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The toughest Winter Olympics event? The postrace interview.

At the Winter Olympics, developing the ability to speak thoughtfully on your feet like Gold medalist Evan Lysacek or downhill skier Lindsey Vonn is as important as training to shave off seconds and strokes.

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In their sit-down interview, Mr. Costas seemed to attempt to elicit a snarky response from Mr. Lysacek: When Costas asked if he could be a true champion without the quad jump, Lysacek graciously praised his competitor. There was no arrogance or self-congratulatory spin. In fact, while making the point that he edged Plushenko in the technical scoring on jumps and spins, Lysacek good-naturedly joked that the Russians probably would not allow him into their country to defend his title in the 2014 Games slated for Sochi, Russia.

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Athletes with the ability to follow those rules in life and on the slopes deserve our admiration.

The pregame buildup surrounding downhill skier Lindsey Vonn led me to fear she was just a Pepsodent smile. The perception was dispelled with her skillful handling of the media onslaught about her ability to ski while injured and the way she brushed aside inane questions from CNN about how it feels to be considered a “sex goddess.” Ms. Vonn’s deft handling of reporters helped show that she isn’t a gloating ice princess, but an athlete with grit who gave a heartwarming shout out to her grandparents watching at home.

These Olympians are skilled athletes and savvy communicators. They slalom through the media circus that envelops the Olympic Games, not allowing it to dampen their camaraderie or competitive spirit. Their joy helps explain why so many, like Bode Miller, keep going back again and again. What a thrill it is to watch them. They’re stoked and their ability to communicate it makes us feel good, too.

Christine K. Jahnke is a speech coach. She prepped the US Olympic Committee, first lady Michelle Obama, and reigning decathlete champion Bryan Clay.


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