Now at least a dozen years removed from competing as Olympians for the United States in the Winter Games, the Parisien siblings — Rob, Julie and Anna — get nostalgic as they relive their own experiences while the current Olympic games occur in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I’ve been so excited watching these Olympics,” said Anna, the youngest and now 37. “I’ve just been glued to the TV, although the coverage hasn’t been the best, especially for downhill.”
The Parisiens, who together account for five Olympic Games experiences and skiing competitions (Julie in 1992, 1994 and 1998; Rob in 1992, and Anna in 1994) now spend more time raising and caring for their children, but they’ve been particularly intrigued by the ongoing international sports spectacle in Canada the last two weeks.
Now 40, Rob is an orthopedic surgeon in Portland and married father of three. Julie, 38, is a mother of four living in Traverse City, Mich., but will be moving back to Maine this summer with husband Tim Nuce. Anna is a married mother of two in St. Paul, Minn., and a part-time substitute teacher and ski coach.
Although none of the three won an Olympic medal, they all enjoyed success in international ski competitions during their relatively brief amateur and professional careers.
Q: What is your favorite Olympic moment?:
A: Julie — The opening ceremonies at Albertville  were crazy and so wonderful because it was the first time they really made it a show. It was like a Cirque de Soleil.
Anna — “The opening ceremonies for sure, walking in behind the flag and looking up at the stadium and seeing this sea of white because all the attendees were given white ponchos to wear. That was a really, really cool spectacle. And the ski jumper coming down to light the torch in Lillehammer  was really amazing.”
Q: Do you have any particularly lighthearted or amusing Olympic memories?
A: Julie — “A really cool thing was in 1992. The U.S.A. hockey team loved me because I was still missing four teeth [from colliding with a skier a month before the Olympics]. I took my teeth out because they were bothering me and five guys came over and pulled all their teeth out too. They were all big, gorgeous guys and I was the first girl they’d ever met with missing teeth.”
Rob — “It wasn’t funny so much, but it was memorable. We had a White House tour in ’92 and I really don’t remember that much about it, except I remember seeing snipers in the trees along with all the guards in the Rose Garden in May.”
Anna — “I remember when Picabo Street got her silver medal. We were all staying in these mock trailers and I was right next door to her, so I ran over and was making this big deal about it, but it was sort of just like another day at the office for her.”
Q: What skiing accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Rob — “Getting 20th in the Olympics and winning the Canadian National GS [giant slalom] championships in Canada in 1991. A bunch of us Americans went up there and really embarrassed them.”
Anna — “I would say for sure the NORAM result when I won the overall title  after winning Super G and GS and getting second in slalom. I was really proud of that. I’m really proud of that slalom because it was never my forte.”
Julie — “I’m most proud of winning the next World Cup  after the Olympics. I had a great Olympics with a fourth [slalom] and fifth [GS], but there was the disappointment of not winning after being in first after the first run and I wanted to prove to myself that I was one of the best in the world. I won the World Cup race the next week in slalom.”
Q: What’s your favorite movie or book?
A: Rob — “The Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker. It’s about philosophy and the way humans think. As far as movie, I’d say at least from ones I’ve seen recently, “District 9.” I really enjoyed the underlying message and social commentary.
Anna — The last movie I think I saw was “Up”, which I took my son to see. It was cute. Books? I’d have to say “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver or “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.”
Julie — “The Hurt Locker” is just a great movie. I liked it even better than “Avatar.” And from when I was a kid, my favorite movie was “Joe vs. the Volcano.” I thought it was really cute and uplifting.”
Q: What are your biggest goals for the near future?
A: Julie —“I just have come to this place in my life where simplicity is key and that means on a whole range of levels. Materialistically I don’t want to have a lot of stuff, other than skis and snowmobiles and outdoor types of toys. We want to have a simple, easy successful lifestyle. I think the complications in our world today of having top-notch granite countertops and wooden floors and all that stuff, that kind of makes me cringe. I want an old-style farmhouse that feels warm and homey. I also want to be simple while also making it harder on myself to become more self-reliant. I’d like to have my own kind of a farm and garden, have chickens and fresh eggs, and do canning and stuff like that. What I’m trying to get away from is popular culture and all the Tweeting and Internet and cell phones. I would love to be off the grid, if we can afford it up front with geothermal, solar or wind power. I want my kids to grow up a little differently than those around them.”
Q: What do you like to do when not skiing or raising your children?
A: Anna — “I like to kiteboard on the water in the summer and kiteski in the winter. My husband started doing that and got me into it. It’s like windsurfing. It’s very relaxing. The kite skiing was something I really picked up quick and loved it.”
Julie — “I like walking in the woods with my dog and exploring things, like following a brook. I love to read and cook and try new recipes. I like to work out too with weights and do aerobic stuff like sprinting.”
Q: Who are some of the more famous celebrities you’ve met or hung out with?
A: Rob — “I have a great picture of myself with Herschel Walker, who was a Heisman trophy winner and NFL player. He was a pusher for the bobsled team. Vice-president Dan Quayle was in the crowd when I came in during the opening ceremonies . And we went to the White House in 1992 when we came back and met George Herbert Walker Bush.”
Anna — “Going to the White House in 1994 and getting to meet Bill and Hillary Clinton was really cool. I didn’t realize how tall she was in real life. It was a short tour. We filed in, shook their hands, and filed out.”
Julie — “I got flowers sent to me by Patrick Dempsey after I won the Waterville World Cup in 1991. He grew up in Turner and my grandmother was one of his teachers. He was a ski racer when he was a kid. I got to meet him and ride up the chairlift with him. I also had lunch with Herschel Walker. He was sitting alone at a table and I went to sit down with him. He’s huge and chiseled. He had the gnarliest looking forehead.”
Q: What is something few people know about you?
Rob — “I am a baroque lutenist. I’ve played the lute for eight years. I fell in love with the music and you couldn’t really go t
o the store and buy one, so I contacted a guy in England who was an expert at making them and he told me how to make one. You have to carve it yourself and create it from the ground up.”
Julie — “Well, I was seen as kind of stern and hard and not that warm and fuzzy, but I really, really am. I’m the most warm and fuzzy mom you can imagine. I smother my baby all day. I just can’t stand how cute he is. I love people. I don’t think it came across that way on the slopes because I was driven and focused, but only because I had to be.”
Q: What’s more difficult, Olympic team and Olympic competition, being an orthopedic surgeon, or teaching?
Rob — “The actual race itself wasn’t all that hard. There are times when surgery is just another surgery and other times when it’s pretty intense. They are very much alike at times. What was hard was the pressure with the Olympic competition. It was like having to operate on your wife.”
Anna — “They’re so completely different. One is exhausting physically [Olympics] and the other is exhausting mentally [teaching]. Sometimes both at the same time. With skiing, there were lost of ups and downs and trials and tribulations, but whenever I could shut my brain off, it became easy and enjoyable. Teaching kids, you’re multitasking all the time and it’s draining. Sometimes you come home from school and you’re completely fried.”
Q: What is your favorite music, musical artists or groups? Or what’s in your iPod now?
Anna — “I don’t have an iPod, and I don’t have anything in the car because the kids overstimulate me. I listen to NPR [National Public Radio] sometimes, but usually it’s just the sound of silence for me.”
Julie — “Lately I’ve been loving The Magnetic Fields. Stephin Merritt is the front man. I guess it’s slightly EMO music, but it’s very unique.” I also like The White Stripes and Prodigy when I’m working out.”