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OLYMPICS: Speed skater looks beyond the gold;
commentator looks for better conduct by U.S. Olympians

TURIN, Italy (BP)–The Winter Games in Turin, Italy, ended Sunday with a closing ceremony that began the Olympic torch’s trek to Vancouver, Canada, for the 2010 Games. Here are some items of note from the final days of the 2006 Winter Olympics:

— BEYOND THE GOLD — Speed skater Cindy Klassen set a Canadian record by winning five medals in one Olympics.

She won gold in the 1,500 meters, two silver medals in the 1,500 meters and team pursuit, and two bronze medals in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meters. Her teammates selected her to carry Canada’s flag in the closing ceremony Sunday.

“When I go out to skate, it hits me how fortunate I am,” Klassen said in the Mennonite Weekly Review. “I’m thankful for everything God has given me … God has given me this gift to be able to skate and race, and he wants 100 percent of me.”

After winning a medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics, Klassen told the Living Light News that her medal was nothing compared to the crown she’ll get in heaven.

“I see a lot of people in sports who think when they reach a certain level they’ve got it made, but really, you can only find happiness in the Lord,” Klassen said.

— ONE GOOD DEED BEGETS ANOTHER — Cindy Klassen’s teammate, Canadian speed skater Clara Hughes, said she was donating $10,000 to Right To Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sports to help disadvantaged children.

Hughes was moved by U.S. speed skater Joey Cheek’s donation of $40,000 to the organization. Cheek’s donation came from the bonus U.S. athletes receive for winning Olympic medals.

Canadian athletes get no such bonus, but Hughes said she would give $10,000 of her own money to the cause.

— CONDUCT UNBECOMING — Former Olympic skier Picabo Street, who served as a commentator for NBC during the Turin Olympics, was unhappy with the behavior of members of this year’s U.S. ski team.

Street criticized Julia Mancuso for wearing a tiara during her competition and Resi Stiegler for wearing a pearl necklace and acting inappropriately after she finished a race. Street noted that at least Mancuso won a gold medal. Stiegler won nothing.

“I think the U.S. Olympic Committee is going to put some pretty strict rules in place and go into Vancouver with a lot more control over the Olympic team, regardless of who their national governing body is,” Street wrote in an article for NBCOlympics.com. “In other words, if they can pull it off, the USOC will have the power to remove an athlete from the team because of conduct. If they had that power this time, they absolutely would have used it, with a handful of athletes.”

The U.S. Alpine ski team had set a goal of winning eight medals in Turin, but ended up with only two. Bode Miller was a major disappointment, winning nothing in his five events. Street took a shot at Miller as well.

“I think Bode Miller is setting a horrible example for our next generation, and I hope he stops getting attention,” she wrote. “And I think he hopes he stops getting attention.”

— CHAPLAINCY LESSONS — Brock Kreitzburg, a member of the U.S. four-man bobsled team that finished seventh in Turin, once served as a retirement home chaplain.

“I learned a lot about that generation and have a greater appreciation for them and just for what they had been through,” he said.

He added that the experience gave him a “great appreciation” for someone in fulltime ministry.

“It is a full-time job and it’s more than just 40 hours a week,” Kreitzburg said.

— The United States finished the Olympics in second place with 25 total medals, including nine gold medals. Germany captured the most, with 29 medals, while Canada was third with 24.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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