Archive for February, 2010

Celebrating a Long-Awaited Olympic Medal: SILVER!

February 15th, 2010 by Robin

Johnny Spillane Crossing Olympic Finish LineWhat a feeling!  That about sums up yesterday’s Nordic Combined event in Whistler.   What a memorable day.  Had the weather cooperated, I would have missed the first Nordic Combined individual competition (I was originally scheduled by NBC to be at Alpine skiing yesterday, but when it was canceled I was sent to Whistler).  As it turned out, I had one of the best seats in the house, and watched Johnny Spillane win the silver medal just 10 feet from the finish line.

Watching the U.S. team members cross that finish line within tenths of seconds of each other, 2-4-6 (Johnny, Todd and Bill) was indescribable.  Johnny’s silver medal is the first U.S. Olympic medal for Nordic Combined ever – 86 years.  The sense of relief and excitement was overwhelming.

In those first moments, everyone was just wildly celebrating.  I was probably the craziest of the bunch, cheering and shouting when Johnny’s mom came around the corner with a big hug.  Once she started crying, I was overcome and neither of us could stop.  It’s hard to describe in words the feelings that evolved in those minutes and even hours following. I felt like years worth of emotion all came out at once.  All the hard work, hope, determination, dedication and perseverance that it took to get to that triumphant moment, we couldn’t contain it.  It was just so big.

I first met these guys when they were in their teens and we’ve been through quite a ride  – good times, yelling, laughs and tears of defeat, but nothing stands against one of our own standing on the podium.  Johnny has the medal but he carries Todd and Bill’s heart and soul.  They alone know the miles they have traveled to finish in those top positions – from sleeping on floors and waxing their own skis back in the day, to becoming the reigning world champions.  I could not be any more proud of each of them.

silver bulletLater in the evening the celebration was underway.  In the family’s lounge, I was with Johnny’s dad, and we decided to have a celebratory  drink.  Although out of character, I ordered a Coors Silver Bullet in honor of the day and Johnny’s medal.  I told him when the beer is gone I’m going to put the empty can in my trophy case to remind me of this day.

There is a newly minted and palpable sense of “belief” among the U.S. Nordic Combined team now, that the podium is attainable.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Congrats Johnny, and the entire team.  This is YOUR year!

Vancouver: The Calm Before the Storm

February 12th, 2010 by Robin

Hello from Vancouver, B.C., where we’re currently waiting for opening ceremonies a few hours from now. I’ve been here a few days getting settled, working with Universal Sports, and catching up with old friends and new.

The weather report is “rainy and sort of snowing.”  As you have probably heard in the news, there is not much snow in the city of Vancouver.

Billy Demong (U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined skier and world champion) told me earlier this week he thinks the weather will be to his – and the team’s – advantage.  He said, “It’s the Olympics and you do what you have to do, but it is a bit of a spectacle to see other nations running around worrying about the weather.”  The weather is something the media talks about, but not the U.S. athletes.  Our teams are used to it.

The general mood in the Olympic Village seems to be one of relaxation.  There is a “calm before the storm” presence running through the community of world-class athletes. The training and preparation – and anticipation – are all over now, and it’s time to compete.

There is a somewhat palpable sense of tension amongst the peace and tranquility here, and those familiar with the Olympics know this feeling always comes right before one of the greatest athletic spectacles on earth. The rumor is some of the key names are really feeling the pressure, notably some of the Canadian and U.S. superstars!

The real frenzy is with the media! An army of 10,000 accredited journalists all trying to get their work done and stories filed just under the wire.  Athletes are receiving innumerable requests for “one last-minute interview,” of which there may literally be hundreds for some of the superstars.  The world can’t seem to get enough of stories about our Olympians.

Me?  I’m glad to be here. I have the best of both worlds. I no longer have the pressures and commitments that go along with full-time coaching, but I am on the other side of the media fence so I have a vantage I never had before.  That, combined with the fact I am in regular communication with the guys I brought onto the U.S. team and took to their first Olympics, brings a great sense of pride.

I’m also excited for the Opening Ceremonies. The ceremonies are typically “optional” and many athletes opt out to avoid the hype and stay focused, but I think we’ll see more athletes tonight than in recent years. Maybe it’s the turmoil most countries are recovering from, but there seems to be a greater sense of camaraderie among athletes, regardless of nationality, and along with eager anticipation for the competition.

I get a feeling this will be a very special Olympics, and we are going to see some remarkable athletic feats.  Vancouver, B.C., and the country of Canada have put together some of the best-organized games most of us have ever seen.  The people of Canada are buzzing with hospitality and energy, and everyone seems committed to making the 2010 Olympics the best ever – with or without snow.

3 Peaks Heads to the 2010 Winter Olympics

February 12th, 2010 by Dawn

We’re excited to share the news that 3 Peaks founder, Tom Steitz, is in Vancouver, B.C., for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games this month.

Tom has very special ties to the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined, having coached the team through five Olympics from 1988 through 2002. This time Tom is at the Olympics not as an official coach, but as a commentator for Universal Sports/NBC Universal. He’ll also be playing the role of informal advisor to and supporter of many of his former team members, including Todd Lodwick, Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane.

The news media seems to be picking up on the fact that the U.S. Nordic Combined didn’t go from “worst in the world” to top-ranked overnight. This week both Reuters and The Wall Street Journal published stories that highlight Tom’s leadership of this team over the years, and what it took to go from “worst in the world” in 1988, to where they are today.

Tom will be sharing some of his experiences and observations from his front row and behind the scenes access to the Olympics here, which you can check out here or get updates through Facebook by becoming a “fan” of 3 Peaks. We invite you to follow his adventures, and tune in to see what lessons we can all glean from this year’s Olympic athletes, teams and coaches.