Nice to know vs Need to know: The important bits and pieces

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2013- athletes get to be tourists. 2014 athletes will be athletes

2013- athletes get to be tourists. 2014 athletes will be ‘working’

<La version française suit>

A few years ago, Dr. Robert Thirsk, a Canadian astronaut, spoke at an Olympic Excellence Series meeting. He told us that before he went up on the Space Shuttle Columbia he needed to master over 20 simulators that represented bits and pieces of a single task that he had to perform in space. None of them, he said, could simulate totally what it would be like to perform his task in the weightless environment of space. When the time came, it was his ability to combine the variety of his experiences and training that made him effective in space. I was struck by how similar his experience is to an athlete’s preparation for an Olympics. There is no one thing that you can do to prepare for competition inside the Olympic bubble but you still need to be familiar with and master as many bits and pieces that you can.

I have written and erased this message many times … it wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure out why. I wanted to write about my recent familiarization trip to Sochi/Adler/Rosa Khutor and the bits and pieces that I observed while there. I was having a lot of fun thinking about the chaos of the construction and traffic that I saw. Nothing says ‘ready for the world’ like gaping manholes with no covers, knee-deep mud surrounding omnipresent construction, grocery shelves stocked with meat-in-a-can, and summer Olympic temperatures in a winter Olympic city.

But the reason I kept hitting delete on my draft message is that I try to make these messages pertinent to your Olympic preparation. Continue reading

Ambition toward Sochi … Happy 2013

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2013Happy New Year!                        <La version française suit>

“Today we live in a world of instant everything – food, career, money, victory, happiness – we want it all now. The concept of working towards something for several years and overcoming seemingly endless obstacles to achieve a goal is not as pervasive as it once was.” Kristina Groves

This quote was part of Kristina’s blog in early December, just after Jean-Philippe Le Guellec who has been competing with the national biathlon team for 9 years, won his first World Cup race. (Congrats J-P!) She was recalling how long it took for her to win her first race and “the special kind of attitude to find the simple joys and appreciate small steps forward within the endless struggle to the top.”

The fact that you care about each step and every detail, and have an insatiable curiosity to do – and achieve— more, is what makes you so good at your sport. Continue reading