MY OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE-BY SYLVIA JUCHA

Hi everyone!

I attended the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah with my ever-patient husband Joe and my friend Kathy.  It was an awesome experience!  I enjoyed every day I spent in Salt Lake City. When I first found out the Olympics were coming to the USA, I decided I wanted to go!  This would be a dream come true for me, a once in a lifetime chance to be at an Olympics.  I would like to share my Olympic Experience with you.

We toured the city at first by foot, but the high altitude and hills made it difficult to walk, and Utahs public transportation was not reliable, so we decided to rent a car.  The Official Olympics Website advised everyone not to drive because of congestion in the streets, but they were wrong, traffic was never a problem. Beautiful snow capped mountains surround Salt Lake City, and the buildings are quite old.  The downtown area was always busy, with people from all over the world, who were either shopping at the malls or eating at restaurants.  Everywhere you went the vendors were selling and trading Olympic Pins. I bought some figure skating pins and Olympic souvenirs as well.

MY FIGURE SKATING REVIEW:

My favorite skaters Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldredge skated wonderful programs and I was thrilled to be there to witness them in person!  My friend Kathy and I held up a "Todd Eldredge Glory Banner" during the mens short and long programs for Jordanna at http://Jordanna.net/todd/.  Jordanna has a marvelous Todd Eldredge website called, Todd Eldredge Glory on Ice.  She asked if I wouldnt mind displaying her banner during his performances and of course I said yes,  We held up the banner for all to see. My husband was my photographer; he took pictures of  the skaters, the seats are so high up that you cant get close up shots unless you are in the first row. First row seats cost a fortune!!

Mens Short Program- Feb. 12th:

My seats were balcony row 17, but the jumbo screens did help, I found myself looking at the screens most of the time.  Every seat had its sight line problems.


Michael Weiss

He skated first to Mallenguena.  He landed a quad toe slightly 2 footed with a double toe on the end. His triple axel was tilted in the air, good triple lutz.  He skated a very nice program, excellent speed and flow.  The crowd reaction was wonderful; many were standing on their feet including me.  US flags were waving all over the arena.


Evgeni Plushenko

His music was a Michael Jackson medley. His first jump was to be a quad combo.  He fell on his quad and didnt even attempt the triple toe jump.  His triple axel and lutz were ok. His footwork looked awkward and slow. The crowds reaction was lukewarm.  Many in the audience disagreed with his scores, including me, they were too high! I would have placed him lower than 4th place. 


Alexander Abt

His first jump was a perfect quad toe/triple toe! He almost put a hand down on the triple axel, and it looked like he doubled the lutz.  I enjoyed his program, nice classic style. I thought the judges placement of Abt after Plushenko was ridiculous!  Abt should have placed 4th not Plushenko, I would have placed Plushenko in 6th place.


Alexei Yagudin

Alexeis music Winter.  He landed a very good quad toe/triple toe!  His triple axel and triple lutz were very good. His step sequence was spectacular. He pulled the audience right in.  He was smiling at the end; I knew he would be in 1st place.  The audience was on their feet and the Russian flags were waving. Very good scores for Alexei.


Tim Goebel

He landed his quad combo.  Triple axel and triple lutz were good.  I felt his style and choreography were much improved, but not yet near that of Yagudin or Eldredge. The audience was up on their feet, and the US flags were waving throughout the arena.  I felt his scores were a little low.


Takeshi Honda

Very good quad combo.  Nice triple axel and triple lutz.  I enjoyed his program and his speed and choreography was better than Tims was, his moves seemed more polished off. I felt second place to be about right.


Todd Eldredge

Todds music was Carmina Burana and Mythoeda. I was so nervous for him.  His first jump was the quad.  He almost landed the quad, I gasped, and then he landed the double toe on two feet.  He went for the triple axel, but I could see he was tilted in the air and he fell.  I was in tears! He landed a great triple lutz. Todds spins and step sequences were spectacular as always.  You could see by Todds expression on his face that he knew his chances to medal had faded.  The audience gave Todd a wonderful ovation. I was standing with my friend holding a "Todd Banner" and cheering very loudly for him! His technical marks were low, but his presentation marks were good.


Elvis Stojko

His music was Lion.  First jump was a quad combo.  He stepped out of the quad, but did a good triple toe.  Good triple axel and triple lutz.  His usual fantastic footwork and good speed.  He smiled at the end of his performance.  I felt he was scored too low!

 




Mens Long Program- Feb. 14th:

These were my best seats, I was in the first row of the balcony, no one in front of me, but even these seats were not perfect, I still had sight line problems.


