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February 6, 2014 - Chris Knight
About two weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from Saranac Lake biathlete Annelies Cook, just a few days after I interviewed her from Antholz, Italy, where she was training for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
She said she had just ordered a pair of boots and was having them delivered to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, thinking the staff members there who were coming to Sochi could get them to her. Problem is, by the time they arrived, all the Sochi-bound OTC staff had left. Cook's parents, George and Marijke, had also left for Europe, where they planned to spend some time prior to the games.
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
No, that's not what she said. But she did ask if I could pick up the boots and get them to her in Russia.
I jumped at the chance, thinking to myself at first, "Wow, how cool would it be if I helped deliver Annelies' ski boots to her and she's wearing them when she competes in the Olympics?"
Well, silly me, they weren't ski boots at all, just a handsome pair of brown leather, knee-high boots from Timberland. I picked them up from the OTC and somehow found room for them in my luggage.
The only problem came when we got to the airport in Moscow on Tuesday afternoon. My one bag of luggage was 1.5 kilograms over the weight limit. Should I ditch Annelies' boots? Sell them for Rubles? Well, actually I just took out my boots and put them in Lou's bag, which was well under the limit.
After arriving in Sochi, I got an email from the U.S. Olympic Committee announcing a pair of in-venue press opportunities with the U.S. men's and women's biathlon teams on Wednesday. Figuring this might be my best chance to run into Annelies (outside of a competition), I packed her boots into my backpack and made my way to the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.
I left the boots with Linda Jager, the press officer the U.S. men's and women's biathlon teams. A few minutes later, I ventured into the Olympic biathlon stadium, and there was Annelies standing a few feet from me after completing some training.
"Got your boots," I said.
She gave a little cheer and said thanks. She finally got to see them a few minutes later, during a question-and-answer session with members of the U.S. women's biathlon team.
"Yes, these are awesome boots," Cook said. "They look perfect. Everyone's going to give me so much crap about this."
She hugged the boots tight as I took this picture of her.
This story reminds me of another person who routinely goes the extra mile for our Olympic athletes.
A few weeks ago, I traded texts with U.S. Alpine Ski Team Chief Press Officer Doug Haney, who lives in Saranac Lake, as he was trying to get out of town bound for Europe.
"(His daughter) Gwen and I are at (DownHill) Grill for lunch, then meeting UPS in (Bloomingdale) to snag (Ted) Ligety's new phone," he wrote. Ligety is a three-time Olympian who won three medals at last year's World Championships.
"Why are you picking up Ligety's phone and why in Bloomingdale," I asked.
"Just got a call from UPS," Haney wrote back. "They can be at my house by one. Even better."
I had to keep pressing.
"Did Ted break his phone?" I asked.
"Long story," Haney responded.
I still have yet to hear the story, but yes, Ted Ligety did get his new phone.
Now if I get to write about him at the Olympics, I'll have to sell it like this (to get that local connection): "Ted Ligety, a Park City, Utah, resident whose most recent phone was delivered to Saranac Lake, found the podium today …"
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