Of Torches, Medals and Bucket Lists

Yesterday morning, I woke up eagerly like a kid on Christmas with the promise of a tour through the U.S. Olympic Committee archives waiting under the tree.

(Quick shout-out to the fall 2013 intern class! We're a pretty proactive bunch, re-starting the intern blog [more info to come!] and the Intern Games, and getting this tour to happen. Good work, folks!)

We met up with Terry, the archivist, and her intern Cassandra and were immediately led into an office area where all historical photos are kept. Man, if I had a few hours to browse through there! Terry told us a little bit about her classification system for all the images she has and pulled out some photos from the Athens 1896 Opening Ceremony. So cool!

But after that came the really, really cool stuff. Terry took us down into the basement of the building that houses USA Shooting to where all the things are kept; uniforms, torches, medals, pins, merchandise, posters, film, etc. It's a magical land that sort of looks like prison.

Los Angeles 1984 and 1932-themed display for one of the Team USA Houses in Sochi.

Participation medals from Los Angeles 1932 (left) and Barcelona 1992 (right).
U.S. Olympic team poster for Nagano 1998. I'm OBSESSED!
From that little area where we saw the stuff pictured above, Terry led us back into the rows and rows of metal shelving where things are stored. Somehow I ended up right up at the front of the procession, so I was next to Terry as she was sorting through boxes and pulling stuff out for us. Conveniently, this meant I was one of the first people to get to hold everything. :)

Salt Lake City 2002 gold medal for women's curling.
Guys, I checked an item off my Olympic bucket list (and my Colorado bucket list, actually); I got to hold an Olympic medal! :D However, one of the negatives of being right at the front meant that this medal was well past me when Terry told us we could wear it as long as the metal didn't touch our skin. But I was okay with that, since this medal really wasn't the one I had come to see.

The torches came out next!

From left to right; Beijing 2008, Torino 2006, London 2012.
Terry brought out another medal next, and this time, I was prepared.

Bronze medal from Atlanta 1996.
It was around this time that some of us started looking around at the shelves closest to us, and we noticed some pretty interesting stuff.

I was basically in Olympic nerd heaven, which was only exacerbated by the emergence of...

A pin from the Tokyo 1940 Olympics that were cancelled due to World War II.
But by now, I was getting a little antsy. It didn't look like Terry was going to be showing us any more medals, and as much as I felt bad about making a request, I knew this would be my only shot. So I went for it.

"Terry, do you have any medals from 1980?"

"I don't have any from Moscow, but Lake Placid I do."

"Oh, uh, yeah, that's -- I mean, Lake Placid. That's what I was -- yeah."

And after a brief period of rooting around in boxes, during which I got kind of sweaty and jittery and had to restrain myself from watching over her shoulder while she searched... I had a Lake Placid 1980 Olympic gold medal hung around my neck. (No, seriously, Terry actually hung the medal around my neck as if I won it.)

Just to put things in perspective? During the Lake Placid Olympics, the only Americans to have these babies hung around their necks were Eric Heiden and the Miracle on Ice hockey team. Holy. Freaking. History. I'm still not over it. Pretty sure I'll be emotional about this for a good chunk of forever. *sniffle*

However, that wasn't the end of our tour, as Terry showed us a photo album one of the American athletes kept during Stockholm 1912.

Somehow, at the end of the tour, the 1980 medal made its way back into my possession and I got to cradle it like it was my child hang onto it for an extra few minutes before we left. That medal and I connected on a very spiritual level.

We left the archives and had the pizza Terry ordered for us (as if helping me check an item off my bucket lists wasn't enough, she fed me too!), and that was it.

So, y'know. It was a pretty okay way to spend a couple hours.

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  1. This is so cool!! I'm also insanely jealous you studied in London. I want to visit there so badly!! Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

    1. Yesss you definitely need to go to London someday, it's seriously the greatest city! :) Thanks for reading!

  2. Loving your site! I'm so excited to follow your journey!


    1. Oh yay, thank you! :) Your blog is really great too -- it makes me want to go and craft some things! lol.

  3. They keep boxes of old boycott letters from Moscow 1980?? I'd love to read some of those!