With the start of the Olympics a month away, I can’t help but reminisce about my years of racing and my own Olympic experience. Steamboat has a long tradition of producing Winter Olympians, and this year will be no exception. With pride and appreciation, I will watch our athletes knowing that with every journey, there is always more than what we see at the finish line.

All the space between

The Olympics are every four years, which leaves a lot of time in between. The reality is that there are World Cups, World Championships, National Championships and months and months of training during the years leading into each Olympic season. That is a lot of energy and dedication going into those key moments.

Just getting there

Qualifying for the actual games is an enormous challenge in and of itself. In Alpine skiing as in other sports, the U.S. Ski Team athletes are vying for four spots per event. With a team of 20 athletes per gender, this can create a difficult and competitive scenario. Teammates who live, sleep and travel together roughly 300 days a year are trying to beat out fellow teammates and friends for a spot to represent their country. The pressure is on.

The power of a moment

Perhaps the most incredible aspect of the Olympics is in actually winning a medal. What many people don’t realize is the odds of winning a gold medal are 1 in 662,000. More specifically, of the 13,000 athletes competing in both winter and summer Olympics, fewer than 3 percent will actually win a gold medal. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking stories of athletes falling, tripping or failing to perform at their best for that one moment in time. In Alpine skiing, the culmination of years and years of training comes down to roughly 60 seconds. One minute where anything can happen. Where dreams are either made or crushed.

My story wasn’t one of winning a medal, but my journey was one of passion, determination and unexpected life experience. Those memories are more than gold to me.

When we watch our local athletes next month in South Korea, I hope we all can appreciate the incredible journey they have had to get to the Olympics and remember those who aren’t as fortunate.

 

Caroline Lalive Carmichael moved to Steamboat with her family in 1995 and joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. After one season, Caroline was named to the U.S. Ski Team and competed for 13 years, attending two Olympics. After retiring in 2009, she returned to Steamboat as a coach. She and fellow Olympian Nelson Carmichael were married in 2012 and welcomed their daughter, Freya, in 2015.