Slopestyle skiing bronze medalist Nick Goepper with his mom, Linda.
SOCHI, Russia — When Nick Goepper was little, he liked to turn his family’s backyard in Indiana into a slopestyle skiing course with mini jumps and rails — and lots of mud.
“Nick’s a Tide kid,” said his mom, Linda. “If you’ve seen the video of our backyard, it’s just a mud pit now from all the skiing he’s done there. I always feel like I’ve done more laundry than anyone in my community.”
Now Procter & Gamble, makers of Tide laundry detergent, is taking care of Linda, as well as a host of other Olympic moms, including Rosi Mittermaier, who won two gold and one silver medals in alpine skiing at the Innsbruck 1976 Olympic Winter Games. Now an Olympic mom, Mittermaier’s son, Felix Neureuther of Germany, is a medal favorite in slalom skiing.
At the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, P&G is again sponsoring a family home where Olympians and their families can gather, enjoy a meal together, watch the competitions on TV, and just hang out. And moms can get a makeover in the in-house salon. P&G says that its Olympic program can be summed up in three words: “Thank you, Mom.”
In truth, the program is best summed up in the company’s short film called “Pick Them Back Up,” which has been running as a TV advertisement. From baby’s first jumps in a bouncy seat, to a child’s first glides on ice or first run down a ski slope, the film/ad rivals any Super Bowl ad and chokes up moms every time. It takes us through some of the moments that every athlete experiences, including the many (many!) falls they all take as they endeavor to master a sport (or any profession) and the mess-ups in competition, to, finally, the few moments of glory when it all comes together in victory. Rather than only showing the triumphs — which is most often what we will see in the 17 days of competition in Sochi — the film shows the journey, a lump-in-the-throat reminder that every success is built not just upon multiple failures, but also on someone being there to make the bumps and bruises feel better.
As we watch the Olympic Winter Games, P&G wants us to remember that behind every Olympic performance is often a mom who, for years, rarely got up later than 6 a.m. (and often at 4) to get her little skater to the rink for practice, or who side-slipped down an icy mountainside in 40 mph wind gusts and -1 degree temperatures to carry ski jackets and extra gates, or who held her breath as her child flew a dozen feet above an icy halfpipe in a snowstorm, then drove home on slick roads while her little rider slept.
Or like Linda Goepper, who made runs to Home Depot for more Astroturf and then stumbled over tools left all over the garage.
“Nick would get these big plans in his head and normally they were okay,” Linda said with a laugh. “But I was really busy; I had three other kids and trying to accommodate all his little projects, sometimes it was just a little over the top. There were other things I wanted to do besides run. So I’d get irritated about it.”
As for Nick’s memories, he always thought his mom was standing in the bedroom window looking out at the backyard and saying, “Gosh, what is he doing now?” But he’s thankful that she always gave him the option to get a ski pass or an Xbox when he was younger. He chose the ski pass.
Nick sees P&G’s pampering as payback for all those years; his mom is “living that lavish lifestyle” at the P&G Family Home, he joked.
But beyond the makeovers and nice meals, Linda might not have made it to Sochi without P&G’s help. First, the company helped her sort through the “enormous undertaking” of traveling to Sochi — a logistical effort made even more difficult when Linda’s mother had a medical emergency in January. While Linda stood by her mom in the hospital, P&G made the trip happen. Then when a snowstorm canceled her flight and left her stranded in Cincinnati, the company rebooked her.
Now that she’s in Sochi and was able to watch her son earn a bronze medal in slopestyle skiing at his first Winter Games, she can finally sit back and enjoy P&G’s products at the family home. All except the Tide.
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.