The Olympics were an experience I will never forget. There is so much going on beyond your own participation but at the same time it is each individual athletes participation that makes it matter. I learned so much about myself, about sport, about winning and definitely about defeat during my time in Sochi.
The Olympics are so much more than the few medals that are handed out. It is about each athlete putting out their best performance for the world to see...even if their best on that day is a 20th place. It is the act of competing that makes it so special. Not just the winning. In fact, on my way home I wore my olympic garb and was asked several times if I was bringing back a medal. When I said I hadn't brought one home the people often looked discouraged and turned away. To me, the act of participating in the Olympics was a big deal!!! I had a great personal performance....which did not lead me to success but I cannot leave feeling like I didn't give it my absolute all. There were so many other athletes who had great inspiring performances but didn't land on the top step of the podium. In many ways its the stories of how people got to the Olympics that was interesting to me. Each athletes story of success and determination is unique.
Personally, my olympic experience will make me a stronger person. I feel my journey to this point has been more defined by what I have overcome than my "incredible" success....and my trip to the Olympics was no different. Coming back from a concussion...I trained extremely hard prior to the Olympics to get back into shape and to feel comfortable on my skis. The day of my Olympic race was my first day where I felt super confident on my skis again. In this way I am so happy with the prep that I was able to do beforehand. Hitting my head was not ideal, but come race day I felt prepared to have my best performance. The conditions on race day were challenging. I felt prepared to meet the challenge and ski my best. In slalom the margin of error is extremely small. We get as close to the gate as possible because that is the fastest route down the hill. Both skis always need to pass around the outside of the gate. Halfway down the course the tip of my inside ski caught on some grippy snow and I straddled the gate. I was disqualified from the race. At the time it didn't feel fair. It felt like a cruel joke to make it all the way to the Olympics then to not even get to finish the race. Some athletes were joking that failure in a cross country race is like dying a slow painful death but in slalom (or skiing in general) its like a bullet to the heart. Failure happens so quickly it is hard to process. But process it you must (after a damn good cry)....I am definitely not alone in not finishing the slalom race. At the end of the race there were 49 finishers and 36 women who were unable to complete both runs. Many of the ladies who didn't finish were on their way to amazing performances such as my team mate Erin Mielzynski and Austrian Bernadette Schild. When I arrived back in the Olympic Village it was sobering to realize each sport has their own challenges. There were many other Canadian competitors that had had their dreams a little dashed in Sochi, but they kept their heads up shrugged it off and moved on. I did the same.
Another very cool aspect of the Olympics was the camaraderie and friendships built between different sports as we came together in the athlete lounge to watch our fellow Canadians compete day after day. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Kaillie Humphreys deliver an amazing performance while the men's bobsled team explained terminology and the sport to those of us watching. We were also lucky enough to be able to watch several other events live including women's snowboard cross, mens super g (where Canadian Jan Hudec was 3rd!!!), mens 4 man bobsled and I was extremely excited to get tickets to watch the mens gold medal hockey game!
I also feel extremely lucky that my family was able to come watch me race. This journey has been not just my own. My family has picked me up after my bad crashes and celebrated with me during times of success. I could not have made it even close to making it to the Olympics without the support of my entire family. For putting me on skis, encouraging and supporting me to work hard and for believing and allowing me to be the best athlete I can be. My parents basically allowed me to move out as a teenager to pursue this crazy sport. I felt their support even through my extreme absense from our family life. To be able to share this experience with them meant the world to me. My mom, dad, brother and my boyfriend all came to see me. After my race they once again helped pick me up. I could not have been more happy to be with my family after my race. There is no one better to be with than those whom you love when you feel like the floor has dropped out from beneath you. Thank you to everyone who helped my brother fundraise to pay for the trip! I VERY much appreciated having him there!
Below are some photos I took during my experience at the games!
Chilling with the Canadian Womens Olympic Team in the rings!
The Canadian Moose mascot! (Yes, it was that warm!)
The view from the gondola...looking down on the downhill course. The terrain and size of the mountain reminded me of either Whistler or Kicking Horse Resort.
They had a ton of different activities you could do in the Olympic Village....I painted this doll!
We found some powder at the top of the mountain!
My boyfriend and I with the Olympic flame in the background.
I found the Canadian Molson fridge in Sochi!
My team mate Britt and I about to watch the Mens Gold Medal Hockey Game!
Watching the game!
Ski Cross champions Kelsey Serwa & Mariel Thompson (and many other excited Canadian athletes!)
Georgia Simmerling, Kelsey Serwa and I...we were all on the BC Development/ Canadian Devo Team together! It was fun to be reunited at the games! We raced together from the time we were 11 to 18 years old!
Mitch, Britt, MP and myself just before walking into the closing ceremonies!
It was an awesome experience-in the true sense of the word- to walk into the closing ceremonies. Goosebumps, giggles and exclamations of awe from all around about the magnitude of people and space as we entered the Fisht stadium!
A moment of being star struck after talking to the extremely amazing and nice Hayley Wickenheiser!
I would definitely never trade my Olympic experience for anything. It meant so much to me to be representing our beautiful country. It gave me such a feeling of pride and appreciation to be competing for Canada. There were so many amazing athletes from our country and so many interesting people that I was able to meet during my trip. To young athletes aspiring to be Olympians. It is so worth the struggles you will face to get here. It is those exact struggles that will make it so special....no matter your result.