|On the red carpet at the Right to Play event
Being an Olympic athlete has inspired me to do a lot of things. It motivated me to work hard; first in gymnastics, and later in aerials, not to mention in school. And this year it motivated me to join an amazing nonprofit organization called Right to Play. Although I have been fortunate enough to travel and compete for a living, not everyone has such great opportunities. Right to Play gives hundreds of thousands of kids opportunities they may otherwise have never been given. The organization’s motto is “to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities.” Last week I was invited to attend Right to Play’s biggest fundraiser of the year, their Red Ball Gala as an athlete ambassador. One day I hope to go in the field and see Right to Play in action. At the Right to Play event, I was one of 32 Olympic athletes there, with the likes of Natalie Coughlin, Alison Felix, Nathan Adrian, Joey Cheek, Summer Sanders, some of the ladies water polo team, Tim Morehouse, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen and Right to Play founder Johann Olav Koss – I could go on and on.
|At the Washington Redskins game with my agent|
While in New York City, I also did some of the normal tourist things. I went to the Empire State Building, ate pizza and ran through Central Park. I had some close encounters with a few taxis as well! I also got to have dinner with a client of my agent, Olympic silver medalist Tim Morehouse and his fiancée Rachael and went to an amazing Italian market like I have never seen before called Eataly. It is on 5th Avenue near the Flatiron Building. If you like food, you have to check out Eataly, which is a Mario Batali creation. Mario is the guy you might see all the time with orange Crocs on in the kitchen on TV. Go there, you won’t be disappointed.
The day I flew into to NYC, I left Houston at 6 a.m. and landed at JFK at 10:45 a.m. I took a town car right from the airport straight to the Redskins game at Met Life Stadium with my agent who got us sweet seats behind the Skins bench on the 40 yard line to see them play the Giants. Although it was a great game, unfortunately the Redskins lost on a last-minute 70+ yard touchdown pass by Eli Manning after the Redskins had taken the lead only a minute earlier on a great drive led by Robert Griffin III who was scrambling out of trouble everywhere to make the play.
|With Team USA lugers|
Growing up in Ashburn, Virginia, where the Redskins practice, has made me a pretty big fan. I love cheering on young guns like RG3! And being the daughter of a Clemson quarterback, I throw a pretty tight spiral (not to brag). One of the funny things that I have learned being a professional athlete is that no matter how crazy or daring the public thinks your sport is, all professional athletes really appreciate other elite level athletes, no matter what sport they do. Some people might think that aerials is a crazy sport that takes a lot of guts and deserves a lot of respect but I think that to do any sport at a high level requires a lot of talent and hard work! The photo on the right is with some of the women’s luge national team! They are some of the coolest girls I know and they do the fastest sport on ice! That sport takes some guts! Right now they are in Sochi checking out the Olympic venues!
After the event I went back to Houston for another week with my family. I played a lot of tennis and did a lot of workouts at the local gym. One day I went to NASA, which is four miles away from my house. My brother and I learned about life in space and the entire space program. We got to see Mission Control and a building full of mock sections of the International Space Station where astronauts practice. The mock sections reminded me of our water ramp facilities. They look a lot like our snow jumps and they help us practice with less risk, but at the end of the day nothing compares to the real thing!
Each day getting closer to snowfall increases the anxiety and anticipation. Unlike a lot of sports, we can’t do the real thing all year long. For four months we can jump on snow and feel the satisfaction of all those months of hard work during the off-season. The best part about snow jumping is the landing. You don’t get the same satisfaction landing on water because the water is so forgiving. Snow is not, so landing that perfect jump really gives you a sense of accomplishment. And just like surfers search out perfect waves, that is what aerialists live for; the perfect jump with the perfect landing. And in a couple of weeks I get to start working again towards those perfect jumps!
Thanks again for following my blog!
The Russian phrase of the day is “Hello, where can I buy hot chocolate?” OR “Previet, gde ya magu kupeet gorechee chocolat?” I try and learn this one in every language!
You can also follow my journey on Twitter @AshleySkis.
Here are more photos from my trip to New York City: