Sochi… less than 365 days to go. To most people that simple statement means absolutely nothing, but to the hundreds of winter Olympic hopefuls it means everything.
Or 31,536,000 seconds… until that one moment, that one opportunity, that one blink of a second we have been working and waiting for pretty much our entire lives to represent something so much bigger than ourselves on the world’s stage.
To the average person, when you mention to them “a year’s time,” it seems like eternity, a plethora of holidays, four changing weather seasons, multiple sports seasons and championships to spectate, a few long weekends and/or vacations here and there, birthdays celebrated and parties attended. That’s a lot of time passing, isn’t it? Well when speaking to an Olympic hopeful and athletes training for an Olympic Games, we think of things in quads (four years at a time), so when it is mentioned that we are one year away from the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, it’s a huge reality check and now crunch time! Specifically as a bobsled pilot, we are in a sled for about one minute per trip; two-three trips a day; five-six days a week; for approximately 16 weeks out of the year. To save you the trouble of doing the math, that’s less than three-and-a-half hours of actually bobsled pilot seat time left to perfect my skills and maximize my potential before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games races. For a bobsled push athlete/brakeman, it is even less as they push a sled for a maximum of six seconds and rotate their time pushing a sled with other brakemen during the week throughout the season. Imagine if you only had three-and-a-half hours to do one year’s worth of work before a test, presentation or competitive/major event? (I just got goosebumps!)
One of the advantages that many international sliding sport teams had this season was to spend two weeks in Rosa Khutor, Russia (about an hour from the city of Sochi up in the mountains where most of the skiing and sliding sports will be hosted during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games). Team USA was very fortunate as they schedule the training and test event during the time the actual Games will be taking place. The first week was just an international training week where there was an allotted six days with two training trips per day for each pilot to learn, practice and test equipment on the Olympic track. The Russian community is filled with a sense of pride and excitement to host all nations on their soil. They are literally building two cities from the ground up in order to host what is projected to be the most expensive and extravagant Olympic Games since Beijing 2008. We were greeted by a number of volunteers as soon as we got off the plane and through customs, then driven by bus to Rosa Khutor on a one-way windy road through mountains made specifically for the Olympic Games. Throughout the two weeks training at the Sanki Sliding Center, IBSF (International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation) wanted to mimic as much as possible the processes that will occur for athletes, coaches, physios, trainers, spectators and workers at the 2014 Winter Games. All who entered the facility had to have their ID badge, go through screened security, ride buses/vans to all check points, follow specific protocol, etc.
For me, as I will be vying to attend my first Olympic Winter Games, this visualization process was crucial and important for my preparation one year out. Throughout the two weeks I became very comfortable with my surroundings, envisioned the area one year from now filled with all the international flags, Sochi posters, millions of people surrounding the area, the spirit of the Olympics, international unity and so much more. I visualized during my training at the track, off the track, in transportation around the area and really focused on my mindset in order to prepare for adversity, chaos and performance pressure that will occur in less than a year.
I heard a quote recently, asking “What are you going to do with your ONE and ONLY life?!?!” For me I ask my fellow 2014 Olympic hopefuls, “What are you going to do with this ONE year remaining before you’re on the world’s stage?!?!?”
My personal answer to that is… “Make EVERY second count!”
As of today, I have less than 30,067,200 seconds to make it count… I better get going!