Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let the Games Begin

For a long time, I've tried to imagine what it would feel like to walk with Team USA into an opening ceremonies, to conjure in my mind the sights, sounds, and emotions that I would feel.  Finally two nights ago, I had that chance and the experience blew away any hopes or expectations.  Even with the tightest and itchiest turtleneck around my neck, the goosebumps were chilling.  I still have not found the words to describe the how unbelievable it was but I will cherish the memories of holding on to my teammates Sophie and Jessie as the three of us screamed, jumped, danced, and laughed in a burst of happiness, shock, excitement, elation, tears and more.  Even a sweater that we once considered laughable has now become my favorite piece of apparel.  Without any knowledge of the Russian alphabet, we couldn't understand the order in which the countries marched which just added to the excitement watching each new country emerge into the special stadium which was designed specifically for these ceremonies, and then join the other countries, adding to the cheering and energy filling the space.  "Hot Cool Yours! Hot Cool Yours," the motto of these games rang loud and clear, chanted in unison as the lights flashed and music blared, bringing everyone together.  And when the Russians walked out the sound of the cheering was deafening, and my excitement and joy reached a new level.  The 2014 Games are less than 48 hours old but it has already been an indescribable experience.  I feel very lucky to be in Sochi with my teammates and coaches and to have such wonderful support from friends and family at home. And most importantly, I am very excited to compete for Team USA and officially become an Olympian.  My racing starts this week on Tuesday with the freestyle sprint and then again on Thursday with the 10km Classic.

Sophie, Randy, and I with the rings in the stadium
Perfect ski conditions every day so far!
USA Nordic team dressed up before we left the Endurance Village for the Opening Ceremonies
Team USA athletes showing their skills while we waited for the ceremonies to begin.
Inside the stadium
Team Jamaica entering the stadium
Russia enters under thunderous applause
A little TV time on NBC!  It was so fun to hear from everyone who was watching from home.
The outpouring of community support has been unbelievable.  Thank you all!
Looking forward to these next couple weeks of racing with this incredible team!