Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Process, process, process.

Yesterday was an incredible day. Sunday night sleeping ended up being pretty interesting. For what is in retrospect an obvious reason, all the mattresses and the pillows in the George Mason dorms were incased in plastic. I'm sure they're great at hygiene--moisture shedding but they were a little…slick. Imagine a pillow made from the Mylar normally used in jib windows. Now put your head on it and try to sleep. Not to complain, but my seat on the plane last night felt like a bed at the Four Seasons by comparison.

We went through team processing. The USOC has its stuff together. We were told about safety in Rio. They showed us pictures of the athlete's village including the two buildings that will house the US delegation. They are called Winnipeg and Montreal and look to be about 15 stories tall each. Somehow makes it feel a little safer than if they were called Cincinnati and Houston.

We went through briefing with our friends the Synchronized swimmers. Then the highlight of the day: Gear outfitting. Now, I don't know how they did it, but some members of the US sailing team managed to remain blasé during this but I couldn't pull that off. We went into a large conference room in a student union building. They gave you a large plastic laundry tub and a clipboard complete with all your sizing information. You walked from table to table…'shopping'. At one station you got polo shirts. At one station you got work out shorts. Next came socks…then a pair of parade shoes and flip-flops. Next came the parade uniform. Then we were given a backpack with a pre-loaded cell phone so we can call home and home can call us free of international charges. Then we got a giant duffle bag. As we 'checked out', they took everything out of the boxes. Took off all the tags and packed everything into the giant duffle. I wish these would show up at home every time I need to pack for a regatta. Nike provides everything. Everything is incredible.

After that we were free for 4 hours. David and Jody and I went to the brand new athletic facility on campus. Two pools, weights, treadmills. We ran and biked and Jody swam.

Then we got to the airport and onto the plane. Actually, before we got on the plane, we had lots of help from the TSA officials dedicated to our delegation. They even made sure that the sailboards and our sails which come in 96" boxes, made it through security and onto the plane…although, as I write this we're in a layover in Sao Palo so I've got to assume all the stuff made it here. Before the flight David and I had a beer at the same bar Nick and Dan and Larry and I ate in two weeks ago. It might be the last beer for a while. The athlete's village is dry!

On the plane we met the woman's basketball team. There are players on it from The University of Tennessee, Uconn, Stanford, Rutgers (listen up Don Imus!) and other amazing programs. They are coached by Dawn Staley who won 3 Olympic medals. I met her. She's 37, retired I think last year, and is certainly one of the best woman's basketball players ever. The player who sat next to me is a #2 guard. She's a sophomore from Uconn. Prior to that, she was Ms. Basketball in the state of Ohio where her team won the state title and was undefeated her senior season. She's really nice. I gave her cash to switch seats with me. She got my middle seat, I got her aisle. About 6 hours into the 10 hour flight I was sure I made the right trade.

We landed in Sao Palo at about 8am local time on what is now Tuesday. It's about 55 degrees and raining. Right now there are about 75 American athletes and officials lounging around, waiting to get back on the continuation of our flight to Rio. Come to think of it, the rubber bed at George Mason is more comfortable than the seats here in the airside. One interesting thing here: The Pan Am Games are everywhere. We're all watching ESPN-Brazil who is showing men's beach volleyball. If it's live, the weather is much different in Rio than it is here. There's Pan Am games stuff for sale all over the airport. Next we fly to Rio, get on busses to the village and hope the lines to get our gear and keys aren't forever long. Tomorrow we go to the venue, open the shipping container and hope no forklift driver put a tine through our boat.

We're taking lots of photos. I'll try and get some up in a few minutes.

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