The Olympics of Inspiration: The Olympics (what else??)

The Olympics are here.

This means precisely 3 things.

1)      Every tech gadget I own, including the original iPod touch, is in use, sometimes simultaneously, to stream events, watch replays, double check live standings, and re-watch live events in prime-time

2)      I’m digging up old pics of myself.  Like this one:


In a can’t-help-but-reminisce type of fashion.  Feel free to judge.

3)      I’m jet lagged.  In my apartment.

Watching the Olympics is like hooking yourself up to an IV of inspiration.  Yes, there are disappointments, the occasional curse word, and displeasing shows of emotion (I’m looking at you Ashley).  But then there’s sportsmanship, dream moments, heaps of stories about overcoming obstacles, language barrier breaking, and underdog winning humbling moments.

It’s the Winter Olympics in Sochi day 15.  These are my favorite moments so far.

Women’s half-pipe final run hugs.  I’m not sure if the snowboarding half-piping female athletes are just all friendly by nature, that’s the culture of the sport, (or they all had a drink before), but damn.  When the final scores were announced and Torah Bright, the defending gold medalist from Australia found out she won the silver, losing to Kaitlyn Farrington from the USA (go USA), she jumped up and down hugging and congratulating her.  You would’ve thought she had won.  It was refreshing.  And kinda funny.  Mostly refreshing.

The I love Shaun White series (and why Shaun White is awesome).  Clearly Shaun White has inspired many snowboarders in his time and will continue to do so.  But I’m pretty sure no one has been as inspired as Iouri Podladtchikov.  This young snowboarder has been pushing his own limits and hoping to rock out in the half pipe against White.  But as he clearly stated in an interview, with excitement and straight up glee – all he really wants is to meet Shaun in Sochi.

Dreams came true for Iouri; he met Shaun during the final round, when they were the last 3 athletes to go.  He won gold and beat Shaun.  And then he hugged him and wouldn’t let go.  I’ve never seen a happier person.  And Shaun handled himself in the coming days with poise and sportsmanship, refusing to complain about the course (like the other athletes), saying he was happy for the others, and showing humility in the face of defeat.  Go Shaun.

The figure skating underdog games.  Once upon a time there was a little girl named Adelina Sotnikova.  She won Russian nationals at the age of 12 and was hailed as the new representative of Russian Figure Skating (a program that, well, basically fell apart after the Soviet Union collapse).  Unfortunately, this little 12 year old is now a 17 year old, and was largely pushed aside during these Olympics, to make room for a little girl named Yulia Lipnitskaya, a 15 year old powerhouse.  Figure skating can be a cruel sport (no Kumbayah or hugs with the other athletes here folks).  So when Sotnikova was passed over for a spot in the Russian team event at the beginning of the competition, she got, well, pissed.

A big part of competing on a stage like the Olympics, is having the ability to step up and do the job in the moment when it needs to be done, under immense and unmatched pressure.  Sotnikova did just that.  While the world was checking their Olympic programs trying to figure out this girl’s name, Sotnikova skated two incredibly powerful and clean programs.  She gave Russia its first gold medal in female figure skating.  Ever.  And she beat a woman, who until today was basically unbeatable; someone who has been nicknamed “the queen.”

Ummm… you go girl, Adelina.

I’ve also enjoyed: a husband and wife snowboarding duo, whose events happened to be one after the other, and who happened to both medal with the gold and bronze, respectfully.  Watching these two bawl their eyes out together was an unrivaled newly-wed moment.  I can smell the movie rights.

It’s cheesy, but I love feeding off the inspiration.  Seeing the hard work of the Olympic athletes pushes me to ignore the sub-zero temps and trade in my warm blanket and the couch for a treadmill, for a figure skating session, for some off-ice practice, for a yoga/pilates class, for some stretching.

This week I had a burst of energy while running, something that’s admittedly been difficult this winter.  I started skating again and attempted jumps I haven’t in some years (pic below).

What can I say, I love watching these athletes kick ass and push themselves.




Zen, Sweat and Healing… Up Close and Personal

On day 29 I put away my cell phone, put on a cotton pink “uniform” and spent 9 hours sweating, relaxing and channeling serenity at the Korean Spa.

A friend invited me along under the pretense that it would be “amazing” and that this special spa had become one of her favorite pastimes.  I had no idea what I was in for…

I also had no idea I could exist in the New York area without my cell phone(s) and doing virtually nothing but relaxing for 9 hours.

I’m happy to report that we went into the spa at around 4pm and did not emerge (skin soft and body and soul rejuvenated) until 1:00am.

Let me share the important highlights:

  • This is no ordinary spa.  It’s culturally a traditional Korean experience.  You pay admission up front.  You put on a large over-sized comfy uniform. You put away your stuff.  You enter 40,000 square feet of lounge areas, food areas, saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzies, showers and scrubbing areas (more on this later)
  • Each Sauna (shaped like a Smurf’s dream house) has different beneficial holistic properties.  Basically you sweat your buns off while revitalizing “Inner energy” and cleansing the skin
  • This facility boasts a “BULHANJEUNGOAK” sauna: dome shaped smurf house of doom used in Korean culture for 500 years to heal different illnesses where the floor is made of yellow soil and the temperature is 200 Celsius.  You read that right.  They bake eggs in there (and sell them).  Consider it the Olympics of sauna-ing.  5 minutes in that hut and you’ll take care of detoxification for the next year
  • You’ve never been washed or massaged until you’ve had the scrub/massage experience at a Korean spa.  Let me break this down succinctly: modesty is not an option; you may lose 2-3 layers of skin; showering may not be required for a couple days after (you’re THAT clean!!!)

We chatted about nothing important for 7 hours (2 of them involved skin removal in the buff), we ate yummy food, we drank fresh made juice, we laid on huge beds and watched Olympic coverage, we took naps in infrared rooms, we jaccuzied and cooled off in a cold pool.  Putting away worries, stresses and text messaging responsibilities for the equivalent of a work day was brilliant.  and glorious.  and… AWESOME.

Amateur Swim Night

On Day 28, I took my inspiration to the pool.

I’ve been glued to the tv screen over the past week… watching the Olympics.

The athletes inspire me, they remind me of my own young Olympic dreams once upon a time and their stories make me believe that anything is possible.

Having found myself in a hotel with a pool open 24/7… I watched the end of the olympic coverage, fished out my suit from my bag… and did laps at around midnight.

Truth is, I had a little stint as a future olympic swimmer at the age of 11.  I’M KIDDING.  I couldn’t have been slower on that swim team.  Fortunately, my figure skating coach at the time told my mom that figure skaters couldn’t be swimmers (different muscle groups yada yada yada)… SO that short lived dream ended quickly.

But as mentioned before… I still love swimming.

And aside from the fact that hotel staff thought I was crazy (it’s open 24/7 for a reason!!), I lapped around doing the breath stroke happily.