By Rick Dandes
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Being caught without credentials in a secure area led to a Valley native’s ban from Cypress Mountain while his Olympian wife practiced for tonight’s competition.
Mike Hormell, a 1986 graduate of Warrior Run High School and a Watsontown native, said the incident has been distracting to his wife, Michelle Roark, who tonight will vie for a gold medal in the U.S. freestyle moguls.
“It was a mistake and I broke the rules for sure,” Hormell said Friday night from his hotel room in Vancouver.
For the past six years Hormell has been with Roark at every World Cup event she’s entered — she’s won five — and at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, where she finished 18th out of 35.
“Michelle relies on me to help get her in the proper frame of mind as she prepares to race,” Hormell said. “At most events, there are passes handed out for a friends and family viewing area.”
Not so in Vancouver.
While his wife was practicing, Hormell was rejected at a security checkpoint as he approached Cypress Mountain.
“This is where I made a mistake in judgment,” he said.
Hormell skirted the checkpoint, and walked through trees into an area where he was not permitted to be.
“I was caught and detained for about an hour, before they released me,” he said. “Security is very tight, as it should be.”
Then he was banned from watching her train.
“Not allowing me to be there while she practiced broke our usual routine, and for an Olympic-class athlete, the routine before a race is important, sometimes as important as the race itself,” he said.
Hormell will be allowed to watch Roark compete tonight.
“I wasn’t allowed to watch her practice this week, but I definitely will be there as she competes in the actual race (tonight) on Cypress Mountain. It’s her only competition.”
Roark is scheduled to compete only in freestyle mogul, which begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by the finals at 10:30 p.m.