Judging from the seating assignments at last night’s Time 100 dinner at Jazz at Lincoln Center, we have determined that it is the sad fate of former “Influentials” (and current science honorees) to be relegated to the nosebleed seats with the journalists and advertising executives. We were seated with speed skater Joey Cheek, an Olympic gold-medalist honored at last year’s event, who was kind enough to joke about his seat placement for the record.
You just made a joke about being a has-been.
No, no, no. I’m very tongue-in-cheek about that. I made it onto the slideshow they’re projecting up on the wall tonight, so I guess I still make the cut.
Do you wear your commemorative Time 100 pin around the house just to remind yourself that you were once an Influential?
It’s kind of the same principle as Olympic medals. It’s a little-known secret that in the Olympic Village people are always saying, “Hey, put your medal on.” But no one will. You know you have it. Everybody else knows you have it. So it’s pretty lame to be the dude who walks around with his medal on in his underwear in his house.
Every Olympian says to himself, “If I win a medal, I’m never taking it off. I’m going to wear this medal till I die.” And you wear it the first night when they have the ceremony, but you take it off immediately. Your friends would rip you to shreds. The only person who’s allowed is Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals in 1980. He’s like the Michael Jordan of speed skating. If he wore all five of his gold medals around, I don’t think any of us would say a word.
Have you been watching your fellow speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno on Dancing With the Stars?
He’s been doing good! Apolo and I, we’re acquaintances. He does short track. I do long track. So obviously I’ve met him over the years. But, you know, he’s not going to call me up for dating advice or anything.
But if he did, what would you tell him?
Date his instructor! She’s super-cute. The way that they look at each other, I was like, “Come on, man. We all know something’s going on there.” —Jada Yuan