Two USA Olympic athletes competing this season are joined by a similarity: their religious beliefs. Belonging to the LDS Church, Chris Fogt and Jerica Tandiman have inspired BYU-Hawaii students.
In an interview with Deseret News, Tandiman, a speed skater, said her LDS faith had contributed to where she is today. “It’s definitely part of who I am. I think it’s helped me to have confidence in the things I do. … It reminds me to be a good person and keep that balance in my life. … It keeps me humble.”
Tandiman has also attended BYU-Hawaii, reports the West Jordan Journal.
Students at BYUH like Aline Weitzel, a junior from New York majoring in hospitality and tourism, said she thinks having members of the LDS Church in the Olympics is encouraging. “It brings awareness about the gospel,” Weitzel remarked.
Jon Keith, a freshman from California majoring in exercise and sports science, said he didn’t know any of the LDS Olympians prior to the Olympics, but he said, “Even not knowing any Mormon Olympians beforehand or even what they do, I know that they get a lot of publicity because they stand out. People notice that and especially notice the happy and wholesome lifestyle they live.”
Weitzel commented similarly, “When you’re in a competition with a lot of diversity and culture, questions will appear when you’re getting to know someone else or the competition.” She later said she thinks knowing that an athlete is LDS is nice because it’s most likely not as common as other religions.
In addition, she said, “I think it’s very inspirational just because they are members of the Church.”
Tandiman, in her interview with NBC-Olympics.com, described when the Olympics first inspired her.
She said her earliest memory of the Olympics were the Games in 2002. She recalled the speed skating events were held at the Utah Olympic Oval, which she described as being practically built in her backyard.
“I don’t remember a lot about the events, but I do remember watching the torch go through the Kearns High School parking lot. I didn’t then know that I would later be chasing an Olympic dream of my own, but watching that flame sparked something within me,” she commented.
Mike Mullen, an alumnus from BYUH who graduated in business management, was able to visit Korea. He said, “It’s the Olympics. Who wouldn’t want to go? I had to go to Korea to meet with some people anyway so why not enjoy the Olympics as well?”
Concerning the Olympic competitions overall, with his experience in-person Mullen said, “The atmosphere is electric. It is amazing to see the world united, cheering for all the athletes.”
Keith, although not able to attend the Olympics stated, “As a country [we should] be patriotic and watch the Olympics more. It’s a good way to strengthen our international relationships, learn something and enjoy some like educational and wholesome television.”
Weitzel added her thoughts and said, “I like the Olympics just because I get to see different countries and what everyone has and how they trained for it.”
Mullen also commented that he most enjoyed watching the ski aerials. He said, “I think the ski aerials are spectacular. It was incredible to see them in person. I don’t know how a human body can spin that much, that high in the air, and land safely.”
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the March 2018 print issue.