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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Team Mask

posted by on August 5 at 14:40 PM

Athletes have begun to arrive in Beijing for the Olympics, and they’re arriving in anti-pollution masks:


… four track cyclists on the United States Olympic team stepped off their flight wearing masks over their mouths and noses.

The masks were designed by Randy Wilber, a 53-year-old scientist for the U.S. Olympic Training Center, who has been fielding bizarre questions from athletes for months:

Should I run behind a bus and breathe in the exhaust? Should I train on the highway during rush hour? Is there any way to acclimate myself to pollution?

Wilber answers those questions with a steadfast, “No.”

“We have to be extremely careful and steer them in the right direction because the mind-set of the elite athlete is to do anything it takes to get that advantage,” he said. “If they thought locking themselves in the garage with the car running would help them win a gold medal, I’m sure they would do it. Our job, obviously, is to prevent that.”

The IHT has a great story the air and the Olympics, including boxers who jog in their hotel hallways instead of the street, runners from last year’s test Olympic events hawking up black phlegm, and one politic America athlete who said:

If the Olympics were in Los Angeles, we would probably wear these masks, too.

Give that cyclist a job in the embassy.


RSS icon Comments


The athletes should turn around and come home.

Posted by Fnarf | August 5, 2008 2:57 PM

I liked the masks better when they had scary mouths drawn on them.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | August 5, 2008 3:02 PM

That ain't no track cyclist. I recognize a female shot putter when I see one.

And LA is not as polluted as Beijing. That's hyperbole.

Posted by max solomon | August 5, 2008 3:26 PM

Yes, it's hyperbole to imply that LA's air quality to Bejing's. Bejing is must worse.

The portrayal of the problem in the press is also hyperbolic. These's athlete's lifetime risk of emphazema is not going to be measurably affected by spending a week in Bejing. And whatever competetive impact the air quality has, it will have approximately equally on all of them.

Posted by David Wright | August 5, 2008 3:57 PM

LA used to be worse - but hasn't been since quite a few decades now.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 5, 2008 3:59 PM


Yes, turn right around, and come home to the states, and back to my apartment. I have been so oddly attracted to that girl in that photo. It's the combination of the hot bikes in the crate, her stance, the alluring mask, and the knowledge that she could kick my ass riding back to my place from the bar... mmmmm.

Posted by juris | August 5, 2008 4:15 PM

I can't believe they are even allowing these hooligans into China in the first place. What are they going to say when the cyclists riot and kill somebody? At least confiscate their U locks before each event.

Posted by elenchos | August 5, 2008 4:45 PM

The chinese don't stand a chance. That's not a mask. That's Sub-Zero's sister.

Posted by P to the J | August 5, 2008 5:55 PM

Just so you know, that woman in the mask is Seattle's own Jennie Reed, a world champion in the woman's keiren event.

Posted by trackie | August 6, 2008 9:34 AM

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