Rachael and Tom learning how to curl. With Figure Skating Team Leader Lorrie Parker at practice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

WE HAVE ARRIVED

I have to confess to feeling like Santa Claus was coming today when I went to bed last night. Not surprisingly, I didn't sleep so soundly due to the excitement of the impending moment. After less than 5 hours of sleep, I was up at 5 am to work with Rachael for some light training before we boarded our first flight at 9:30 am.

Both flights were uneventful. We arrived on time and amazingly were processed very quickly at the airport. There were special custom lanes for all of the Olympic athletes and coaches. Immediately, I could feel the international flavor of the Games. There were people from many foreign countries waiting in the custom and processing lines with their own nation's Olympic gear already on. Translators were also present at the place where we received our credentials. Surprisingly, we were greeted by USOC personnel immediately as we left customs. They knew each and everyone of our names and welcomed us with open arms, congratulations and lots of smiles. There are many familiar faces here from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, too. That has made me feel right at home. So far, just being here with all of the other people is really cool and we haven't even arrived at the village yet. That will happen tomorrow morning at 9 am.

The highlight of today was definitely the apparel distribution. And yes, it was exactly how they explained it. After we tried on clothes, they were placed in a laundry bin with four dividers that was the size of a shopping cart. After we finished the stations for Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren we proceeded to a check out line where all of our gear was scanned and packed into suitcases. All of the coaches were given two suitcases full of gear. The athletes got three suitcases full! And yes, they gave us Olympic suitcases, too!! My favorite station was the one where we selected our Olympic watch and ring.

I felt a little disappointed for Rachael, Mirai, Meryl and Emily because they are all very petite young ladies but because we were the very last group of the entire US Olympic Team to be processed were given the leftover sizes for some of the gear. The sizes turned out to be x-large and xx-large, too big to be easily altered or even to give to their fathers. They took all of the over-sized stuff anyway with huge smiles on their faces!

Whoever coordinated this schedule knows exactly what to do because everything has been planned out so well. Our waiting time has been minimal even though we were prepared to wait a lot longer to get through the process. Actually, since arriving at 1:30 pm we have been going non-stop with just a few short breaks up until 9:00 pm. We managed to have a quick working lunch during which Mitch Moyer filled us in on some logistical details. After dinner, we finished phase three of the Olympic Ambassador program with athletes and coaches from snowboarding and long track speed skating. President Obama taped a video message to all of us that was very inspirational. Olympic Gold Medalists Vanetta Flowers (bobsled) and Picabo Street (downhill) appeared in person to talk to us and get us fired up! Their speeches were very honest and heartfelt.

Now it's time to go to bed. I hope I can sleep more tonight. I will try to dream about the opening ceremonies...


Answer to the question of the day: Yes. Coaches from the United States who coach an athlete or team to the podium receive the Order of Ikkos medallion, name after Ikkos of Tarentum, the first recorded Olympic coach. They can receive more than one if they coach more than one athlete to the podium. The athlete presents their coach with the medallion at the USA House immediately following the athlete's medal award ceremony.

Question of the day: What will be unique about tomorrow's opening ceremonies that has never occurred before in the history of the Olympic Games?

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