Day jobs on hold as athletes chase their Olympic dreams

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A lucky few athletes come to the Winter Games with a sheaf of lucrative sponsorship deals in their back pockets but others have to put their day jobs on hold as they chase Olympic glory.

Whether it's working as police officers, firefighters or making a mint as an entrepreneur, Olympians have many different ways of earning a crust.

Police officers and biathletes Tobias Eberhard of Austria and Bulgaria's Nina Klenovska have traded their pistols for 0.22 caliber (5.6mm) small-bore rifles in Canada.

A clutch of firefighters at these Games include curler John Morris, recently named as one of the host nation's most eligible bachelors by Entertainment Tonight Canada, and compatriot Dominique Maltais, a competitor in snowboard cross.

Latvian bobsledders and firefighters Daumants Dreiskens and Janis Minins swapped fire for ice in a bid to record sizzling times on the sliding track, although Minins was forced to miss the two-man competition due to emergency surgery to remove his appendix.

Freestyle skiers Shannon Bahrke and Dale Begg-Smith meanwhile have shown they have what it takes to be "moguls" off the course as well as on it.

Bahrke, the women's moguls bronze medalist, founded the Silver Bean Coffee Company in Salt Lake City 2002.

The company's website says: "Shannon channelled her passion for skiing and her love of a great cup of coffee into Silver Bean Coffee Co."

It even sells a range of "athlete blends" named after individual athletes on the US ski team promising that for every bag sold, $1 goes to the athlete and also the charity of their choice.

Olympic silver medalist Dale Begg-Smith, who was born in Canada but now competes for Australia, grew wealthy through an Internet company he established in his teens.

But Begg-Smith, who took moguls gold in Turin in 2006, is cagey about the nature of his business.

The Australian newspaper said Begg-Smith "developed an Internet advertising business that is rumored to have netted him millions of dollars before he wound it down in the lead-up to his first Olympics (2006).

"It involved pop-up ads and he was accused of manufacturing spyware ... and was branded with the unflattering moniker 'Spam Man.'

"He says he is no longer involved, beyond managing investments he has made with his profits."

Elsewhere among the athletes, Austria's alpine skier Kathrin Zettel lists her occupation as a chef.

Bobsleigh pilot Astrid Loch-Wilkinson of Australia is a vet, skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley of Britain works as an engineer and rival skeleton competitor Jeff Pain earns his living as a landscape architect.

Ski cross competitors Markus Wittner of Austria and Karin Huttary could be in high demand after competition as massage therapists.

As a pharmacist, ice hockey player Natalie Babonyova of Slovakia is likely to be in high demand for sound advice when it comes to which cold and flu medications are permitted.


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