Caitlin’s Getting May-rried

All the cousins, together again.

Philadelphia is a long way to go for a weekend. But sometimes, it’s totally worth it.

For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t FaceTimed into a family function — I was actually there. It happens so rarely, my aunt even forgot I was coming back! After flying all night to get to Pennsylvania, I wasn’t sure I had walked into the right house when I discovered there were no Tastykakes in sight. I spent Friday curled up with my dog and Saturday running errands with my mom before getting ready for the wedding.

Caitlin and Steve (May, that is, hence the #CaitlinsGettingMayrried hashtag my cousins used all weekend) got married at the same church my parents were married in and after a short break, we headed to the local country club for the reception. After taking a family photo, Caitlin and Steve were introduced to the soundtrack of — who else? — the Dropkick Murphys.

After dinner was lots of dancing and a photo booth, one of the highlights of the night — except for the moment my sister decided to stick a ice cube down my back, and the booth captured every second of it.

Congratulations, Caitlin & Steve!

 

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#USAFanFeast

Leslie and I were so proud of our #PinterestWin.

Leslie and I were so proud of our #PinterestWin.

Every Friday at the USOC is casual Friday. And because just about everyone’s casual wardrobe is made up entirely of Team USA gear, USA gear is always the popular choice on Fridays. And so, since I’ve started, the Digital Media Team has implemented #USAFanFriday.

In a few weeks, we’ll be shooting a video series in the Olympic Training Center’s brand new teaching kitchen — a fully-stocked, industrial kitchen designed to teach athletes how to cook their own nutritious food. But we had to test this never-before-used kitchen first. And so, on Friday the 13th, we added a twist to #USAFanFriday — a digital team bonding lunch that we dubbed #USAFanFeast.

We had to create menu items that tested each appliance in the kitchen, so we decided to go for a red, white, and blue theme that we could also photograph for our Team USA Pinterest boards. We scored a Pinterest win in our American flag pizza (although I received numerous complaints that our pizza looked more like lasagna…) and a definite #PinterestFail in trying to make a red, white, and blue cake.

A Sunday Inclination

Check!

This ain’t no #ThrowbackSunday. We really conquered the Incline in February!

Because, sometimes, nothing says “Sunday” like having a mountain kick your butt for a few hours.

Gaining 2,000ft of elevation on a mile-long staircase made of old railroad ties up the side of the mountain?

Yeah.

“Kicking your butt” might be an understatement.

But that’s the infamous workout called the Incline. You hate it, but you do it, and then you love it.

I’ve done the Incline once before. My first weekend in Colorado, nearly three years ago, I decided to try it out with not nearly enough acclimation to the altitude, nor enough water. And I paid the price. It hurt. And I vowed to never do it again. Every time friends went after that, I went, too, but I always took the long way to meet them at the Incline’s summit — four miles up the 14-mile Barr Trail.

So when the February weather in the Rockies hit 70, I knew I was going to get myself outside, especially after facing single-digit temperatures in Aspen a few weeks earlier. I’m always outside here. That was the easy part. And then a friend, who had never done the Incline, suggested we make a day of it.

There is simply no way to convey the enormity of the Incline. You can see it for miles, racing up the side of Pikes Peak to the 9,000ft mark. It’s impossible to miss. It looms over you every day, which is why I’m so glad my family and many of my friends have seen it and done it. They know exactly the intensity of the trail.

After parking in downtown Manitou, we hiked a mile to the trailhead and were met by a crowd of others with the same idea. While we started in tank tops, we were quickly reminded it was still February as the snow and ice on the ties became more frequent and the temperature dropped. We added two more layers before reaching the summit and finished the hike with frozen fingers and sweatshirts wrapped tight.

As we walked down the Barr, taking in all the scenery of Pikes Peak, I realized I’d learned my lesson from the last time I took on the Incline. It was equal parts getting my butt kicked and kicking butt. And I loved every second of it.

We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon. Totally Coloradical.

X Games Aspen

What a great way to spend our first day at Winter X -- hanging with our friends (soon-to-be gold medalist!) Keith Gabel and Mike Shea before the first Snowboarder X Adaptive race in X history.