Todd Eldredge

Todds music Lord of the Rings.  Todd did several nice quads in the warm up, which was exciting to see!  His first jump the quad. Todd went for it, and he falls, it looked like he rushed into it. The crowd applauds his effort.  He landed a beautiful triple axel/triple toe combination!  Nice triple lutz, good footwork sequence. An outstanding triple loop/triple toe combination jump, and a good triple flip.  His spins are just amazing, fast and centered.  Another outstanding solo triple axel jump, and a final triple salchow.  His final step sequence is very powerful. He ends with an awesome camel, sit spin, into a scratch spin!  He smiles at the end.  He gets a huge standing ovation; the entire arena is on their feet, Kathy and I holding up the "Todd Glory Banner". US flags are waving everywhere. Todd exits the ice and his coach gives him a hug!  I am so happy he had the performance he wanted. He seems pleased in the Kiss and Cry! Todd didnt land the quad, but he did 8 triple jumps! I would have scored him higher in presentation, he was amazing!!!


Michael Weiss

His quad/triple/double combo was good, but he was a little off on the rest of the triples, he made some mistakes. His triple lutz was 2 footed. The footwork was very good. He looked very pleased with his performance.  The arena on their feet and the crown is waving US flags!  How exciting to see the sea of flags!


Elvis Stojko

He did 2-quad/double combos. He stepped out of the triple axel on the combination jump and put his hand down. His footwork as usual amazing and fast.  Elvis looks happy.  His scores a too low!


Evgeni Plushenko

His music was Carmen.  He started with a quad/triple toe/double loop, he stepped out of the loop.  His second quad combo was ok. He doubled his triple salchow at the end.  His footwork was rather simple, and he could have used more speed.  He finished his program and smiled. He got a nice crowd response.  When the scores came up, I was surprised to see them so high, he was way over marked!  I was sure he would have ended up in 4th or 5th place, he certainly did not deserve 2nd.  Tim should have been in 2nd place, he did 3 quads!
Takeshi Honda
He had an amazing quad.  He needed one more quad to be in the top 3, but his program only had one. His jumps were on, and his speed and footwork was very nice.  I felt he skated much better programs than Plushenkos 2 programs, I would have put him in 3rd place with Plushenko in 4th and Tim Goebel should have taken second place!


Tim Goebel

His music was American in Paris.  He completed 3 quads! He landed all this triple jumps with a touch down on his triple axel. His artistry is much improved. He had very good speed throughout his performance.  He was very excited when he finished. Everyone was out of their seats!  The US flags were waving.  I was very happy for Tim, he had to be in 1st place.  When his scores came up I was shocked, the were way too low, the crowd  booed.  He skated clean except for the triple axel, and he was the first man ever to land 3 quads!!!


Alexander Abt

He skated to Rachmoninoff concerto #2 and 3.  He botched his quad jump.  He also had trouble with his triple lutz.  His footwork was done very well.  I liked his choreography.  I felt even his performance outshined Plushenko.


Alexei Yagudin

His music was Iron Mask.  He completed a beautiful quad/triple toe/double loop! He also did a quad/triple combo.  H;e completed several very nice triples, but he did not do a triple axel/triple toe combo.  I guess at this point he thought he did not need that combo  to win.  His footwork was absolutely amazing! He had the crowd roaring!  Huge standing ovation! We were all on our feet and the Russian flags were waving!  I felt the 6.0s were a little high, his performance was not perfect, a little bobble on one of his jumps, but he was the last to skate.

My biggest thrill!  I read in the Salt Lake Newspaper that Todd Eldredge was signing autographs at a downtown mall in Salt Lake City.  I went there, stood in line and I got his autograph on an 8x10 photo he was giving out.  I actually talked to him!  I said. "Hi Todd, I am a long time fan and I have always loved your skating, and I look forward to seeing you in the future."   He said, with a laugh.  "Im not going anywhere. Youll be seeing me." I said.  "Great! Good Luck Todd and thank you!"  WOW! That made my Olympics  complete!  My husband was standing behind me so he took 4 pictures of Todd!
 

Ladies Short Program- Feb. 19th:
My seats were of course balcony again, 10th row.

Sarah Hughes

She did a very nice triple lutz combo, good triple flip and good double axel.  She had good speed, very nice spins, nice spiral, and her layback was beautiful. A 4th place finish. 


Maria Butyrskaya

She did not have a great skate.  Her triple lutz combo was flawed, she seemed a little stiff and unsure, she made mistakes, and it put her into 5th place.


