Scary start for Cook

By: Dave Krizman, Journal Sports Writer
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series that will introduce readers to Stacey Cook, a U.S. Olympic downhill skier and native of Truckee, and her parents Dean and Sharon Cook. Part one of this series examined Stacey’s life as an Olympic skier. The second part chronicles the adventures of Dean and Sharon as they attempt to procure tickets to watch Stacey ski in British Columbia. The final installment will highlight Stacey’s stay in the Olympic Village and her thoughts on her race. Watching their daughter fall on her first downhill training run was not how Dean and Sharon Cook envisioned the beginnings to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In a perverse way Stacey, their daughter, became one of the first stories of the Games. Her chilling crash was splashed over the Internet. Millions watched as Stacey slammed into the safety fence, lay motionless for a few seconds, attempted to stand up, then slumped back down. That evening Sharon emailed friends and family updating them on Stacey’s crash. “Dean and I were watching the training run live and were just sick with concern for our baby girl (who is as tuff as nails) … About an hour later, Stacey called and sounded great although a little sore … she remembered everything … including the guy’s name that was hanging from the helicopter with her … Mike.” So began the Winter Olympics for Sharon and Dean. Vancouver has had almost eight years to prepare for the Olympics. Sharon and Dean had a little less than three weeks to secure accommodations, airfare and tickets for one of the most popular events. The U.S. Olympic Ski Team did not announce the final team until Jan. 26. Stacey was going to the Olympics! Sharon stated, “ … we felt she had made the team but you just don’t know for sure until the team is actually named.” The Cooks will be staying in Whistler Village, but it was a calculated gamble on their part that paid off. CoSport, the company that handles ticket purchases, had set aside a small amount of family housing. However, the families of the Olympic athletes had to pay in full by Jan. 15, 11 days before the final Olympic Team would be announced. “It was a crapshoot … but based on Stacey’s results leading up to the selection, the family decided to take the gamble and secure the housing and fortunately it worked out.” The next Olympic-size challenge was locating enough tickets to see Stacey in the Women’s Downhill, one of the most popular events of the Games. Each athlete receives two complimentary standing section tickets. However, they still needed six more tickets for family. After some scrambling, they did find the additional six tickets. “We were really hoping to get tickets for the bleacher section but that turned out to be out of the question. Those seats are all taken by corporate sponsors,” explained Sharon. “We are all standing but we will be there.” The Cooks and friends and family of all Olympic athletes will make use of the Proctor & Gamble Family Center in Vancouver. The P&G Family Center is a place where families can meet with other Olympic families to share, exchange and enjoy the games. “They (P&G) have been very helpful and thoughtful towards the parents,” Sharon said. “I have a new level of appreciation for P&G.” Reflecting on watching her daughter, Sharon adds, “Downhill races are very exciting … however, TV can’t compare to excitement level of being there. All World Cups as well as the Olympics have a large monitor, bigger than the average billboard, so you can see the racer coming down the entire course. The electricity of the crowd in the air just cannot be duplicated on TV.” This Wednesday as Stacey races down the course, hoping to medal for the U.S., Sharon offered her emotions as she sees Stacey in the starting gate: “Prayers are always first and foremost … followed by anxious, nervous, and excited, all rotating in a vicious cycle.”