Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Olympic Impact

"You can't be what you can't see" -Marian Wright Edelmen

These wise words from Edelmen really describes the power of the Olympic games.  I've realized one of my favorite things about the Olympics is the fact that one can watch a variety of sports twenty-four hours a day.  The even better thing is that, for the most part, men's and women's sports are treated equally by the media and are covered with the same air time, enthusiasm, and energy.  A gold medal is a gold medal no matter if it's won by a male or a female.  It's so exciting to be able to watch women play sports at the highest level in the world, and they play it well.  The women's final hockey game between the United States and Canada was phenomenal.  It was one of the best and most stressful games I've ever watched.  The important thing is the impact that the Olympics and this coverage has.  People, and especially girls, around the world can watch and learn that this is a possibility.  They could be speed skating, skiing, and bobsledding for a gold medal.  Before this, most didn't even know this was an option.  It's watching Michaela Shiffrin knife down the slalom course to win a gold medal, and it's seeing Vermonter Sophie Caldwell step it up in the last twenty five meters of the women's nordic sprint semi finals to qualify for the finals.  These moments are where the seed is planted, motivation is fired, and dreams are born.

It's not only the coverage of the actual games, but even the commercials are inspiring.  I've teared up more than a couple of times during the ads (excluding the McDonalds ad where a gold medals is compared to chicken nuggets, but that's a completely different post).  I've been impressed with the media's portrayal of women during these games, and there have really been a lot of positives as the games come to a close.  The Olympic coverage is positive for just the fact that we can see powerful female athletes play sports, but the usually the commercials fit right neatly back into the society's hegemonic structure.  But, really, this is not the case for the Sochi games.  P&G have absolutely nailed it with the 'thank you mom' commercials, and nothing broke me up more than this one.  Proctor and Gamble are recognizing moms and the big role they play in everything. The Citi Bank commercials have highlighted women and men and not to mention have been incredibly inspiring.  These commercials could single handedly keep my motivation at an all time high during my comeback from this hip injury.  Citi Bank is not only making great ads, but they are backing this with actual initiative and funding to get more kids into the sport.  We need more commercials where Julie Chu is talking about playing hockey with the boys.  The United commercials were really clever (the luge athlete in the lay flat seat was brilliant), and they showed male and female athletes.  My biggest cheer goes to GE for making a commercial entitled 'what my mom does at GE'.  A girl describes her mom being an engineer at GE who makes high technology that would so typical be seen as a male job.  Thank you so much GE for doing this.  The commercial that wins the gold medal is P&G's #GirlsCan.  This is absolutely empowering.  Join the conversation and let's keep this initiative rolling.

I wish mainstream tv was like this all of the time.  Can you imagine the impact it would have on average America?  How many more kids would be inspired to get outside and play like their favorite heroes?  Pretty much every commercial wants to make me get up and train hard.  How do we press major television networks to air women's sports all of the time?  I want to know how I can watch more USA women's hockey.  I need to figure out where I can follow my favorite american nordic skiers.  I know all of our World Cup mountain bike races, which are regular season Olympic equivalents, are aired on the internet by  There has to be similar networks out there doing the same for all of these fantastic fringe Olympic sports.  I'll get back to you with answers.

We need to push the networks to air more women's sports so there's not the two year Olympic lag time in between floods of inspiration.  Until then, organizations like In The Arena and Little Bellas are working on the ground to carry out the same Olympic impact.  Olympians are in the best position to inspire.  In the Arena supports current and potential Olympians to work with kids.  I guarantee there have been a lot of lives changed through watching ITA'er Brian Gregg race in his first Olympic ski race in Sochi.  The Little Bellas and In the Arena carry the impact a step further than just watching coverage on tv.  Olympians become mentors.  Olympians teach kids how to play a sport.  Olympians become friends.  I can describe to all of the Little Bellas that they are just like me when I was growing up.  I went to the same elementary school, I played a lot of the same sports, and I grew up on the same trails.   I just set goals and put an enormous amount of hard work towards them.  These kids can do anything they set their minds to with the same amount of hard work.  They, too, can go to the Olympics. Thank you Sochi Olympics, In the Arena, and Little Bellas for inspiring a generation to move and for showing that these sports are a possibility.  After all, you can't be what you can't see.