Sasha Cohen

She did a very good performance.   Her lutz combo was very good, nice triple flip and a good double axel.  I loved her music and she had good speed.  He spins and spiral were amazing!  Crowd out of their seats and many US flags waving!  Sashas in 3rd place.


Michelle Kwan

She skated to Rachmoninoff.  She had a very nice double axel.  She completed a very nice triple lutz/double toe.   Her triple flip was a little shaky on the takeoff but she held on to a nice landing.  Her layback was just beautiful, and her inside outside edge spriral was breathtaking.  The music is so powerful and Michelle expresses it so very well. Amazing footwork, wonderful ending.  She is smiling!  Huge standing ovation, the entire arena is out of their seats.  US flags are waving everywhere!  I loved it!  The scores are up 1st place!


Irina Slutskaya

Her lutz combo was good.  Good triple flip and double axel.  Good speed, and nice spins, but the choreography was not as interesting as the other ladies.  Her moves seemed less connected. Crowd reaction was great, Russian flags were waving!  Shes in second place.


Ladies Long Program- Feb. 21st:
My worst seats, balcony 2nd from the last row, but I was there and thats all that mattered.

Maria Butyrskaya

She skated to Tale of Travel.  She just did not have the triple jumps.  She seemed to be a little slow.  She has a beautiful mature style to her skating, very nice flow and footwork, and I loved her determination.  She got a very good crowd response when she finished.


Sarah Hughes

History was made!  She completed 2 triple/triple combinations. Her triple jumps were solid, she looked fearless, so calm.  Her footwork and speed was absolutely amazing.  Nice spiral and her layback was beautiful.  She finished with a huge smile, her coach is jumping up and down, she is in tears! Sarah had nothing to loose she was aggressive!  Huge standing ovation, everyone out of their seats, US flags waving everywhere!


Michelle Kwan

Her music was Sheherazade.  The beginning of her program was so lovely, beautiful music.  She did a nice triple toe/double toe combo, no triple/triple.  Amazing triple lutz/double loop!  absolutely beautiful spiral and layback, her footwork was just so incredible.  Everything was going just fine until she fell on the triple flip.  She did add another triple toe at the end of her performance.  She is smiling, but she knows this has probably cost her the gold medal.  She got a huge standing ovation, everyone out of their seats, US flags waving and stuffed animals are all over the ice, the fans appreciate what a true champion Michelle is.  I am in tears, I cant believe this has happened!

 
 

Irina Slutskaya

She did a triple/double/double, with a slight step out.  She stepped out of another triple.  her speed is good, but she seems to be pushing herself. With all her jumps completed she ends her performance. She did not have enough technical difficulty to beat Sarahs program.  She seems pleased, and many are out of their seats waving Russian flags.  She ends up in 2nd place behind Sarah Hughes!!!
I was very proud of the US ladies, they skated wonderfully!  Michelle Kwan will always hold a special place in my heart, shes a true champion. 
 


Other events I attended:

Feb. 11th

I saw Mens Luge, in Park City, Utah.  I enjoyed it but they go by so fast that all you get is a quick glimpse; if you blink you miss it all.  I stood against the fence right by the track, it felt like I was in a freezer.  I left before the event ended, the weather was bitter cold up there.


Feb. 13th

I saw Ski Jump, in Park city, Utah.  I found it very exciting, very gold again.  I have never seen skiing live before and I quickly became a fan!  The skiers seem to defy gravity.


Feb. 11th and Feb. 14th

I went to Mens and Ladies Hockey.  Unfortunately not teams USA,  but these games were just as fun to watch.  An energetic crowd surrounded me at both games and I found myself really getting into the spirit, and thats what the Olympics are all about, the spirit of the games. 


Feb. 15th

I went to the outdoor Olympics Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake city one night and watched the athletes that won their events that day get their medals, and I listened  to the winners anthems being played.  As a bonus that night, the winners of Mens Figure Skating made an appearance.  Alexei Yagudin and Timothy Goebel came up on the stage wearing their medals, Evgeni Plushenko was a no show.  It was nice to see the crowd reaction to Alexei and Tim.  The entertainment that night was Smash Mouth!  I loved the music, and the crowd was really getting into it.  I had a great time!
Feb. 16th
I saw the Mens Super G skiing at Ogden, Utah.  The weather that day was incredibly warm, it was 62* on the mountain.  I was very happy, but the skiers were not, the snow was very soft and the skiers were having problems, a lot of the best skiers were missing the gates and finished at the bottom of the list.


Well thats about it, I hope you enjoy the pictures located in my photo gallery.

Sylvia Jucha
 

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