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Musings

Social Consumption: I'm Full, Yet I Continue to Consume

Megan Harrod

FOREWARD:
This one has been a long time coming. I’ve written installments around the topic previously, but haven’t made the time to sit down and really ruminate while in front of my laptop. First, there was “Dating is so weird.” and then “Textual Frustration.” and finally “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Poignant indeed. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, though, especially with as much time as I spend on social media. Too much time. Yes, it’s part of my job, so there’s that. As a result, I know too much about how social media works, too. When you know too much about how social media works, you’re on social media frequently and you’re dating, it’s kind of a rough combination. So, some of what I’m writing comes as a result of years of experience and conversations with others, and isn’t necessarily relative to my current situation (which, by the way, is healthy and happy). Let’s dive in, shall we?!


A Facebook notification popped up on my screen the other day while I was working…”happy 14th anniversary!” Wait - 14 years?! Has it really been 14 years since our lives changed and gone were the days of MySpace, as interactions would change forever with the introduction of this one virtual space first known as “thefacebook.com” (yes - I am old enough to remember that you used to have to type in the full name and continued to do so for many years before I broke the habit)?! Yep. Then it was Twitter. Fast forward a number of years, and BOOM - Instagram!!

Along the way there were things like Tumblr and Blogspot…and - of course - Snapchat…but it was Instagram that really captivated me. Initially used by visual artists and hipsters as a photo sharing app, for me it was visually appealing and I found it to be a joy to interact with…unlike trying to fit my thoughts into 140 characters or getting really personal on Facebook (which, don’t worry, I did too - I’m an open book), Instagram allowed me to share mini blogs, random thoughts and musings along with an image in an aesthetically pleasing virtual realm. Just like a website, people could read the words or look at the image, and take in the information as it suited them. I didn’t really mind if some thought I wrote too many words, because maybe the image would resonate with them. And, in the beginning, it was all beautiful and raw. And then it gained popularity and widespread use, and it wasn’t what it started as anymore. People tried to figure out how to use it, but muddied it up. Ads were introduced. And it changed a little bit. And it did something else that was pretty toxic…it created a space for online bullying, and showed one side of life - all of the best and most beautiful things - and not the hard parts. The REALITY. I, too, fell into this trap at times.

But, for the most part, I fell in love with social media because for me it was about authenticity. It was a storytelling tool for the good and the bad…like how it felt when I went through a divorce and was simultaneously was pushed out of the company I gave up a full-time job for…and started from scratch in life, moving to a new place with my life packed into a small portion of the back of a 10-foot U-Haul moving truck. Or the moments where I struggled with heartbreak so much I lost my mind and 15 unnecessary pounds, too. I would put something out there, not knowing if it resonated with anyone…and frankly, not really caring if it resonated with anyone. Because it was a tool that helped me to move on - to move forward. In fact, in that strange and tumultuous time in my life, it was the only thing that kept me sane. Writing, that is. And then, sharing that writing. And, at times, I overshared as well. I’m aware of that fact. But I’m not sorry for it. If you don’t like it, I hope you have the power to look away and not let it touch your soul. Or, maybe if it did touch your soul I did something right? Not certain.

During these times, friends unfollowed me. I never understood that, because social media never affected me that much. I could look at it and separate reality from make-believe and not let it affect me…unless or until I was sad, that is. That’s the problem, though. If I was in a bad place, I’d look at things and get sad - friends were at a barbecue and I didn’t get the invite, and I’d feel left out. I’d be sitting in Salzburg alone on New Year’s Eve with plans that fell through and I’d open Instagram and see friends with the only person I wanted to be with at that moment. A pool of tears in my car, as a result of a single 15-second video on Instagram that I shouldn’t have seen anyway. And that’s the negative side of social media. Things are captured that wouldn’t otherwise enter your life at your fingertips. And it feels shitty. Really fucking shitty. So shitty and such an issue that the Millennials came up with an acronym for this feeling: FOMO (fear of missing out). And yes, it’s a thing. The problem is, it takes us out of the present moment and transports us to a faraway place that isn’t our own. Sometimes, that’s good. And healthy. Oftentimes, it’s not as good. And relationships in a world where everything is available at your fingertips?! Yikes.

