The Olympic Winter Games… what an experience! Man did it start off with a whirlwind of things to do right from the get go. As we first landed in Seoul it was the first that our whole Olympic Team had been assembled, exciting for sure! We spent the night at a hotel the USOC seemed to have taken over, that was where we went through processing. This was everything from getting all of our Olympic clothing and making sure it fit and we knew how to wear it. You might laugh (I know I did) but for the Opening and Closing Ceremony outfits there was a specific way to put everything on, down to how I was supposed to tie the bandana around my neck and where to tuck in the sweater. It was rather comical a few days later when our team was getting dressed trying to remember these instructions. We also went through what I would call a logistical briefing from security, from how to be the best Team USA ambassador to how your family can get tickets, lots to take in! The next day we went on a short jog to shake the travel out and then hopped on a bus for the ride up to the Olympic Village in PyeongChang! After we got settled in it seemed like we pretty much hit the ground running. We had lots of new parts to our day (for me at least) with things such as press conferences and extended travel due to much higher level of security than I am used to. After a few days I was able to get a hang of our scene and settle back into a normal routine with what felt like everything figured out! Below are some pictures of our first few days and the travel on the way there!
We had several days of training both on the jump hill and cross country trails before each competition which was great. It was also around then that it started sinking in that I was at the Olympic Winter Games (OWG). Two moments stick out to me the most. The first as you might guess was walking into Opening Ceremonies behind the US flag, man was that cool. Watching the ceremony unfold sitting next to some of my best friends and hundreds of other world class athletes it starts to sink in, then they light the torch and everyone starts yelling for it has officially begun. My second moment was on a training ski, sunny nice day with the team and as we round the corner in the stadium to head out on another lap I look up and can see the ski jumps looming over the complex with the rings conveniently in the foreground and then my teammates skiing in front of me with simple training bibs marked by big Olympic Rings. [One small info note: at the Olympics Nordic Combined has an individual 10km race off the Normal Hill (90m), an individual 10km off the Large Hill (125m) and a 4 man Team event off the Large Hill in which each athlete skis a 5km race.] Next thing I knew, the first competition on the Normal Hill had snuck up and it was time to compete, man was I pumped. Although I didn’t have my best personal performance in the competition I took away what I could, the biggest thing being the fact that I had just achieved a childhood dream of competing in the Olympics! Below are some photos from Opening Ceremonies and the first competition!
With a well-placed day off after the competition I was able to enjoy something I hardly get to do, watch other winter sports live! A few of us went to watch the US Women’s Hockey Team on their quest for Gold which was super fun! I also finally got to go to one of my favorite sports to watch while I am on the road in Europe, Biathlon!! I actually spent that evening with my parents and then went to that event with them, it was super fun as we ended up next to a comically loud group of Norwegian fans! It was amazing to spend some time with my parents and see some other events before diving back into it. Over the next little bit we got to jump the Large Hill in training and have more days on the cross country course, both of which were super fun! I really liked the course in PyeongChang as it was both challenging for my endurance and technical skills all at the same time. On the jump I was able to make some improvements during the training which makes for having more fun ski jumping! On the day of the Large Hill competition I actually had one of my best memories from the games, funny enough in the training round. I had a better jump and was stoked on having fun flying and as I came out of the outrun I looked over and saw my family and the rest of the USA cheering squad going wild, so awesome to see that many familiar faces cheering us on!! The competition itself was a bit better for me but still not a performance I would hang my hat on. Again I was able to take away so many things and experiences to learn from, which I now have up my sleeve when the games roll around in another four years. Below are some more pictures from time off and the second competition!
Overall the OWG were an amazing experience with such a killer crew. We stayed in the same condo as our Ski Jumping team, with whom we rarely get to spend much time. It was an absolute blast hanging with them, watching events after ours were over and exploring a very foreign country. Closing ceremonies was another incredible experience as well, I had not known that all of the countries walk together. It was so cool to walk into the stadium with other countries, new friends and my good friends all as one. One last walk wearing the stars and stripes in front of the world was such an honor. I will be able to take away so many things from my time in Korea and I am incredibly grateful for that.
I am now in Lahti, Finland to kick off the final month of World Cup competitions. It will be another action packed month and I am pumped for what’s to come, stay tuned!