Beginning the Olympic experience

Being in South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, is an amazing experience so far. Not one that can be easily distilled into a string of words and images. If feels like I’ll be processing and absorbing these days, these memories for a long time to come. Here’s just the start, a look at my first week or so in South Korea.

This will be in reverse chronological order, ie most recent first, because that’s how the photos uploaded!

Cheering for the women’s relay tonight (Saturday 2/17) with Pepa. Thanks Pepa for coming to the Olympics and coaching and checking in on us GRP skiers and biathletes!
There have been a wide variety of music, dance, and artistic performances at the Olympic Plaza just inside the athletes village. I’ve caught glimpses of a few, but this one I stayed and watched for a few minutes – I believe it was a love story between the large puppet/cyclops/monster and the girl in white who was wearing a head that looked like an ant. No words, just dramatic music and miming. Hmm…
TV watching parties – because even here at the Olympics, we end up watching most events via TV rather than in person. I know… that’s a little sad… but 1. the TV coverage is great and you can usually see much more of the races 2. there’s some transportation time to various venues that makes it difficult to get there 3. for many events even we would need to get tickets ahead of time 4. we are here to race, and racing our best involves quite a bit of time resting as well as a few hours a day training on skis. Plus eating. It adds up, takes all day!
Have you been watching the cross-country ski races at the Olympics?! If you’re reading this blog, I hope you have watched at least a few races too! So, the final hill on most of the courses – the big 2nd sprint hill, which is the hill that is right above the stadium – I gave that one a name. It needs a name, it’s big and steep enough, and painful to race especially during the last final push towards the finish. The name I gave it (and had published, in a Cross-Country Skier Magazine article that came out earlier this winter) is Hongsu Hill. Hongsu means “flood” in Korean, and I chose this name for the lactate flood we feel as we race it.
Craftsbury Green Racing Project (my club team) at the Olympics! This picture is missing Kait Miller, who won’t be at the games until later. Top L-right: Clare Egan (biathlete), Emily Dressigacker (biathlete), Susan Dunklee (biathlete). Lower rings L-r: Ida Sargent (skier), me (skier). And holding us all up, coach Pepa Miloucheva!
Scott (33) racing during his 30k skiathlon. Scott has had a great pair of races here so far – 18th in the 30k skiathlon, and 21st in the 15k skate. These are his career best international results ever, and to do it at the Olympics is extremely impressive! For the casual reader/observer – you may think this seems really far from medals, which is so much of the “goal” at the Olympics. Medals are… cool, amazing, I’d love to win one… and yet the medalists are only a tiny fraction of the people here, there’s been so much hard work put in and so many impressive races laid down beyond just those medalists. In a 1 hour 16 minute race, Scott was only 1 minute back, and skied extremely well. More big things coming too!
Skiathlon pack racing
Moving to the front of the pack
Painted Korean temples! Just a little snippet of culture in amidst all the Olympic Games infrastructure.
Beautiful painted roof, and an old wasp nest. Worth walking off the beaten path to find.
The women’s skiathlon crew, after the race, L-r: Kikkan, Jessie, me, Rosie. The skiathlon was really tough, and didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I’ve reflected it on quite a bit, what could I have done better, what did I do well. I’m not unhappy exactly with my 34th place finish, but I know I have the fitness to ski so so much better than that. A combination of struggling with classic skis, skiathlon boots, and a few slight mistakes, meant that I was dropped from the lead groups early and had a tough race. When I changed over to skate gear mid-race, I had some good moments, but then I started to fade and had used way too much energy to hold strong to the end. Overall race… quite the experience, honored to have raced at the Olympics… but please give me another shot, I can do so much better!!
Team USA skiing women preparing to walk at the Opening Ceremonies!
Wide eyed and smiling with Scott shortly before we entered the Olympic stadium. Wow, so many people, so much festivity and within our little bubble, so much USA spirit!
Paddy and Annie in the foreground, giggling about how Shawn White is right behind them.
A little sit-down and rest time before the Opening walk, with L-R: Reese, Kikkan, Paddy
Scott and I posing with the Olympic mascot, Soohorang
Funny dancers, backstage entertainment!
The xc crew watching the funny dance moves
Selfie with Lindsey Vonn, with Rosie Frankowski and Annie Hart, fellow XC skiers. We found ourselves on a bus with her and had a nice chat, she was very friendly, and now we’ll be rooting for her in the women’s alpine events even more!
Soohorang and me in the athlete’s village
Many bus trips, from the village to the venue and back again. Luckily there are always people to line up with and talk to, whether other US athletes or skiers from other countries who we kind of know from the World Cup circuit
Welcome to your athlete room gift from the organizers – a Korean folk game. Scott and I played and it was fun – just made a bit of noise, since we had to throw the sticks on the table, and it would be more fun with greater numbers than 2 people.
Skiing and admiring the tree silhouettes and the blimp
We found some ice! But no ice axes in the Team USA kit to climb it…
Sunny days at the ski venue, but wow it can get cold and windy even when it’s sunny!
Home sweet home for 3 weeks. Now let’s see what I can do to organize this little cubby of a room…
Scott’s so excited he’s making faces!
Entering the athlete village for the first time. After the security screening at the main entrance, we walk through this plaza of flags.
Even the bottled water here has the Olympic rings on it.
Posing at Team USA processing. The reality begins to set in, and wow, I can hardly believe that I’m here! Opening ceremony outfit!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy watching the Olympics with your friends and family! Get inspired!! I certainly am, seeing the amazing skills and technical expertise of my fellow athletes as they put down runs and races of their lives here at the Games! Can’t wait to race again myself!

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