It’s really happening!!! I’ve been excited for the upcoming Olympics for a long time, but today was the first day it felt real, not like this far-off dream. We drove to Munich right after the skate sprint in Toblach on Sunday, and stayed at this absolutely huge hotel where all the team USA processing is based out of. I’m actually writing this from a laundromat in downtown Munich, where Kikkan and I are cleaning our race clothes from last weekend. Since we’ll be getting all new race suits at the Games, we’ll be leaving a fair amount of things in Munich for the 2.5 weeks we’re gone…and it seemed a good idea to make sure our suitcases weren’t full of mold when we got back. 🙂
In the lobby we saw other athletes; alpine skiers, curlers, ice skaters, and snowboarders. Every team has to stop through processing in Munich but the window is over a few days, so not everyone’s here at once. Which is kind of a bummer – I was looking forward to meeting the entire team USA because we’ll be spread out over 3 different athlete villages during the games. But hopefully most of us will be there for Opening Ceremonies!
However, I did get to meet a pair of Ice Dancers, and it was so cool to learn more about their sport and how their competitions work. In turn, they had lots of questions for us as well! It’s like playing a big guessing game sometimes…you look at someone and try to guess what their sport could possibly be. I’m really looking forward to meeting new friends on team USA and then rooting for them during their competitions!
Let’s rewind a quick second to the skate sprint in Toblach. For a lot of us, it was an ok day – not great, not terrible, just, you know…an average day at the office. The sprint course was 2 laps running around the stadium. You went out straight then started making a lot of left hand turns, so if my right leg is much stronger next week, now you know why! There were 3 climbs during the sprint and the snow was super hard, wet, fast and tricky to balance on. I felt a whole lot like Bambi on ice skates!
I qualified in 21st, and we got 6 athletes to the rounds- Kikkan, Sophie, Holly, Me, Andy and Simi. Only Kikkan made it out of the quarterfinals, finishing 5th in the finals. I think we all struggled a bit with tactics, since the draft out of the last downhill before the finishing turn mattered a TON. For me, though, tactics didn’t play much of a part as I got off to a very bad start in my quarterfinal. Someone stepped on my ski tip and I bobbled, almost going down as my momentum stopped. Then, rattled, I planted a pole between my skis and almost fell again! Yeesh. I was settled into 6th place, and no windows were open to pass, although even if they were I don’t think I would have managed it very well – I had extrememly low energy, for whatever reason. I was just missing that spark, and I think it’s because I got really dehydrated after a hot day in the sun at the U23 sprint, and I needed more rest than I’d had time to get. I’m not worried about it, because not every race is going to be amazing and luckily for me, this race was more of a tune-up than anything. It was also a great chance to watch and learn tactics, and I definitely picked up a few good pointers that weekend.
Ok, back to the fun stuff! I’m not super into clothes or fashion, and my little sister can definitely tell you how bad my matching skills are. So it came as a suprise when I found myself getting so excited about all the Olympic gear! Proccessing was in the Munich Olympic stadium, in a huge gym with stations all around the outside of the room.
I instantly got a huge hug from Celeste, the PT from the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center who flew all the way out to Munich to help check in athletes! She was the one who helped check out my foot injury last fall and got me to the hospital for x-rays when I was scared and hurt. So getting a hug and a send-off from her felt pretty awesome, especially since my foot is very much better now and I was practically prancing around the room with excitement.
I made friends with the people working the Nike station – they were so nice and enthusiastic and helpful! That’s basically been the theme of my Olympic experience so far…everyone has been psyched and ready to help point us in the right direction.
The Ralph Lauren station was a funny experience for me, becuase anyone who knows me also knows that I really can’t stand heavy, hot clothes and I especially freak out when things are touching my neck. I think this comes from having asthma – wearing a turtleneck or tight necklace makes me think I can’t get enough air. This is also why I always cut up the front of my race suits. So when they dressed us in the Lauren station (yes, they showed us exactly how the shoes were to be laced and how many buttons to fasten on the coats!) I was trying hard not to panic, wearing a turtleneck layer under a thick sweater! Don’t worry, I didn’t lose it. And the people there were super nice!
At the end of it all, we were able to ship a huge box back home. I thought this was great that they provided this service, since we just got so many things but definitely don’t have room for it all on the World Cup traveling circus! I had brought with me some extra clothes from my regular duffle bag, and so my box was packed, but on the plus side there’s a little more room now in the cargo van.
Tomorrow we fly out early on a charter flight, so the next update will be from the Endurance Athlete Village! My Parents, little sister, Grandma and headgear sponsor CEO Ken Larson and his wife Barb are all coming to the Games to watch, and I’m so excited for them, because I know this is going to be such a cool experience and fun trip. My Mom and Dad are keeping a facebook page updated with their journey, so check it out for updates!
Also, here are links to two really nice articles written about how the community has been such an incredible support system and how I wouldn’t be where I am without them!