This is about to get FUN.

Grab a drink, folks…I think a lot of you will be able to relate to this next part.

First, let’s talk about the illusion of reality. You’re probably wondering what the picture was all about that accompanies this post? Yes, that one - the butt one. Well, it was kind of click-bait to be honest. A “teaser” if you will. Because, as they say, sex sells. It was actually a little bit of an experiment for me to see how much attention it would get if I posted a classic booty pic. That’s the part of social media that REALLY can go fuck off. I know what you’re thinking, “Megan - you post those pictures too you goddamn hypocrite…you’re part of the problem!” Ouch. That hurts. But don’t worry, I am aware of it at least. So there’s that.

But I also know a lot about social media. Like I said, too much. And I’ve talked to many humans in relationships who have struggled with this. Social media has changed the way we conduct our lives and has affected human relationship. It has opened up so many possibilities…which can be good, sure. But, it also can be very, very negative.

Human relationships used to be simple. I remember talking to a friend a few years back who said she had listened to a podcast about relationships and choice, and it was comparing finding a mate to shopping for jam. They said you used to go to the store and have the ability to look at the shelf and see about five kinds of jam. It was simple. You knew what you liked, and you went with it. There weren’t many choices, but you were loyal to your choice and you didn’t look at the others and worry about what they tasted like. But now…now is a different story.

You walk into the store and there are hundreds of types of jam. And you find yourself staring at them all and thinking, “Maybe that mixed berry one is actually better…sweeter…more pleasureful. It might be more expensive, but I bet it tastes sooooo rich.” You get the idea. The internet, smart phones, social media…they have opened up a big ol’ world that used to be much, much smaller. And, we find ourselves scrolling through social media wondering if that human tastes better…without really knowing anything at all about them, but seeing a butt picture. It’s a fucking fantasy world. REMEMBER…you know NOTHING about that person. And then you spend a few days eating that mixed berry jam and you’re like, “damn…I wish I had the strawberry jam in my life again.” The grass on the other side is always greener, right?! It seems so.

And then here’s the other scary part about the way we interact with social media…there have been studies done on the reaction our mind/body has when someone likes our photo on social media…dopamine is released and we get hooked. I’ve felt it. It’s a little dangerous. But, what is the value of a “like” or “follow,” really?! Does it actually have meaning? That’s another thing about social. The younger generation seems to use it in a much different way…scroll, like, like, like, like. No reading. Just liking. What does it even mean?! Here’s where I get into trouble with knowing too much about social media. I think what you interact with and who is in your tribe is a reflection of who you are as a person - the same goes for real life and virtual life. So, if I’m in a relationship but I’m constantly interacting with dudes with their shirts off by liking their photos on social media…what does that mean about me? Furthermore, what does that mean to my partner? Have you ever considered it? Or does that not phase you?

Let me put this into context.

If you were walking with your partner and saw a beautiful human, you’d likely look and appreciate that beauty, right? I would. Because I love beautiful people. Of course, we don’t know anything about who these people really are - but the first thing we see is their cover before we’re able to dive into the pages of the book and really get to know them. So, there’s one thing with looking and appreciating. Engaging with it is another thing. Would you go hug that stranger in front of your partner? Poke them? Pinch their butt? “Hi! I’m here! I just want you to know that!” I know, I know - it’s a bit drastic to compare physical touch with the action of a “like” on social. But is it?

I know what you’re thinking. “This bitch is CRAY.” First of all - yes, I am. We all are. Second of all - hear me out, because I’m not really a jealous person by nature and if I’m in a healthy relationship where everything is on the table and we’re communicating well, it’s not an issue. Here’s a scenario - you and your partner are doing the long distance thang. Your partner is constantly interacting with a girl who often posts ass and titties photos. He doesn’t interact with your posts, but he seems to constantly interact with hers. You’re confused. You start to get jealous and wonder why, but you don’t want to bring it up because it seems silly. You start to fixate on that behavior, and do things like look on Instagram at what he liked. You text him that you miss him. You don’t hear back. You wonder what’s going on.

