Olympics – Day 5 Photos

But first, my favorite columnist.
Chris Erskine
God save the queen, from the VP’s motorcade
Covering the hoopla surrounding these Games is a little weird — the chance encounters, the odd conversations. To talk to real people, I ride the public buses — all elbows and wet umbrellas. To talk to CEOs, I hang out at hotel bars, where they congregate like gulls on the thick velvety carpets. Swear to God, it’s just good reporting.

So I am standing at the oyster bar at the Hotel Vancouver, watching the chef prepare a rather decadent seafood platter for the vice president’s wife, Mrs. Biden. The rest of America is stretching the meatloaf, yet the veep’s wife is eating Japanese oysters at one of Canada’s grandest hotels.

There’s a little lick of lobster on the plate, and prawns the size of a woman’s hand. Who says these Games mostly benefit the rich?

In fact, the chef has to prepare two platters, for as you may know (I didn’t), the Secret Service requires that duplicate dishes be prepared, in case someone later starts to vomit up a lung. That way, they can test the second dish to determine the cause.

So, yeah, it’s a little like the House of Bourbon, here in Vancouver.

By the way, why do we even have vice presidents? Republican, Democrat — doesn’t matter — they’re almost always tool bags. Joe Biden, the current vice doofus, raced around here for several days, wreaking havoc everywhere he went. Nice guy, with a terrific family, but tying up traffic and underwhelming people with your presence probably isn’t really in the best national interest.

The other day, he nearly killed that poor Peggy Fleming.

"It was really jarring," she says of the Valentine’s Day motorcade crash that sent her to the hospital.

Biden, Fleming and several other Olympic greats, including bobsledder Vonetta Flowers and hockey’s Mike Eruzione, were on their way from a Biden brunch at the consul general’s house to an event Sunday when three of the vehicles collided. Bumpers met, the earth shook — vehicles like these aren’t made of bamboo — and Peggy Fleming and Flowers bounced around like hockey pucks.

So my pick as the greatest American ice queen of all time spent her Valentine’s Day in the hospital. There’s a line about broken hearts in here somewhere, but I won’t force it. The important thing is that Peggy Fleming says she’s going to be OK.

I can’t bring myself to call her "Fleming," that feels too stiff, or "Peggy," that feels too disrespectful. You’ll note that there are famous faces galore up here — George Clooney, Cindy Crawford — but none is a national treasure the way Peggy Fleming is. Even after all these years — 42 of them if you’re counting (you shouldn’t) — she remains the Prom Queen of the Winter Games.

"I have just enough celebrity," she says, "that I can still lead a very normal life."

Yeah, right. To many of us, she’ll always be queen.

Only 19, at the time, she won the only U.S. gold at the 1968 Games. She says now that she was terrified as she stepped onto the ice, then the music from her program washed over her, a huge calming factor.

"The music, I knew it so well . . . it was like having the coach out there with me," she recalls.

Thanks to ABC’s ubiquitous "Wide World of Sports," gold medalists seemed to have more shelf life back then. Peggy Fleming went on to work for ABC for 28 years.

Now, at 61, she misses the TV work, but relishes the chance to manage the Fleming-Jenkins winery she and her husband of 40 years run in Los Gatos, Calif., and to spend time with her three grandkids.

She notes that her neck and back are stiffening up after the Biden accident — "Today is worse than yesterday," she told me Tuesday morning. But she managed to make it up to Whistler on Monday and will be at the halfpipe Wednesday. She’ll stick around, she says, till the men’s skating ends at the end of the week.

In the meantime, I remember that in college, we used to have these long dorm debates about important world issues.

"Say you’re choking on a piece of veal," one of the beery arguments began. "Who would you like to have Heimlich you?"

A. Peggy Fleming

B. Superman

C. Peggy Fleming

The answer was almost always Peggy Fleming, with eyes the hue of a good winter sky.

She was then, as she is now, a part of American folklore — America’s ultimate sweetheart.



Now, today’s photos:

Have a wonderful Hump Day and stay safe.  Enjoy the Games.

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3 Responses to Olympics – Day 5 Photos

  1. Joe says:

    The games have been fun to watch with my family I have to admit though there are times when I question the judging on some events. I tell you the photographers in this are to be commended don’t you think? Wow!

  2. Grandma's says:

    I’m with Joe….I have to question the judging on some of the events too…..but then, I guess that comes up every four years during the Olympics. There are and always have been good and bad judges….the bad ones show up at the Olympic games more often than not. I’m amazed at all the talented athletes. Really looking forward to the final hockey games. Poor Peggy Fleming…hope she is going to be OK. Awesome photos.

  3. Beth says:

    Great post and photos Bob.

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