SOCHI SCENE: 'Everybody was freaking out'

February 13, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Matthias Mayer's Olympic downhill victory got quite a reception back home in ski-loving Austria.

''Everybody was happy,'' Mayer said with a wide-as-can-be smile on Thursday, four days after earning his gold medal. ''Everybody was freaking out.''

In Russia, too. After training for the Sochi Games' second Alpine men's event, Friday's super-combined, Mayer was stopped by course workers and volunteers who wanted him to pose for photos. He obliged.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind since his surprising win. Mayer's days have been filled, he said, with ''a lot of media stuff,'' plus a celebratory party where he got to chat with Franz Klammer, who gave Austria a gold in the downhill at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.

He says the best part of being a gold medalist - remember, this is a guy who'd never won in 65 previous World Cup or world championship races, nor finished better than fifth in a downhill - is the ''cool feeling'' he gets in the start gate now, knowing that he already is a champion.

And even if he's had plenty of distractions lately, preventing him from his usual training regimen, it's been worth it.

''We had a lot of fun. Of course, it was a little bit exhausting for me,'' he said, chuckling. ''But I feel good now and I'm ready for races.''

- By Howard Fendrich - Twitter


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter:

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