Saturday, February 9, 2002
Updated: February 23, 9:53 PM ET
Smith prepares for the Games
By Cynthia J. Faulkner
Speedskater Rusty Smith chronicled his training efforts in a weekly diary. ESPN.com caught up with him at the start of the Games.
Q: How is practice going? A: Normally, I replace my blades every five months but I had these for more than a year. I just put on new blades and skated yesterday for seven minutes and I was already going faster than with my other ones. I wish I didn't have to make the change at this point but you have to do what will work.
Q: Has it been hectic preparing for the Games? A: Yes it has been really hectic in the Village with everything trying to fit in practices with interviews. But our team has bonded really well and is ready to go out and win a medal.
Q: You've mentioned before that after winning the World Championship in the relay it's important to you to uphold that at the Olympics. With the distraction of the lawsuit earlier, is the team where you'd like it to be? A: We've all come together. We had a little talk and everyone is focused on the goal. Skating is what's important.
Q: What are the differences so far between Nagano and Salt Lake City? A: At Nagano it was really tight quarters. The athlete village was five buildings that were really close together. It's the exact opposite here. It's really spread out and the International Center is farther away -- great dining accommodations.
Q: Will your family get to watch you? A: My whole family gets here between Tuesday and Wednesday morning and will be here throughout.
Q: Are you excited for the Games to start? A: As our team captain, I was honored to nominate Amy Peterson to carry the flag (in the Opening Ceremonies). I persuaded the other team captains to vote for her. I've known her for seven years now. She's been on 14 national teams and won three Olympic medals. She's an incredible person, a role model and it's an honor to our sport and our country for her to carry the U.S. flag.
Q: The question on many people's minds this year is safety -- do you have any security concerns in the athlete's village? A: The USOC, IOC, SLOC have taken care of security. It takes longer but it is the right thing to do.