We’ve been keeping busy over the past week or so with final preparations leading up to the start of racing at the 2012 Olympic Games. The initial buzz surrounding processing took a few days to subside, but in general the Team is happy, morale is high and people are enjoying the buildup to the Games. I am very happy to report that I did end up with a second chance to go through my USA gear and retrieve some of the items from my shipping box so I have a full red white and blue wardrobe to rock during the rest of my time in London. Thanks to Scott Schnitzspahn, our USOC man of action for making it happen.
Now that we are down to our final day of preparation before race day on Saturday, we are descending in to our individual focus zones and minimizing distractions both at the course and at the village. With a reputation for being one of the Team’s most social butterflies, it is definitely a focus for me to keep greetings to friends that I haven’t seen in a year or longer very brief and cordial while I’m with my Team and counting down the hours until go time. In this respect, all of the athletes are on the same page and respect everyone’s need to be preparing for performance and not spending our time socializing. We’re all here for the same reason, and there’s very little that we have to say to each other right now that can’t wait until after racing.
So, routine has been different than a lot of trips with the Team, but straightforward. We are staying at the rowing village for these Games, which is different than my past experiences. The village at Royal Holloway College is a great home base for athletes with lots of amenities and comfortable room outfittings for all of the athletes. It is, however, a considerable commute for village-stayers to and from the race venue every day, and this commute also contains a certain level of unpredictability due to traffic to and from. A smooth ride is 30 minutes, traffic pushes it to over an hour. In the first week we also spent some of the longer rides on buses that were a little on the warm side so book or iPad, layers, extra water, and snacks are all advisable items to carry at all times.
We have a full dormitory block of just USA rowers on campus including rooms that have been converted for use by PTs and also for bikes and ergs. Rooms are single-occupancy and eight to a wing, so I am bunked up with the rest of the W4X, the team alternates, and the two PT rooms. Each wing also has a common room with a kitchenette (don’t use that much) and a TV.
We make the short pilgrimage to the 24 hour dining hall twice a day, since we typically eat lunch down at the racecourse. The dining hall staff is super-friendly and it has been fun getting to know some of them during our stay. The dining hall here at the rowing village is significantly scaled down from the football field-esque dining center at the main village, so we have a slightly more personal experience here. Even so, in typical rower fashion the village population has managed to surprise the logistical and planning staff with our enormous need for food, and have left the place in shambles and staff scrambling to fill empty trays more than once. I’m not sure who they thought was coming to stay here, but I think it’s safe to say that they are going to have to pull out all the stops to keep things rolling through racing. For me, as long as they keep the eggs, toast, cornflakes and coffee in full supply I will be good to go.
The village also has its fair share of distractions. Since it is a scaled down and more personal version of the main village, it means that we share all of our meals with [almost] all of our closest friends and competitors. The women’s team enters, eats, and leaves meals all together to keep things streamlined (we haven’t descended to matching uniforms for dinner yet–more on that later) and to keep the old folks from sitting around yawing all night over multiple cups of tea (I am talking about myself). Notably missing from this equation are teams from Great Britain and Canada–and soon to be Australia–who have all acquired off site accommodation in order to be closer to the course and to cut down on commuting time (as well as yawing potential at meals). There was a little drama over the accommodations issue earlier this spring but in the end it’s not the hotel you stay at or the bus you ride that wins you an Olympic medal. I’m happy and comfortable at the village and ready to race.
It’s been an uncharacteristically hot couple of days at Dorney for us–much to the delight of my Team GB friends–and it seems that we will continue to have decent weather and warm temps at least through the end of the week. Many of us are skeptical walking in to the venue day after day to find only slight ripples on the lake in one direction or the other–the only real taste of solid cross tail wind coming a few days early in the trip last week. When the wind comes, we will be ready, but we are definitely enjoying the calm conditions every day that we get them. One of the benefits of being one of the first teams to arrive at the lake last week is having been present for the final days of transformation that have turned Dorney into a full-fledged Olympic venue. Signs, flags, banners, colors, dock carpets, jumbo trons, cameras and sound system have all been put into place over the past few days and those little sheep that are placidly grazing along the upper half of the course aren’t going to know what hit them when racing starts.
Finally, I’m posting the most recent video I’ve done and the project that has kept me from blogging a little more regularly during my time here. This is a video that my boat and I discussed working on very early after our selection. They were good enough to provide me with the material, and even though not all of it is perfectly focused, and the audio isn’t great since we filmed it at the boathouse, I hope it gives you an idea of who we are, and how we work together as a Team. We have a lot of fun training and racing together and are all very proud and excited to be representing the US at the 2012 Games. I hope you enjoy getting to know your W4X.
Long Live the Dream,