As athletes stream into China ahead of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means their most loyal fans — their families — will only be able to watch from home.
“We’re going to make the best of it,” said Anne Marie Forehand, the mother of freestyle skier Mac Forehand.
While Forehand and her husband, Ray, devoted countless hours to being there for their son’s training and competitions, COVID control rules mean they won’t be able to see Mac’s Olympic debut in person.
Instead, they’ll rely on TV and streaming, Ray Forehand said, to catch the graduate of Vermont’s Stratton Mountain School in action.
“We can watch it live or we can watch it the next day,” the Olympian’s father told NECN & NBC10 Boston, noting the time difference between New England and China will mean some erratic viewing schedules for their family. "I think we’ll be watching it live by ourselves and maybe with our friends the next day."
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Olympians like Ryan Cochran-Siegle from Vermont’s famous racing Cochran family will tell you this is, of course, hard on them, too.
“You got there because of your family and because of the support,” said Cochran-Siegle, the son of a 1972 gold medalist who will be competing during the 50th anniversary of his mom’s Olympic win. “So it’s good when those individuals can be involved as well.”
Halfpipe freeskier Devin Logan said she will be missing her mom Nancy, who traveled from the Mount Snow area for the two previous Olympics — even dyeing her hair red, white, and blue last time for support.
"She goes all in for it," Logan said of her mother. "It’s going to be a bummer not having friends and family this time."
For Caitlin Napoleoni of Vermont, separation is tough for one very special reason. She’s due to have her first child, during the Games.
Napoleoni’s husband is Team USA biathlete Leif Nordgren.
“It is a little bit easier to accept that I’m not in Beijing watching him, because I’ll be doing more important things,” said Napoleoni, who is a broadcaster on the First Warning Weather team of NBC5 — NECN & NBC10 Boston’s Vermont affiliate.
As reported earlier this week, Nordgren is one of several members serving with the Vermont National Guard who are competing at the Olympics.
"I’m definitely excited to go to China and race," Nordgren said about the Guard representation. "But at the same time, I’m even more excited, I think, to kind of get the Olympics over with and finally go home and kind of meet the new little one."
As for the parents of Mac Forehand, they said they’ll use social media, texting, and video chatting to stay in touch with their athlete son. They were able to write letters of support ahead of time, which the U.S. Ski Team is delivering during the Olympics for the competitors to open and read during the Games, Anne Marie Forehand added.
"So the athletes will have them when they get to China, which is very exciting, too," the Olympian’s mom said of those letters.
Such messages will be just some of the many long-distance hugs from home for Team USA.