Last week I attended the Team USA Media Summit with over 100 other 2014 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. The summit is an event that the U.S. Olympic Committee has been hosting since the 1988 Olympic Games and it provides a convenient venue for the media to gain access to the athletes. This year there were roughly 350 media outlets attending the summit. Teams and their respective athletes were shuttled through over the course of three days.
The summit is cool because it allows any credentialed media outlets to conduct interviews. Many of the questions are the same, but there were also some very unique stops. Throughout the day I posed in my speed suit, was interviewed by a Russian TV station that had just arrived in the country, filmed part of a music video and held a press conference with my team.
The press conference included the return of my teammate Bode Miller and of course he drew much of the spotlight. In my opinion, Bode is a master of portraying his feelings and explaining the way he approaches the sport. He does not talk to the media often, but when he does there is a reason that people love to listen. It was nice to hear that he will keep skiing until his body no longer allows him to and that he is recovering well from his knee surgery last season.
Ted Ligety was also in on the conference and he reiterated his disdain for the FIS regulation of GS skis. I think he has strong evidence to support his statements and as the best GS skier in the world it definitely means something.
After finishing the day I pulled out my phone and checked up on my social media accounts. To my surprise all over the feed were quotes that my team had been saying to reporters throughout the day. It was great to see that ESPN, The New York Times and USA Today among others all considered our opinions newsworthy.
I have sometimes been accused of having too modest a view of what we do on the U.S. Ski Team. I love skiing and racing and I think the great thing about an Olympic year is that people actually tune in to our sport and are interested. Walking around the Media Summit I saw athletes who I know have amazing skills. From the tiny figure skaters to the burly bobsledders, all of these folks have worked like crazy to achieve Olympian status. This is also the group that is inspiring kids to follow their dreams and be better because of sport in their lives.
There was another more subtle but just as real effect that the summit had upon athletes and reporters alike. The more we talked about the Olympics and the upcoming winter the more excitement and expectation was created. It is an Olympic year and things are going to get real. From the starting gun this season I think we will see some amazing performances from kids who are fighting to gain their own spot at the Olympics. I am excited, and I hope you are too.
You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @MarcOsullivan