It's rare that you can say that you actually enjoyed yourself during a luncheon that -- while chowing down on Roasted Autumn Vegetable Tian with Red Pepper Purée -- speakers were discussing nausea, heartburn and traveler's diarrhea. But alas, I did. I was cordinally invited to the Pepto Bismol Insta Cool Luncheon, featuring Olympic figure skater Sasha Cohen.
You see, Pepto is an Olympic Sponsor this year, and they invited all of us press folks over to Rock Center to meet Sasha last week, and tell us how their new Insta Cool tablets were going to help the 2010 Vancouver Olympians keep their cool.
Learned a few key things worth sharing:
>> Endurance athletes don't deal so much with overindulgence issues (like I did when that Red Pepper Puree required me to pop some Peptos. Gotta tell you, those InstaCools do work!) But instead, athletes suffer from airophasia -- they actually consume great volumes of air while training and competing, which in turn, upsets their stomachs.
>> So Pepto, why all the pink? For those of you who don't know, I have been known to take issue with the color pink (really, it's just pink jerseys, but I seem to have gotten a bad rap about hating pink. I'm actually OK with it). Anywho, Pepto is pink because when it was created 108 years ago, they wanted to make it kid-friendly. And it stuck. Not sure how the color pink was once used to appeal to children and now it is used as a universal chick color, but that is the subject of another post.
Thankfully, Sasha Cohen did not wear pink. She wore black leggings, a cute leopard print Tory Burch top, furry Tory Burch boots, and red lipstick. She looked NYC chic, at the heart of Rock Center, as she sat politely listening to an Olympic doctor and a Pepto spokesperson discuss stomach lining irritation, and the havoc public performances and speaking engagements can be on one's stomach.
Sasha then took her turn at the mike, making a few remarks about heading into her third Olympic games, her new routine and choreography by Lori Nichol, and the fact that she had no regrets about pulling out of the Grand Prix, saying "It's unfortunate to withdraw, but no one will remember a Grand Prix going into an Olympic year."
Then it was time for Sasha to change into a sleek black turtleneck (as she conformed to the all-black uniform that we New Yorkers uphold). Next, she commandeered the ice at Rockefeller Center to perform solo for us -- along with dozens of awestruck tourists, grinning ear-to-ear thanks to this surprise skating performance to "Luck Be a Lady" by Sinatra. Click here for my iPhone video.
Next, I got to sit down with Sasha to chat. Keep in mind that I had just interviewed her the day before on the GameOn podcast, so we had already covered many of the controversial topics: Her comeback and battle against teenage competitors ... pulling out of the Grand Prix due to tendonitis ... her breakout role in "Blades of Glory."
But there was plenty more to cover. So here you have it, my one-on-one Q&A with Sasha Cohen:
EB: Hey Sasha! Great to meet you after Melissa [my GameOn co-host] and I got to chat with you yesterday on the podcast. So here we are at the Pepto luncheon. I can imagine that you don't deal with overindulgence issues like I do. (Did you eat that Red Pepper Puree? Wowza!) So what do you eat when you are training?
SC: I try to eat really healthy ... I love Caesar salad with dressing on the side. I love my avocado, tomato, and egg white omelet. I'll grab greek yogurt with strawberries for a snack. For dinner, I try to stick to seafood and white meat chicken. I also love veggies: spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli. And I will eat a steak now and then.
EB: Come on ... anything more fun than that?!
SC: [Laughs] I do love cupcakes.
EB: What's your favorite place in NYC to go for cupcakes?
SC: I love Crumbs and, of course, Magnolia Bakery.
EB: So how about when you're in the Olympic Village. How do you make sure you eat well while traveling?
SC: My mom has actually come to stay with me and cook for me, which is wonderful.
EB: OK so I'm assuming you need the Pepto for more "elite athlete" type reasons ...
SC: Yeah, it helps keep you prepared on all levels. Your stomach gets queasy from nerves, and you can't always control the food that you eat ...
EB: What is the strangest food you have eaten while traveling?
SC: That would probably be in Korea ... they have all kinds of bento boxes, with eel and pork bellies.
EB: So speaking of Korea, who would you say your biggest competition is in both the Nationals and the Olympics?
SC: I would say internationally, Japan has some amazing skaters, like Mao Asada. Of course, there is Canadian skater Joannie Rochette ... and then, yes, there is South Korea.
EB Monologue (please read in a hushed voice): Sasha is of course referring to Kim Yu-Na -- the reigning world champion from South Korea. I sat with some figure skating journalists at the lunch and they said that Yu-na is the one to watch. She has a Bond Girl performance that is truly mind-blowing (view it here), and they tell me that she's the number-one celebrity in Korea. As big as Angelina, they tell me.
SC: In the U.S., there have been five different champions in the last five years ... so it's really anyone's game.
EB Hushed Monologue: The figure skating journalists tell me that with no clear-cut favorite out of the U.S., Sasha came back this year because she felt she could really have a chance in Vancouver. Her main U.S. competitor is Rachael Flatt.
EB: Cool. Well, on the podcast, we discussed your upcoming qualifying schedule, the road to Vancouver, and, of course, your cameo on "Project Runway." (Click here to hear Sasha say "Are you in or are you out?") So now, I'd like to turn to the twittosphere to ask you some questions.
SC: OK cool.
EB: So, what was it like to ambush Pamela Lee?
EB Hushed Monologue: Jesus. Why didn't I read these damn twitter questions before the interview?! How the hell am I going to recover from this? Just pop a Pepto and pretend it's a legit question.
EB: So, uh, what this person really means is: Do people ever confuse you with Sascha Baron Cohen?
SC: [Laughs] Actually, when I make reservations under Sasha Cohen, sometimes people are like, "Is this a reservation for Borat?"
EB: So yeah, I could see how people could confuse the two of you ...
SC: Well, I was thinking -- remember that commercial with Halle Berry for Pepsi where the little girl unzips herself and Halle Berry is underneath? I was thinking maybe Sascha Baron Cohen and I should do that.
EB: [Relieved beyond belief] I love that idea. I actually know a few folks over at Pepsi. I can put a good word in for you. OK, here's another twitter question: So really, who would you pick to win, the skating duo in "Blades of Glory" or the duo from "Cutting Edge"?
SC: Um, didn't you guys ask me this yesterday on the podcast and I didn't answer?
EB Hushed Monologue: God, if you let me get through this, I promise to pre-screen the Twitter questions from here on in.
EB: So yeah, obviously, this question is from my co-host Melissa ... So can you please answer her ... Jimmy MacElroy and Chazz Michael Michaels from "Blades of Glory" or Doug Dorsey and Kate Moseley from "Cutting Edge"?
SC: OK ... I would have to say Doug and Kate from "Cutting Edge." They are real skaters after all.
EB: [Gesturing toward the sky in gratitude] Thanks for answering that ...
EB Hushed Monologue: Change ... Subject ... Now ...
EB: So I have to tell you -- you are really quite chic. And your costumes are always really beautiful, especially for a sport where some of your competitors have been known to look ... well ... horrific. Could you ever see yourself designing skating costumes -- especially with your experience on "Project Runway"?
SC: Yeah, I could see myself doing that. Way, way down the line. For now, I'm just focused on the road to Vancouver.
EB Hushed Monologue: As you should be, Sasha Cohen. And may that road be paved in Gold ... and may you not encounter traveler's diarrhea or stomach lining irritation. Amen.
Follow Erica Boeke on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ejboeke