Playing Olympic Hooky

Face Shots

Now that the Olympics are all said and done, it's time to admit to one slight indiscretion on the part of this credentialed writer.

First, though, a little background. Having a media credential to the Winter Olympics is like having a master key to the proverbial candy store. You get to go to every event (well, almost -- you're not on the guest list for the USA-Canada hockey game and you have to watch the opening ceremonies from the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, but close enough): moguls, downhill, super G, slalom, luge, skeleton, biathlon, ski jumping. Just throw a dart at the daily schedule and off you go. At the finish corral, you flash your badge at the volunteers and waltz into the media zone feeling incredibly important with your little number-two pencil and reporter's notebook.

Then you stand there, surrounded by tens of thousands of flag-waving, cowbell-clanging fans, and watch Bode Miller stampede downhill or Jonny Moseley toss his dinner roll. It's truly an amazing experience.

That said, it's confession time. Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. One fine day during the 2002 Games, while the best curlers in the world were sliding across an ice sheet in Ogden, Utah, sweeping furiously around a big stone, I packed up my gear and, along with a few other delinquent journalists, headed for Little Cottonwood Canyon to ski Alta.

This time it was as if somebody had left the door to the candy store wide-open. The place was deserted. There were maybe 50 cars in the lot, and by mid afternoon, the number might have swelled to a whopping 100. We slid into lift mazes at Wildcat, Supreme, Germania, and Sugarloaf with absolutely no lines. It was bliss. A storm had blanketed the area a few days before, and we managed to find a few patches of leftover untracked. We humped from the top of Germania, traversed out, dropped through the High Notch, and skied steep spongy snow down the Backside. Until we cycled back to the base, we didn't see another soul. They must have been at the curling match.

In the interest of full disclosure, here's one last Olympic confession: If ice dancing were a daytime competition, I'd skip that, too, and go skiing at Snowbird.