Michael J. Fox and the Olympics

Leave a comment

Michael J. Fox has attended at least two Olympics, making appearances at the Winter Games in his native Canada — Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010.

Fox was 26 years old in 1988, three years after he starred in “Back to the Future” and one year before “Back to the Future Part II” came out.

He reportedly flew to the Calgary 1988 Winter Games by private jet to watch skiing and a Canada-Sweden preliminary round hockey game.

He left the Canada-Sweden hockey game, tied 2-2, with 31 seconds left “because his bodyguards feared if he left when the game ended he would be mobbed by admirers,” according to United Press International, citing the Calgary Sun.

”It’s driving me crazy to leave here with only 31 seconds to go,” Fox said, according to the report. ”The game was simply incredible, and I hate to leave.”

The game ended in a tie. Canada went on to finish fourth in the hockey tournament in Calgary.

Fox returned for a more publicized visit to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. He was featured in and narrated a Canadian TV intro for Olympic hockey (video here).

He was seen at the U.S.-Canada men’s and women’s hockey gold-medal games in the final week of competition.

During a break in the action late in the women’s final, the Rogers Arena [then called Canada Hockey Place] speakers began blaring Huey Lewis and the News‘ “Power of Love.” Several seconds into the song, the arena’s large video screens cut to a shot of Fox in the crowd.

A roar ensued. Watch the video here at 1 hour, 40 minutes, 57 seconds, and listen closely for the crescendo, though the broadcast feed did not show Fox on the screen.

“It was really strange to see Canadians waving flags,” Fox said of Vancouver 2010 while at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. “They don’t do it very often.”

Fox returned for the men’s gold-medal game on the final day of competition in Vancouver, a game also won by the Canadians. Here’s video evidence of his appearance at the 1:14:10 mark.

Fox then migrated to BC Place for the Closing Ceremony, where he followed fellow Canadian actors William Shatner and Catherine O’Hara in a skit.

He rose from underneath the arena floor stage, surrounded by an electronic display of the Canadian flag on the floor, and introduced himself, “My name is Mike,” eliciting a standing ovation.

Here’s his speech:

Not only was I born in Canada, I was raised in British Columbia.

It’s true I’ve lived in the States for almost 30 years now, but I know I’ll always think of Team Canada as my home team.

I mean, hey, if I have a bad hair day, I wear a toque. If I’m extra hungry, I put some back bacon in my poutine. And if I’m watching the U.S. and Canada play hockey, I’m sorry, I’m wearing a maple leaf on my sweater.

But it doesn’t really matter where you live or where you’re born, Canada is a big tent, and if you’re good at something, we will claim you.

Even you, the Olympic athletes, curlers and cross-countrys, bobsledders and biathletes, skiers and skaters, you’ve come to Vancouver, you spent time among us, you’ve competed on the world stage here in Canada, and that makes you Canadians, too.

Canada is my home, and now it’s your home, too.

MORE VANCOUVER 2010: Stephen Colbert at the Vancouver Olympics

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

Jordan Larson
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics