VANCOUVER, British Columbia-The United States Olympic Team is guaranteed to win more medals than it ever has at an Olympic Winter Games. American medalists Apolo Anton Ohno, Lyndsey Vonn, Angela Ruggerio and Bill Demong talked Satuday about the success of the team. Also in attendance was USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.
Blackmun insisted that the USOC doesn’t view the Olympics as a competition between countries. He admitted that they had projections for how many medals the team would win that changed almost daily, but never actually had a medal target.
“We are pleased with the results. It’s hard to exceed expectations. We expected to perform fantastically. This is better than we expected.” Blackmun added.
American speed skating champion Ohno, now the most decorated US Winter Olympic athlete, said being apart of the most successful Winter Olympic Team is “pretty amazing.”
Ohno went on to say, “I’m proud to be apart of any Olympic team regardless of outcome. Being an Olympian is bigger than how many medals [won].”
Alpine skier Vonn is excited about the USA’s success, “To see the success we’ve had has been inspiring. It’s been cool to watch the American flag go up on the podium so many times.”
Having the host city be Vancouver, British Columbia has also helped. Each athlete commented on how nice it has been to be able to train in Vancouver with it being so close in proximity to the US. The fans are great and Americans can easily travel to cheer on Team USA. The language barrier has been an advantage as well.
Demong said, “In a little way it feels like a North American Olympics. Canada and America are rooting for each other’s teams.”
Vonn noted how much Canada and the US are so much alike and that seems that the two aren’t just cheering each other on but “cheering on all the countries.”
Ohno has enjoyed the crowd so much he said, “It felt like a home game for us.”
Vonn who is competing in her third Olympic games pointed out that, “this is not the same energy and atmosphere in Torino. This is the best Olympic experience I’ve ever had.”
Demong expressed a similar feeling in Nagano, Japan, “The team felt like outsiders.”
If proximity, fans and speaking the same language was an advantage in Vancouver, the team will not have those same advantages going to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Mike Plant, also a member of the USOC, said they will visit Sochi this year and begin preparation. The US spent $55 million to be prepared for this years Olympics and has put together a longterm strategy. Ohno said a saying at the USOC is, “It’s not four years, it’s every day.”
The strategy is paying off as the US seems to have improved over the years winning in events such as the Nordic Combine that it had never done well in the past.
Nordic Combine gold medalist Demong said, “Regardless of where the games are we are doing the right things.”
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