Team USA takes Winter XGames 2015 Aspen.

“Did I cross it first?”

Friday afternoon in Aspen, history was made. Team USA’s Keith Gabel crossed the finish line at the top of Buttermilk Mountain to take home the first gold in Winter X Games’ Snowboarder X Adaptive.

As Keith roared down the mountain on a snowmobile, fist raised, he ran over to give me a hug and asked if he was really the first to cross the line. Yeah, Keith, pretty sure that huge gold medal around your neck says you did.

When Thursday seemed like any other normal day in the office, I was given a unique assignment. With less than two hours, I was tasked with packing and driving five hours to Aspen, Colorado, for the last four days of Winter X Games 2015 Aspen. After spending the summer driving across the country and catching the first night of Summer X Games at the State Capitol in Austin, I was more than excited to catch the winter counterpart — if not scrambling a little because of the last minute nature of the trip.

We were going to launch our Team USA Snapchat account, take photos for our website and social media, and grab video interviews with all of our athletes. It would be a chaotic weekend, but a challenge we were certainly up for.

After five hours on the road, Leslie, our social media assistant, and I arrived in Glenwood Springs, eager to get out on the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain. After a night of planning, we drove to the base of Buttermilk and met up with two of our Paralympian friends — Mike Shea and Keith Gabel. With the first Snowboarder X Adaptive race in X Games history a few hours away, Shea and Keith were more excited than nervous and stoked we came out to support them for Team USA. Shortly after watching the preliminary slopestyle races, we watched Keith win gold on the snowboarder X course.

Saturday, despite the flat light and single-digit temperatures, two of our most recognizable freestyle skiers, Nick Goepper and Joss Christensen went 1-2 in the slopestyle skiing event. After our morning events finished, we ventured into Aspen for an hour to grab a bite to eat before heading back for the women’s halfpipe. Aspen was so posh, so charming — and I became completely smitten with the beautiful mountain town. We then headed back to watch one of my favorite winter events — the halfpipe. We stood at the bottom of the pipe and saw 14-year-old Chloe Kim dethrone Kelly Clark and Torah Bright and become the youngest gold medalist in X Games history.

On Sunday, with only two X events left, we saw Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson — our Sochi gold medalists — take fifth and silver, respectively. Sage was easily one of the nicest, most genuine, passionate athletes I’ve ever met and couldn’t wait to take our GoPro and thank all the Team USA fans for sharing this journey with him.

As we left Jamie’s medal ceremony, Leslie and I gave each other a big hug, sighed, and then laughed. We had survived Aspen and absolutely crushed it for Team USA — on two hour’s notice and zero planning. We were so proud of ourselves and each other and couldn’t wait to share that success with our amazing team back in the Springs. I might have a terrible accent where “Winter X” sounds like “Winner X,” but you know what? That’s exactly what it was for Team USA.

Go Team USA!

Summer #XGames in Austin? Check. Winter @XGames in Aspen? Check. #GoTeamUSA

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Code Name: Pueblo

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

As we stepped into the War Room at Headquarters for the second time in as many months, not a single one of us knew what the day would hold.

The USOC’s board was meeting in Denver to select which city would be the country’s bid city for the 2024 Games — Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. For weeks, we had been anticipating the announcement, preparing for the minute we received the decision and were ready to tell the public. Every single piece of content we developed required four versions, four times the work — one for each of the cities — and had to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

When the call came, everyone’s jaws hit the floor. Our 2024 bid city would be Boston.

After our initial shock, the room became silent and our fingers began furiously pounding the keyboards as we heard a countdown and then, “GO!” — the green light to tell the world our decision.

The social reaction was swift and our we spent the night aggregating content and watching our views uptick. Our announcement video passed the 300,000+ view mark and we were floored by the public’s overwhelming reception of the news.

If the IOC gives us the chance, we get to be responsible for bringing the Games to U.S. soil and to a whole new generation who have never seen a home Games. It made for quite the exciting night, and it’s only going to get crazier as we get closer to the IOC’s decision in 2017. Stay tuned!

All Flyer’d Up

Thanks, Sammy!

Thanks, Sammy!

