Feb. 11

 

Luger Mark Grimmette and Chef de Mission Mike Plant

 

Mike Plant, USOC Board member on Mark Grimmette:

"It’s quite the honor for me to be here with Mark and joining a long list of legends in Olympic history for us in the United States to be elected flag bearer by his peers. And as all of you know, Mark is a five-time Olympian, two-time Olympic medalist, six World Championship medals and part of the most historic sled in luge history as far as results. So again, it’s my honor to be here on the stage with him and the show’s all yours Mark, congrats."

 

Mark Grimmette, Luge (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

On being chosen to be the flag bearer for Team USA and how he found out:

"It’s a great honor to be able to carry the American flag in the opening ceremonies. Last night when I found out, Brian [Martin], my teammate, was our captain for luge and they were on the phone for about an hour with all the other sports, the USA Team Captains. They voted and Brian came out of the room and about an hour later, he walked up to me and he was shaking a little bit, and I was wondering what was wrong and he was smiling and shook my hand and said ‘You know you’re going to be carrying the flag.’ I was just floored. It’s just a great honor, and I’m looking forward to it."

 

On the ambiance between the Olympics in smaller cities versus bigger ones:

"Lillehammer was a lot smaller, it’s a small town. Most of the action for spectators happened on one street. It kind of had that small town feel. It was a very neat experience because of that. In Japan, in Salt Lake and Torino, they were bigger Games, but each one of them had their specialness to them. I’m happy to be here in Vancouver and looking forward to the start of these Games."

 

On his thoughts on why he was chosen to carry the flag:

"I was very surprised. When my teammate told me, we sat in the room for about half an hour just not saying anything, but just shaking our heads, our hands were shaking and even this morning still a little bit shaky. This team is made up of a lot of great men and a lot of great women and for them to vote for me to carry the flag, the hairs are standing on the back of my neck. It’s just a great honor."

 

On whether he’ll share the flag bearing duties with teammate Brian Martin:

"If you see me look behind me to see where the other guy is while carrying it that might be the reason."

 

On how he started competing in luge:

"Muskegan State Park is where I got my start. Luge kind of came to me. When I was 14-years-old, I heard some heavy machinery across the street from where I grew up and I went over to investigate. There was some bulldozers tearing up my favorite sledding hill. I asked them what they were doing and they said they were building a luge track. I had never heard what luge was, but they were asking for volunteers to help build it. I liked construction and I liked building forts at home, stuff like that. So I pounded a few nails and help build part of the track. Once it was finished I tried it and just fell in love with the sport."

 

On why he thinks the athletes chose him:

"Brian said when he came out of the room, he said the term ‘elder statesman.’ I just hope thay it wasn’t elderly."

 

On why he didn’t retire and keeps competing:

"For this to be my fifth Games, it just sort of happened. Brian and I are very good at focusing on the very next Games. We don’t look beyond it. We focus on the Games. We focus on what we need to do. Every four years after the Games are done, we sit down and talk about it and decide whether to go on or whether to continue or stop."

 

On the growth of the sport and how he’s changed:

"The sport of luge, when I first got into it, the U.S. team was the example of what not to do when you go down the track. The European nations would come to the track and watch us for maybe a little bit of excitement when we come down the track. Slowly, over the years, one of the guys I used to live with, Gordy Sheer, we kind of came up together and pushed one another. I think the camaraderie that we had with one another I think helped push us more into the right direction. With the bronze medal and the silver medal that I won in 1998 and then in 2002 really helped the popularity of the sport."

 

On whether he makes a living doing this:

"This is my full-time job.  I’m not going to get rich at it, but I do luge because I love it. I’m very passionate about it. It’s fun going down the hill at 90 miles per hour, pulling four to five Gs. That’s the main reason."

 

On whether he worried he was going to be here:

"This has been a rough season for Brian and I. I think this is where the experience has helped Brian and I a lot this season too. We’ve just come across a lot of walls this season. We’ve had to push through those walls, but I think our experience has helped us take one wall at a time, dissemble it, push through it and get to the next one. The past couple months, the past couple of weeks, things have been coming together a lot more. We’re both very pumped to start sliding here."

 

On how many runs he has done with Brian over his career:

"We take roughly 300 runs a year, and I think this is our twelfth or thirteenth season together. I don’t know, I think it’s been about 4,000 runs or something like that."

 

On what magnets would do for a luger or bodsleder:

"I can honestly say that I have no idea. If you find out let me know though."

 

On if he’s talked to any of his family members about being the flag bearer:

"I haven’t spoken with anybody yet. I’ve tried.  I left a message for my sister on her answering machine last night, and I’m sure it’s going to be a strange one for her to listen to. I’m looking forward to those conversations today."

 

On which athlete he would choose to bear the flag:

"I’m going to kind of dodge a question a little bit and say there’s a lot of great people on the team. I’d love to see my teammate, Brian Martin, carry the flag too. I’m just very honored that they chose to me."

 

On whether he thinks Americans understand and appreciate what he does:

"That’s not really the reason why I do the sport. I love the sport; it’s a lot of fun. I hope by what I do, the sport grows. I love teaching kids how to do luge. I love teaching them how to go faster, and hopefully I’ll get more of a chance to do that in the future."