Now Thompson and girlfriend Carolyn Bachstrum are channeling all their energies into his preparation for the Calgary Olympics. Neither has a full-time job, though Bachstrum teaches gymnastics in the afternoon. They share a one-bedroom shack in Gunnison, and their meals are variations on a theme: Oriental noodles au gratin; stir-fry noodles; scalloped noodles. "It doesn't feel like I'm making sacrifices," says Bachstrum. "After all, how many people have a chance to compete in the Olympics?"
Thompson plunges into other endeavors with the same ardor. One racing season he spent his spare time studying German, and in the last couple of years he has been learning Norwegian, his coach's native language. They have become good friends. Two summers ago Bjontegaard came to Gunnison. They ran, roller-skied and cycled together. At the end of one training session, Thompson put his arm around Bjontegaard and whispered a phrase in Norwegian that told of how far Josh had come: "Jeg vant ditt hjerte."
"It is a very old saying," Bjontegaard says with a smile. "It means 'I have won your heart."