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Feb 21, 2010 9:18 AM by Mike Moran

Mike Moran's Blog: Vancouver Vantage Point

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. The Omaha,Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City's Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant. Reach him at: mike@thesportscorp.org


February 20, 2010 #10 Marolt's Magical Mixture Paying Off Big

The prodigious success of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team in Vancouver is no surprise to me whatsoever.........our Alpine skiers have won seven medals, a new record for an American ski team at the Games, Johnny Spillane won America's first ever Nordic Combined medal, Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn are national heroes, and there's still a lot more out there to haul in................Bill Marolt is the President and CEO of U.S. Skiing, and if you knew this man as I do and what he has created everywhere he's been, you‘d get a grasp of why this collection of American kids is dominating the podium................Marolt was the ski coach at the University of Colorado when I landed the job as the Buff Sports Information Director in 1968...........to be frank, I had never skied, seen a skier live, or knew a skier............and the iconic film, "Downhill Racer" starring ex-CU baseball player Robert Redford, was still a year away from the screen...........Marolt had been a 1964 Olympian in Innsbruck, taking a 12th place finish in the giant slalom after a sensational career as a collegiate skier at Colorado.............CU athletic director and football coach Eddie Crowder hired Bill to take over the school's skiing program in 1968 with the goal of ending a string of seven straight NCAA Championships by the hated Denver University Pioneers and their Norwegian imports.............by 1972, Marolt, bringing in his own Norwegians and top American kids, was stocked and ready.........the Buffs reeled off seven straight NCAA titles through 1978, when Marolt left to become the coach of the U.S. Ski Team...............his 1984 Team in Sarajevo shocked the world, winning three gold medals and two silvers, the best ever at the Games by the United States............CU beckoned again that same year, and he returned to the school as the new Athletic Director, taking the reins from Crowder.............Marolt inherited a Buff football program that had imploded under the direction of former Oklahoma head coach Chuck Fairbanks, and the CU program was struggling to regain self esteem under its new, young head coach, Bill McCartney..........the two became a great team, and the Buffs won the national championship in 1990..........Marolt had done what he could by 1996, and he was hired back by U.S. Skiing as its chief executive, and what he has accomplished in Park City is nothing less that sensational, from funding to facilities, and in nurturing the deep pool of talent now on display in Vancouver..........I will forever be indebted to Bill for a modest reason..........he introduced me to coffee and all the good things that go with a Cup of Joe...............he invited me to start going to Azar's Big Boy in Boulder along with my pal Steve Hatchell, who was on the CU staff as a student helper for football (Steve is now the President & CEO of the National Football Foundation in Dallas), and it resulted in my first-ever cup of coffee and a great buzz, a tradition that I have religiously observed every morning since, though it has gone from one cup to as many as six...........Well, just as I had believed all along, suddenly at the halfway point, the Games in Vancouver are much less about the glitches and all about the medals and the amazing athletes.........the sun is shining, the crowds are great, ice hockey fever is mounting, the Olympic cauldron downtown is easy to cuddle with now, and the organizing committee has aggressively attacked and fixed almost everything that has gone wrong........the response to the Games by the athletes is over-the-top.....they love the village where they live, the waterfront and the night life, and the crowds at the venues..............Oh, and how's it playing back home? More than half of all Americans (157 million) have watched the Vancouver Olympics on the networks of NBC Universal through the first eight days of the Games; five million more than watched the first eight days of the 2006 Winter Games (152 million) according to The Nielsen Company.............NBCU's Friday broadcasts were seen by 70 million total viewers, 10 million more and 17 percent higher than the middle Friday from the 2006 Games (60 million). TOP 25 METERED MARKETS (Eight-Day Average): 1. Denver, 23.2/38 2. Milwaukee, 22.8/36 3. Salt Lake City, 2.7/38 4. Seattle, 21.3/39 5. Minneapolis, 21.2/36 6. St. Louis, 20.0/31 7. Columbus, 19.7/31 8. San Diego, 19.4/33 9. West Palm Beach, 19.3/28 10. Portland, 18.9/35..................It was on this date in 1998 in Nagano when Tara Lipinski, 15, became the youngest Olympic figure skating champion in history, jumping over fellow teen and U.S. teammate Michelle Kwan to take the gold. Lipinski was two months younger than Sonja Henie was in her 1928 victory..................Sunday Night Showdown! Canadian hearts are already thumping at a dangerous pace.........it's USA-Canada men's hockey tomorrow night on MSNBC (showing the game live)..........at 4:40 p.m. Pacific Time............viewership in Canada alone might hit all-time highs............Be still, my beating heart!

 

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