Hey, that’s Tess Johnson on TV and Sarah Schleper, too | VailDaily.com

Hey, that’s Tess Johnson on TV and Sarah Schleper, too

Vail's Tess Johnson competes during the qualifying round of the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Thursday, Feb. 8. It's still special to see locals on sport's biggest stage.
Gregory Bull | Associated Pres file photo | AP

I saw Tess Johnson on television.

Yes, we have a lot of accomplished athletes from this neck of the woods, and we’re used to watching them go onto the Winter Games, but it doesn’t lose its charm.

Her first go at qualifying on Thursday, Feb. 8, didn’t go as she wanted — her second shot at qualifying happened after we had to go to press — but I know Tess Johnson and she was on TV.

I know her more as a soccer player who’s been a part of two state titles with the Vail Mountain School. I guess this Olympic thing is a little bigger than beating The Dawson School.

Funny story: Opposing teams try to get her off her soccer game by being physical. Getting shoved down to the turf ain’t exactly like the falls she takes in practice on ice.

It’s a silly reaction. Of course, Tess Johnson should be on TV. She’s a superb moguls skier at the ancient age of 17. (Johnson went to the Olympics at this age, while I was going to Giants games when I was 17. Freud slams head against desk.)

Yet it’s a point of local pride that the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Tess Johnson, Jason Pates and Mike Testwuide, to name a few, are ours. (By the way, to those who have written/emailed, our reporters in South Korea are trying to get an interview with Mikey, who’s 30, but we still call him Mikey. A profile of Toby Dawson, also requested, is in this issue. We hear you.)

With that, the Olympic notebook:

• Your sports editor is just as confused by this time difference as you probably are. As a public service, Mikaela Shiffrin is racing in the giant slalom on Sunday, Feb. 11, with the first run at 6:15 p.m. and the second at 9:45 p.m. (These are Colorado dates and times.) NBC says it’s going to show the race live, and I would assume it would show Shiffrin’s run. As a backup, stream it on NBCOlympics.com, or however you like, to see the entire race.

• And don’t forget Sarah Schelper’s also racing on Sunday. I saw her on TV, too, as part of the Mexican team during the Opening Ceremony.

• Saturday, Feb. 10’s men’s downhill was scrubbed because of high winds, as was downhill training for the men’s combined. Like with the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, there are built-in off days. The first scheduled off day is Thursday, Feb. 15, in Colorado, but that would be weird to have that much time from training to race day. Stay tuned.

• I love the Parade of Nations. It reminds me of how deficient my geography is. (There are so many more countries than when I was growing up during the 1980s.) OK, more importantly, it’s cool to see nations come together. We have demonized certain nations throughout our history and continue to do so, yet they’re people made of flesh and blood just like us. There is a difference between a government and its people.

• By the way, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the Korean Peninsula is hosting the Olympics. First, there’s actual winter there, a novel concept in comparison to games past and future. Second, while we get caught up in North Korea and South Korea, it’s significant that the Korean Peninsula, often the historical rope in the tug of war between China and Japan, is on the international stage for only the second time. It hosted the Summer Games in 1988.

• As for North and South marching together, terrific. While it’s not going to bind the peninsula, it can’t hurt. As for the staredown (or lack there of) between Vice President Mike Pence and Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, it was silly. I’m sure that NBC was hoping for a first fight to break out, but panning to them was annoying.

Yes, I get the politics involved, but this is like flashing to the owner’s box during an NFL game. No fan pays to see the owner. It’s about the athletes in both the NFL and at the Olympics, unless Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is crying because his team lost.

• Olympic Athletes from Russia … a cop-out by the International Committee.

• Like I should criticize: I have an issue with the Korean alphabet. Usually, Iran and Israel march during the Opening Ceremonies back-to-back because of their proximity in most alphabets. I love significance of the two countries coming one after the other. But, alas, in Korean, Italy goes between the two.

• One of the reasons I like the Winter Olympics better than the summer ones — the biggest reason is probably snowsports — is that they are more low key. Along those lines, the Opening Ceremony was quite brisk in comparison to those in the past. And the Beatles should be played at all Olympics. That’s a new rule.

• Am I the only one feeling a sense of national shame that our mixed curling team was knocked out in round-robin play? Probably.

• Go Mikaela. Go Tess. Go Mikey. Go, everyone.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

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