Watch out, readers, Gary Hall Jr. is back
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I was fortunate to submit coverage of the Beijing Olympics to the Los Angeles Times website and it is my great privilege to be covering the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
In the world of journalism I’m known as a triple threat. I can talk, write and draw. Since my pen-and ink-rendering of Charles Barkley with an Egg McMuffin turban on his head was submitted, editors seem to have substituted the word ‘liability’ in lieu of the word ‘threat.’ I never said I was good at any of my ‘liabilities.’
But I’m back! The kindhearted editors of The Times have allowed a half-wit hack who can’t be taken seriously to continue the digital scribbling coverage of the esteemed Olympic movement.
There were several concerns the editors had, of course, but the one that seemed obvious, even to me, was that I was a Summer Games swimmer who has no knowledge whatsoever of cold climate, let alone winter sports.
But that’s not true. I partied up in Big Bear with a snowboard strapped to my feet once. It was May and the air was crisp.
The Olympic Games are a two-sided coin and I look forward to exploring the ‘other side.’ The water is frozen, how different can it be from swimming?
It’s odd how the Winter and Summer Games have very little crossover. In all my years as an Olympic swimmer I was never exposed to the winter athletes or sports. Very few winter athletes have attended the Summer Games.
I’m attending the Winter Games and I’m going to break down the barrier that divides! First, I need to identify what that barrier is.
It’s not as simple as tearing down a Berlin wall. I have to figure out why there isn’t more intermingling between summer and winter sport people and organizations.
That’s just good journalism, asking the tough questions.
Additionally, I’m here to offer a unique perspective on the Winter Games. I have insight to the competitor brain processing that goes on and the Olympic movement itself, combined with a common man’s lack of knowledge of winter sports.
You may say, ‘I know about winter sports!’ but how many of you have been bobsledding, really? I mean, even if you were ambitious enough to craft one of those sleds out of orange crates and rebar, you would still have your work cut out for you trying to build the, uh, the chute thing that they fly down.
The slide? How do they do that? What is that, ice? It’s got to be ice, but is it all ice?
Where do they get all of that ice?
I’m going to cover it and hopefully by the time they extinguish the Olympic flame for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver I will have learned, and shared with you, the name that they give that bobsled chute thing that those fearless and gifted athletes rocket down at astonishing speeds.
What about skijoring? If you are one of those people who actually do know about winter sports, bear with me while I explain that it is a demonstration sport sometimes contested at the Games but not incorporated into the Olympic program, where a skier is pulled behind a horse, a dog or dogs, or a motor vehicle. I’ve seen some disastrous YouTube video of this being attempted and anyone who doesn’t recognize skijoring as a sport must be some kind of weepy animal rights activist.
Get your ear muffs and cocoa out. Strap on those skies and fire up the Subaru for some good time skijoring!
I’m really excited about it and if you aren’t already, I’m going to get you excited about it too!
‘Cause it’s awesome.
-- Gary Hall Jr.
Editor’s note: The Times is pleased to have Gary Hall Jr. blogging for us during the Olympics. Gary has represented the United States in international swimming competition for 16 years, competing in three Olympics and earning 10 Olympic medals. This experience built a global network of media, corporate and political contacts that came to his support when he was diagnosed with type 1, or insulin dependent, diabetes. Gary has served as a diabetes advocate and consultant to some of the largest companies in the diabetes industry, including J&J’s Lifescan division, Novo Nordisk, BD Medical, and Eli Lilly and Co. among others. He has testified in front of Congress on current healthcare issues, campaigned for diabetes awareness, headed patient outreach programming, education initiatives and fundraising efforts for important diabetes research. Gary currently serves as the director of business development for b2d Marketing, a leader in business-to-doctor marketing and business development.
In this Aug. 20, 2004 file photo, Gary Hall, of the United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the Olympic Aquatic Centre during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Hall Jr. claims the sport of swimming has its share of doping cheats just like baseball and track and field. He said so before Olympic breaststroker Jessica Hardy tested positive for a banned stimulant. But others seem to believe a culture of fair play has allowed swimming to avoid the scandals that have damaged other sports. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)