USA Nordic Communications Manager
Park City, UT
OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
After two years of working at USA Nordic Sport, I feel like I’ve been around the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined community long enough to take a stab at writing a story for this year’s Story Project. Please excuse the word vomit, as most of this was just free-flowing thoughts. I’m not going to lie, when I took this job, I didn’t know a lot about these two sports. But, after being thrown to the wolves and attending the 2022 Olympic Trials in Lake Placid and 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing within five months of being hired, I finally got the hang of things.
I’d be lying to say that I was confident in leading the charge for marketing and communications at Olympic Trials in Lake Placid and at the Olympics in Beijing, I was actually quite terrified. However, with the support of those around me, those trips turned out to be memories that will last a lifetime, and I’m excited to share some of those stories with you today.
Prior to working at USA Nordic, I had never traveled outside of North America, so going to Beijing was quite the culture shock for me. After arriving in Zhangjiakou, it had been a total of 36 hours of travel since I had left Los Angeles. Luckily, my hotel accommodations were great, and I was able to get a good night of sleep before my first day on the job as a Press Officer. My first day included: trying to navigate the venues and figure out where I was supposed to be, but then I got stranded for about two hours (thank you to Sarah Emery and Courtney Harkins for helping me get back to the hotel).
As Press Officer, my job was to support the USA Nordic Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Olympians in Beijing, which included Anna Hoffmann, Casey Larson, Decker Dean, Kevin Bickner, Patrick Gasienica, Ben Loomis, Jared Shumate, Stephen Schumann and Taylor Fletcher.
Beijing was interesting, to say the least. Waking up to subzero temperatures every morning wasn’t ideal, but I did look forward to watching and supporting the athletes who competed every day (most of my work days were 12-14 hours long). Honestly, the only reason I survived was because Chris Gilbertson had an extra pair of snow pants (thanks Gilbo). Side note… even though I was so far away from home, China had a Pizza Hut, KFC and a McDonald’s, so it was nice to still have a taste of America. However, I did try some Chinese cuisine that was actually very good, which included a roasted pigeon (the presentation was like a Thanksgiving turkey). The Ski Jumping venue was a sight to behold, as athletes looked like they were jumping straight out of a spaceship, while the cross country venue was very pretty as well. I really enjoyed talking to the athletes after they were done competing, helping guide them through the media and getting some interviews of my own in. The athletes were always so happy to be there and to experience the Olympics, even though they were very cold. Tip to myself… bring hand warmers for the athletes, if I am to go to Milan for the 2026 Olympics. Even though none of our athletes reached the podium, it was still great to watch world-class athletes compete on the Olympic stage, and it will be something that I’ll never forget. However, there were many personal bests recorded by the U.S. athletes, and the coaches were very happy about that, which was fun to witness.
My favorite memory from that trip was the final night that I was there. I went out to dinner with the Nordic Combined team at a nearby hotel, which included all athletes, coaches, and team doctors. They shared stories of previous Olympics, competitions, and what they had to go through to get there. This was a great moment for me, because I finally felt like I was a part of the team. Something that was also special as well, was that this was Taylor Fletcher’s last Olympic run, and we celebrated accordingly. The next morning, my time in China was over, but I was thankful for the opportunity and for the memories that I made. The travel back home was another 36 hour journey, but I felt a sense of pride on the way home, rather than the anxiety that I felt on the way there. Once I landed in Dallas, I kissed the pavement because I was so happy to be back in the United States. After that, I had chicken and waffles at TGI Fridays in the Dallas Airport, and then headed back to Utah.
I know this was a short, summarized version of my time at the 2022 Olympics, but I tend to be long-winded and I didn’t want to write a book for the Story Project. Anyways… I’m very thankful for what I do and the people that I’m surrounded with at USA Nordic. I feel very fortunate and lucky to be in the position that I’m in, as nobody else in the United States has the job that I have. If you’re ever curious and want to hear the full story about my time in Beijing, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask!