(Not) The Only Olympics Person You Know

February 20th, 1998. I was one day away from being seven years old.

It was some odd hour of the night – late, at least for an almost-seven-year-old. I was sitting on my parents’ bed, watching Tara Lipinski react to winning the ladies’ figure skating gold medal over Michelle Kwan in Nagano. And I. Was. MAD.

And so begin my Olympics memories.

I have a grand total of ZERO from Syndey. Like I’ve said before, the Winter Olympics are my thing, and always have been. I was one of those little girls who ate, slept, and breathed ice skating. Way back when, skating in America was far and away the best in the world, and I was at the perfect age to appreciate all the elaborate professional tours. Those names stick with me, even 13 years later – Kristi Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning, Scott Hamilton, Katerina Witt, Katerina Gorieva, Nicole Bobek, Rudy Galindo, Brian Boitano… catch my drift? Ice skating back then was AMAZING. (My parents taped a gazillion of those shows for me. I wonder if we still have them…)

Anyway, the point of that: I had a much more localized interest in the Olympics when I was younger. Apparently Sydney was a non-entity. I shake my head sadly at my nine-year-old self.

I credit Salt Lake City and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Mueller, for adding fuel to the fire that became my growing addiction. Those Olympics were a big deal! I’m sure that’s because they were on our turf, and I’m so thankful that they were; I have some great memories from that class. There was a huge map of the country outside our classroom, in the hallway. Every morning, a different person got to go online to see where the Olympic torch was that day, and then go stick a pin in the map to mark its position. When the Games finally started, we each got to choose from a list of athletes and sports to “cover”; we had to watch our athlete compete and report to the class on how well they had done, and fill out a worksheet on the results of the sport we chose. I had Kirsten Clark (a downhill skier), and ice dancing. My best friend Jen had Kelly Clark, the snowboarder, who I’m pretty sure won gold. Snowboarding happened before skiing, and on the day of Kirsten’s event I remember Jen telling me, “she’ll do well, she’s a Clark!” – yeah, I’m pretty sure she did NOT do well. :P

I don’t know if this was unique to my class or if the other classes did stuff like this as well, but Olympic fever was in full swing that year. For our yearbook, we had to write what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be an author & Olympic athlete.

I’d say my career goals are fairly consistent with what they were in fifth grade, no? Funny how things work out. :)

2002 was also the year of Sarah Hughes! Michelle Kwan lost the gold medal again in Salt Lake City, but this time I was ecstatic! Long Island had a gold medal figure skater! And she won on my birthday, no less! Molly slept over that night, and we spent the night on the den floor, wrapped in sleeping bags, grumbling about how much we hated Irina Slutskaya. When Sarah won, we jumped around the room and were borderline screaming with glee (at midnight – whoops! Sorry to my sleeping family members!). Newsday ran a poster of her within the next few days, and it hung on my bedroom wall for years.

My grandparents visited Salt Lake City not long after the Olympics ended, and came back bearing gifts – a t-shirt, keychain, and pins galore. I’m still rather obsessed with the shirt. It’s huge, and I sleep in it all the time.

That year, EVERYONE was an Olympics person.

I don’t remember what I did during the summer of 2004, other than that I watched the Athens Olympics ad nauseum. That was back in the days when HD TV was a novelty, and on DirecTV, those channels didn’t air commercials. So the Olympics were commercial free, and instead featured copious amounts of Greek scenery.

Let’s suffice it to say that I’m looking into studying abroad in Greece next year. And this is seven years later, folks. Gorgeous would be an understatement.

My memories of Athens are extremely vague, and there aren’t that many. I remember swimming consumed everyone’s lives because of Michael Phelps (and this is when Gary Hall, Jr. swam! Woo!) But for some reason, the thing that sticks out in my mind is when the cauldron was extinguished. It was modeled after the torch, absolutely giant, and the flame was at the top of the stadium. To close the ceremony, there was a little girl brought into the stadium, who blew out the torch like she was blowing out a candle.

Because it was summer, these Games weren’t as big a deal as Salt Lake. I have no recollection of whether or not I knew if anyone else was watching them. I think I just assumed that everyone else was as into it as I was.

But in 2006, that illusion was ruined forever.

The day after Torino’s opening ceremony, I bounded into school, bursting with excitement to talk to my friends about it. Imagine my disappointment when I was met with blank stares, casual shrugs, and “nah, I didn’t watch it. I don’t really care.”

I was aghast. They didn’t care?! About THE OLYMPICS?! How is that even possible?!

This was the beginning of my metamorphosis into “the only Olympics person I know.”

Man, if I had a nickel for the number of times I’ve heard someone say that. “Oh, of course it made me think of you, Darci! You’re the only Olympics person I know!”


For instance, let’s go back to that day in ninth grade. I sat down at the lunch table and asked if anyone else had watched the Olympics, simply as a last ditch effort, no longer expecting a yes. But Chandini gave me that yes! It turns out she was (and is) just as obsessed with it as I was (and am), and equally as confused as to why nobody else was. For the next few weeks, every lunch period consisted of a lengthy discussion of the previous night’s events, including some serious swooning over Apolo, figuring out how to spell Il Pomodoro Volante, and wondering why the curling match had suddenly gone all Technicolor for a second there.

I may be the only Olympics person YOU know, but thank god I’m not the only Olympics person I know! I have someone that understands my lack of a social life for three weeks every two years, and who freaked out with me when I got the chance to interview a guy who competed when our parents were barely teenagers, and who counted down to Vancouver 2010 with me when there were still over 1000 days remaining (and celebrated when it hit triple digits!), and who I’ll be sitting next to when I attend my first Opening Ceremony. Love you, girl!

Beijing 2008 passed in a haze of Italy. I was in the land of leaning towers, gondola rides, and gelato for almost exactly the entire duration of the Games. I saw the Opening Ceremony – which is definitely one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, bar none – several days of scattered competitions as I was home packing, scattered competitions when I had a free minute or two in whichever hotel we were in that day, and the Closing Ceremony. That’s it :(. Somehow I managed to see Usain Bolt become the fastest person in the history of ever (though I might’ve blinked and missed him, now that I think about it). I saw some sailing, some race walking (true story), and some weightlifting. I had to read about Michael Phelps winning his zillionth gold medal in an Italian newspaper I found in a little cafĂ© we stopped in to go to the bathroom. The Closing Ceremony was on the night I got home. It was late in New York, and even later in Italy (hooray jet lag!), but I didn’t stagger into bed until the cauldron had been extinguished and the flag had been passed to Vancouver’s organizing committee.

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve already heard my Vancouver saga, so I won’t go into too much detail. But during Vancouver I found myself another Olympics person! Ali, who I hadn’t spoken to in ages (and hadn’t seen since the summer of 2007, which was when we met), bonded over a shared love of Apolo and Shaun White. We started texting daily, and still keep in touch very regularly over a year later :).

Since Vancouver, I’ve also discovered a fellow Olympics enthusiast in Lindsay, a fellow member of The Hurricane’s editorial staff. We’ve spent many a walk from practicum to the newsroom chatting about all things Olympics, ultimately culminating in her demonstration of Sarah Hughes’ weird toe loop takeoff technique in the middle of the UC breezeway. Who says tabling isn’t fun?

Hm, writing this at 1:30 in the morning might not’ve been the best idea… I think I got a little off-topic and ramble-y.

But the point is, Olympics fans? You are not alone! You just think you are because you’re not being vocal about it, and nobody else is being vocal about it because everyone just assumes that they’re alone in their interest.

Being vocal leads to great things, though. When I tell people what I want to do with my life, their eyes get big, and they exclaim “that’s awesome!/that’s so cool!/oh wow!” To which I respond “trust me, I know!” ;). And being the only Olympics person my mom’s best friend knows has certainly come in handy… but I don’t want to jinx that (still), so I’ll save that topic for later. Being vocal also lead to Gary Hall, and my being assigned the story on Coach Deem.

And being vocal about my passion will one day lead to blog entries written from inside one of the Olympic training centers as I eagerly await the start of my internship.

One day, I'll make that little fifth grader's dreams come true.

500 Days Until Summer

I let the 500-day mark until London 2012 pass by without a blog entry. Shame on me!

I’m REALLY excited for London. I can’t remember ever being this excited about an Olympics this far in advance, and I’m not really sure why I am now. The summer Olympics aren’t my favorite – I mean, I watch them 24/7, don’t get me wrong, but winter is my thing. But I think it’s a perfect storm of circumstances this time around; during Beijing 2008 I was in Italy the entire time, so all I saw were the opening and closing ceremonies, which means I haven’t watched a summer Olympics since Athens in 2004; I have a vested interest in Coach Deem, so I’m itching for track and field to start already; and there’s the possibility (which is mostly just hope at this point) that I could be working there.

I think London will be the first Games I’ve followed since before the host city was even chosen. That was way back in 2004; luckily that was a rather eventful year for me, and I have a surprising number of memories from then. My (Olympics-themed) Bat Mitzvah was on Feb. 7th, 2004. On my birthday (Feb. 21st) that year, a rally was held at Rockefeller Center to support NYC’s bid as a candidate city for the 2012 summer Olympics. It was a gray, dreary, snowy day, but my mom took me! The crowd was massive and I don’t remember a thing about who spoke, who skated, or what actually happened. But they gave out NYC2012 Candidate City flags, which we still have at home. :)

Obviously, NYC lost the bid that fall. But MAN, how awesome would it have been if it won?! (Of course, if I get the chance to work in London next summer, it’ll be better that NYC didn’t win. I want to go places!)

That summer, my grandparents took Molly and me to London. We used to go on a trip every summer, to places a few hours away by car. But this was our big present for our Bat Mitzvahs! It was my first time out of the country (other than Canada), and I was excited beyond excited. The host city for 2012 was chosen sometime in the fall, so when we were there in August, campaigning was in full swing. I clearly remember being in the restaurant on the top floor of a museum for tea time, looking out the window, and seeing a London 2012 sign on a nearby building. And, according to my grandpa's photographic evidence, they were just about everywhere else, too.

Won’t it be amazing if I actually get to go? Talk about coming full circle!

Honestly, I’m planning on getting myself there one way or another. Absolute best case scenario would be if I had the letters “USA” on my back and media credentials hanging around my neck… holy goosebumps just thinking about it, Batman! Second best case scenario? I’m studying abroad somewhere next spring, and a part of me wants to stay in a cheap studio apartment in London for the summer, work, eat nothing but Ramen for a few months, and go to the Opening Ceremony. That’s all I need. My goal is to go to an opening ceremony sometime before I die, and it’s GOING to happen. I have some friends who claim to be with me on this plan, so if four or so of us share an apartment, rent won’t be too bad. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Slight side note: while walking through JFK airport today, I saw a row of clocks on the wall that were set to the times in different cities around the world. The first two next to New York were London and Rio de Janeiro. Me being me, my first thought is “ooooohhh, the next two summer Olympics!” I then proceeded to look at the other cities… Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Sydney. Host, host, and host. Sad face for New York! Way to be the black sheep!

Otherwise, nothing too major to report. I potentially have stuff coming up, but nothing’s for sure yet, and I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m biting my tongue for the time being. But until then…

495 days and counting!

Of Internships and Brick Walls

Well, it’s official: I’m (almost) done applying for summer internships! And the “almost” means all I have left is the one that has to go out by mail.

...Seriously? You’re going to make me buy 8x10 envelopes, use some of my printing money to print out cover letter/resume/writing samples, drag my butt to the post office, and spend MORE money to send it? Really? How archaic!

I mean, let’s not kid ourselves. I’m going do it. But I’d really much rather click “upload,” fill in a few blanks, and click “send.” Honestly though, I WISH it was that simple!

