New York City: Taking a well-deserved break from their pre-season training, American elite winter sports athletes descended into New York City, carved through traffic, and threw down a perfect landing at Times Square today for Team USA’s Countdown to Sochi celebration.
With just about 100 days to go before the Sochi Winter Olympics begin on February 7, the U.S. Olympic Committee welcomed 50 world class competitors, a dozen sponsors, and tens of thousands of spectators to the pulsating heart of this “City of Dreams.”
This party ushered in the all-important, make-or-break Olympics qualifying period where each athlete’s lifelong hopes are now theirs for the taking. Even the USOC’s unofficial and often dismissed goal of eclipsing the record-setting Team USA haul of 37 medals at the Vancouver Olympics is on the line, whether its executives like to admit it or not.
This vibe was electrifying for these athletes – promising newcomers seeking Olympics and Paralympics glory, veterans focused on winning yet another medal, and stars from yesteryear reliving their memories of Winter Olympics past.
All basked in this unprecedented limelight: rising phenoms like freestyle skiers Torin Yater-Wallace and Devin Logan, returning Olympic medalists snowboarder Kelly Clark and short track skater JR Celski, and even revered, and now retired figure skaters Sasha Cohen and Tara Lipinski.
Within a three-block footprint at the core of the Big Apple, pulsating pop music, big screen videos of Olympics and Paralympics action, as well as sports exhibitions beckoned fans to mingle with the athletes, test their own winter sports skills, and win prizes in contests organized by sponsors.
Logan, an X Games medalist in both ski slopestyle and halfpipe, showed-off her tricks on a makeshift refrigerated snow-laden hill. “We are here putting on a rail jam for everyone, and just seeing the excitement from everyone is fun.”
Jazmine Fenlator, a Team USA bobsled driver, hopes to use this event to spark her drive to qualify for the Sochi Olympics. “I am super excited for all of the support. There’s just a buzz around. I can’t wait to get back on the ice for training.”
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