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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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July 14, 2008 2:33 PM

The Winter Olympics: It's not just for months with an "R"

Posted by Ron Judd

A couple updates on Seattle-area hopefuls for the 2010 Vancouver Games, which will be here before you know it once Beijing wraps up -- less than 18 months, or 531 days, after Closing Ceremonies, but who's counting?

Alpine skier Scott Macartney seems fully healed from his horrific, head-smacking World Cup crash at Kitzbuhel last season. Macartney got medical clearance to get back on skis, and participated in a fairly mellow (by ski racing standards) U.S. Ski Team camp at Mammoth, Calif., last month.

"My head is feeling good," he says. He's also healing quickly from a scope surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee. "It's feeling pretty solid."

By the last three days of the Mammoth camp, "I was pretty much doing giant slalom courses full length," he says. "It was pretty moderate terrain, great for working on stuff, a good way to ease back into racing gates again."

In a way, he's more prepped for the season this year than at the same point a year ago, when a hip surgery in April kept him off the snow until late summer. "Hopefully I'll get some little things sorted out," he says. "I'm dealing with a couple back things, doing lots of PT, getting everything lined up again."

Make no mistake: Recuperating from a head injury is a different thing altogether than surgery, he notes. "The head injury was different, because I felt OK, but I was really limited by advice of doctors, who kept saying you've got to keep your intensity down, keep your heart rate down. With other injuries, you wake up and take a step on that hip and it feels like crap right away."

A bit of self-governing was in order, something he's not used to. But that's much less of a concern now. The next step is a big one: More speed at another Ski Team training camp in Chile next month. "That's where we really start ramping up the speed, and the intensity."

Looking back, he says the incident was scary, but he never seriously considered staying on the sidelines because of it.

"It was a bad crash and I was very lucky in a lot of respects, basically escaping with no major damage to my head and the stuff with my body wasn't that big of a deal," he told U.S. Skiing recently. "But, it's part of the sport and part of the risk that we take to be in alpine skiing. It was tough, but at the same time, after I woke up I never had any point where I was like, 'maybe I should quit or maybe I should look to do something else.' That never came into my mind. I guess it was just a reiteration of the dangers of the sport and how it can come up and grab you at any time."

Scotty Mac also planned to lug down to Park City a big bale of insurance paperwork he's been dealing with since his crash. It's really fun, he points out: Three different insurers, each trying to shift the cost of the medivac helicopter, trauma center treatment, etc., onto the other one. The gist of it is that they all try to make it clear the others are responsible, and then when someone finally agrees to ante up, they insist too much time has passed. Can anyone say AFLAC in German? (That's the other fun piece of the puzzle: The bills are in German.)

Also: A major bone of contention is who owed exactly how much, and when, because of the rapidly varying exchange rate between the Euro and the U.S. dollar.

Macartney is hoping an accountant from the U.S. Ski Team can sort it all out.

Good luck with that.

Oh: Before we leave Scott, we are gleefully happy to point out his recent revelation, in an interview with U.S. Skiing, that one of his biggest pet peeves in life is ... left-lane campers on the freeway.

Amen, brother Scott.

Meanwhile, in Oregon:

Promising moguls skier and Olympic hopeful Pat Deneen of Cle Elum gives U.S. Skiing this summertime update:

For over half of my life, I've been spending my summers skiing at Mt. Hood, OR.

My sister Amy, my dad and I would sleep in the back of our old suburban in the Mt. Hood parking lot, cook hot dogs on the hood of the truck, wake up early and hit the slopes with the alpine racers so we could train flats on the morning ice. Then, as the snow softened, we would jump into the mogul lane.

I first met up with the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team when I was 12 at Mt. Hood. The Freestyle Team was training on the Palmer snowfield, so in an effort to learn their secrets I stood by the side of the mogul lane to watch the team rock the bumps.

After a while, Team members Shelley McGill (Winter Park, CO) and Michelle Roark (Denver) asked me if I wanted to take a run in the bumps with them. It was a dream to ski with the Team, a moment that I still remember.

I watched the Team train the rest of the week and snuck a run whenever I could. Fast forward eight years and Roark and I have become good friends and teammates, both of us standing on podiums at Lake Placid this year.

Summer training has been and continues to be very important to me as it is the time of the year that I work to improve my skiing and airs. It is a time to relax, work on specific issues, and have fun with my friends.

In addition to working on the snow, I have been working with the Hart Ski Company's development team putting the final touches on the 2009 F 17 Competition Mogul Ski. I am also continuing to work on the development of the F 17J, the soon to be announced Hart Junior Competition Mogul Ski.

It is great to work with Hart as it is supporting the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team with new skis and a commitment to help our team to be the Best in the World. And now I am able to sleep in the Hart house at Hood instead of the Suburban!

Next Stop: The Blackcomb Glacier.

All we'll add is this: If you ever get a chance to watch World Cup level bump skiers in action, take it. All of these people ski the bumps fast. But Deneen skis crazy fast. You sort of have to see him in action to appreciate it. We're guessing his first appearances on the World Cup podium last season were not his last.


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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.