Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Visit to the White House

 Standing on the deck of the White House looking.  A great view of the Mall
President Obama greets the 2012 Olympians (he is so close!)

I just came back from a visit to the White House.  I stood on the White House lawn, shook President Obama's and Vice President Biden's hand, and gave First Lady Michelle Obama a big hug.  To say that this past week, month, or year has been exciting would be an extreme understatement.  The entire experience has been absolutely amazing and a bit surreal. Being an Olympian is a dream come true, and it just keeps getting better and better. Before I went, I thought the Olympics was far reaching, but the true impact I feel the games has on the Little Bellas, mountain biking, Vermont, and our country has far exceeded my expectations.  I'll I can say is, wow.

 I am at the White House!

The Olympics deserves its own long blog post complete with lots of photos so I'll just focus on the Olympic aftermath.  About three weeks after I returned back to Vermont from London, I got back on a plane across the pond to participate in the World Championships in Saalfelden, Austria.  I knew this was a great opportunity because I have the best fitness of my life.  After the hoopla of the Olympics, every other competition seems almost relaxing even the second biggest race in our sport, the World Championships.  I loved the World Championships course and was riding all of the fastest lines (over jumps and steep chutes).  I had a slower start, but every lap I felt better and better.  I was going faster and faster and passed the good majority of the field to finish a career best, eight place.  The results sheet and lap breakdown even said I had the fastest last lap time.  I'm totally thrilled with my race and even more motivated to train for next season.  

After the World Champs, I hopped on a plane to Washington D.C for a visit to the White House.  We arrived at our hotel, one of the three hotels hosting around six hundred Olympians and Paraolympians, and we received yet another special Nike outfit and bag for the occasion. Side note: I feel like I never have to shop again with the amount of clothes we got for the Olympics.  Then, we took a bus to a welcoming party held at a beautiful space in the corner of Union Station.  There were multiple projector screens hanging displaying Olympic photos.  I walked in the door and the first thing I saw was a photo of me racing at the Olympics.  It was awesome.  It was also the only mountain biking photo in the slide show.  There was amazing food, and halfway through the party, they brought in a number of table tennis, foosball, and air hockey tables.  Then, the party kicked up a notch.  This was a room full of very competitive people.  My mountain bike teammate, Sam Schultz, decided to take on the women's Olympic table tennis team.  He aced the first serve and then got annihilated. 

 Fellow In The Arena athlete and Olympic rower, Kristin Hedstrom and myself
Mingling on the Lawn
 
We had an early wake up call the next morning to herd all of the Olympians to the White House.  We went through three security checks, and then we were greeted by a band playing on the White House lawn.  The Olympians mingled for a couple of hours, the hoards of media set up, and then, finally, they started to file us into the bleachers behind the stand where the president was to speak.  After much time making sure we looked good, the president, first lady, and vice president arrived.  Michelle Obama said opening remarks and then the President addressed us.  They were both very real people (I was standing so close to them), magnetic as always, and hilarious.  Even though Obama didn't have time, he declared he would stay and meet every single Olympian.  This was a very classy move. We all filed off the bleachers in a mass group and waiting patiently to shake their hands.  The President thanked me, the Vice President said I had a fantastic smile, and then I thanked the First Lady for all of her work with the Let's Move campaign.  She replied, "We need all of the help we can get".  I said, "I'm pitching in" before I was ushered away. 
 The Media File in for the Olympic Recognition Ceremony
 Fellow Olympic Mountain Biker Sam Schultz and myself
 The First Lady, Michelle Obama. We disappointingly didn't have a push up contest
We got to take the tour of the White House
Wrestling medalist and myself posing in the White House

The whole experience has been one sweet whirlwind.  There will be more coming about the Olympic experience.  The White House visit was just one small piece of the pie. 
Thanks for reading,
Lea

0 comments: