Men’s Ski Halfpipe

My plan to blog first thing in the morning didn’t last long. Unfortunately, the morning is the only time that I can talk to people back home before they go to sleep. If I want to call my parents or coaches, I have to do so in the morning.

I also had a massage this morning and I got called for an anti-doping test. After all of it, I never got around to composing a post.

First and most importantly, today is the Olympic Team Sprint for both men and women. These races, especially on the women’s side, represent our best chance as a team for an Olympic medal. I am going to the venue to watch in person. I wouldn’t miss it! The semifinals start momentarily, at 5p.m. Korean Time. The TV coverage in the U.S. is tape delayed, and the schedule is at the bottom of this post.

I have done two things in the past 48 hours that ended up being highlights of my Olympic Experience even though I didn’t believe either one of them was going to be that cool. The first was the trip to the Today Show, which I blogged about yesterday. I was not excited to go and stand in the back of a group of athletes and feel silly for just being an “extra”, but I ended up absolutely loving the adventure. My favorite part was meeting all of the interesting and successful people. I also loved seeing behind the scenes of a live television production. Lastly, I am a huge fan of live music and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rachel Platten perform.

The second experience of the last couple days that surprised me with how happy it made me feel was going to watch the ski halfpipe competition yesterday.

Because Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira are friends of mine from Aspen, I knew I wanted to watch them compete, but I didn’t realize how much it was going to mean to me to watch them succeed.

I went to the competition with a bunch of other athletes. We first got to watch the women’s ski halfpipe final where Brita Sigourney won the bronze medal. We then checked out a local Café for lunch before the men’s qualifiers.

It was my first trip to the Phoenix Snow Park, home of the halfpipe, ski and snowboard cross course, aerials jump, moguls hill and slopestyle course.

Alex Ferreira works on sports psychology with Kathleen Callahan, also from Aspen. Not only did I work with Kathleen when I lived in Aspen, but Kathleen is also married to my coach of 14 years, John Callahan. Kathleen came here to the Olympics to work with Alex, and I had the honor of watching Alex compete with Kathleen and Alex’s grandfather.

Alex qualified for tomorrow’s finals with the second highest score of the day. Torin qualified third, right behind Alex. Another Coloradan, Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck, won the qualifying round and the defending Olympic Champion, Reno’s David Wise, qualified in eighth. (The top 12 competitors made it to the finals.)

Because I have known Alex and Torin for a long time and because I feel connected with them since we all grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, I felt invested in their success and was emotional when they laid down great runs. Watching with Kathleen and Alex’s grandfather felt like a privilege and like I was part of their family and therefore part of their success and happiness.

I think I was missing the connection from home that Kathleen provided.

Also, the crowd and overall excitement at the halfpipe was incredible.

There were cheerleaders!

Speaking of a connection to home, I also got to spend some time watching with four other friends from my Park City home. Aerialist Maddy Olsen (pictured below right) and Ski Jumper Sarah Hendrickson (second from right) both grew up in Park City. I have known Sarah for almost a decade, and we have become great friends. The US Ski and Snowboard Dietician Megan Chacosky (second from left) currently lives in the same bedroom in Greg and Toni Adams’ house in Park City that I lived in for many years. Consequently, she has become like family to me, and it was so nice to spend time with her. Finally, Maddy Bowman (left) came out to watch the men’s qualifiers after failing to lay down a complete run in the women’s final just a few hours earlier. Maddy was the defending Olympic Champion in ski halfpipe! She must have been disappointed to crash three times in a row in finals, but she didn’t ever show it. I cannot fully articulate how impressed I am with Maddy for the way she handled herself after her competition and for coming out to watch with us.

There were plenty of other American fans in the crowd!

And with three of the four Americans representing Colorado, there were also some Colorado fans around!

We were standing near Torin and Alex’s families. We had a huge cheering section!

Moving on, you know things are getting weird and that we’ve been here too long when we start having group ear cleaning sessions, but that it exactly what happened in our apartment last night.

Simi Hamiltonwas showing Paddy Caldwell a special trick for cleaning out ears.

Paddy enjoyed it. I probably should have tried it out too.

As I mentioned at the top, I got pulled for doping control for the first time all Olympics.

They took both a blood and a urine sample from me. It was a pretty smooth process.

I got a souvenir band aid pack for my efforts.

Simi’s family brought Aspen High School cross country running team T-shirts for me and Sim from the coach and our good friend Chris Keleher. Each year Chris finds an awesome quote to put on the shirts.

We took a couple shots in front of the Olympic Rings in the shirts.

I have to go to watch the Team Sprint. I’ll post more tomorrow. Here’s the broadcast schedule for the race:

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST — WOMENS AND MENS TEAM SPRINT
ON COMPTER NBCOLYMPICS.COM AND NBC SPORTS PHONE APP – LIVE STREAMING AT 3:00 AM EST AND 5;00AM EST
ON TV NBCSN – 10:45am- 1:30pm
LATER IN THE DAY ON NBC
3:00PM – 5:00 PM EST AND 8:00 – 11:00PM EST