Wednesday afternoon, I read a Twitter posting by skier Julia Mancuso. And with that, I learned of the death of freeskier CR Johnson, an amazing skier and even more amazing guy. A few years back, I worked with CR on a story about his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2005. I never got off the phone without laughing and, even though he still had difficulty with his short-term memory, he did everything in his power to return my calls and e-mails promptly. Recently, his phenomenal recovery and return to competitive skiing has provided hope for Kevin Pearce and his family, who are going through a similar situation. He is a wonderful example of how a person with passion and determination can triumph over even extreme adversity.
So, this morning, I went to the women’s GS race. Mancuso dedicated her final run to her friend, CR, who was in Salt Lake City cheering her on the first time she won an Olympic medal. Her skiing was inspired and she was the fastest woman down the hill today. You can read my story here.
As part of a tribute package we are running online, I spent much of my day calling friends in the ski community who knew CR well and listening as they recounted their fondest memories of him. Although this is usually something I love about my job — listening to the friends and family of a subject talk about why he or she is great or inspiring or a limit pusher or (fill in the blank) and then telling those stories to millions of people — it is one of the most difficult things I have to do when those stories are told posthumously. Today, I just tried to think about the fact that when someone I care about passes away, the first thing I want to do is tell stories about them, preserve their memory. So I hope that in some small way, I did something positive by giving CR’s friends the opportunity to do just that in a public forum.
Thursday evening, I also interviewed Scotty Lago, who is in Los Angeles and preparing to appear on the Jimmy Kimmel show Friday night. Scotty talked about what life has been like since being asked to leave the Olympics and what the first call to his folks was like that morning. You can check that story out here.
If you’re wondering what to watch today, check my Friday preview piece out here.