Arriving, processing and getting there

As you all know, I had to win the trials in 2007 to get my ticket to the Beijing Olympics, and this was/is my first Olympics racing and really couldn’t wait to find out how I’d do.  First was a flight from my hometown to San Francisco for processing.  The equipment at the Olympics was almost completely supplied, so my stuff all fit in normal suitcases, albeit a little on the full side.  When I got to the airport check in desk I saw Kenneth and Zach standing in line haggling with the United employee to get all of there bags in for free.  Sure enough United took their bags all free of charge, but then I arrived at the counter, they found somewhere that I was supposed to get reimbursed later on, they found one of my bag was 5 pounds over the limit; add $50 to the bill.  Just two weeks before at the same desk I had 200 pounds of windsurfing equipment that they shockingly allowed on for free.  So goes my first experience of the Olympics!

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bus ride 

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Arriving in San Francisco was easy and we all were greeted by USOC staff and were shuttled into a big charter bus that took us to san Jose University for processing.  We made it to san Francisco early, so we went immediately through the processing gauntlet of the USOC.  We had about 6 different stations to go thru, bank of America gave each athlete a debit card with $100 on it, so I already got paid.  We did medical clearances, marketing services, ring fitting, and the all timefavorite team gear issue.  

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 img_0693.jpgUSA AutographsStu McNay

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Team gear was provided by Nike and Polo Ralgh Lauren and we went into a auditorium size room and picked up about 45 different items, ranging from polo shirts to pants and rain breakers to our opening ceremonies jackets.  Each athlete did their best to try on each article of clothing before it entered your full size shopping cart.  They packed it up neatly in USA ringed bags and then we were off to alterations for the suit and pants.  The alterations guru was a chap from Tampa, with Sew Fast on platt, I am sure many of you have been there and he knew many of you as well. 

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After that we checked into our rooms, which were dorm rooms with 5 individual rooms with two beds a piece.  It was less than epic housing but we were too busy trying on our new clothes to really care about it.  Graham, one of our sailors already started sporting the wide angle baseball hat from nike, along with the sweat pants and V neck sweater vest, humor was going wild with all the possible combinations.  We then had  a very important meeting to attend. Charlie, our 4 time multihull Olympian, immediately started to feel really sick, I should have known something was up.  So for the next two hours we were in a new auditorium having USOC speaker after speaker give us rules and regulations on how to behave and represent team USA in China.   There were strict rules on media and what you could post on your website and when you could etc…basically every sponsor that the USOC and IOC gets, owns you for the next 3 weeks, stripping away your second amendment rights and instead drinking coke and eating Mc Donald’s as one of your best food options.  Also of important note was we weren’t supposed to bring cameras into the opening ceremonies, everybody looked at each other with shock and bewilderment.  We left for the dining hall after that long boring lecture and saw Charlie again, he reassured to the team that they always do that in hopes 1 member of the team will follow all their controls.  Truth is he said, go for it enjoy it record it an share it.  Cool.

Zach in dorm room 

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We had our own secluded USOC cafeteria food that was decent, with lot’s of footage playing of the past Olympics on big LCD’s t stare at while eating.  Instead of flying out early the next morning to China like all other sports teams in processing, the US Sailing team put together an event the next day at the St. Francis YC with lot’s of press, special sponsor dinners and everything else you could want in a going away party. But that meant some of our team went out for some drinks, Zach at about midnight brought back some mid 40’s ladies to the dorm and woke up nearly everybody that was trying to sleep.  We then nicknamed him “cougar” for the terrible haul of ladies, the name stuck the rest of the regatta.

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So the following day we got back in the bus and headed to St. Francis YC for the going away party.  We all gave video interviews, lot’s of team pictures and shook hands with all the major players that supported the US Sailing Team it was a fun event that included dinner with 300 guests!  Very cool and a great send off.

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 water

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The next day we were back in the airport checking in on the way to China.  During processing I picked up 2 extra bags, so I was a bit humorously concerned United would nickel and dime the entire US delegation.  However this time we had our own travel agent just for athletes and staff and this made it easy to get onto Beijing.  So with a 12 hour flight from san Francisco to Beijing, it was going to be extremely dehydrating as they refuse anything over 3 ounces going through security.  So right next to the gate, the USOC set up a water stand and you could take as many dasani water bottles as you could carry onto the plane, that was a nice touch indeed, and should be available for all people as the airplane is the worst nutritionally place anybody

could go on, especially with all those water bottles that look like bombs out there.

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airport boarding

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The flight was packed with all kinds of athletes on the flight, from shooting to rowers were on the 747 with the sailing team.  I was quick  to point out that I was a windsurfer on the sailing team, to be a touch cooler! 

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Our arrival in Beijing was greeted by at least a dozen Beijing volunteers and we were ushered to the accreditation issue desk where each of us got a name tag that identified us in all Olympic venues and also our entrance Visa.  It was the only time I have visited China and I didn’t need to get a visa a month before while in the states.  Stu, one of our sailors somehow wasn’t in the credential system so arguments ensued on what to do with him, but the security relented and let him into the country.  Next was picking up our baggage and then going to check back in for our short leg to Qingdao, the city where our sailing takes place.  Somehow they decided we wouldn’t be able to make the next flight at 4 PM that was over 2 hours away so they put us on the 8PM flight, much to everybody’s unhappiness. So we all spli our time at two restaurants, Kenny G’s or Burger King.  Both food was fairy gnarly and the jet lag was seeping into everyone’s bones at that time.  So we took turns hearing different stories until we all fell asleep at the gate, waking up later that evening, then again when arriving in Qingdao.  After about 34 hours of travel time we made it to the Olympic Village and collapsed on bed and didn’t move for more than 10 hours.  Did I mention I hate Jet lag?  If there is something that drives me mad about traveling it’s messing up your sleep, eating, digestive, thought and metabolism for over a week to adjust to the 12 hour time change, but going to china is much better than coming back from China.

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