Competing among the world’s best at any Olympic Games is all about being prepared and focused. At this pinnacle level, an elite athlete’s dreams are on the line, and even the smallest distraction can prove disastrous.
The United States Olympic Committee is poised, once more, to help these athletes get mentally ready for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics in February. At the USOC Media Summit today, Chief of Sport Performance Alan Ashley said, “We are delivering the services, and are being very clear and specific about making sure the athletes have what they need.”
While every Olympics has its host of challenges, the specter of competing at these Olympic Games in Russia can be daunting for Team USA athletes. Spinning over their heads, like a swirling storm above the halfpipe, are several unique conditions that may prove troublesome for even veteran Olympians.
For starters, the current political conditions in Russia, a country unfamiliar to most, may weigh heavily upon each athlete’s psyche during this all important pre-Olympic qualification period. From a safety standpoint, the current anti-American sentiment and this southwestern region’s political instability can be worrying for some.
Also, previous Sochi Olympics test event snafus and cancellations, as well as the prospect of warm weather impacting the mountain events, may disrupt an athlete’s preparedness. Slopestyle ski athletes, for instance, were not able to test their skills on the course due to the warm weather last February.
Regarding preparation, “A lot of the work has already been done by the athletes and the coaches themselves, “ said Ashley. For sure, these elite athletes are well-trained in maintaining focus and concentration, in addition to fending off any fears or anxieties about the unknown.
Yet, in some ways, all bets are off when competing in this world showcase. To quell any uncertainty, Ashley and a delegation of officials from the various winter sport federations, recently visited Sochi to check on the Olympic Games progress, as part of a final planning meeting.
During this trip, they confirmed that the competition venues are ready, and they also better decided on what the athletes will need there to compete. Further, the USOC’s long-standing Ambassador Training Program better equips the athlete for foreign travel. Chief Of Communications Patrick Sandusky said the program, “Takes them through many different things that could happen at the Olympic Games (such as the laws of the country).”
Ashley believes each athlete will indeed be ready. “I admire them. They look at each different situation and tackle them based on their own experiences.”