Lori Ewing is the fearless sports reporter for Canadian Press, a runner, about to cover her ninth Olympic Games next month in Beijing. As she begins to pack her bags and take her COVID tests, we asked Ewing about what’s so special about the Olympics, and who might be the next Damian Warner or Andre De Grasse of the snow.
iRun: For starters, Novak Djokovic is all over the news. Do Olympians need to be vaccinated to participate in the Games?
Lori Ewing: The Canadian team has be fully vaccinated and the push now is for all of them to get boosters. I think the rule for the Olympics in general is that if you’re not vaccinated, you face a three week quarantine when you get to China.
iRun: COVID is so prevalent and whipping through professional sports. Are athletes worried about catching it between now and the Games, thus missing the whole thing?
LE: Yeah, that’s really tough. If an athlete tests positive between now and then, they’re not going. At this point, I know a couple figure skaters who had contracted the virus Christmas Day and they’re the lucky ones.
LE: Such strange times. Again, figure skaters, there’s a pair who don’t live together and they were planning their long program by playing music in their separate apartments and doing synchronized high knees for a jump and burpees for a throw, just as a way to stay in shape for two weeks.
iRun: I guess everyone does what they have to do. How do you feel?
LE: It’s an adventure. Before Tokyo, I was even wondering: why are we even doing this? With no fans, it’s going to suck! But once I got there I was so glad to be there. It was amazing, even though it was still really weird. Without fans, you could hear the athletes talking to each other.
iRun: I guess less people also means less press also means more times with the winners?
LE: Yeah, exactly. Before we left, we were told we’d have like 90 seconds with the athletes, but when we got there that went out the window. Damian Warner stayed for almost half an hour after he won.
iRun: Here’s the million-dollar question: who can be the Winter Olympics Damian Warner?
LE: Mikael Kingsbury, pictured below, the moguls freestyle skier, but also you never know. That’s what makes the Olympics so special. Literally, anything can happen! Of course Canada also has some good speed skaters, long track skaters, figure skaters, bobsled—Canada does really well at the Winter Games.
iRun: Are you nervous?
LE: I’m not competing. All I have to do is write what happens.
iRun: True, true.
LE: I will say that I was supposed to go for two months and also cover the Paralympics, but I was worried that if something happens I could get stuck there. Flights are almost impossible to find.
iRun: There’s always lots of unknowns but this really takes the cake.
LE: It does but I also have to say, when I returned from Tokyo, friends were like: “that must have been terrible.” No, no, no, I said: they were fabulous. I might remember them as my favourite Olympics ever. It’s just so different from everything.
iRun: What are you most psyched to see?
LE: I usually cover figure skating, and ice dancer Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, picture up top, could reach the medal podium. I’m also looking forward to freestyle skiing, speed skating, women’s hockey—plus, we have a really good team of both male and female bobsledders.
iRun: It’s interesting. I don’t know these athletes or much about the sports but I know that when I watch it, I’ll be cheering at the top of my lungs.
LE: Everybody gets hooked.
iRun: That’s what makes it so fun because you never know what the thing will be.
LE: I remember calling home from Tokyo and asking if people were watching and everyone said: We’re loving it! And by the end of the women’s soccer or else Damian, it felt like a groundswell of attention had grown in Canada and I’m hoping that happens again in the Winter Games.
iRun: There’s just nothing like the Olympics.
LE: Yeah, it’s hard to describe. Covering the Raptors’ 2019 championship run was different because we had weeks to get used to the idea the Raptors might win it all. There were obviously fabulous moments such as Kawhi’s buzzer-beater against Philly, but at the Olympics, anything can happen in the span of 10 seconds.
iRun: You’re a grizzled pro but I’d imagine it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment.
LE: In Sochi, I was watching Patrick Chan and sitting besides a friend and he says, “Lori, I can feel your legs shaking.” I don’t know how the athletes deal with it. I can’t deal with it! It’s emotion cranked up 100 times.
iRun: Hey, Lori. Thanks for this. It certainly is exciting and there’s certainly lots to get excited about. Will you report back from China for iRun?
LE: Sure, it would my pleasure. Really, like with the women’s soccer game, how it came down to penalty kicks? You can’t make this stuff up. It’s stories like this that I love to share.
For more from the Winter Olympics and Lori Ewing, follow Lori on Twitter @Ewingsports.