Thursday, February 11, 2010

Delaney: Grimmette's 5 Olympics hard to fathom

Covering the Winter Olympics this year is the biggest assignment of my professional life. And at times, I admit, I've been impressed by that.

USA luger Erin Hamlin is competing in her second Winter Olympics this year in Vancouver. Hamlin is only 23, she is sliding well and there is no reason to believe she won't compete in one or two more Winter Games if she chooses. Definitely impressive.

Mark Grimmette, Hamlin's USA luge teammate, is a five-time Winter Olympian. Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Torino and Vancouver.

Five Winter Olympics. That is impressive.

"It doesn't feel like five," Grimmette said. "When I started I just enjoyed the sport. When I made my first team, it was very exciting. Brian and I take it one at a time. The planning is four years at a time."

Brian is four-time Olympian Brian Martin, Grimmette's good friend and luge doubles partner. Together they built a catapalt in Grimmette's back yard in Lake Placid and won more international medals than anyone else at USA Luge.

The catapault launches fruit 100 yards. The sled, components of which are about 10 years old, has carried them to 65 pieces of hardware from Olympic, World Cup, World Championship and Challenge Cup races. They won bronze in Nagano, Japan in 1998 and silver outside of Salt Lake four years later.

On Wednesday, Grimmette was named Team USA flag bear for Friday's Opening Ceremonies.

"This team is made up of a lot great men and women and to carry the flag is an honor," said Grimmette at USA Luge doubles press conference Thursday evening.

The words 'five-time Olympian' will accompany Grimmette's name for the rest of his life. On a resume, in publications, in his obituary. What that life will be after luge he is not sure. Maybe coaching. Grimmette, who is originally from Muskegon, Mich., is not looking past his Feb. 17 race day.

Thirty-nine last month, it's unlikely Grimmette and the 36-year-old Martin will continue sliding after next Wednesday.

"Physically, it would be tough," Grimmette said.

Grimmette is the third USA luge athlete to carry the flag for Team USA. He is one of four Americans to compete in five Winter Olympics.

"When I'm by myself I think 'hey, that's pretty cool," Grimmette said. "When I'm with other people, it's not something I push forward. It's not everything I'm about."

That is impressive.


OpenID Nora said...

Feels like we are there with you!
Must be so exciting and sad today.
How're the luge teams handling the death of their fellow Olympian?

Hope this evenings Opening Ceremonies brings us all together, even for a moment, once again!

Keep up the great work, awesome reporting!

February 12, 2010 4:49 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Anne, I'm so excited you're in Vancouver, and I look forward to living vicariously through your updates!

February 13, 2010 11:42 AM  

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