Fairbairn takes a brainy approach

Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:02am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Canadian Olympic skeleton slider John Fairbairn has a degree in mechanical engineering and a brain painted on his helmet.

Lest there be any doubt, the World Cup medalist likes to portray himself as one of the brighter members of his squad in a sport where mental strength is key.

"I've always kind of been the smart guy on the team," he said, to open-mouthed gasps and laughter from his colleagues seated alongside at a news conference at the Sochi Games on Wednesday.

"I've always been a bit of a nerd and so I've had a brain painted on my helmet.

"A lot of people kind of get my last name a little bit wrong and don't pronounce it quite right. We were racing at a track in Germany a number of years ago and the track announcer started calling me Fairbrain."

A team mate, and now coach, picked up on it and the name stuck in the abbreviated form of 'Brains'. It was only a small step from there to having a glowing human brain painted on his race helmet for Sochi.

Team mate Eric Neilson took a different approach as the helmet discussion continued.

"Unlike John, apparently I'm a complete idiot," he told reporters.   Continued...

John Fairbairn of Canada jumps on his sled in the first run during the men's skeleton race at the FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup competition in Calgary, Alberta, February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol