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.