Most popular stories from USA TODAY

  1. HF Test1039.12:44:44.2459350
Biden to U.S. athletes: 'Go show them who you are'
Updated 2/12/2010 10:59 PM ET
VANCOUVER — Vice President Joe Biden arrived at the host city of the 2010 Winter Games Friday from snowbound Washington and plunged into a rally for Team USA, describing the athletes as "the face of America."

Accompanied by Olympic champions Mike Eruzione, Peggy Fleming and Vonetta Flowers, Biden spent about 45 minutes mugging with the U.S. athletes and lauding their accomplishments.

"People have no idea how hard you worked to get to this place," Biden said. "Go show them who you are and, in the process, show them who we are."

The makeshift rally, staged in the underground garage of the Olympic hockey arena, struck a patriotic theme despite the spartan setting, as the athletes, dressed in their red, white and blue uniforms, waved small American flags and cheered the arrival of Biden's entourage.

"This is a real kick for us," said Biden, joined by his wife, Jill. "I wanted to be an Olympian. {hellip} but look what the hell happened.

"I really envy you. I can't imagine all the emotion as you embark on the great test of your careers. It's about your heart; it's about your courage. {hellip} You have a chance to seize the moment in a way people just dream about. That's a big damn deal, man."

Biden was leading the U.S.delegation to the opening ceremony and was expected to remain in Vancouver this weekend to attend to several sporting events.

Early in his meeting with the athletes, the vice president paused to offer condolences to the Georgian luge competitor who was killed in a training run just hours before Biden's arrival in Vancouver.

"This is a great nation that's gone through an awful lot," he said. "Now, to suffer this loss, is just tragic. Our hearts go out to the family of a great athlete who lost his life today."

Posted 2/12/2010 9:06 PM ET
Updated 2/12/2010 10:59 PM ET
Vice President Biden poses with Olympic snowboarder Shaun White at Canada Hockey Place on Friday during his visit with U.S. athletes in Vancouver in advance of the opening ceremonies.
By Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Vice President Biden poses with Olympic snowboarder Shaun White at Canada Hockey Place on Friday during his visit with U.S. athletes in Vancouver in advance of the opening ceremonies.