The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were one of the most memorable experiences of my life. For two weeks I was surrounded by positive, driven, good looking and inspiring individuals. It felt as if time stood still while this mind blowing experience took place. Looking back now, it did not feel like real life. What I experienced was not a typical experience one has in their life. Some of my reflections …
Walk outside our Canada Housing apartment and across the way is Austria housing. Here is the entire Austrian Olympic team preparing for their day. Walk across the street and you’re in the Dining Hall filled with athletes from around the globe. You wish to eat Asian, Mediterranean, Eastern European, or North American food? It’s all there, whenever you want, day or night, you have access to it. Walk outside to the bus stop amongst athletes of all nationalities and sport, to go to the mountain. Don’t forget your lifeline, your accreditation, because you will be scanned at least 10 times in a matter of minutes. During the ride, look to your left and see three small white canvas covered huts along the side of the road with snipers in them. Yes, snipers. They are for your protection… Get off the bus and high five a fellow Canadian teammate who has just finished their training or competition run that they have been preparing for the last 4 years of their life. But before that high five happens, show your acred and get scanned, one more time.
If I was not in my room sleeping, on the mountain training, in the medical room with other half naked athletes receiving physio, all of us cheering at the television watching our teammates compete, or in the gym, I was in the athlete’s lounge. This was located on the 2nd floor and was welcome to Canadian athletes only. No coaches, medical team, or media could enter. It was there that I created many new friendships. There were (Canadian) athletes plopped on couch cushions snacking (always, always snacking) watching the TV. It was great learning about so many sports I knew nothing about, hearing specific lingo (and the dirt!) about their particular sport. By the way, it’s Bobsleigh not Bobsled.
I was obviously disappointed with my result in Ski Cross, but I have processed this now, and have moved on. Ski Cross is a dynamic sport which creates for exciting finishes. People crash and get knocked out by other athletes in the first round even when they have won their previous race. That’s Ski Cross! I was ready to race. I was focused. Things just didn’t pan out as I had planned, but that’s life. We get up, and move on because at the end of the day, there is more to life, a lot more. I needed this break at home to process this, and get excited for the remaining World Cup’s of our season.
I know I had, and still have, the support from thousands of people across this country. Surprisingly, what has been more overwhelming for me is seeing the words of support flood in after my Olympic announcement until my day of competition, and then continue to flood in even after my Olympic performance. They just kept coming in.
There are so many people I need to thank. Without the support of so many individuals I would be not writing these words of thank you. To start, I must thank my family. I have three older brothers who love me so much and I think are pretty proud of what their youngster sister has accomplished to date. My parents flew over to Sochi to watch my race. It was such an uplifting and loving feeling seeing them in the front line of the crowd when I came through the finish line. Seeing their proud smiling faces, leaning over the railing, was an image I will cherish forever. For decades they have supported me financially to make my dreams even a possibility. They have endured years and years of nerve racking phone calls from hospitals, dropping their entire day for unscheduled airport pickups, and nursing me through my injuries. They have never, once, given up on me.
Before leaving for Sochi, my friend Holly surprised me at a farewell/good luck party we had at our house, with ‘Team Simmerling’ T shirts that she had created. She whipped them up during work one day, like it was nothing. Holly organized my brothers and friends from Calgary and all my loved ones in Vancouver to write messages to me which filled an entire book of inspirational quotes for me to take to Sochi. Who even DOES that!? Holly was expecting to have a few T shirts made for my close friends and family but within a few days I received an email overseas from her saying that Grouse Mountain and my home ski club Tyee wanted to help sell the T’s. Within days she had 100’s of orders flying in. My brother Julian had a big party in Calgary for friends to party and watch my race. My bro Boydy and my sister in law Erin had a party in Vancouver for me. CBC News ended up at the house interviewing my support team. It was the absolute cutest seeing them interviewed and speaking about me. My mom’s work colleagues dressed up in Olympic gear and made me “Go Georgia Go” cake! Many schools in the Vancouver area and across the country, and individual kids from around the globe sent me good luck messages and poster books.
I could go on and on but I feel I need to mention these people. I had so much love sent my way I cannot even express how much gratitude I have for each and every one of you. I have yet to mention the team of support I have across this country: you believe in me and it means the world to me. Eric Carleson and Alexa Boughen from my head gear sponsor, Anthem Properties, you have stayed with me over the years and I owe you everything. Mani and Erin Gionet from Sunview Custom Cabinetry and Dave Fesyk of Inter Pipeline, my shoulder sponsorships, thank you! Nate Clark and the team at CMP Automotive, thank you for keeping me look as sweet on the roads as I do on the mountain! Ester, I owe you a special thank you; all I can say is your love and support over these last 6 months have meant more to me than you know. Kevin Stratton and Steve Holt from Blu Dot Beverages, as a new company, you have invested in me, thank you! I’m looking forward to our work together! Brian Chapmen and Ray Murakami, thank you thank you thank you. Sandy Edmonstone, thank you helping me believe in what I am capable of accomplishing. Graham Fox and the team at La Bicicletta, thank you for the Tour de France set up! CAN FUND, a huge thank you to Conrad and Jane. Bean Around The World and The Anchor Eatery is where I write these blogs and drink way too many coffees and fresh raw juices. Tash, Andrea and Barney, you guys are family, thank you. Jag, Rauv, and the entire Sangara family, I love you and thank you. Thank you specifically to Jaelem for helping me with all my web design and media stuff. Oakley, IceBreaker, 2Xu, Stoeckli, thank you for the gear and (dope) swag and incredible fast skis. My ski technicians James and Rod are the guys who put in the endless hours of work into my skis, thank you. Right to Play, thank you for bringing me on board and I’m way too excited for what’s ahead with us! My coaches, I know I’m kind of high maintenance, but not all of us like goulash and schnitzel for every meal, okay. Thank you for believing in me and progressing me as quickly as we did in the last two years. My teammates, Mar, Kels, Dani, and the boys; we’re a team, thank you. All of you! THANK YOU! If I’ve missed anyone, I truly apologize, please text me and I’ll slap myself.
This experience, the Olympics, once again has changed my life. I will keep it with me forever. I have, hopefully, inspired youth around the world and will continue to work as hard as I can to do this for years to come. Set Goals people. With hard work, dedication and a team of support, you can achieve anything.