The worst thoughts get into your head.

You go on Instagram to see when he was last active (yeah, crazy, huh?! It’s happened to the best of us.).

“Active Now” it says.

“WHAT THE HELL, IS HE CHEATING ON ME? DOES HE LIKE THAT GIRL?!”

HA! Oh my gosh, I’m laughing out loud because it’s ridiculous to even write this, but it’s true. I’ve heard this dilemma from more than a few humans in my life. The thing is, unless it’s some far-fetched star from Hollywood, anything goes with social media these days. Seriously. Look at Tinder and Bumble. That’s the very concept of those social tools - meet specifically for human connection (whether it be to date or hook up or whatever), virtually. There was even a term coined for this on Instagram, “Slide into the DMs.” I’ve done it before, and it’s paid off well for me once or twice. Including currently. But that’s the thing, and that’s why we need to be mindful…because what we do and who we interact with in virtual reality is a reflection of who we are just like what we do and who we interact with in reality is a reflection of who we are. You are what you eat, right?! The thing is, oftentimes I’m full, yet I continue to consume.

You text your person. They start to reply.

The dreaded “…” right?! That fucking ellipsis. You hate it and love it. You love to hate it.

It’s actually my favorite punctuation mark, but in this case, it’s the worst. It creates excitement or anxiety.

And then it’s blank.

“Where’d they go?” You wonder to yourself.

But we didn’t used to have our lives at our fingertips. We didn’t used to be expected to immediately write back. We had no choice before. Game changer for dating and human relationships.

I once followed an Instagram account called “Socality Barbie” - this was a satirical account created to mock hipsters and their #blessed lives on social media. In her prime, Socality Barbie had about 1M followers. She was a social experiment that took off, and brought light to the #authenticity of social media. HA! Then, I came across Fyre Festival - and if you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary about it, you should, because it’s insane and absolutely a reflection of the power social media can have in real life, and how the fantasy world that is social media can negatively affect humans in real life. Yes, it’s an extreme case - but it’s worth watching.

So where am I getting with all of this?!

I guess sometimes I wish it all was as simple as it used to be, where you wrote and exchanged real letters (the art of letter writing is still a practice in which I partake, for the record), instant gratification wasn’t a thing, and you were just fat and happy eating your simple, reliable strawberry jam.

Ponder that.

World Championships Notes | 16.2.2019 | More than just medals...a heart of gold.

Megan Harrod

FORWARD:
It was never my goal to share work-related material here, but I felt more connected to this piece personally than I have about others I have written, so I wanted to share here. (Most) Every World Cup and World Championships race day, I write behind-the-scenes notes that I share with journalists, fans, trustees and beyond. It’s something I sort of inherited from my predecessor when I started the gig, and ran with from there to make it my own. It’s usually a scramble in the morning to write these and a jumble of thoughts, but it’s a part of my job that I love. Hope you find some enjoyment in it, too.

Photography Credit: MATS LIND PHOTOGRAPHY 


No questions.

No second thoughts.

No holding back.

Break the chains,

free yourself.

Ski.

Fly.

Dance.

(Mikaela Shiffrin, Instagram Post - August 18, 2014)

This morning, I reminded Mikaela that she wrote that five years ago. I also sent her thisbecause - other than Jessica's Daily Affirmations - it's probably my favorite YouTube video.

There's much to be said for Mikaela's success, and perhaps even more to be said when she doesn't have success (which - to many fans and media means winning, in her case)...but perhaps what people forget - among all of the victories and records being broken - is that Mikaela is a human being (cue music, folks).

