Before leaving for Vancouver, Gregory Bretz said he was going to soak in and enjoy the entire Olympic experience. He’s off to a good start.
Bretz, the 19-year-old from Mammoth Lakes, along with the rest of the U.S. Halfpipe Team, notably Shaun White, received some good airtime Friday night during the Opening Ceremonies to kick off the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
The men’s halfpipe competition is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17, but Bretz has been in the Olympic Village since last Wednesday – and in newspapers and magazines around the world since he was named an Olympian three weeks ago.
The online website Seventeen.com got wind of the romance between Bretz and 20-year-old Elena Hight, a member of the U.S. Women’s Halfpipe Team this year as well as in 2006, when she was just 16. The photogenic young athletes have been a couple for about a year, and Seventeen.com ran an item about the Olympians being an item.
“Elena and I have truly leaned on each other throughout the season. She is my best friend,” Bretz said in the Seventeen article. “And it has been so rad to have her give me insight as to what to expect, reminding me to enjoy the entire Olympic experience. I am so stoked to go to Vancouver and have us represent the US together.”
That heartwarming story from one Mammoth Lakes Olympian was in contrast to Stacey Cook, Mammoth’s other Olympian. Cook fell during bad weather conditions in a super-combined training run Thursday. Reports said she violently crashed into safety netting and was airlifted off the mountain.
The good news is that she was released from the hospital a few hours later, and U.S. Olympic coaches said she suffered no major injuries but was very stiff and sore. Doctors have cleared her for competition.
The women’s super-combined is scheduled for Sunday, and Cook was quoted by AFP as saying, “It’s not the ideal way to start the Olympics, but I’ve just got to keep fighting. I hear I’m lucky, so I’ve just got to keep that luck going. We’ll start some therapy, but I’m going to be ready. I’ll be back out there.”
With a lack of snow at Cypress Mountain, Bretz and the rest of the halfpipe snowboarders had their practice days cut from five to three.
Practice was scheduled to begin this weekend for Wednesday’s event; the women’s halfpipe competition is scheduled for Thursday.
A “Go Greg” party organized by his sponsor Red Bull will take place Wednesday at Lakanuki at The Village in Mammoth.
Sierra Wave TV33 will show an interview on Monday conducted with Bretz before he left for Canada. The interview will be part of a program that will replace Benett Kessler’s Eastern Sierra News on President’s Day; times are 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.