Olympic commentator returns to Woodinville
by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Local resident and previous Olympic champion Tracie Ruiz-Conforto has returned from a proud and wonderful experience she hopes one day to repeat.
Ruiz-Conforto, a Woodinville resident for 11 years, and a double gold medal winner in synchronized swimming in 1984 and silver medal winner in 1988, provided commentary for her sport during the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta this summer.
"I had a great time, in part because I was amongst many of my athlete friends and people I knew from Barcelona," Ruiz-Conforto said. "It was sort of a reunion for me."
She said the best part for the athletes was competing in their own country, "and on top of that, the Americans won."
"I competed in L.A. and there's nothing like a hometown crowd cheering for you," she said. "It gives the athletes a boost of adrenaline and pride; it gives them a bit of an edge."
She also said it was a great feeling being there as an American watching Americans win.
"Who knows when it'll be in the U.S. again. It would be great if Seattle could do it," she said.
Following the deadly explosion of a homemade bomb at the Centennial Olympic Park, Ruiz-Conforto said the park "became like a ghost town, very somber."
"But everybody still filed into the events," she said. "The next weekend (the park) was packed as if it never happened. It was amazing how the city just bounced back."
Ruiz-Conforto felt NBC did a really good job of showing the synchronized swimming during primetime hours, as well as the medal ceremony. She said her best Olympic moment was when the American women received their medals for synchronized swimming.
"As I watched the camera coverage of the emotion of it all, it sort of reminded me of my own experience. I was so proud of what they had done."