I just realized that I never wrote anything about Opening Ceremonies! To say that it was an amazing experience is an understatement. As an athlete, I totally understand the importance of the Games (obviously). It’s all that I wanted for more than half of my life. I watched the 2006 games when I was 8. I watched Shaun win and scream with the American flag around his shoulders and I dreamed of the possibility of having that ever since. One thing that I never really understood though was the importance of the event on a global scale. For the last Winter Olympics I was 12. I watched snowboarding again but I think I was busy packing for a trip on the night of Opening Ceremonies. For the Summer Olympics I was in New Zealand and the T.V. situation was bleak. So, this Opening Ceremony was the first one I’d ever seen.
Crutches √ Sweater √ Smile√
I’d heard all about how Opening Ceremonies is the highlight of the Olympic experience. I was on crutches at that point (2 days post-injury) but there was no way I was going to miss my chance to walk. All of the athletes from the United States that were staying in the Mountain Village met in the lobby of our building. Alone, those sweaters look hideous, but Team USA collectively was looking pretty good. I walked/hobbled outside to the busses with everybody, saw some of the other countries in their uniforms, loaded up, and followed the train of shuttles full of the best winter sports athletes in the world to the stadium. When we got out, I crutched into the stadium in a blur of sore arms, selfies, and photobombs, and joined U.S.A. in line. Each country is lined up in alphabetical order. So pretty much as a group you just walk through the hallways of the stadiums behind all of the other countries until yours gets to the main entrance. Through the hallways, there are tons of volunteers for the event cheering and people taking photos. We got a glimpse of the crowd at one point and I freaked out.
Jess and I just before going into the stadium
This one is for Pam McElmon – 16 and Under Club! (Maggie Voisin, Julia Krass, and myself)
This one is for Ash and Dad – Alex Deibold and I (and a proper photobomb by Arielle Gold)
Ron and I stoked on life! Taylor Gold with the pb
When the USA got to the front of the line, we walked out. I always hear about how loud it is, but I don’t think I heard much of anything, the same way I don’t hear anything when I snowboard. The noise was dull but my smile was not. I had the biggest goofiest looking face the whole time, so stoked to be a part of something so big. I gave a few teammates/friends huge hugs and we walked around to our seats. Once we sat down, I looked at Jess and was like “…We just walked in the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics…”. We both started laughing. I’m really not sure if I did something awesome in a past life that made me deserve the one I have now, or if I won the lottery of life by a stroke of luck, but either way I did. I sometimes think about the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had in only 16 years and can’t help but wonder how I ended up so lucky and fortunate.
The show was really cool. I can’t wait to watch it again on TV and check out the view that people got from home. People were a little bit anxious about something happening there, but honestly it’s baffling how tight the security situation is and our concerns were pretty silly. Still, the first set of cannon explosions went off on stage directly in front of where the whole U.S. team was sitting and I swear everyone jumped about 3 ft. in their chairs. I definitely almost hit the deck.
The coolest part of the ceremony was the speech that was given. During the speech, the whole thing really sunk in. I thought that the Games were mostly just a big media circus, a chance to represent your country, and another snowboard competition but in reality it is a lot more than that. It’s about international camaraderie, sportsmanship, and equality, and integrity in competition. As it all sunk in, I realized how proud I was of myself for being able to stand where I was. At that point, even though I still wanted to do my best and certainly was not going to hold back in the event by any means, I was really content with what I’d already achieved. It sounds corny, but as the Olympic flag was being raised, I could literally feel it all in my heart. All of the stress from the events prior rolled off as I realized that everything from that point on was a bonus. I was just living in the moment, on a high thinking of how crazy it is that I have the life I do.