“Hi, I’m Jessie. I like glitter, chipmunks and raspberries. And that’s all you really need to know”. That’s been my usual intro for Fast and Female events lately, but I was nearly speechless at our event yesterday, with around 135 girls in pink all over the COE. Just kidding, I’m never speechless, I love talking. But still, the turnout and excitement for this event really wowed me!
I had the best time painting glitter on the girls while they got pink stripes sprayed into their hair (the wash-out kind, don’t worry Moms and Dads!) and then the girls made tutus in their age groups.
After introducing the ambassadors, everyone broke up into their groups and went through each station. We had dance (cross country), speed skating, trampoline (free skiing), foam pit, obstacle course (alpine), and biathalon.
Like the last few years, I got to run the dance station, “Dancing with Diggins”. I love this because although I’m not actually a great dancer, it doesn’t matter at all! The whole point was to be constantly moving (endurance athlete, remember?) and get every single girl to have a moment in the spotlight. So we went around the circle, and each girl made up a dance move that we strung together into one big dance. The highlights for me were seeing the really shy girls come up with something and then see them start to light up as all the other girls practiced her move.
Before each group left my station, the group came up with a couple moves to contribute to the Fast and Female dance, which we’ll be putting together shortly, so that at every F&F event around the world, all the girls can learn the same dance! After getting a healthy snack, all the girls took a seat and listened to different ambassadors tell their inspirational stories. Then we signed posters for the girls to take home, another great event in the books!
Now for the USOC Media Summit – this was an all day event for me, Kikkan, Liz and Andy on Wednesday. We spent 12 hours straight going through different media outlets, doing all the interviews, photos and broadcasts for the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. It really got me excited about the season, although by the end of the day I was worn out! We started with broadcasting and did a lot of TV interviews, answering largely the same questions over and over for different stations. Questions like how we got into skiing, what goes through our minds during a race, and funky pre-race rituals. Through that process, I’m afraid I may have earned myself the nickname “glitter girl”. Uh-oh.
I struggled a bit with how to answer the question “why do you cross-country athletes compete when you have to endure so much pain?” I tried so hard not to come up with a blank look on this one. I mean, everyone has their own reasons for venturing into the pain cave. Some go in after medals, money or glory. Some go in for the sheer challenge. And some of us are hopelessly addicted to endorphins and the rush of doing something ridiculously hard. Basically, we’re exercise druggies. I think my reasons change with the race – in an individual race, it’s a chance to push myself to the limit and learn something new. Because when I’m lying in a twisted little heap in the finish pen, unable to breathe or think, that’s when I really learn something about myself. I’m stronger than I thought, braver than I thought, and I can get through a whole lot more than I thought prior to the start of the race. In a team sprint or relay? Well, it’s about finding something bigger than yourself. For me, knowing that my teammates have put everything on the line and pushed themselves so hard….giving up just isn’t an option. It really isn’t. So, yeah, our sport involves dealing with a lot of physical discomfort and pain, but it’s always worth it.
My favorite part might have been the singing and dancing we did for NBC…they re-wrote the words to a familiar Christmas jingle, and had athletes with guitars singing and dancing. It’s going to be really, really funny when it comes out! Kikkan and I also did a photo shoot for Sports Illustrated, and while I don’t know if they’ll use the photos yet, we sure blew through a metric ton of fake snow!
We also finished up the Athlete Ambassador training for Sochi today, which was pretty neat. Basically, the goal was to prepare athletes on how to deal with media, family, culture and language differences and proper US flag-holding etiquette. There were some big laughs when we did a mock press conference and some pretty outrageous questions were thrown to the athletes, but it was also a good reminder to be flexible and roll with whatever happens!
Tomorrow I’ll go get after some intervals, while the rest of the team finishes up treadmill max and strength testing at the COE. Because of my foot situation we decided to wait till I get back from Canmore for my max tests, but wow was it inspiring cheering on my teammates today! I think many PR’s were set, and everyone looks like they’re in great shape. Geez, it’s so fun being part of a team that pushes boundaries on a regular basis.