Today was probably one of the best days of my life.
It started way too early when my alarm went off at 4:30, but when I went down to breakfast with Logan and Greg my day began perfectly. We were already laughing together at 5:15am, so how could the day not be a great one?
We had our two practices early in the morning, and they both went really well. We had a quick interview after our second practice, and by the time we got back to the hotel (for the second time today) it wasn’t even noon. We ate lunch and then I relaxed with Camden in the rec room where there were some other athletes hanging out as well. Jenga got pretty heated, I must say.
Suddenly, it was already time to get ready for the opening ceremony!!! I FaceTimed a friend from home and then went down to the lobby where all the figure skaters and speed skaters were clumped up in all the different team outfits. I was already so excited at this point, and the 45 minute bus ride to Lillehammer couldn’t have felt longer.
Once we arrived in the Lillehammer village, everyone was honestly overflowing with pure joy and excitement. All of the 71 nations were dressed up in their different uniforms getting ready and pumped to walk in the opening. Next we split up with our coaches and joined all the athletes in a massive tent that had videos playing on the walls of the Olympics in Lillehammer in ’94. We were talking to athletes of all different disciplines from all different countries and exchanging pins, and then as it got closer to go time, Team USA all grouped together. We met so many amazing people, including skiers, snowboarders, skeleton-ers(?), hockey players, biathletes and so many more.
Once it was announced that it was time to walk, we all started pouring out of the tent onto the path. Since I’m quite small, I didn’t really comprehend just how many athletes there were in the tent. It really struck me while we were walking up the hill and everyone was in a thick line weaving up to the venue. I still can’t get over the feeling of walking up that hill. We all have worked so hard to arrive here, so when we were marching towards such a huge celebration I think it really hit us. Everyone was videoing, taking pictures, yelling, and laughing together.
The next huge shock was when we walked into the venue and saw the incredible amount of people in the audience – over 13,000! With all of our new friends, we jumped around in the center of the venue while the crowd cheered and music, lights and fireworks blasted. The rest of the ceremony was beautiful and fun, with great speeches from many amazing people. Huddled together with our Team USA squad, it felt like one huge family. Everyone was on shoulders, dancing with people that we’d just met, and all feeling how surreal the moment was.
This night was one that I will never forget, and I will cherish it forever. I will also definitely be seeing the friends I met today throughout the rest of the week, and try to attend their events! I can’t really begin to put any of this into words, but that was my best effort.
I truly, TRULY, love YOG.