Facebook Twitter

Mahre twins recall past Games

SHARE Mahre twins recall past Games

As they stand ? and it's certain they will ? below the slalom course at Deer Valley for the running of the Olympic slalom in a few weeks, Steve and Phil Mahre will relive very different moments.

The time would be 1980 and the place Lake Placid, site of the last American Olympics.

Phil won a silver medal in the slalom. "And it's surprising, too. I wasn't feeling my best. I didn't ski well in warm-ups and felt like a total waste. I put the race skis on, though, and hit the zone and was leading after the first run. I floundered my second run, but still ended up second."

Steve didn't finish the race. "Yeah, it will bring back memories, but sadder ones for me. It was disappointing. I knocked a gate loose, skied over it and was out of the race. I'd sooner remember Sarajevo." He won a silver and Phil a gold in slalom in 1984.

In an interview, the twins, who were in Salt Lake City on Thursday to kick off an Olympic promotion with Office Depot, talked on a range of subjects.

Obviously, the promotion was one. Log on to www.2002challenge.officedepot.com or visit a store for details. It will be, they said, a chance for people to get more involved in the Olympics and learn about the teams and especially the U.S. teams by picking a country to medal in 25 sports with a chance to win $1 million.

And being Americans and skiing in front of their countrymen was another topic. Not since Lake Placid have U.S. skiers faced this situation. Phil said it can be an advantage and a detriment.

"You feel the pressure. Everyone is there rooting for you, and it helps. But all the distractions can be a hindrance," he said.

"For me it was different. A lot rested on my shoulders, but I wasn't favored. And it's funny, but I always seemed to be at my calmest in an Olympics. For me, it was just another competition, almost like training. For others, it's not like that."

"They talk about a home-court advantage, and I believe that," added Steve. "We always did better coming back to the states. You're a little more at ease. You can go back to your room and watch TV and understand what's being said, and you can go into restaurants and know what it is you're eating and not be looking at some strange European dish."

They also talked about support for the American skiers and how much more willing corporate America seems to be today to step in and help athletes.

"It's nice to see companies ? like Office Depot, obviously ? step in and get involved. Being a small-business owner, I can better appreciate it," said Steve. "Having corporate sponsors is what it takes to have a strong team"

"If it hadn't been for American companies, my dream of going to an Olympics couldn't have happened," added Phil.

Both continue to work in the ski industry, both refer to themselves as small-business men and both mentioned, in some way, how skiing helps them keep their heads above water in the business world.

"It's funny, but many of the same things you apply in skiing ? determination, perseverance, dedication, the winning spirit ? are all part of running a business," offered Steve.

As for their duties in the Salt Lake Olympics, both will be busy meeting "business" obligations. "We won't be stepping in to do any coaching, that much I can tell you," quipped Steve.

But they will, come race time, pause for a moment and reflect back 22 years ? one with a smile and the second without.

E-MAIL: grass@desnews.com