2012 Olympic Photos

The 2014 Sochi Olympics has gotten me thinking a lot about my Olympic experience, and I realized I've hadn't shared a lot of my photos from the Olympics.  So here it goes!
 The view of the Olympic village from our room

 Flags outside of the dining hall in the village
 This is what the dining hall looks like.  It is huge and has every type of food you could ever imagine.  It's really a foodie's dream come true
 Specialized Fate with the special electric Olympic paint job
 This is literally what the road to the Olympics looks like
 Georgia wins bronze!  What an amazing day!
 We are both happy about having a medal for US mountain biking!
 Team USA house.  Every athlete that wins a medal goes here to celebrate.  They are honored up on stage and give an honorary medal to their coach
 Thanks Mom and Dad for being a big part of why I made it to the Olympics
 Celebrating that bronze at the USA house
 At every Olympics, P&G creates a house where there's food and it's a great place to meet up with family.  They also have a salon there where you can get your hair done and a total makeover.  It's in the salon where Missy Franklin and I realized we were twinsies
 The P&G house has a board where friends and family can write words of encouragement.

 This is what my mom wrote on 'thank you mom' wall

 Jojo sampling all different cuisines in the athlete's village dining hall.  It's so hard to decide what to eat!
 Just a fraction of the choices in the dining hall
 Yes, it's true.  There is a McDonald's in the athletes village

 This is a delicious doughnut.  I don't know what country it's from and I haven't had anything like it since
 Team USA keeps track of the medals in the USA lodging office.  Just on normal printed out sheets of paper…I would expect it would be more official than that
 Jojo and I get mad ups to touch the Olympic rings
 Sculpture in the athlete's village

 Even the rings were in the London train station
 London airport built a separate departure terminal for the athletes.  This guy was there to send us off
 There was also a classic London phone booth
 This was the athlete's Olympic memory tree.  I wrote my best memory of the games was walking into the Olympic stadium for the closing ceremonies
 This is what hometown support looks like.  The Snowflake Chocolates ladies cheering me on
This is all of the Olympic clothing laid out.  Amazing. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Every Setback is Another Chance for a Comeback

Every setback is just another chance for a comeback.  These are words taken straight from the many inspirational Olympic commercials flooding the airwaves these days, and these couldn't have come at a better time.  I'm living these words right now, and I'm soaking up as much Olympic motivation, energy, and inspiration as I can.

I had hip surgery approximately two weeks ago to fix a torn labrum.  This is exactly the same injury and surgery I had in 2010 except it's on my right side instead of my left.  My right hip starting hurting with a familiar stabbing pain right around Christmas when I was on Kauai.  I rushed home back to the Vermont Orthopedic Clinic to try and diagnosis what was going on.  My doctor thought I had irritated the hip and had an inflamed bursae.  I took a course of heavy anti-inflammatories to hopefully solve the problem, and all I could do was wait and see.  Being in limbo and not knowing is the hardest.  I do way better with a plan to follow.  I've never wished so much for bursitis in my entire life.  It's amazing how quickly our standards change.  The pain was still there, and, because of this, I had an MRI to really see what was going on.  It showed I tore the cartilage in my hip which I still really can't believe happened.  I was really lucky to be scheduled for surgery a week and a half later since time is of the essence.

So, here I am.  I'm rehabbing full time everyday.  The majority of my time and effort these days goes towards making my hip better; better range of motion, reducing swelling, getting stronger, and firing up the muscles.  Moving through this process happily takes a huge expectation and goal shift.  I had to transition from doing big strength moves envisioning world cup podiums to swinging my leg back and forth six inches in 4D bands to promote range of motion.  I transitioned from sprinting uphill dripping in sweat to spending an hour progressing to walking normally.  I move from clicking into my pedals to clicking around on crutches.

Looking on the brighter side, I know I can come back from this injury because I've done it before.  Having experience with this, I know more of what to expect, and I have the best support crew assembled around me.  I'm working with athletic trainer, Bill Knowles of HPsport, every step of the way.  Tyler White of iSport is helping me as well.  Jojo has been the rock through this helping me with absolutely everything.  She shuffles ice, cooks amazing meals, and even spots me on some sleepy, wobbly crutching in the middle of the night.  My Dad is key through the recovery because he's been driving me to all of these important appointments.  My family and friends have shown support in some many ways, especially in the form of chocolate. Specialized has my back through this injury and comeback as well as Oakley.  For that, I am extremely grateful.  If I gained anything from the tragedy this fall, it was the perspective to say an injury like this is just a bump in the road.  I'll come back even more happy and grateful to be riding my bike.  Every setback is a chance for a comeback, and I'm working hard to comeback strong from this one.

Thanks for all of the support.