Applying for internships is almost as stressful as applying for college. It might even be MORE stressful, because I knew for a fact that I’d be getting into college. With internships, I could completely whiff on all of them. I shouldn’t (and hopefully I won’t!), but I could. *bites nails*

First, there’s the whole resume process. Updating it, tearing your hair out to try and make everything fit on one page, taking it to Toppel to get critiqued, tearing your hair out some more trying to make it look nice, and then sending it to your second cousin to look at and having the format completely changed ANYWAY. It was all enough to make me want to curl up under my quilt and, in the words of Dane Cook, “take a coma” until August.

(I really did appreciate all the help, though. Thanks Larry! <3)

And writing a cover letter? Oh boy. That was a fun process. And I know I can write well! But I was still staring at a blank Word document for longer than I care to admit. I think they ended up turning out pretty well, though.

Then there was the ordeal of figuring out application deadlines, which meant going through every internship website I’d bookmarked (note: it was a lot). But the best part (/sarcasm) is that most of them didn’t even have a date listed! One had an actual date, one had a week, and one had a day they’d post the actual applications by. That’s it. Fast fact: I work better under some kind of deadline, or with some kind of guidelines. This open-ended baloney? Not so much!

(Of course, this was just me being a worrier. I know the selection process happens in early April, and the deadlines I DID have were for the first week in March, so I connected the dots and followed the breadcrumbs. Hey, at least I know when I’m being overly dramatic, right? :P)

Then came the actual applying. Oh, how I wish it were as easy as upload and send! Each one has its own system, which meant making an account on each one, and then filling in all the information that’s already on your resume, even though you’ll just be uploading your resume at the end ANYWAY. A couple of the websites used the same system for internships, which I didn’t realize until I’d already submitted a specifically-tailored resume/cover letter to one of them. Whoops. Redo!

And the resume-upload option for the USOC internships just uploads it straight into a text box, which proceeds to completely botch the format. It made me really nervous, but I submitted them like that anyway, since there was nothing I could do about it. The content is all the same, though, so that should be what matters! Power of positive thinking! :)

It’s nice to finally be (almost) done (though I’m still wondering when I’ll have time to go to the post office)! Between studying for midterms, staying on top of reading (yeah, I’m one of those nerds that actually does the readings our syllabi tell us to), trying to finish (read: start) my gazillion-page sitcom analysis, writing for the paper, work, and applying for internships, I’ve been a giant ball of stress for the last week or so.

Applications were so tedious and aggravating, that as I was feeling the pressure of the real world and life and school and the potential of failure crushing in on me, I wondered if it was worth it. Why bother spending so much time and effort applying for things I might not even get?

But then Randy Pausch, the eternal voice of reason, the author of the only nonfiction book that has ever made me cry like a baby, popped into my head.

"Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people."


Annoying applications aren’t even a brick wall. They’re like one of those little plastic pails in your way when you’re walking on the beach. Definitely annoying when you stub your toe on it, but extremely easy to kick to the side and keep walking.

And lets be honest: I’d jump through hoops to get an awesome internship this summer. (And for the USOC, I’d do it literally. Gimme a hoop!)

But as of right now, most brick walls have been climbed, most pails kicked away, and most hoops jumped through.

Now I’m in that awkward limbo stage. Luckily, the limbo I dealt with for Endurance was more intense than probably anything like it I could ever experience. That thrill knowing they’ve received your audition tape in the mail, the agonizing nerves as the days slipped away and the deadline got closer, hoping for the best but expecting the worst, having a thousand heart attacks every time the phone rang…

Been there, done that. Twice.

It’s the same thing now. I applied for the USOC internships today, and felt that same little flicker of “OMGIDIDIT! AAAHHHHHYAYAYAYAY!”

But after a few seconds, there was the same shifty glance around the room, wondering how I’m going to deal with not knowing for another month or so.

*Glances at the calendar and taps fingers impatiently*

Is it April 4th yet?

No? Well then, one more Randy Pausch quote, because I love the man. (And because I not-so-secretly hope he’s right!)

"It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life, ... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you."