My Life in #SochiProblems

Well, Sochi 2014 is officially dunzo. Like, for real this time. The Paralympic flame has been extinguished and I've already the words "Road to Rio" uttered at the office. Wasting. no. time.

Considering all I've blogged about for the last, uh, month and a half is Sochi, I figured it's high time to update on the status of my life since returning to Colorado and starting my job. In a nutshell, it has been one giant series of #SochiProblems. Though, thankfully, I did not have to deal with dangerous face water. Mine were significantly more enjoyable than that, and involved the most hours of Olympics and Paralympics I've ever watched in my life.

I started my job in an all but empty office; a week and a half before the Games, almost everyone was either in Munich for team processing, already in Sochi, or about to leave for Sochi. And within a day or so of starting, I was handed this.

What is this rainbow explosion, you ask? That's my department's Games-time work schedule. My hours are blocked in in green. The top half of the paper (above the page break) indicates the early shift (3 a.m.-9 a.m.), and the bottom half the late shift (9 a.m.-3 p.m.). Look at all that green on the top half of the paper!

I was, essentially, jetlagged without ever leaving Colorado Springs. My life was half on Sochi time, half on mountain time. Working the early shift also meant being able to work from home, so since my only late shift was on a Saturday, I didn't set foot in the office for a full two weeks. Most bizarre two weeks of my life? Why yes, they were!

My schedule went something like this:

2:50 a.m.: Stagger out of bed, make myself instant coffee/chai tea latte and flip on the TV to NBCSN. Because what else am I going to do at 3 a.m. but watch Olympics coverage? Exactly.

3:00 a.m.: Settle onto the couch, browse for the morning's live stream/broadcast schedule, and start working. Open up several tabs so I can watch as many sports simultaneously as possible. (Olympics FOMO is real, and it's a struggle. Especially when you're trying to use Photoshop at the same time. It's amazing my computer didn't spontaneously combust.)

4:30 a.m.: Breakfast. Usually a smoothie or cereal, but one day I had a pizza bagel. No shame.

5:00 a.m.: On several days, this is when hockey started. Scream at the TV and hope the neighbors are either sound sleepers or doing the exact same thing I am.

6:00 a.m.: Vaguely notice that the sun is rising.

8:00 a.m.: I'm starving and it's waaayy too early for lunch, so, snack time!

9:00 a.m.: Finish working. Well, sometimes. Usually I had stuff to do until at least 10 a.m.

10:00 a.m.: Watch the big-ticket event of the day (since this is primetime in Sochi). Generally figure skating or hockey, and more screaming at the TV.

1:00 p.m.: When the previous event ends and I feel my stomach is capable of handling food after whatever I just witnessed... lunchtime.

3:00 p.m.: By now, NBCSN is re-airing coverage from the early morning hours that I've already seen, so I have a few hours to step away from the TV. Grocery shopping, showering, etc. All the stuff that functional members of society have to do.

6:00 p.m.: Dinner.

7:00 p.m.: Flip on primetime coverage on NBC. Hope to see stuff I haven't already. Usually end up disappointed in that regard and dozing off while they replay the stuff I started my day watching.

8:30 p.m.: Bedtime, before I totally pass out on the couch. Get ready to do it all again the next day!

On the days that I didn't have to work, the only thing that changed was that I'd sleep until 5 or 6 a.m. WHOA, I know, gettin' crazy there!

So basically, I spent almost 24/7 watching TV on the couch. Oops? Before my roommate got home after her month in Sochi, I tried really hard to smooth it out so it didn't look like I left a butt print in her couch. The jury's still out on whether or not this was successful. She hasn't said anything, though, so I think I'm good.

That's prior to my smoothing efforts. I mean, can you tell that's where I spent the vast majority of two weeks? It's practically a nest. I'm a little bit ashamed.

For some added bizarreness, my schedule was two days on, one day off. So in the entirety of the Games, I had a single day off that fell during a weekend. Between that, my bedtime of 8:30 and the fact I was working from home, I all but became a hermit. Most of my social interaction came from going grocery shopping. I DID see a friend on my birthday, though! (It was a Friday and I'd had the day off, but got up before the sun that morning to watch the U.S. men's hockey team lose to Canada.)


Then the Olympics ended, and there was a week and a half in-between period, when the Olympics were over and the Paralympics hadn't yet begun. People started returning to the office (and the Paralympic staff left), and all sorts of Para prep started happening as Olympics tasks wound down.

My hours for the Paralympics were far less weird, as there was less we had to do. But it still involved some serious weekend hours, and two weekdays of working 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Ever wonder what it's like going to work at 6 a.m.?

