Sochi, we’re here!

The games are upon us.  When I arrived in Sochi I didn’t know what to expect. Now that I’ve seen everything, it is amazing and  beyond what I thought was possible.  Opening cerimonies are tomorrow and we are gearing up to walk as TEAM USA! Take a look at the Olympic village and keep in mind that I took these pictures a few days ago. 

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These are the apartments we are living in for the next two weeks.

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Short track and figure skating venue

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Opening cerimonies

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I have to say that these Olympics are going to be great. The venues are awesome, the food and facilties are up to my standards.  Actually the best part ofmy trip d so far has been using our team bikes. BMW donated bikes for the alleys use in the Olympic village. Each country had their own b bikes and it’s are the best I’ve seen.

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View from my apartment

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These pictures are just a hint of what Sochi is like. Please stay tuned for more posts coming soon.

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For more info on events and athletes please visit NBC Olympics

Pre-season visits to LA and Co. Springs

Last month I had the privilege to be part of the NBC Olympic promo shoot in Los Angeles, California. The whole trip lasted about 5 days which gave me plenty of time to check out Beverly Hills and Hollywood. My mom also lived in the area so we had the chance to spend time together in Santa Monica.

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While I was in LA there was also filming of short track skating. We managed to spend over four hours on the ice which turned out to be a lot of fun. We did some filming using the sled camera that followed us down the straight-away. That camera shoots over 1,000 frames per second to get every little detail of skating. The film crew focused on the the start and ice chips flying through the air! We also used helmet mounted Go-Pro cameras to capture passing and pack skating on short track. I’m really excited to see how these clips will come out when they air on NBC this fall.

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The studio was packed with other winter Olympic athletes. I had the chance to meet bobsledders, lugers and skiers who were also invited to the event. The “event” was very fast paced and energized. What was cool about it was meeting the producers and newscasters from NBC who will be putting the footage together. They were extremely helpful in getting me prepped for the interviews and made everything go smoothly. I had no problems with being filmed alongside JR, Eddy, Jeff and the other athletes.

After I returned from LA. it was time to get back to training. The racing season is still months away, but we are getting a head start on the Olympic year. The atmosphere is quite different since the competition will be really fierce to capture a spot on the world team, and ultimately the Olympic team.

The next stop in my summer training was the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. We departed SLC with great expectations for the training camp. The flight was a little rough, but we made it to the ground safely. Flying in a prop plane isn’t ever an enjoyable experience. Every small wind sheer would shake the plane, which made for an interesting flight with lots of turbulence. We also saw this sign when we headed down to baggage claim.

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It was great to be around other athletes in the training center. Don’t get me wrong, spending time with Travis Jayner, Johnathan Garcia, and the other speed skating athletes is very entertaining. We had a great time training together and getting ready for the tough year ahead. Not to mention the ping pong, and foosball games we had in the athlete lounge.. The athletes who live in the OTC all share that same energy for their sport and the dedication it takes to win. The staff and trainers are a big part of the push to get us ready for competing. I am very grateful to have them on my team as I prepare for the 2014 season.

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There was an event going on at the OTC called The Warrior Games. More than 200 wounded service members competed in seven sports (archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball). Athletes were from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Sec Ops as well as the British armed forces. We were honored to be greeted by Prince Harry as he was the keynote speaker for the event. The event did mean a lot to me since I have family members in the marines. Being in the presence of the soldiers was really inspiring.

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Spending time with the long track team and staff—> tons of fun. The coaches are fun when we re on the ice. But spending time with the off the ice, we had a lot of laughs and good times together. We had team activities planned like dry land sessions, weight training, hiking and running the incline. It brought back memories from my inline racing days when I stayed at the OTC for residency. But this time, being with the short track team was excellent. We also had fencing bouts, basketball and dodgeball games to boost team building.

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First day in Dresden

Goodbye Sochi, and hallo Dresden. I’m glad to have made it to Germany in one piece. We were delayed in our flight out of Sochi this morning (7:00am) and almost missed our connecting flight. It was a very stressful travel day but three connecting flights later, we have arrived.
In these past few world cups I have found some answers. We are constantly looking for the best mixture of training and being prepared for anything (equipment problems, health, traveling etc). With the help of all the staff and teammates, it has been a great learning experience.
I’m still working on getting the kinks out with my racing. Finally there is a connection with racing and working with the World Cup staff. And believe me, there’s no substitute for the World Cup experience. We have a limited window of opportunity as athletes to win medals. Now that I’m starting to see the bigger picture, it makes my goals a lot more clear. The staff are here to help us get there (trainers, nutritionist, coaches). So it’s like a puzzle and all the pieces have to fall into place.
The team traveled all day today (I mean ALL day) to get to Dresden, Germany. It was a 2:00am wake up call to goto the airport. Here is the play by play.

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We had a strong team meeting when we got here, and it looks like everyone is ready to do big things. Ill let you know that we didn’t have a great weekend. Now we have a chance to show that we are a strong team and come back from this. I personally feel very motivated and inspired for this final World Cup. We all want to take it to the next level and I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.
So we are headed to a late practice tonight just to get our legs moving again. It is just what is needed for us to be ready for this coming weekend. Stay tuned in for the next thrilling update!