Earlier this week, the Twitter account for the potential Boston 2024 Olympic bid tweeted asking about everyone's favorite Olympic memories. Well, their first tweet on the subject actually said "moment," not "memory," so obviously my answer was the Miracle on Ice. And let's be real, the Miracle on Ice is never the wrong answer, to any question in any situation. But when Boston 2024 started asking about memories instead of moments, it got me thinking. What ARE my favorite Olympic memories? I certainly have a ton of them. So I thought it'd be fun to go through each Games that I remember and pick my favorite from each one. :)
The ladies' figure skating long program was on the night of my 11th birthday. When I was a kid I was the BIGGEST figure skating nut, so my cousin Molly slept over and we stayed up late to watch it. Because of the Utah/New York time difference, the final programs weren't on until close to midnight (which was a big deal to a couple of fifth graders!). Sarah Hughes was my girl -- she was from Long Island just like me! -- and Molly and I got so intense rooting for her. She was fourth going into the long program, absolutely knocked her skate out of the park, and we were absolutely dying as the rest of the skaters performed. When she won, we shrieked and jumped around and threw our pillows in jubilation. (I know, we were ridiculous. And adorable. And it was awesome.)
I have surprisingly sketchy memories from Athens. I think I was actually on my first-ever trip to London, which might explain why my recollections are fuzzy and/or nonexistent! I do, however, remember when the Olympic flame was put out during the closing ceremony. The cauldron was on top of the stadium, and a little girl on the ground blew it out as if it was a candle on a birthday cake. I'm not sure why that stuck with me, but it's still one of my favorite closing moments!
Yet another Games I have precious few memories of. Man, where was my brain? This was when I first fell in love with my man Apolo Ohno, and discovered Shaun White (il Pomodoro Volante, the Flying Tomato!)... and I know I watched the U.S. men's curling team win bronze, and was utterly perplexed by Johnny Weir, and was thrilled about Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto... but I don't have that one standout moment. Let's pretend I remember watching Apolo's perfect race, shall we? I know exactly how it would've gone, too: screaming my throat raw, digging my fingernails into my face, you know the drill.
I spent most of these Games in Italy (with Molly, again! Are we noticing a pattern here?), so I watched very little of it. However, I'll never forget watching the opening ceremony with my mom. I wasn't really sure what to expect from it, but within about 15 seconds we'd fallen completely silent and were just flat-out dumbstruck. We seriously didn't say a word, and just sat there in slack-jawed awe for the entire first segment. I still don't have words for it. I think we glanced at each other during the first commercial break and had a "hahaha, okay, holy crap?" moment.
I have so many phenomenal memories from Vancouver, because it was the only Games I got to watch while I was at college. So I literally watched Olympic coverage all day, every day, and did so surrounded by some amazing people. I could make a whole list just from Vancouver memories, but my favorite is a no-contest: the men's hockey gold medal game. I watched in a friend's dorm room with a group of people. It was freshman year, and in freshman dorms all doors are open at all times, so you could hear all the TVs on the floor were playing the game as well, each a second or two off from each other. My friends and I were yelling at the TV the entire game, on the edge of our seats, watching the clock tick down to a U.S. loss... until, at the last possible second, we heard frantic yelling and cheering from down the hall. A split second later, our TV caught up, and we watched Zach Parise score the tying goal. So we were screaming and celebrating, and suddenly some guys from the room next door stampeded in to see what happened -- their TV was even more delayed than ours was! They were so anxious to see the goal that they ended up completely missing it! It was the craziest celebratory moment, coupled with the hilarity of dorm life, and I'll honestly never forget it. :)
I had spent four months as a London 2012 Ceremonies volunteer from February-June, so by the time July 27th rolled around I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. I avoided all social media on opening ceremony day to avoid "spoilers" before it aired in primetime... even though I literally knew the entire ceremony from all the rehearsals I'd gone to. I spent the whole ceremony wrapped in a blanket on my couch, fighting back tears. I was a part of this ceremony. It was being run by people I knew and loved. I'd watched those performances come together, been there when those groups convened for the very first time and learned those first beats of choreography. This was quite possibly the coolest experience of my life. (And it didn't hurt that earlier in the day, a fellow volunteer sent me a picture of my name in the program!)
Due to the time difference and my craaaazy work hours because of it (ah, the perks of working for the USOC during Games time!), I watched copious amounts of coverage during Sochi but did it all alone. While my friends went about their normal lives in the land of the living, I was peeling myself from my bed at 3 a.m. and gluing myself to the TV hours before the sun even thought about rising. And honestly? It was the coolest thing ever. I'll never forget watching the USA vs. Russia men's hockey game (two words: T.J. Oshie!), but I'm pretty sure my favorite has to be when Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first ice dancing gold medal for the U.S. My heart was racing, I was sweating like crazy... I was literally a nervous wreck. And then they won, and I cried. (LISTEN, Sochi was a long, emotional two weeks!)
Wow, I just noticed that all of my favorite summer Olympic memories are from the ceremonies, and all of my winter Olympic memories are from competition. Whoops? I foresee that changing in Rio 2016, though. I'm preparing myself to be seriously emotionally compromised by volleyball and expecting our teams to bring home a gold medal or two (or three? or four?)! ;)
It's kind of cool to look back at my life and notice all these Olympic road marks. But that, really, is another post entirely!