COMMENTARY | At first glance, doing a Google search on U.S. ski cross racer John Teller might make you think he's a character on the hit TV show "Sons of Anarchy."
After looking at how closely the TV character resembles the Olympic ski cross racer from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., you might even think you're right.
But you'd be wrong, only because John Teller just competed in his first Olympics on Thursday, February 20 at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, the only American to do so in ski cross.
He finished in 28th place, well out of the medals. The French contingent of Jean Fredric Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta, and Jonathan Midol swept the podium.
"I would have liked to have a better start; it wasn't the greatest. But you've got to try to refocus and work on getting into the top two positions so you can advance to the next round," Teller said in his post-race press conference. "I was battling all the way down and trying to get up there, stuck in that third spot for most of the way. I set up the pass for the last bank and was running a really tight line. It's tough to do in these soft conditions, so I spun out and that was the end of it."
Being a lone wolf is not new to Teller, who works full-time in his dad's gas station and uncle's auto repair shop in Mammoth Lakes -- as opposed to being an athlete who devotes every waking moment to his sport.
As a 30-year-old relative newcomer to ski cross Teller understands his time in the Olympic limelight may be brief, even sudden. But he has had his moments, winning his first World Cup race -- and being the first American to do so in the sport -- in 2011.
He then won an X Games ski cross title in 2011, and followed that up with a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2013.
But what makes Teller's journey even more interesting is that ski cross is simply a sideline for him. One can only imagine what Teller could do -- if only he had more hours in his day to devote to his sport.
In the meantime he'll work 40-plus hour weeks and continue to provide for his wife Angela and his family back home -- while working towards building their dream home.
Teller can also take comfort in the fact that he's a flag bearer, the Americans' first ever Olympic representative in the sport of ski cross.
"I'd really like to see skicross progress. We've got a lot of young guys that are already racing skicross and starting to figure stuff out," Teller said. "I'd like to see some of the same opportunities that these other teams have and give us a little bit more of a fighting chance.
Brian Shaw is a longtime reporter, editor and commentator who worked at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Enterprise, Salt Lake City Weekly and The Valley Journals. He is currently the Utah Sports Examiner at Examiner.com. This is the third Olympics he has covered as a journalist.
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