Olympic journal: What it means to be an Olympian on Team USA
Special to the Daily
Mogul skiing is such a small sport and I’m not usually exposed to the broader athletic culture in our world.
After watching events such as bobsled, Nordic combined, snowboarding, speedskating, hockey and so many more, I have a newfound appreciation for athletes from all disciplines as I have truly recognized the common sacrifice and passion it takes to become an Olympian.
As I walk through the athlete village, I walk alongside fellow Olympians who share this passion and grit, and I can’t help but feel complete when I realize we have all earned our spot to be here. I have met people (while trading pins) from different countries who have dedicated their lives to achieving their dreams, just like me.
Going to other events
The Olympics bring us all together, skeleton and hockey, biathlon and curling, sports that I would have never connected with otherwise. Despite politics, diversity and conflict, we compete together with honor and grace on the world’s largest stage.
Being apart of Team USA goes far beyond representing my country on the mogul course. My event was one of the first ones and the entire moguls team is staying in Pyeongchang for the rest of the games. I figured it would be a great opportunity to rest and recover, but it’s been non-stop as we are fitting every possible event into our schedule to support our new teammates.
Short-track speedskating has been my favorite event so far. I had no idea how thrilling this sport is and the skaters left me in awe. The entire arena was filled to the brim with spectators. Koreans are known for this sport which made it even more exciting as the stadium echoed with endless chanting. I was on the edge of my seat as I watched the athletes battle for their long desired medal. A U.S. athlete John-Henry Krueger claimed silver, and although I have never met him, I screamed my lungs out and was overwhelmed with pride when he crossed the finish line.
Being the future and the present
To say that Chloe Kim and Red Gerard inspired me would be an understatement. As one of the six 17-year-olds on Team USA, watching fellow teammates my age claim gold was incredible. I have always been told that because of my age, I am the future of mogul skiing. But being here at the Olympics, with five other 17-year-olds makes me believe that we can be more than just the future of the sport: We can be the present.
I’ve always dreamed I would achieve my goals at a young age because I never saw a reason that would stop me from doing so. Age doesn’t define ability, and Chloe and Red and all of the other young prodigies I have the privilege of being teammates with, have proved this.
Team USA’s dynamic binds every sport and every athlete under one flag, one dream. And regardless of if we walk away with medals, we will accept the tears of joy and defeat together, as the face of our united nation. That is the best part of being a member of team USA.
Vail’s Tess Johnson is a moguls Olympian turned correspondent for the Vail Daily in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.