I wanted to title this post with a number to highlight that I’m only halfway through my Olympic experience. Today is my Day 11. Closing Ceremonies happen on Day 22, and I will depart Korea on Day 23. This is an amazing experience that I am fully appreciating, but it is also a long trip.
Yesterday evening was the Olympic Classic Sprint. Team USA had some really impressive performances, but we did not win a medal. Jessie Diggins was our only skier to reach either the men’s or women’s final, and she finished sixth. We were not favorites to win a medal last night, but we were certainly medal hopefuls. My sense is that we, as a team, are building towards a historic result and that we’ll see it in the next 11 days. There are four more cross-country races for each gender at these Olympics. We will be medal hopefuls in the women’s 10k, women’s relay, men’s team sprint and women’s 30k and we will be medal favorites in the women’s team sprint next Wednesday, February 21st. I cannot wait to race and to watch and to continue to be a part of this team. Racing kicks off again tomorrow with the women’s 10k.
It was cold and windy last night, and my teammates and I watched the sprint from the Village. We could even watch the qualifying round, which was a rare treat because it’s not usually televised. Here’s Sadie Bjornsen starting her qualifier.
We went to dinner at The Haven between qualifying and the heats. Scott and Caitlin Patterson rocked matching sweaters.
We came back to the Village and watched the heats in the Athlete Lounge with sliders, aerialists, moguls skiers, ski jumpers and combiners. It was very entertaining because many of the other athletes had never seen a cross-country sprint race and didn’t know the format. We educated them as best we could, and they added some wonderful color commentary.
It was hard for all of us to sleep last night, racers and spectators, because we were jazzed after the races.
I took another day off of skiing today. I’ll go to the gym this evening to spin and stretch.
This morning I went to spectate my first event of the Games, Pairs Figure Skating Short Program. Athletes can request tickets for certain events if they really want to go. If there are additional US Team tickets that are not requested, they are set out on a table in the athlete lounge and we can grab what we want. (We actually get a voucher which we then exchange for the tickets in the Coastal Village.)
The trip to the Coastal Village (all of the indoor events are on the coast) was my first of the Games. It was super easy to get there. The buses run every 30 minutes and the trip only takes 40 minutes.
While there, I got the quintessential Olympic Rings photo.
Unlike the Mountain Village, the Coastal Village has a McDonald’s in the dining hall.
It is just like every McDonald’s in the world except everything is free.
Other than that, the coastal dining hall is almost identical to the mountain one.
It was really easy and slick to pick up tickets.
We also got retractable banners to support Team USA.
The event itself was really fun. Like many Americans, figure skating dominates my memories of watching the Winter Olympics when I was young, and it was fun to see it in person.
We got to see Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim from North Korea, accompanied by the North Korean cheerleading squad.
There was more energy in the arena for their skate than any other.
We also got to watch the American husband/wife duo of Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca-Knierim.
They made some mistakes but qualified for tomorrow’s free skate.
It was cool to see “behind the camera” of an event that I’ve watched so many times on TV.
Unfortunately the arena wasn’t super full.
Overall, my trip to figure skating and the coast was fun and not too energy intensive. I’m really glad I went.
Now that I’ve seen both villages, I’m forming a more complete view of these Olympics. My overall impression, relative to Sochi, is that these Olympics are low impact: lower environmental impact, lower cost, and importantly, lower impact on the local community. Life outside the Olympics in this part of Korea seems to be continuing unhindered.
Lastly, I checked out the Olympic Truce Mural in the Village this afternoon. I really like it’s design and what it stands for.