At this point, she's kind of in the same boat as Hirscher - damned if you do, damned if you don't. The media (and the rest of us) is running out of superlatives. So, perhaps it's bigger news when Mikaela is not successful. Headlines read "Mikaela with work to do in Giant Slalom..." / "Mikaela can't beat wind or rivals in giant slalom" / "Mikaela Shiffrin settles for bronze medal in GS at World Championship" / "Mikaela Shiffrin pipped to gold as Petra Vlhova wins giant slalom." I am not sure how to convey what Mikaela is doing through words - her level of consistency at such a high quality is something magical. To keep that level of consistency week in and week out is seemingly impossible. And so, even we - at times - take for granted what she's doing and who she is.

These numbers tell a story:
22 races, with 17 podiums, 13 of which were wins…
14 wins if you count World Champs super-G

This season, there's a 77% chance Mikaela will podium, and she's got a 64% chance to win a race she enters. That's across slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill disciplines this season. 

 As Brian Pinelli stated on Twitter:
World Cup winning percentage comparison among top racers...
Ingemar Stenmark 86 wins/230 starts - 37.4%
Mikaela Shiffrin 56/151 - 37.1%
Annemarie Moser-Proell 62/174 - 35.6%
Marcel Hirscher 68/238 - 28.6%
Lindsey Vonn 82/395 - 20.75%

When asked by Eurosport if Marcel and Mikaela will beat his 86 World Cup victories record, Stenmark replied without hesitation, "Both of them will break this record and Shiffrin for sure will get 100."

 She has done things no one has done before - there is a record to break every day she hits the mountain. And yet, she's only human. Get to know Mikaela, and she's one of the most soft-souled individuals I've ever met. She's kind. She's caring. She's real. So, amidst all of the other stuff - the talk about Mikaela being robotic, a machine, a phenom...let's remember - she is a person. A person who, when she won her first World Cup victory here in Åre on December 20, 2012, met a young girl named Emma Lundell, spent the time with the little 11-year-old suffering from Leukemia, giving her an autograph - and then two years later - was moved to tears when she heard that her "little lucky charm" was healthy and doing well.

Last year, Emma came to see Mikaela hoist up her second consecutive overall globe and fifth slalom globe - and win the slalom by a commanding 1.58 seconds. That day, Emma greeted Mikaela in the finish, and Mikaela gave Emma her globe to hold for pictures, invited her to her victory press conference, and shared the stage with her - giving her her flowers. None of it was for the cameras. Mikaela has done these things many, many times without the cameras and media around. Emma and Mikaela keep in touch, and her mom Annika will bring Emma to today's race to watch Mikaela potentially go down in the record books once again. But perhaps today Mikaela will not only hit the headlines because of what she has or has not done on the mountain - but rather who she is off the mountain: a genuinely good human with a heart of gold.

She's not a stats kind of gal, but we are all about it, right?! So let's look at the run-down for the day:

  • Mikaela Shiffrin has won the ladies' slalom world title three times, all at the last three world championships.

  • The only alpine skier, male or female, to have won a specific event four times at the world championships is Christel Cranz: four in the slalom and five in a combination event. 

  • Shiffrin can become the first alpine skier, male or female, to win a specific event at four successive world championships.

  • Shiffrin and Frida Hansdotter have collected three world championships medals in the ladies' slalom, both at the last three editions. Only Cranz (5), Marielle Goitschel (4) and Šárka Strachová (4) have claimed more. 

  • Shiffrin has won four career gold medals at the world championships, equal to Bode Miller in second-place among US alpine skiers. Only Ted Ligety (5) has won more. 

  • Shiffrin has collected six world championships medals, third-most among US alpine skiers behind Lindsey Vonn (8) and Ligety (7).

  • Shiffrin has already won two medals at these world championships: gold in the super-G and bronze in the giant slalom.

  • Shiffrin can join Vonn (2 in 2009) and Andrea Mead-Lawrence (2 in 1952) as the only US women to win multiple world titles at one edition.

  • Shiffrin can become the second woman to claim a world championships medal in the super-G, giant slalom and slalom in one year, after Mateja Svet in 1987 (giant slalom silver, super-G bronze, slalom bronze). 

