Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monday morning blues? Even some Olympians must return to work



Monday morning blues? Even some Olympians must return to work

Norway’s Kristin Skaslien reacts during the curling mixed doubles bronze medal game at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 13. AFP
Norway’s Kristin Skaslien reacts during the curling mixed doubles bronze medal game at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 13. AFP

Monday morning blues? Even some Olympians must return to work

For the past two weeks they have been feted as Olympians, but many of the men and women at the Pyeongchang Winter Games will this week return to their jobs and the humdrum of daily life.

For every Lindsey Vonn, the American ski star, there are dozens like Dominik Maerki, the Swiss curler and bronze medallist who will go back to his day job where there are bills to be paid, customers to keep happy and livelihoods to be sustained.

As you would expect when there are nearly 3,000 athletes from across the planet, almost every profession is covered.

But the 27-year-old Maerki, a reserve in the Swiss team that beat Canada on Friday to win bronze, believes he may be the only watchmaker at the Olympics in South Korea.

Maerki studied watch-making for four years and later moved to Miami for his trade, before opening his own watch and clock repair businesses in the southern US state of Arkansas.

“I dated an American girl, now my wife, and ended up there. I have my own repair store, I fix watches and more complicated things and also repair a lot of clocks like grandfather clocks, wall clocks, kitchen clocks,” said Maerki.

Asked if the customers who visit his shop know that he doubles up as an Olympic curler – and furthermore an Olympic medallist – he smiled: “Some do now, yes.”

There is some crossover between curling and the fiddly mechanics of a watch or clock, said Maerki.

“For sure the eyes. Watchmakers need to have really good eyes and steady hands too – for the release of the rock [in curling], that could help a little bit.”

Polish speed skater Zbigniew Brodka says his profession helps put the pressure of the Olympics into perspective.

The 33-year-old won 1,500m gold at Sochi 2014, but when he’s not in his skin-tight skating suit, Brodka is a firefighter.

“When I went back to work it was very crazy. Even now it often happens that people recognise me on the street. It is a nice feeling,” said Brodka, who was 12th in the 1,500m in Pyeongchang.

“Working as a firefighter makes me stronger mentally. I am not that stressed doing sport because I see tragedy and bad things when I am at work.”

‘Feet back on the ground’

Norwegian curler Kristin Skaslien was back at her desk in Oslo, where she is an operations analyst for a maritime company, when she got a call to return to Pyeongchang – on a free first-class ticket – to collect her bronze medal.

She and partner Magnus Nedregotten were retrospectively awarded bronze in the mixed team event after a Russian curler tested positive for a banned substance.

“I sent my boss a text message telling him: ‘I’ve got first-class tickets to South Korea, I’ll be back by Tuesday’,” said Skaslien.

The feats of nurses, car mechanics, soldiers, watchmakers and firefighters make for feel-good stories each Olympics.

But there is a serious side because whereas the likes of Vonn earn handsomely and benefit from rich sponsorships, many Olympians struggle to get enough money together just so they can compete.

At the Pyeongchang Games the British bobsledders Mica McNeill and Mica Moore resorted to crowdfunding – as did many others – to keep their Olympic dream alive.

A level playing field? It hardly seems so.

Also in the bobsleigh, one of the most expensive winter sports, the Australian men could not afford their own sled – so they rented one from the Netherlands.

Even then they had to weigh up the cost of shipping the sled over at €4,000 to €5,000 ($4,900-$6,100) each way.

Joanne Courtney is a Canadian curler who is also a nurse.

Far from missing the adulation and bright lights of the Olympics, the 28-year-old has no qualms about going back to work.

“I look to my job as a registered nurse to find perspective often,” said Courtney, whose Canadian team were sixth in Pyeongchang.

“It’s nice to go back into work and get my feet back on the ground.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and