VANCOUVER, BC – In six months, U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes will be among the nation’s best competitors as they march together, united under the American flag, into Vancouver’s BC Place for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
But, though they have to wait half a year for the Olympic torch to be lit in downtown Vancouver, the spirit of Olympic competition already burns bright in the hearts of athletes as they near the end of their summer training and move forward in the pursuit of their dreams.
From a glacier in Alaska, World Championship silver medalist summed up exactly what being six months away from the world’s stage means to her.
“Olympic years are so special. You have the culmination of competing at the Olympics, and then you have all the preparation that leads up to it. I’m just trying to savor this time,” Randall said. “From the year mark to this point it has been a goal with a lot of preparation. But as we get into this six month window it’s all about putting on the final touches.”
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and a majority of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team find themselves putting on the final touches south of the equator in New Zealand on the six month out mark, spending time on snow in preparation for the 2010 season and the Games.
“Because of my crash in 2006 and because of the success I’ve had during the last two World Cup seasons, a lot of people will be watching and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure I’m ready to win in 2010,” Vonn said.
While a majority of their teammates have spent the summer training at the Center of Excellence, freestyle aerials World Champion Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, CO) and World Cup moguls champion Hannah Kearney are on the east coast frequenting the Lake Placid water ramps and Kearney says she is feeling the excitement.
“Six months, two weeks, a day – it’s all the same in that I am really excited for it. On the USOC Web site they have a countdown that goes to the second and when you see it you think ‘oh my gosh,'” Kearney said. “When I think back, the last six months have gone so quickly. I’m enjoying this preparation period and the break means I am going to be that much more excited when December rolls around.”
On the other hand, St. Onge was momentarily taken aback by the significance of the date.
“Well, I better hurry up,” St. Onge said, quickly adding, “Just kidding. Time is everything in sports. There are no shortcuts and there’s no rush to finish. I have what I have and I’ll be there when I get there.”
Just back from France where they spent time training and playing spectators to the world’s largest bike race – the Tour de France – U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team’s World Champions Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) and Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) are both eager to get to Vancouver.
“I love to compete and that’s the point: The closer we are the better,” Demong said. “We are getting the hard work done now and hopefully we’ll use our experience and our knowledge to put us where we need to be going in to the Games.”
“That it’s six months away, we’re coming up on a very important time within my career along with my teammates and everyone associated with the Games,” Lodwick added. “This is a big lead up to what we strive for and hopefully we can have the performance that has us come out and conquer the Games.”
From Switzerland, where he is preparing his equipment specifically for the Games and training, reigning Olympic SBX gold medalist Seth Wescott (Sugarloaf, ME) is feeling the excitement already.
“I’m fired up. The last month has been super productive as far as training. We’re designing my boards for the Games and on this day I’m going up to build the boards that will hopefully win it for me for the second time,” Wescott said. “We’re getting into those final stages and it’s so much fun to be back at that point.”