Brita Sigourney, Maddie Bowman and me on the South Lawn. If you look close you can see a sniper on the roof!
|Me and David Wise pointing to... you know, the White House!|
|Roomies from Russia! Keri Herman and me also on the South Lawn.|
|I've always said Joss Christensen for president! Maybe he is related to George Washington?!|
What a day we had today! I cannot believe I got to visit the White House. It blew my mind. I had a feeling it would be cool, but this absolutely took the cake. We entered on the South Lawn through a security checkpoint with a security guard and dog. (Which I totally understand!) The grounds were all so pretty and it was special to be inside the gates that most people never get to go through. I also noticed the snipers on the roof and I made sure not to run around too fast! Didn’t want them to think that I was pulling something!
We were given a tour and one of my favorite parts was learning about the fire in 1814 and learning about the employee who tore down the famous painting of George Washington, she rolled it up and was able to save the painting. There’s now a painting of her in another room, but from where her picture is hung she can still see the famous painting of George Washington. Everything was immaculate, with beautiful crystal chandeliers, wood floors and carpets. All of the rooms we saw were pretty and very big…from the curtains to the paintings on the wall to all the details like the crown molding. I was amazed at the passageways; they are everywhere! It was such an honor to see something that most Americans won’t see in their lifetime. We were led to a waiting room (myself and 199 other Olympians and Paralympians) where we sat down on the floor. My friend Kelly (Clark) was chatting with one of the security guards and he said he didn’t think that anyone had sat on the floor of the White House before! Our tour guide also informed us that the first family lives on the second floor and they have two bowling alleys! We also got to see the first dogs, Bo and Sunny. Some of my friends got to pet them, but I didn’t. They were really cute though. We asked where their first daughters were…they replied “They are in school! You know…school!” Haha!
We were called up one-by-one and announced where we shook hands with Mr. President, and the First Lady gave us a hug. She is definitely a mom; she gave a total strong mom hug. They were a lot taller than I expected too. He (you know…the President of the United States!) told me that I was crazy to do what I do; I explained that for me that it is just cruise control and I don’t think too much about it! What I should have said is that I think he is crazy to want to run a country! After everyone met the Obamas, we were led into a giant room where the First Lady greeted the entirety of us. I had goosebumps the entire day, it was such a cool experience and I am doing my best to put it into words, but words (or pictures) will never do it justice in my eyes. After Mrs. Obama spoke she introduced the president. Each of their speeches was very nice and gave us credit for our hard work and determination. President Obama (is that what I call him?!) also gave a lot of credit to us, the freeskiers, for representing a new sport and he even said “back-to-back double cork 1260.” He claimed to be the first President to say that and I have to agree with him! Again, goosebumps.
My White House experience was amazing. I knew it would be cool, but it really blew me away. It really was an honor and a privilege and I kind of wish I could go back and just hang out…maybe have dinner and play with their pups!
My first night in Washington, D.C., my friends and I got to attend the USOC’s Best of U.S. awards that are based on athlete’s performance in Sochi. UNFORTUNATELY, I wasn’t nominated (nudge, nudge USOC!), but my friends David (Wise), Maddie (Bowman), Sage (Kotsenburg) and Erin (Hamlin) were. Sage and Erin won! I am so happy for them. We had a great time mingling with other athletes — I haven’t seen most of them since I left Russia so it was really special to be reunited with them “in our nation’s capital.” (Thank you Forest Gump!) Of course, the USOC did an amazing job with the awards too. This was one of the most special experiences I have had to date and I just want to thank the USOC for such an amazing day. The end…insert goosebumps here!
|First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama delivering their speeches.