Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wrapping Up a Phenomenal Winter Games Experience

It’s bittersweet as the Games here in Vancouver are winding down. I had the opportunity to go to the speedskating Team Pursuit medal round. To see races won or lost by .02 seconds is incredible. The difference between gold and silver is so unbelievably minute — a second feels like an eternity out on the ice!

The race that sticks out for me was when Germany's Anni Friesinger-Postma lost her balance and slid on her stomach for the final 25 meters. She looked more like a swimmer on ice as she crossed the finish line. She started to cry thinking she lost the race but she was able to get her skate across the line (skate has to cross to finish) to beat the U.S. by .23 seconds!

My friend Derek Parra (US Speedskating Head Coach) was in total shock. He told me after the race that Friesinger-Postma did a remarkable job getting her skate across the line but he was pretty bummed about losing the race.

I also caught up with Dave and Renee Wentz again at the USA House. Dave shared his pin collecting hobby with me and talked about it on the video posted above. You have to watch!

The Olympics have been so inspiring. This was my first Winter Games and I am extremely grateful to the USOC for providing me with such great access to current and former Olympians and for hosting me and all of the Olympians at the USA House. I was able to meet so many outstanding people!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Having a Blast in Vancouver!

Dave Wentz wearing his lucky USA hat.

Apolo Ohno

Friday was a blast! I toured the P&G House for Olympians and their families. It is similar to the USA House, but more commercial. One cool part of the P&G House was the spa where athletes can get massages, makeovers, hair styling, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get a massage!!

Later in the evening, I had the opportunity to catch up and spend time with Dave and Renee Wentz and host them at the USA House. Dave was sporting a few pins from his collection but the best part of his outfit was the USA hat! He said he wore that hat with pride in 2002 as well!

We had a great time seeing the athletes and we all got the opportunity to meet and talk with Apolo Ohno. Each night at the House, athletes come after their competition to celebrate with friends and family. No press is allowed, so it really allows them to get away. I continue to be impressed by how nice and humble the athletes are.

Here are some photos from the day:

Ryan Suter, Team USA Hockey

Again, the hat

US Speedskating short-track coach Jae Su Chun

US Speedskating's Travis Jayner

Cameron Myler, four-time Olympian for USA Luge

Speedskating great Dan Jansen

Seeing Vancouver, Listening to Olympians (Day 4)

Vancouver continues to be a great experience. Thankfully I have been able to get in my runs each day — one of the most difficult things to do when traveling. Exercise is the key for keeping up my energy on these long, busy days. I found a beautiful trail near the hotel and a great route by the water. I am really becoming a fan of Vancouver — as it is so inspiring to get out and be active here!

As for the Olympic experience, I caught up with Picabo Street (Olympic gold medalist, downhill kkiing), John Naber (Olympic gold medalist, swimming), and Kristi Yamaguchi (Olympic gold medalist, figure kkating) at a reception at the USA House (that place is really becoming my home here!!)

Picabo Street

Kristi Yamaguchi

John Naber

They were all so gracious as they thanked all of our sponsors and the people who have impacted their careers. Picabo talked about growing up in a poor family and she had fallen in love with a “rich person’s sport” and she could never have reached her potential without a lot of help.

I also walked around “the streets” to get a sense of the buzz around these Games. Lots of people (rain or shine!) trade pins, play instruments, have street performances, etc. The vibe here continues to be extremely lively and fun!

I have also been able to talk to a lot of people about USANA, as I have been well equipped with USANA beanies and gifts. I ran into a group of young men (below) who were thrilled to hear about USANA. I hope to see some of our USANA team soon!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Win-Win Day in Vancouver

I started the day with a reception for USANA Associates and the US Speedskating group at the US Speedskating House. It was a blast to get together and share our paths in USANA.

Karen Shumka, USANA Emerald Director, and I were betting (no money!!) on who would win the USA vs. Canada Women’s Hockey gold medal game yesterday. Of course I was USA all the way, but I was a tiny bit torn, as we have an incredible Canadian athlete on Team USANA — Jennifer Botterill.

As it turns out Canada won, and USANA won ... and I was really proud of Team USA! They have an incredible rivalry with Canada and on any given day either team could win.

Team USA Women's Hockey Team

Checking out Caitlin's silver medal

I was able to catch up with the USA Women’s Hockey Team after the game at the USA House. I talked with Caitlin Cahow (No. 8 USA) and her mom Barbara about their experience here and I got to hold Caitlin’s silver medal!

Although I may have a medal of my own, I was like a little kid when I got to touch Caitin’s medal. The design is spectacular!

To top it off, I got to meet members of our USANA-sponsored Women’s Speedskating team as well. All of the athletes are so gracious and humble. It’s inspiring to be around them...

US Speedskating's bronze medal 3,000 meter relay team

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Behind the Scenes in Vancouver (Day 3)

Another fantastic day here at the Olympics!

I had the opportunity to get a real behind the scenes look at speedskating. My friend Derek Parra, Olympic gold medalist and USANA Associate, is the US Speedskating national all-around head coach. We caught up for a few minutes and he spoke about coaching being a bit like parenting — you hope you raised them right and then you send them on and hope for the best.

When I walked into the Olympic Oval, I got chills watching the skaters glide effortlessly around the track. The sound of their skates on the ice makes an incredible sound — if “speed” had a sound that would be it.

The skaters were both extremely focused and relaxed at the same reminded me of our practices at the Olympics. It was not about hard work, it was all about focus and getting mentally ready. There is a universal feeling on the day of any competition — getting nerves under control to relax, focus, and do your best.

From there, I had the opportunity to meet a member of one of the greatest Olympic teams in history — Bob Suter from the 1980 USA Hockey Team!!! What a thrill for me and he was so incredibly humble!

Although it was another rainy day here in Vancouver, it continues to be an awesome experience!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Incredible Day 2 in Vancouver

Day 2 in Vancouver was great. Despite the rain, we did a lot of walking! I visited the Alumni House (“House” is another name for where Olympians from around the world can go and hang out, relax, and enjoy the Games).

The Alumni House was more like an art gallery in which there is an incredible display of photos from the Beijing Olympics. I met Michael, from the 2002 Greek Skeleton team, as you'll see in the video.

While we were there, the host had us both sign the Olympic wall of fame — there are some impressive names on that wall! As I was leaving the House, I ran into two USANA Associates who live here in Vancouver and they promise to be at Convention this summer!

From there I went to see Bonnie Blair at Right To Play, followed by some time at the USA House. The USA House is incredible! You can only access the House if you are a U.S. Olympian.

It is an awesome space right in the heart of Vancouver where we can hang out with other Olympians. The food is fantastic! I guess you could call it a home away from home. I am certainly enjoying this experience...and the people here in Vancouver have been fantastic!

2010 Winter Games in Vancouver: Day 1

A warm greeting!

Today was mostly a travel day from San Francisco to Vancouver. I was able to get the “lay of the land” from Alan and we did a quick tour of the city. What an infectious atmosphere! The Olympic spirit and enthusiasm for the games is everywhere!!

When I was in the Summer Olympics, it was so much different. We were fairly sheltered as we traveled with the men’s team, made up of mostly “rock stars” like Shaq O'Neil, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley, who could not freely roam the event, so we stayed in a hotel, not the athletes village. I feel fortunate to get a totally different feel for the spirit of the Olympics and I love it!

USANA pride

With Alan Bergstrom in Vancouver

Visiting with Miss British Columbia

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Incredible Venue for the All-Star Game

This has been a great week of events in Dallas! But the finalĂ© — the All-Star Game was absolutely amazing!!

Unless you have been to the Cowboys Stadium, it is hard to get a sense of how massive the 50-yard HD TV is — largest in the world! It hangs above what is normally a football field (which was converted to a basketball venue for the game).

There is no bad seat in the stadium for the record-breaking 108,000 fans — largest ever for a basketball game! I had seats on the second row, and could see the game perfectly well, but I found myself staring constantly at the gigantic TV!

On hand were the usual celebrities, and great music including a performance by Usher, but the real star of the night was the stadium. Unbelievable!!!

NBA All-Star Weekend (Day 4)

Dallas has been incredible! We had an Africa reception where NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the new NBA office in Johannesburg. The NBA will be developing the game in Africa.

My friend Dikembe Mutombo will be a major force in the effort to not only grow the game but to spread the message of NBA Cares around the continent.

We also had a WNBA reception where I had the opportunity to meet Maria Shriver and hear about the great work she is doing with the Special Olympics. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the NBA and the NBA Cares family. The work is so rewarding!

Here are a few more photos from the NBA All-Star Weekend... Will have some videos soon.