Looking back at the first week of Olympics
As I watch the journey of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s 12 current and alumni athletes competing in the Sochi Olympics, I see a continued showing of character, courage and commitment on their parts.
We all watched with sadness as alumna and Sochi Olympian Heidi Kloser suffered a season-ending injury in an Olympic training run. Refusing her wheelchair at the Olympic Opening Ceremony for as long as possible and marching alongside fellow U.S. Olympians, she inspired us with her resilience and positive energy, demonstrating to the world what it truly means to be an Olympian.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Nordic athlete Noah Hoffman skied into the top spot for the U.S. men, finishing 35th in the Olympic skiathlon (a 5K classic and 15K freestyle race), despite breaking a pole in a fall while rounding a corner. Noah also took the top spot for US men a few days later in the 15K classic, finishing 31st.
MAKING US PROUD
We were ecstatic when three current Ski & Snowboard Club Vail halfpipe athletes qualified for the Sochi Olympics and alumna Faye Guilini rounded out the foursome in snowboard cross.
Next came the news that the club’s Ayumu Hirano took silver in the men’s snowboard halfpipe for Japan; Stephanie Magiros qualified for semifinals in women’s halfpipe for Australia, finishing second among Australian women; and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Kaitlyn Farrington took gold in women’s halfpipe for the U.S. Faye narrowly missed a medal in the snowboard cross final, finishing as the top American in fourth place at her second Olympics.
What amazing feats for these athletes! Club snowboard director Ben Boyd, who officially represented the Australian Snowboard Team, including Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Magiros, hadn’t been home for more than a few hours from his Olympic travels when he shared with us his reflections on the Sochi experience. Ben told his Olympic halfpipe athletes that the most important thing was their ability to relax, enjoy the experience and enter their competitions with a level head.
Ben said that he and coach Elijah Teter, who helped coach Kaitlyn at the Olympics from the base of the pipe, focused on it being just another event, with the goal of keeping the athletes as loose as possible. Between coaching the Australian team snowboard athletes and Ayumu and Kaitlyn at daily training, speaking with the U.S. and Japanese coaching staff on a regular basis, and even teching Kaitlyn’s and Stephanie’s boards, Ben’s days were more than full.
ENJOYING THE PROCESS
As Ben reminded his athletes, it was not a time for new tricks. It was a time to focus on their huge accomplishment of making the Olympics and reminding them that once there, they had nothing to lose. After the athletes finished their runs, they were relaxed, ecstatic, relieved, proud of what they had accomplished and full of gratitude, according to Ben. They obtained or surpassed their goals, reaffirming what sports and life are all about — enjoying the process and not just focusing on the end result. What more could a coach ask for?
Ben, along with Nikita Apostol, assistant Ski & Snowboard Club Vail snowboard program director, who was training athletes in Vail during these Olympic moments, shared what an amazing impact the journey of these Olympians is having on the club’s snowboard athletes. It reinforces to these youngsters that skills based training, having fun and building a passion are the keys to help them progress. Nikita has been seeing huge strides in these youngsters just in the past few weeks as they are inspired by their Olympic teammates.
We anxiously wait to witness the second week of the Olympics and learn of the experiences of Elana Chase, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s freeski program director, and three current freeski athletes (Aaron Blunck, Annalisa Drew and Anais Caradeux) and one alumnus (Adam Crook) competing in this week’s ski halfpipe competition. Also contending for medals this week are alumni Chris Del Bosco (ski cross) and Mikaela Shiffrin (alpine). It’s the Olympics … anything can happen. Bring it!