Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mother Russia & The Room 8 Bears!

After coming home from the Olympics Bree and I received a call asking us to travel to Russia to help homologate, which means test the safety and structure of a new track near Moscow. How could we say no to a fully funded ‘Bobsled vacation?!’ We traveled to Russia with Annie O’Shea and Matt Antoine some of our skeleton teammates where we were treated to some Russian hospitality. Each day we went to the track, took two runs, gave the FIBT feedback on the track and then went on a new tour around Russia. We were fortunate enough to see some amazing churches, The Red Square, many historic museums, and other very interesting parts of Russia. The Russian Bobsled Federation was very excited to have us and other nations involved in the successful homologation of the track.
                                                     The start of the Bob track in Russia

After traveling almost 20 hours back to California I was able to stop by Miss Pavlos class at Baker Elementary in San Jose. I was inspired to visit her class after receiving an amazing letter from one of her students, Athena, while I was at the Olympics. Athena obviously spend many hours on the letter and picture that she sent to me, which included a Room 8 Bear penny for me to rub for good luck. Her letter was one of my favorites and was posted by my bed throughout the Olympics. I rubbed the penny she gave me for good luck each day before I went to the track. I was excited to finally meet her and tell her how much her thoughtful note meant to me. I shared my Olympic experience with her and her classmates and was surprised by her with flowers and a gold medal that she made for me. The students were very excited to meet me, but I do not think they fully realized how gratifying and exciting it is for me to be able to share knowledge I have learned throughout my life. I also met a student of Miss Pavlos, Erika, who enjoys dirt biking, so I was able to give her fellow ITA athlete Lea’s information on the Little Bellas group and the camp that is coming to Monterey. Thank you to Miss Pavlos and Athena! I had a great time meeting with your class and I hope to come back really soon.

                     Miss Pavlos Class: The Room 8 Bears!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Calling all Bobsled Fans!

I am very excited to announce that I have received the go ahead to extend my ITA project to Chico and Northern California. My project for the next few months will consist of visiting local schools and after school venues. I will be sharing my Olympic experiences and life lessons I have learned throughout my journey. It has been overwhelming the number of local students and teachers who have supported me through the Olympics and I am hoping to show my appreciation by giving back to them.  When I came home I was surprised by an incredible book filled with letters and drawings from Mrs. Forrester's  Mill Street School class in Orland.  I am really looking forward to visiting these students and answering all of their questions like if Bree and I are 'bestests friends'.

I have already gone to few schools and visited my old gym, Athlete Horizons, where I shared many stories with the young gymnasts. It was a lot of fun to talk to these girls, as I can tell how much they look up to me because I was once in their shoes. They were very interested in how I thought gymnastics has helped me as an athlete (after competing competitively until the age of 16) and of course wanted to know if I got scared bobsledding and how I overcame it. If my story was able to only resonate with one girl, I believe my visit was a success. I have received many requests, but if you want me to come your classroom or group please contact me at and I will do my best to make it happen. Thank you.

Students in Mrs. Weaver's  Little Chico Creek class cheering me on in Whistler

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Aftermath

To say the least, life has been crazy since the end of our race on February 24th. Bree and I had an incredible run and finished 5th in the world. I think we are both pretty satisfied with our result considering how difficult it was for our USA 3 sled to qualify for the Olympic games. Of course, a medal would have completely fulfilled the dream and getting so close only makes me hungry for more. Our teammates Elana and Erin won the bronze (congrats girls!) and our American team had three sleds in the top six, which is great for our program.

After the completion of our races Bree and I decided we were going to do everything possible to get the FULL Olympic experience. We attended the women’s gold medal hockey game, women’s figure skating, men’s hockey gold medal game and of course we watched Team Holcomb, our fourman bobsled team win gold! With all the Olympic festivities I was barely able to see my family and missed out on meeting Amory (ITA founder) and her family, which I can hopefully do sometime soon.

After the Closing Ceremony I flew home to Chico where I was greeted after a night of no sleep by fifty plus ‘fans’ and supporters from Chico and the Northstate. I was amazed how many people were there that I had never met, but who felt like they knew me by following my journey and living my dreams with me. I honestly did not realize the kind of affect I had over the people in my community. I thought I would come home and go on with life like it was before the Olympics, but my life is forever changed. I went to the post office the following day and Chicoans were coming up to me bursting with pride, shaking my hand and telling me thank you. I never would have thought that I would be getting thanked for following my goals and pursuing my dreams. It is ironic to me because I feel like I should be the one thanking each individual within our community that has helped me reach my goal.

                      My greeting at the airport  (photo from The Chico ER)