It really wasn't bad at all, though, after prying my face from my pillow at 5 a.m. I watched our live streaming while I worked, the days ended early and I got awesome parking spots both at work AND at home. (Yeah, I'm one of those people that gets excited about parking spots now. Is this what adulthood is?) And I only had to work in the dark for like, 10 minutes, tops. :P

Coincidentally, I happened to be working the early shift on two days that were very significant to Team USA: the day our athletes won eight medals (including that baller men's snowboarding sweep!), and the day the sled hockey team won gold. It was SO EXCITING to be the person that got to deal with such amazing results! But more results, however, did mean more work.

That's what my planner looked like on the sled hockey gold medal day. But hell, what an awesome day to be working. And look who decided to be a good roommate and tell me to stop working when I got up to get myself food!

That's Charlie. Aaaaand I'm pretty sure he just wanted his spot on the couch back.

And now it's all over. It's been OVER A MONTH since the Olympic Closing Ceremony (how?!?!?!?!?!?!), I have finally emerged from my apartment and been social with my friends and, though we may already be on the road, Rio isn't for another two and a half years. Now, instead of watching the Olympics and Paralympics, I get to turn my attention to things like starting the job hunt again...

Ugh, no, can we rewind a few weeks?

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I'm Not Crying, I Just Have the Paralympics In My Eye

I wanted to write a sort of conclusion to my weeks and weeks of Sochi posts before I write the obligatory blogger life update (which will, of course, revolve entirely around Sochi), but I'm not entirely sure how to do it. So I'm just going to kind of word vomit and hope something intelligible happens. Adventurous! Yay!

So I was texting with Amanda on Monday night after Dancing with the Stars, and we were both raving about how well Meryl, Charlie and Amy did (gooooo Team USA!). We, like the rest of the world, were blown away by how AMAZING Amy was, and Amanda mentioned how she thought the judges were going to cry. I responded, "Uhhhh I've been crying for the entire Paralympics, so I don't blame them!"

Seriously though. All it takes is the slightest glimpse of anything Paralympic-related and I have to take a deep breath and swallow back the tears. It's kind of absurd, actually. Especially the medal ceremonies. Don't even get me started. But I do want to point out some images that are now among my favorite ever.

Alpine skier Mark Bathum and his guide Cade Yamamoto. [x]
I talked about visually impaired athletes and their guides as one of the reasons you should watch the Paralympics, and holy cow, this picture. This. picture.

...Yep, just sat here for a solid five minutes trying to figure else what to say about it. There are no words. Just a more or less perpetual lump in my throat.

Equally as tear-jerking is Stephanie Jallen, an adorable but totally bad-ass 18-year-old alpine skier with only one arm and one leg (and now two Paralympic bronze medals). She shouted to herself through all her runs down the mountain, coaching herself through it, and I'll never forget her reaction to winning her first medal. Someone had given her a phone (I'm assuming to call family at home), and she doubled over, sobbing into it. "I got bronze! I got a medal!" (I'm sitting here getting weepy just writing about it.)

And THEN she did this on the podium.

[x] [x]
If you don't think this is everything that's good in the world, we can't be friends because I'm pretty sure you have no soul. Juuuuust saying.

While I saw significantly less of the Paralympics than I did of the Olympics, what I did see 100% made me a believer. And please, if you like a good ceremony, watch the Paralympic Closing Ceremony. I laughed. I cried (yep, shocker). I was inspired. I was in awe. And I often had no idea what the hell was going on. In other words, it was exactly what a closing ceremony should be!

As sad as I am so see the Paralympics go, I'm extremely glad I can go back to being an emotionally stable adult human being. It's time for my usual mild cynicism to slap some sense back into me, if for no other reason than to give my tear ducts a freaking break already. But I'm so, so glad these Paralympics were such a success, because I happily look forward to all the tears in my future during Rio in 2016.

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The U.S. hockey team beat Russia for a gold medal in Sochi.

Wasn't that what we were all hoping for? The first time Olympic hockey was played in Russia, and the U.S. won the top prize over the host country in front of their home fans!

Well, plot twist: it happened in sleds instead of skates.

While the U.S. men's and women's Olympic teams finished their respective tournaments with a whimper, the sled hockey team finished with the ultimate bang. Aaaand it was pretty great. As the content assistant on duty, I had to type "2014 Paralympic Winter Games, gold" into 17 player bios on two different platforms after the game ended. That's 34 times, for those of you who are mathematically challenged like myself. And let me tell you, it never got any less cool, not even all the way down at Yohe. :)

But anyway, it's kind of a pretty big deal, and not just because it beat the Russian team in the finals. Let's talk about the good ol' U.S. sled hockey team for a sec, shall we?

1. Sled hockey has been played in six Paralympics. The U.S. has fielded a team in five, and now has three gold medals and one bronze. Let's recap: four medals in five tries. Four medals. In five tries. Three gold medals since 2002. #domination

2. The U.S. won gold in Vancouver 2010. The gold in Sochi makes them the first ever back-to-back sled hockey gold medalists in Paralympic history. (Back-to-back golds is also something that neither the men's nor women's Olympic teams have yet managed, FYI.)

3. Goalie Steve Cash played on the 2010 team also, and didn't give up a Paralympic goal until the final round robin game in 2014. That means he had a shutout going for over 300 minutes of Paralympic play.

4. The first Paralympic goals scored on Cash were scored by Russia in round robin play, which ended up being a 2-1 loss for the U.S. It was their first Paralympic loss since 2006, but they bounced back and rolled over Canada in their next game, 3-0, and then beat Russia in the rematch for gold. So not only are they skilled, they clearly have the right fighting attitude.

5. Team USA's highest scoring line: a 15-year-old, a 16-year-old, and a 21-year-old. Is it safe to say that the road to PyeongChang 2018 begins now, or...???

I certainly hope you flipped on the gold medal game today -- it was on NBC, so there was NO EXCUSE not to! -- but if not, file this info away for now. 'Cause in 2018, you can watch the U.S. sled hockey team attempt a golden three-peat (a USA Hockey and Paralympic first!) and drop all sorts of knowledge on people. Boom.

And another if not? You missed a good time.

In other news, Sochi 2014 officially ends tomorrow (*cries*). I'm still not over London 2012 yet, and now I have to grieve over another Olympics? Boo. But watch the closing ceremony live with me tomorrow and let's milk this last day for all its worth! :)

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6 Reasons You Should Be Watching The Paralympics

Real talk: I've unfortunately never watched a single minute of competition during a Paralympic Games, winter or summer. I tried, during London, but there were a grand total of four hours of televised coverage, I couldn't get the streams to work, and I was in the middle of the most hellishly busy semester of my life. Basically, it wasn't in the cards. I DID watch the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, though. I couldn't not watch it, what with my London 2012 Ceremonies involvement! And that one ceremony was enough to totally make me a Paralympic convert. There's something incredible about watching athletes in wheelchairs or with prosthetic limbs march (or, er, roll) into the stadium.

Now that I'm officially on the team behind the team, I've been working with the Paralympic side of things since the Olympics ended. So I'm reading all these stories and watching all these videos, and I'm wondering HOW the Paralympics don't get more attention! I am so. freaking. excited to watch these bionic human beings compete. Don't worry, the bandwagon has plenty of room for you too. ;)

(That right there is Evan Strong, a para-snowboarder and totally adorable human being. Just FYI.)

+All those great things about the Olympics? They all apply to the Paralympics too! Every. single. one. So break out your American flag socks and set your alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning, my friends, because wheelchair curling only comes to your TV screen once every four years! (Yes, you read that correctly: wheelchair curling. It's curling... in wheelchairs. Honestly, do I even need to continue writing this post? That alone should have you sold.)

+These athletes are more capable than most able-bodied people. I don't even like saying "able-bodied people," because Paralympic athletes are sure as hell nothing less than able. Seriously, I don't like the idea of careening down a mountain with two legs and my eyesight, let alone short a limb or two or totally unable to see.

And the extremely high number of two-sport athletes deserves a mention. Alana Nichols competed in wheelchair basketball in 2008 and 2012, and alpine skiing in 2010 and 2014. Tatyana McFadden has 10 wheelchair track and field Olympic medals under her belt from 2004, 2008 and 2012, and is making her winter debut in Nordic skiing. Augusto Perez competed in wheelchair curling in 2006 and 2010, and is now a Nordic skier. And those are just the ones I know off the top of my head!

There are NO WORDS for how mind-blowing these people are.

+Visually-impaired athletes and their guides. Blind athletes are able to compete in alpine and Nordic skiing with the help of a guide, who skis the course immediately ahead of them. The guide has a microphone and the athlete has the receiver in his or her helmet, and the guide calls out instructions and warnings and course conditions and such as they're skiing.

So, can we just talk about this for a second? Paralympic skiers are incredibly fast -- faster than most able-bodied people -- which mean guides have to be borderline world class skiers themselves to be able to stay ahead. So essentially, guides are phenomenal athletes who have decided not to compete for themselves, but instead to help someone else achieve their dreams. The thought alone makes me want to burst into tears. And how about the husband who's a guide for his wife?

+Snowboardcross. This is the first time that para-snowboarding is on the program. Yes, snowboardcross, that absolutely insane sport that leaves me riddled with anxiety just watching it. But these guys and gals do it with a prosthetic leg... or, in Amy Purdy's case, TWO prosthetic legs.

+The U.S. sled hockey team is the answer for all disgruntled USA Hockey fans. Bummed about how our men did in the Olympics? Well, the sled boys are defending gold medalists! In the four Paralympics that have included sled hockey, the U.S. has two golds (and a bronze). Meanwhile, men's hockey has been included at the Olympics since 1920 (22 times) and the U.S. has... two golds (and eight silvers and a bronze). The sled team got the same amount of gold medals in, what, a quarter of the time? I believe that is the dictionary definition of gettin' it done.