It was the last night of the year, my first hockey game of the year, and the Orange & Black rolled into the Rockies. It was my second trip to Denver of the day, and despite flying across the country and running on little to no sleep, I couldn’t have been more excited. I wasn’t missing it.

I grew up with tales of the Broad Street Bullies and I loved that game with every fiber of my being, but I’d yet to attend a regular-season NHL game. But the hockey gods were looking out for me. After moving to a new city with few plans for New Year’s Eve, my hometown hockey heroes rolled into town to save the day. When I went back to Philadelphia, excited to share my plans, my cousin, Samantha, was quick to set me up in the press box.

Denver’s motto might be #UnitedInOrange and there was quite a bit of orange in the building… for the other team. Despite a loud, frenetic, sold-out crowd, there were still lots of fans in Flyers sweaters making their voices heard.

I was excited to see former Flyers Danny Brière and Maxime Talbot take the ice for the Avs, but was hoping they wouldn’t have too sweet a game against their former club. The Flyers were hot and needed to keep momentum up on a long road trip.

When you’ve got two of the NHL’s top-five points leaders on your side — Jake Voráček and Claude Giroux — there’s not much to complain about on a night when you get to see them both score. (Almost as sweet as having two of the top-five points-getters on your team? No Sidney Crosby anywhere to be found on that list! Hah! Take that, Sid!) But despite a well-fought game, brilliant saves from Mase, and only 19s left in OT before a shootout, the defense collapsed and the Avs scored the game winner.

The night wasn’t without a bit of history, though, as I got to witness the first Croatian-born player to score in NHL history when Borna Rendulić netted one for the Avs.

Even with the loss, I was just so thrilled to see my favorite hockey team in person. There’s just nothing like it. The best way to ring in the new year? Scoring for a few cases of Tastykakes, indeed.

Go Orange & Black!

I'd trade silver and sparkle for sweaters and slapshots any #NYE. #OrangeAndBlack

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Team USA’s NEO Immersion

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

After my first two weeks back with Team USA, I had the chance to join 16 of the USOC‘s newest employees for our orientation at the Olympic Training Center.

We began the day in the tradition of the Games, with an Opening Ceremony, where we staged our own torch relay and the cauldron was lit. After a series of presentations from different departments, we were taken on a quick tour of the OTC. I had the unique opportunity to live at the Olympic Training Center while interning. So while for me, it feels like a second home, watching the wonder and awe in the eyes of those who are seeing the OTC for the first time never gets old.

We then had lunch in the dining hall with some of the resident athletes, including J.R. Celski, Tharon Drake, and Katie Uhlaender. USA Shooting was next on the docket, where me met with members of the national team, who demonstrated air rifle and air pistol. After returning to the Presidents’ Room, we completed more team bonding activities before participating in the Closing Ceremony, where the cauldron was extinguished.

I’m an Olympic nerd. This is no secret. But participating in Immersion only heightened my appreciation for the USOC and the organization I chose to return to.

On the bright side… only 601 days, 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 28 seconds until Rio de Janeiro!

Go Team USA!

Road to the Rockies

RockyInfographic2

Trenton Half Marathon

After qualifying for the 119th Boston Marathon in April, I’m not sure too many other races could find their way onto my sister’s radar. But Meghan made her last race before the world’s most famous marathon count. By 6:15am, we were up and on our way just across the bridge to New Jersey for the Trenton Half Marathon.

Though temperatures barely reached the freezing mark, there was little wind and plenty of sun (and my trusty Eagles beanie) — perfect running weather. The race began and ended at Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder. (Yes, I know, sometimes it’s really painful living in the Northeast, in an area split nearly equally between New York and Philadelphia teams.)

After a 20-minute delay and a revolutionary-era drum corp playing the national anthem on the banks of the river where Washington crossed on Christmas Day, the runners were off. The route took them into Pennsylvania and back into Jersey, over the famous Trenton Makes, the World Takes bridge, past the NJ capitol building, and through the city’s historic district. After watching them for a bit, we grabbed coffee and headed back to the stadium to watch all the runners “score” as they ran through the stadium and touched home plate at the finish line.

Sissy finished ahead of pace and excited to be one race closer to Boston. Go, Sissy!