Again, she doesn't focus on records. So let's dance, shall we?! Yes, let's!

ICYMI:
The Associated Press, Like an Angel - Shiffrin Inspired by Cancer Survivor
Coach Jeff Lackie on What Makes Mikaela Shiffrin Different
Alex Azzi, NBC Sports Olympic Talk - "Mikaela Shiffrin could win historic world title, not that she’s keeping track"
Mikaela Shiffrin - Slalom Preview
Men's Giant Slalom Recap - Ligety 11th, Ford 12th

The Scoop/Course Report: It's a bit of a wind-rain mix today - not the most beautiful conditions we've seen here, but alas - we're on the final stretch and today is going to be a good show. I caught up with Jeff Lackie, one of Mikaela's coaches, following inspection and here's what he had to say:

"As we’ve seen over the past couple days of racing, this hill doesn’t offer enough natural challenges to significantly separate the field. In addition, the snow is old and dead which means the athletes will struggle to get any significant rebound from the surface. Despite all this, the course set is good, nice rhythmical swing, with a diagonal corridor that includes a royal flush before the finish pitch. Miki, has had loads of success here in the past with a variety of snow conditions including soft slushy snow like today. Despite how long the course is, you need to ski it like a sprint, every little ‘pitch’ is an opportunity to add momentum."

LFG!

Women’s Slalom, Åre, Sweden
Start Time: 
1st run-11am CET/2nd run-14:30
U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib 2), Paula Moltzan (21) and Nina O'Brien (41). 

  • Of her six slalom starts in Åre, Mikaela has won four times. Last year at World Cup Finals, by 1.58 seconds. In 2015, by 1.41 seconds. In 2014, by .60 seconds. And, of course - on December 20, 2012 - her very first World Cup victory, by .29 seconds. I'm not sure if you caught that...but in the last two slalom starts she's had on this track, she has won by a combined margin of 2.99 SECONDS (!!). Take that in, folks. Because THAT is insane.

  •  Paula Moltzan, who skis for the University of Vermont, is a Minnesota-born gal with big talent. After being on the team, then off the team, she has shown that the World Cup is where she belongs. This season she's been 17th, 15th, 12th and 16th, respectively. Keep an eye on her today, as she has posted some smokin'-fast runs...including the second-fastest second run in Flachau, Austria - behind someone who you may know - Petra Vlhova. Nina O'Brien has shown strength on the NorAm Cup this season, and has scored her first World Cup points this year in both slalom (23rd, Killington) and giant slalom (26th, Kronplatz). She is currently ranked first in the NorAm Cup overall, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G standings. 

Who’s in the hunt: Of course, Petra, Wendy, and Frida will all be contenders today - and watch hometown gal Anna Swenn Larsson, too. The heat is on for ol' Österreich, eh?!Schroeksnadel must be beside himself with this stat: Austria has yet to claim its first medal in a ladies' event at these world championships. The last time Austria failed to collect a world championships medal in a ladies' event was in 1982 in Schladming, Austria. Yikes.

World Championships Slalom - 18.2.2017 - St. Moritz
1.  Mikaela Shiffrin (by 1.64 seconds!!)
2.  Wendy Holdener (SUI, bib 3 today)
3.  Frida Hansdotter (SWE, lucky no. 7)
4.  Petra Vlhova (SVK, 6)
5. Sarka Strachova (CZE, retired)

Last Slalom at Åre, Sweden - World Cup Finals - 17.3.2018
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (by 1.58 seconds!!)
2. Wendy Holdener
3. Frida Hansdotter
4. Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR, out with injury)
5. Bernadette Schild (AUT, bib 5 today)

Women's World Cup Slalom Standings
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (860 points)
2.  Petra Vlhova (725)
3.  Wendy Holdener (485)
4.  Frida Hansdotter (348)
5.  Anna Swenn-Larsson (336, bib 4 today)

START LIST
Women's Slalom 

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
*Same-day broadcast
**Next-day broadcast

Saturday, Feb. 16
5:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 1 - Are, SWE - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 1 - Are, SWE - NBCSN*
8:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 2 - Are, SWE - NBCSN OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom - Are, SWE - NBC*

All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/LiveNBCSports.com/Gold and OlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.

