I am two days away from leaving for Vancouver so I thought I might share some planning details that may be interesting or even surprising to you.
After Rachael was officially named to the United States Olympic Team at the US National Championships in Spokane at about 11 pm on Saturday night, Rachael and I and her parents attended planning meetings the following morning at 7:30 am. (Not much time to celebrate.) We were presented with a 64-page booklet of information to review that covered everything from scheduling, team processing, transportation, anti-doping rules for athletes while at the Games, detailed maps of the Olympic Village and blueprints for the rooms where Rachael and I are staying in the village. (Most of the chaperones, including her parents, are staying in private residences in the surrounding areas.)
Only one primary coach can be credentialed at the Olympic Games. Secondary coaches can attend at their own expense but are restricted to the same access as chaperones.
Rachael and I were told the day and time of our travel. We didn't get to choose flights or arrival days. As you might imagine the International Olympic Committee (IOC) working with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) sets up a schedule of how and when each nation's athletes are processed.
The process of registering at the Games takes about 24 hours. When we arrive in Vancouver we will be escorted to a hotel where we will be put through various stations and spend the night. In June of 2009 at the Champs Camp in Colorado Springs, US Figure Skating created a long list of athletes and coaches that could potentially qualify for the Olympic Games. We were all required to pre-register at a computer station. This amounted to filling out 20-30 minutes of very detailed on-line forms, including providing very specific photo identification. This was done in advance so at our US Nationals the long list could be immediately shortened. This pre-planning eliminated a lot of work once we knew we were actually on the team.
One of the stations at the hotel that we will all be looking forward to will be apparel distribution. That is where we will get all the cool gear. Believe it or not, we are encouraged to wear bathing suits so that we can try on our clothes quickly since there are no changing rooms. We will also each have a shopping cart as we pass through this station. Representatives from Polo Ralph Lauren will provide alterations services and demonstrate appropriate use/wear of certain items.
In order to participate in the Games, the USOC requires coaches and athletes to attend the US Olympic Ambassador Program. While in Spokane for nationals, we attended a four-hour workshop on Sunday night after the exhibition. When we arrive in Vancouver, we will attend another two-hour phase of the OAP program. The information ranges from what it means to be an Olympian, to our roles as ambassadors for the US to podium preparedness.
If an athlete's parent wants to visit the Olympic village, they must apply before 4 pm on the previous day for a guest pass which involves a security backgroud check. Since there are a limited number of guest passes for the entire US delegation for the duration of the Games, access is not guaranteed.
All coaches were required to submit a training plan for their athletes which included how many sessions, which rinks they would train at (there are two in addition to the competition arena) as well as details of their days off to Mitch Moyer at US Figure Skating.
Incidentally, when you are coaching at an Olympic Games you and your athlete have the right to train at unofficial locations after your register provided that your event is not actually underway. The Olympic practice ice rule is different from the International Skating Union (ISU) rule that forbids you and your athlete from doing that at any international competition. In this way, the rules regarding practice ice at the Olympic Games are the same as our rules at our national championships. With that said, since we have a President's Day Hockey Tournament in Colorado Springs, Rachael and I are flying in for the Opening Ceremonies and staying until Monday in order for her to maintain her training. (The only ice time that would be available for her to train on would be after 11 pm and before 7 am.) We will then return the Colorado Springs for training before we head back to Vancouver for the last week of the Olympics and the ladies event.
Even though this sounds very different from what we experience at a normal National or World Championship, US Figure Skating prepared us for most of these guidelines in June of 2009. This is the 3rd time we have been presented with this information. So in one sense, it seems quite reassuring while at the same time being totally new!
Answer to the Question of the Day: The five Olympic rings stand for the five continents (North America and South America, Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa) that are home to the nations participating in the Olympic Games.
Question of the Day: Who is Ikkos of Tarentum?