After my ten-day-long involuntary snow-cation (thank you, Snowmaggedon), I couldn't wait to get back to work. Still, I was relieved that my daughter's school system and the federal government declared a two hour delay on the return day. Not just because of icy sidewalks, snow-clogged traffic lanes, and delayed metro trains. It's because I stayed up too late - until well after midnight - the night before watching the Chinese pair figure skaters clinch the gold and silver medals at the Vancouver Olympics.
I'm an Olympic junkie. With a fixed addiction for the Winter Olympics. (In fact, I'm sitting in front of the TV right now blogging while watching the women's luge final.) I'm absolutely riveted by the speed, strength, and grace of the skaters, skiers, ski jumpers, snowboarders, sledders, lugers, and other athletes. (Of course, the tragic death of a Georgian luger in a training run reveals the other side - danger - of these Winter Olympics sports.)
I love the spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies even if their reported $40 million price tag seems callous and vulgar in this worldwide recession. I stay glued to the TV despite the commercials every two minutes. (O.K., I'm exaggerating. Just a little.) I lap up all the behind the scenes drama - the syrupy love stories, the comebacks after life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
And this year, I'm following the six moms - six working moms - on the U.S Olympic team. That's six moms out of a total of 93 female competitors on the U.S. Olympic roster. To put this in perspective, there are only 17 dads out of 123 male athletes competing for the United States. This is not your preschool playdate crowd.
The six U.S. elite athlete-moms are Jenny Potter, the four-time Olympian, gold (and silver) medalist, and captain of the U.S. women's hockey team, Alpine skier Sarah Schlepper, and skeleton specialist Nicole Pikus-Pace. Plus the three curling squad moms: Allison Pottinger, Natalie Nicholson, and Tracy Sachtjen. Read some of their stories about balancing the demands of family and Olympic-level sport here, here, and here. (And see some pictures of them here.)
I'm in awe of these Olympic moms. They juggle their families, intense training and competition schedules, and other responsibilities. Several of these women also hold "outside" jobs - Potter and her husband run a hockey school, Pottinger is a marketing researcher for General Mills (working a flexible schedule), and Nicholson is a nurse practitioner. It certainly isn't easy as a recent article in the Star Tribune shows. It takes supportive spouses, caring networks of extended family and friends, precise time-management skills, and unbelievable discipline. Not to mention the ability to wake up and work out for hours nearly every day.
I could use some of these athlete-moms' drive. Especially after all the blizzard bloat I seem to have gained over these last two weeks. (There's something about being snowbound with small children that requires the consumption of loads of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and mugs of cocoa. With marshmallows.) If they can wake up and exercise at 5:00 a.m., I can hit my elliptical trainer at 6:30, right? Sure. But it's going to be a long night: there's still men's figure skating and women's snowboard cross to come. Maybe I'll exercise after the Winter Olympics end. . . .