With zip and zang,

Megan


If you liked this, and you’d like to sign up for my World Cup Notes, head to our press release page, fill out the form, and tick the first box that says, “Alpine World Cup Notes from Megan Harrod” to receive them from here on out. If not, that’s ok too! Thanks for your support!!

Textual Frustration

Megan Harrod

The 21st century is a bizarre time to be alive. Sit around a table with a group of millennials and you'll experience a social situation that is both fascinating and appalling. Conversations with phones replace true human connection. "Being present" has taken on a new meaning. Arguments, deep conversations and flirtation happen via text. We wait by our phones, in anticipation of what he will write. The infamous "..." lights up our screens and stirs up butterflies in our stomachs. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've heard numerous males and females - mostly females - lamenting about their relationships and the frustration associated with technology. I even wrote a piece and submitted it to the Sun Journal recently. I don't think they'll run it, so I'll share it here. 

------
Textual Frustration

“Hi Moondust!” he writes.

“Hello,” she responds.  

Silence. Then the “…” shows. Her heart beats with anticipation.

Then it disappears.

More silence.

“So…how are you? Where are you?” she says.

It’s been six weeks since she saw him. They’ve been “dating” for two and a half years. On and off, of course. He’s beautiful and loving – mostly – when he’s present, but the problem is…he’s just not present very much.

Finally, he replies with a picture. A classic reply from him. It was a photo of him throwing out a peace sign on top of a mountain in Norway. The sun was shining down on him, casting an angelic glow on his messy mop of curls. Of course, she knew more than anyone else that he was far from an angel.

“Stunning,” she texted. She hadn’t seen his face in about a week. She missed him…but it wasn’t the healthy kind of missing him. It was the gaping hole in her heart kind of way of missing him. She yearned for his love. A love that he wasn’t ready to give her, and perhaps never would be ready to give her.

“…”

She was writing to him. His phone was in his pocket, so he didn’t even notice. There was no anticipation. He was living his dream. But his dream was simple. He was nomadic. He didn’t have to worry about being tied to anything or answering to anyone. He preferred that lifestyle.  It’s not that he didn’t love her. He just didn’t need her.

And she didn’t need him, either. But she yearned for his love.

“Let me know when you have time to talk. I’d love to see your face,” she wrote.

Two hours passed. 

He returned to his hostel with a big dumb grin on his face, feeling accomplished after a long day of skiing and connecting with locals, looking forward to grabbing a beer with the cute receptionist after her shift. Not because she was cute and he liked her, but because she was nice and she was local, and she shared a love for IPAs with him, and she had information about an epic hike he wanted to experience. He took his phone out of his pocket and saw her text.

He smiled. Of course, he missed her too. But he’d never tell her that. Telling her that would make him appear vulnerable and too connected. And maybe that would mean he’d have to sacrifice some of his lifestyle, which he wasn’t ready to do.

The receptionist walked up and greeted him with a hug. He quickly put his phone back in his pocket and said, “Heeeeeey! The skiing was PHENOMENAL out there today. Want to get a beer?”

The other “she” retreated into her room, iPhone in hand.

Still no text from him. “What am I doing,” she thought to herself. “Am I an idiot?! I’ve never waited around for anyone in my life. He must not love me. He must have found someone else. Maybe he’s with someone else right now. I wonder if it was that girl in the picture from the other day. Maybe he loves her.”

Textual frustration.

------

Food for Thought: How do we calm our busy minds? How do we control the chaos? How do we trust in a world where everyone and everything is literally at our fingertips? Part 2 to come soon…

The Road to PyeongChang Starts at 1 Victory Lane

Megan Harrod

***Disclaimer: I hope you all can read, because I’m not providing audio for this one since it’s abbreviated and there’s a video component. If you can’t, your problem is bigger than me. You got this.***

For the last four years I've worked for the U.S. Ski Team as their Alpine Press Officer, traveling the world, working to make stars shine. To put it in terms most can understand, I often drive thousands of kilometers in the winter, carry bags that are far too heavy and borderline give me a heart attack (the men's speed team's is always the heaviest...can you say "divas"?! Haha, joking. Kind of.), make sure athletes are hydrated in the finish area and have snacks, ensure they don't have anything stuck in their teeth or boogers in their nose and they don't say anything that could negatively affect their or the U.S. Ski Team's brand image to the media. That's my job.

I'm in the background, usually smiling, wearing leggings of some sort and with a unicorn mask in my finish bag. I love amplifying athlete stories. I love storytelling in general. The passion I have for my work is something I'm very grateful for, and the places it takes me are stunning...from the sunrises in New Zealand to the chaotic mess of humans drooling over ski racing gods in Kitzbuehel - my eyes have seen far more than most can ever dream of. The relationships created and the memories made along the way, are something I will never forget. 

My work has become such a focus in my life (at times the lines are incredibly blurred between work and my personal life...almost too much so) over the last few years. Living on the road for nine months of the year, it's been challenging to find a home in Park City, where my headquarters lives. So, last year when I had the chance to live in a recreational vehicle purchased on a whim by my parents, I thought...why not just live at my headquarters?! And so it began. The Road to PyeongChang literally started at 1 Victory Lane, where I parked "Westward Ho" - as I named her. Home is where you park it, after all, right?! Or something...

Anyway, for much of the summer I lived in Westward Ho, and my friend Chelsea and I thought it'd be fun to put together a little spin-off of "MTV Cribs" deemed "COE Cribs". At the time, a nordic coach whom I lovingly referred to as my "H.O.A. president" was also parked at the office in a Sprinter. It goes without saying that his vehicle was cooler than mine, but I think mine had much more character. Late night chats about the mobile life, sharing of bear spray and beyond - we bonded as a little #OneTeam community. 

Throughout the whole experiment, the biggest eye opener for me was how others reacted to my decision to live in 20-year-old RV. Every guy I talked to thought it was the coolest thing they'd ever heard. Most of the gals I talked to, though, cringed. Intriguing and fascinating learnings on human behavior, gender differences, and priorities that we have when we arrive to our 30s. I don't have kids. I don't have a husband. I don't have a home. I DO have a car (Aspen the Subie -  you've met her if you've watched the video. Actually, we're unsure of the gender there, so I should say "it."), a loving family and friends who support me, a sturdy set of backpacks (Thanks, Topo Designs), a roof over my head (now), a passport, and food (the buffet tour feeds me well in the winter - too well)...so I don't really need anything else. I see and experience things I've always wanted to see and experience, and though I'll likely get tired of moving thousands of miles every winter from point A to B and picking athletes' boogers, I am happy where I am at the moment. 

There were some drawbacks to the RV life...including the breakdown on the initial journey from Minneapolis to Park City with my friend Keely that featured an exciting towing experience by our new friend Doug (who let us borrow his car so we could go to a movie and a Mexican restaurant), and a stay in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota for a couple of days and some initial DMs to my now-boyfriend-then-Instagram-connection, who was also traveling across the country at the time (I slid in and asked if he had room for two gals in his car...he was already 130 miles beyond us). Additionally, there was the leaky roof which led to an attic flood that destroyed many of my clothes. However, for the most part, it was a good life, a good run, and I slept hard. I even kind of miss my morning wake up calls by athletes on the slack line outside my bedroom window, or my tea dates with my former supervisor at my dining room table. For a short time, it was a good time leading into a season that would have me travel across the globe, with the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea as the pinnacle event. I hope you enjoy this limited edition episode of "COE Cribs" as much as I enjoyed making it. 

Shout-out to Chelsea for filming on the GoPro, and my sis Mikaela for editing it. And, of course, shout-out to my mother and father for still supporting me at #ageofjesus+2...and a big thank you to Westward Ho herself. 

Love, 

Vagablonde