TODAY

TODAY   |  February 04, 2014

‘Jet,’ ‘Rugrat’: Speedskaters reveal quirky nicknames

U.S. speedskaters Eddy Alvarez and Jessica Smith, joining Matt Lauer in Sochi to chat about the Games, share their long-standing nicknames. Alvarez says his friends call him “Eddy the Jet,” while Smith, who’s petite, reveals she’s known as “Rugrat.” Smith adds that size doesn’t matter in the Games: “Hey, good things come in small packages,” she says.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> compete in 98 medal events in sochi . two of those athletes are members of the u.s. speed skating team. eddie alvarez and jessica smith . good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> roommates, by the way. you guys live together in salt lake city ?

>> yeah.

>> how long has that been going on?

>> two years now.

>> so you know each other's deepest, darkest secrets. eddie , i'll start with you. kidding. most people don't think of speed skating . how did it start for you?

>> as a kid, my parents used to take me to south beach to cruise around the streets.

>> in line skating.

>> exactly. these two ladies stopped me and said i should try inline speed skating . so i made a transition to the ice.

>> there was a time you gave up skating completely to play baseball. what got you back to skating?

>> the olympic dream . in high school , i dropped it completely my sophomore year. and after graduation, i dropped my scholarship for baseball to try to make the 2010 games. i fell a little short, so i game back to baseball, came back here.

>> and it worked out pretty well.

>> pretty well.

>> jessica, speaking of just missing, just missed in vancouver making the team. what's the difference? what gets you here to sochi ?

>> a lot more experience and technical help and a lot more training and just getting my bearings under me, i think.

>> we've had a chance to chat here a little bit before we came out of the break, i know you've got the personality to handle this. you're not the tallest member of team usa . does size matter at all in your events?

>> hey, good things come in small packages, right?

>> does it matter at all?

>> no, i think it just depends on how you put what pressure into the ice. i don't think it affects me very much. i think it's good to be short. you're down at the ice, get good lean and get into small places.

>> she gets all the draft.

>> get all the draft and small opportunities.

>> your nickname is --

>> oh, gosh.

>> don't you have?

>> i have a couple.

>> somebody told me it was rugrat.

>> yeah. trying to avoid that one.

>> what are the other ones you know about?

>> no, that one's fine. i was named that when i was a little kid.

>> what about you? do you have a nickname?

>> yeah, i guess i do. people know me as eddie the jet.

>> eddie the jet.

>> yeah.

>> for a speed skater, it doesn't get better than that.

>> i guess it does. i got it from the movie "the sandlot."

>> it worked. when you're not competing, what do you want to see here in sochi ?

>> looking forward to the hockey. i know he's canadian coach, but he's a red wing coach, so i'm excited to see him.

>> you're going to see team usa ?

>> definitely.

>> i'm looking forward to going to the bobsled, the girls, i play taboo with them.

>> we all did.

>> we all did.

>> made friends with them and i want to see them push that really heavy thing. i don't know how you do that.

>> we're happy to have you both here in sochi . good luck, have fun. safe games.

>> appreciate it.