+Every single Paralympian has more or less been to hell and back. You've got veterans injured in the line of duty, you've got cancer survivors, you've got survivors of horrific accidents, and you've got everything in between. A lot of them never thought they'd be able to compete in sports again, let alone compete on the biggest stage in the world. So by being at the Paralympics, they've achieved something beyond their wildest dreams.

And really, isn't that what we all aspire to do?

(So this totally wasn't meant to be a sales pitch, but if you have some time, please tune in! All events are being live streamed at (that link takes you directly to the landing page -- I even did the "hard" part for you!), and 52 hours are being broadcast on NBC and NBCSN between March 7-16. Come on, you know you want to!)

Venus Trapped in Mars

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The 6 Best Surprise Discoveries of Sochi 2014

So, I definitely didn't mean to go this long between posts. Oops? I'd forgotten how hard it is to blog regularly while working full-time in an office like a normal person! As much of a struggle as working at 3 a.m. during the Olympics was, those shifts were worked from my uber comfy couch and left me free as a bird after around 10 a.m. This "real life" thing is going to take some getting used to! (More on my Olympics-life to come in a future post. Stay tuned for those shenanigans.)

But anyway... thought you'd seen the last of the Sochi posts, hadn't you? Well, the LOLz are on you! Not only am I suffering from Post-Olympics Depression (the struggle is real, my friends), but the Sochi 2014 Paralympics are rapidly approaching, i.e. they start on FRIDAY! So we all get to live in the Sochi bubble for another couple of weeks. :)

The big athlete stories of the Games really aren't a secret to anyone, and these athletes headline all of NBC's primetime coverage; Shaun White, Gracie Gold, Lolo Jones, etc. etc. etc. But one of my favorite parts of the Olympics are the athletes in the background. Maybe they're not medal contenders, or maybe their sport isn't all that well-known, or maybe they're not American -- or heck, all of the above. But some of the best quirks and personalities remain largely hidden from the reaches of NBC, until... surprise! So here are some of my favorite Sochi discoveries!

Kate competes in luge, and therefore took a backseat to teammate (and bronze medalist) Erin Hamlin in the media department... until, that is, she started breakin' it down during warm-ups. The girl's got moves and, in case you've been living under a rock, they've totally gone viral! She told NBC in an interview that she jams to Beyonce, and Queen Bey herself posted "Go Kate!" on her Facebook page. Kate brought the party to the sliding center and "dance-blessed" Hamlin's medal and is basically the coolest.

In the anxiety-riddled world of snowboardcross, the only athlete I'd ever really been aware of was Lindsey Jacobellis. But Eva, who hails from the Czech Republic, won gold in Sochi. But the thing that jumps out immediately is... yes, that's a mustache. Every time she makes it to a final, she draws a mustache on her face for good luck. And I mean, now she's an Olympic gold medalist, so it doesn't appear to be hurting her performance!

Misha is a figure skater, and probably one that primetime totally skipped out on; after all, he's from Uzbekistan and was nowhere near the podium. However, dude put on a show. Misha came out and rocked the hell out of his long program on a night nobody else could stay on their feet. Not only did he skate well, he danced like a rockstar and skated to a song with lyrics. That's not allowed and meant an automatic point deduction, but did he care? NOPE! He was having the time of his frickin' life! How's that for a modern-day Surya Bonaly? #rebel

Oh, Gus here might just be my favorite. I don't think anyone in the general public knew his name three weeks ago. But then he was smack in the middle of the historic U.S. podium sweep in men's slopestyle skiing, and then he was adopting a whole litter of stray puppies, and suddenly the world has EXPLODED with Gus-love. I mean, seriously, it's a cute boy with a cute puppy and Olympic hardware. What more could you want?!

My apologies for making mustaches a pattern here, but dude. Dude. Look at that 'stache! I didn't think it was possible for a freestyle skier to look like he stepped out of an old photo from the '20s, but Filip nails it. And the helmet?!?! He may not've medaled in Sochi, but he officially wins everything. Between Filip and the blue and neon green uniforms, I'm starting to develop a soft spot for Slovenia!

Yet another freestyle skier. Sorry, but apparently those guys are awesome. Henrik is quite the character, as evidenced by his dreads and, uh, pants on the ground. He's not really the mental picture I have of a Swede. But why do I love him? His good luck charm is an uncooked egg, carried with him during his runs, as inspired by Cool Runnings. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's slopestyle time!

Sigh. I'm going to miss these folks being in my life. But I can't wait to see what characters the Paras treat us to! :)

Who were your quirky favorites from Sochi?

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