Shooting the breeze with four Olympic medalists

Joe Scaringi
August 11, 2010

Back in March of this year, if one were to research Olympic gold medallist Jon Montgomery on Wikipedia, they may have been surprised to find that the skeleton racer’s profile opened with “Jon Montgomery is totally awesome in every way.”

It may be the case that the Russell, Manitoba native is “awesome in every way” (as if such a thing could be measured), to think that someone thought so highly of him that they would post such a comment is a little bit strange.

You might even say that it’s borderline creepy.

Think so? Think again.

Spruce Grove, Alberta’s Jennifer Heil – who owns the title of most successful athlete in the history of women’s ski moguls – was once asked by a fan if she would sign his chest.

I wonder if he’s bathed since.

Putting the creepiness aside for a moment, did you know that Olympic speed skater Cindy Klassen is featured on a Canadian quarter? Actually, she’s not featured on a quarter, as currently 22 million 25-cent pieces circulate in Canada showcasing the record-breaking Manitoban.

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And, while you won’t find him on any dollars or cents, Montreal, Quebec’s Alexandre Bilodeau has already, at 22 years of age, etched his place in Olympic folklore, having become the first-ever Canadian to win Olympic gold in Canada – an exploit which can never be matched or erased.

From sporting accolades to peculiar fan admiration, there is one thing that each of the aforementioned athletes has in common: they have all mounted the Olympic podium.

Have you ever wondered what makes an Olympic athlete tick? Sure, they’ve won Olympic gold, but are they really that different from the average person?

Each of these individuals took time out of their busy schedules to chat about their daily comings and goings, music, books, movies and the like.

The Good Point: What is your favorite pro sports team?
Alexandre Bilodeau: I’m from Montreal, I was born and grew up there, so I would say the Canadiens.
Jennifer Heil: It’s a tie between the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers.
Cindy Klassen: Can I say the [Winnipeg] Jets? Probably the Calgary Flames.
Jon Montgomery: Unfortunately, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. I was brainwashed by my dad.

TheGP: Other than your hometown, what is your favorite Canadian city?
AB: Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world when it’s sunny, but it’s not often that way. The mountains behind the city are just amazing with all those buildings and the water all across; the big trees in Stanley Park and the little beaches everywhere. It’s a great city.
JH: One of my favorites for sure is Quebec City – it’s so beautiful.
CK: Probably Halifax. I went there once – I did a bike trip in Nova Scotia – and I just loved it. The people were great, they’re so friendly, and there’s a lot of culture there, so it’s probably my favorite.

TheGP: Travelling is something that comes with the territory of being an amateur athlete. That being the case, besides Canada, what would you say is your favorite country?
JH: Australia.
CK: Probably Germany just because that’s my background.
JM: Northern Italy because it feels a lot like home. Torino reminds me a lot of the Canadian Rockies.

TheGP: As a proud Canadian, what do you enjoy most about Canada?
JH: The people and the spirit.
CK: There’s a lot of things. I think, probably, the nature; I just love the countryside.

TheGP: Who is your favorite band or singer?
AB: Depends how I feel, but I would say Jack Johnson.
JH: My current favorite is Adele. It’s great tunes to turn on around the house and just chill.
CK: My favorite band is Blue Rodeo. I grew up with them, and I’ve always liked their sound and their lyrics […] Steve Bell is one of my favorite artists as well.
JM: I like to get down to a whole whack of shit. I am really liking the band that is playing right now on my computer: The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines. It’s a good ol’ funky groove. Tomorrow I’ll have another answer for you.

TheGP: What is your favorite movie?
AB: That’s a good one. Probably Gladiator, 300 or The Hangover.
JH: The Brothers Bloom.
CK: I kind of like Pride & Prejudice.
JM: Kung-Fu Hustle. Oh, dude, it’s pretty sweet.

TheGP: Do you have a favorite book?
CK: There’s a book called Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He’s a great author and there’s some good theology there.
JM: One that I always seem to come back to is Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. I like the characters in it – it’s oddball.

TheGP: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
AB: I play hockey with friends once a week. It’s fun – that’s probably my pastime of the week.
JH: Surfing.
CK: I like to read, and hang out with friends. During the [skating] season I’m gone so much, so I like to catch up.
JM: My girlfriend’s pointing at herself going “spending time with me.” So, for fear of losing some digits or taking a shot to the shoulder, let’s just roll with that one. My answer could be different if she wasn’t around.

TheGP: Who is your favorite Olympic athlete?
JM: Joannie [Rochette] showed so much heart and strength at the 2010 Games. She’s got to be at the top of the list for me, just because of what she displayed, which is honestly what the Olympics are all about. So, as far as the 2010 Games are concerned, Joannie. Just in general, I will go with the hometown boy, Theo Fleury.

TheGP: And finally, what type of beer or alcoholic drink do you most enjoy?
AB: I kind of like the white beers, so Rickard’s White or Hoegaarden.
JH: Mojito.
CK: I’m not a beer-drinker. I don’t drink that much.
JM: Anything that’s cold and free.

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The Author:

Joe Scaringi