In just over two weeks, the Olympic torch will reach Rio, and the TV at the Disney house will be tuned to NBC sports 24/7. During the last Summer Olympics I was completing my sophomore summer at Dartmouth, and bringing homework and snacks to the adjacent house (which had cable) became a nightly activity. We’d open our textbooks, then not look at them for a couple hours while we watched the World’s best compete on the largest stage.
What I hadn’t really ever watched, or cared about before, were the Olympic trials. In swimming and running, the trials are a week long competition of intense emotion. In swimming the top two finishers become Olympians, in track three. Yet beyond these top spots, there are dozens of incredible athletes with extraordinary talent, work ethic and drive. And sometimes these people miss the Olympics by less than one hundredth of a second.
(Or Alysia Montano, who placed fifth in the 2012 Olympic 800 meters (behind two dopers), and fell during the 2016 trials and will not be competing in Rio. She had to switch her social media from #roadtorio to #roadtoburrito.)
It’s simultaneously wonderful and brutal watching the finishing sprints. It’s incredible to see those who have just become first time Olympians try to put into words what they’ve just accomplished. And it’s incredibly heartbreaking to watch those who just miss the cut compose themselves to congratulate the winners.
I think the reason I’ve been so enthralled by the trials this year is I am currently going through a similar experience (while much more drawn out) as all of the trials athletes. Even though the Winter Olympics are two seasons away, watching these athletes who have put everything into an uncertain outcome has been truly inspiring. Because of the last two years, I can really empathize with both emotions- that of triumph and that of defeat.
The other reason I’ve really tuned in to the trials is I’m trying not to fall into the “every-four-years-expert.” With many Olympic sports, Nordic Skiing included, most people only pay attention every four years. In off Olympic years, many could honestly care less what the difference between skating and classic is. As a result, many stupendous athletes go unnoticed. I’ve started looking into the #roadtoburrito crowd as well as the #roadtorio crowd, and am so impressed.
I want to race at the 2018 Olympics, which is a big goal that involves lots of moving pieces (two big ones being time and money). Because you can’t just be an every-four-years-athlete, it is also wonderful to have not-just-every-four-years-supporters. I have been so lucky to find people who believe in me, and are willing to spend time, energy, and money in an uncertain pursuit.
This year I will be racing with MD Biosciences as my headgear sponsor. It is a research and development company in the areas of inflammatory and neurological disease areas. Its cutting-edge science and innovative technological platforms are helping to deliver new therapeutics and medical devices sooner to millions of patients with unmet needs. This is a phenomenal company with an impressive list of accomplishments and goals, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with them as I work towards reaching my own goals.
The Birkebeiner Foundation is continuing to support me as an athlete ambassador, and I can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve already done.
There are many more people who have supported me (too many to name here!), but I of course must mention my mom and dad. These two have seen me through it all, and even though I’m a full adult now (whatever that means) I know they will always pick up the phone, order me my favorite Thai food (#34 with chicken), and send me cute dog photos from Facebook.
If you’d like to donate please head over to the “support” tab on my website- and be on the look out for some more ways to support later this summer Till then, I’m in the middle of a big volume block before heading home for our “vacation” week!