Before our camp came to a close this past weekend in Utah we had one thing left to do… check out some short track speed skating! Earlier in the week we got an invite to come on over to Deer Valley for dinner at the speed skating house before heading into Salt Lake City for a night of watching spandex clad bodies race around the olympic oval. It was completely optional, but the entire women’s team jumped at the opportunity, and soon I found myself post 5 hour hike, post shower, nestled between a ski bag and the window of our van hurling down the interstate. (Late as usual)
We arrived at the speed skating house fashionably late and on the verge of loosing all the food I had managed to get back in myself after that morning’s adventure. “Pull yourself together!” I thought, “YOU MUST CO-MINGLE!” “Green is not a normal complexion!” Between the parking lot and the condo we only got turned around twice more. I’m surprised we couldn’t find the place by our coaches excited chatter. When we got inside they only paused briefly to smile hello before returning to their discussion. (who knew speed skating, biathlon, and nordic combine had so much to talk about!)
Quick side note: Whoever thought burritos were a good “getting to meet a bunch of strangers” food I ask you simple this…really!?!? Ok, I love burritos…but I can only imagine how goonish I looked covered in a mixture of guacamole, rice, and what appeared to be chicken. “Hi I’m Corrine, I would shake your hand but as you can see its covered in my dinner…”
From there we took off for Salt Lake for the Korean Air ISU World Cup. Ready to be thoroughly confused and entertained by a sport I knew nothing about. Time to get my chant on! USA, USA, USA! Getting there alive might be the highlight of the evening as we followed a car following a car to the venue at some ill-conceived rate of mock10. You don’t often squeal the wheels of a mini van.
We piled into the media section of the stands and waited to have our minds blown.
The races made me dizzy with their short loops. I got nervous and anxious for the racers as they approached the final two laps of each race and the suddenly accelerated! Talk about a sport of tactics! I would either be sliding on my butt into the boards or getting DQ’d for elbowing some irritating chick in the face. It was an exciting night to be an American fan, the women alone took home three of the six podium spots!
We stayed until the end so we could watch the men’s and women’s relay qualifying races. During the relay there is something like 20-25 skaters on the ice. There are tag offs, crashes (oh yes we love crashes), and an overwhelming list of rules. Lucky for me I had two speed skating pros and olympic medalists Joey Cheek, and Travis Jayner to explain everything that was happening in a play by play run down race after race.
It was an awesome night and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to watch my future TEAM USA teammates kick large quantities of spandex-y ass! Going into Sochi the USOC really wants us to be something bigger than all these separated sports teams who just so happen to wear the same awkward opening ceremonies sweaters… They want us to be united. To really be Team USA, and last night you could already feel the olympic spirit!
(picture from team mate: Susan Dunklee)