury judging the ski moguls and aerials events. A veteran World Cup official, this is her first Olympic Games.

Carr and Shinn will travel to China from Los Angeles. Like everyone traveling to the Games, there are rigorous tests before departure and, regardless of final destination, everyone enters the country through Beijing where further testing is carried out at the airport. Transportation to their quarters in China is pre-arranged; no one can err. Once at your assigned location, it is strictly hotel-to-competition-to-hotel for the duration of the Games.

Both Carr and Shinn were at the Games last summer in Tokyo, where there were similar rules and restrictions. Shinn thinks getting to Beijing might actually be easier.

“Tokyo required 14-day travel plans to be submitted a month in advance. The trip was stressful and I was stuck for hours in the common airport,” Shinn said.

PEGGY SHINN & JIM CARR

In China, Shinn will be based in Yanqing, one of the three main competition centers for the Games, located about 45 miles northwest of Beijing. Each day, she expects to start with a morning throat swab.

At least the food promises to be better this time, she believes. In Tokyo, packed lunches were delivered to the room. In China, there are restaurants in the hotel and at the event venue.

However, restrictions apply.

“You have to eat at these approved places,” Shinn said. “It is forbidden to eat at your workstation in the press centres.”

Carr will be spared some of the travel requirements for his mission. He will be in Beijing where the figure skating events will take place. Despite producing one of the most watched competitions at the Games, he doesn’t see his schedule all that different from last summer in Tokyo.

“I go from my room to the broadcast center and then back to my room,” Carr said. “I wear a mask everywhere.”

After 16 previous Olympics and producing many more championship events, he accepts the circumstances.

“You are quarantined for two weeks,” Carr said. “You are here to do a job – and otherwise you keep a low profile.”

SARAH SIMSON

In December, Sarah Simson got her Olympic taste when she and her fellow judges spent a week in Finland and a week in Sweden judging World Cup events. She got used to the daily tests.

“During this trip,” Simson said, “I was tested 25 times.”

The judging panel will travel the 100 miles from Beijing to the Zhangjiakou Freestyle Competition Center, stay at the same hotel, and travel together to and from the competition.

“The good news is that we’ve known each other for years and we’re all in this together,” Simson said.

Simson doesn’t expect to be able to travel and see other events this time around, a far cry from when she accompanied her husband Jay to Nagano, Japan in 1998 when he was chief judge for the events of freestyle. There she could walk freely.

This time?

“I bring a lot of books and games with me,” Simson said.

GRIMMETTE BRAND

Of Carr, Grimmette, Shinn and Simson, only Grimmette has ever visited its Olympic site.

He was there in November when the luge team took part in a test competition to try out the new track in Yanqing.

“It’s a fantastic venue,” he said.

Once there, the luge team of 10 people won’t have to travel far to get to the competition. The team’s quarters are adjacent to the track. Each morning, all athletes and officials will be tested before breakfast. As in all rooms, a positive test and you are eliminated. The restrictions are strict. There will be no spectators at the race, and that includes the families of competitors who have been excluded from the Games.

“We’ve been living under these rules for a year and a half, so it’s not unexpected,” Grimette said. “Here, we will eat in a common cafeteria. It is a buffet and we wear plastic gloves when we take our food. There are dividers between each seat.

“We travel directly between our quarters and the track, wearing masks at all times and maintaining a six foot separation.”

Luge is one of the first events of the games, preceding the bobsleigh and the skeleton, which each use the same track. For this reason, the competition will be over on the first weekend.

“We will be leaving China after our races are over,” Grimmette said, noting that there will be no attendance at the closing ceremonies for his athletes.

It will be a Winter Olympics like no other. The social aspect of the Games will be mostly absent and rules are in place to restrict pretty much all celebrations.

Still, the best winter sports athletes in the world will be competing, and there will be drama and excitement throughout the two weeks.

COVID can’t stop that.

VONN TO THE WEST

West Mountain’s racing program, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, took another big step forward with the hiring of Thomas Vonn as Alpine FIS Technical and Program Director, with immediate effect.

Vonn, who finished ninth in the giant slalom at the 2002 Winter Olympics, first made her mark coaching ex-wife and Olympic champion Lindsay Vonn, who went on to become the most successful female competitor of all World Cup time.

More recently, Thomas Vonn has coached at Northwood School and with the NYSEF program in Lake Placid.

COLLEGE GAMES IN JUST A YEAR

With the Olympics starting in two weeks dominating the winter sports scene, the start of the World University Games is only a year away.

The Switzerland-based University Games are the largest winter sports competition in the world outside of the Olympics with more than 2,500 athletes, coaches and officials from 50 countries expected in Lake Placid for 86 events in 12 sports next January.

Most events will take place at Olympic venues, but snowboarding and freestyle skiing are scheduled at Gore Mountain in North Creek, and there will be hockey competitions in Potsdam and Canton.

COUNCIL RACES CANCELED

The New York Capital District Ski Council races scheduled for last Saturday at West Mountain have been canceled.

The annual inter-club competition, which dates back to the 1950s, was called off when only 12 people signed up to run.

The organizers indicate that there are no other races planned this season.

Contact Phil Johnson at [email protected]

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