Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be at the Olympic village? What’s the community and the atmosphere like when you’re actually at the games?

Brian - I think Caitlin has given the best description of this in the past because we usually talk about this in presentations we do or when we are working with kids, so if you think about what it would be like as a kid to go to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, if you’re an athlete that’s exactly what the Olympic Village is like.  You know it’s just that kind of atmosphere, you’ve got the water fountain and then right next to it you have your sports drink fountain, I just wish it was INFINIT!   But it is just an incredible environment, you have athletes from all over the world and so the food is set up to cater towards athletes with tastes and diets from all over the world, so you get an opportunity to taste and try all these things you may have never gotten the chance to.  You’ve also got athletes competing at all different times of day too because of TV schedules and race set ups.  You may not even have your race until 9 o’clock but it’s just awesome!  You’ve got this party atmosphere because you made it to the Olympics you know, and you could say that this is the peak for everyone because it only comes around every four years but it’s really way more than that.  This is something that most people there have been training for for well over a decade.

What are some of the things that you two were able to do while at the Olympics other than focusing on your actual race or training?

Brian -  The one thing that’s pretty awesome is that as an athlete your credentials basically work like a ticket to every single event and venue you could want to go to.  Most places even have an athlete section, that’s a great opportunity to go see some other events, meet other athletes, and just kind of enjoy the games. But for me I ended up competing on day 3 day 14 and day 21 so I really only had like one day to leave and enjoy Sochi outside of the three Olympic villages.

Caitlin -  And for me I was on pretty much the same type of schedule in Vancouver where I was competing basically the whole time that I was at the games, and when I wasn’t competing I was at the venue cheering on my teammates and preparing for the next event.  My family and friends that were there though got to go see a ton of different events and enjoy the night life which is pretty fun as well.  The village we both stayed in was actually the endurance village which was cool that they kind of split it up that way but on the last night of the closing ceremonies we both got to go out and see Vancouver but really the best part is meeting other athletes, hearing where they came from and how they got there and learning about what their lives are like.

Brian - One cool thing too is that there is a team USA house and then there is a “family home”, that P&G sponsors, that is really a cool house or meeting place that each athlete and four family members get passes to that’s essentially a restaurant/bar, but mostly an opportunity to meet other families that are part of the team.  It’s just a great place for other Olympians and their families to come together and watch other events and get to know each other.  It becomes sort of one big family out there especially in the winter Olympics when there is only 180 winter Olympians each year.  But that’s I think a really cool thing that P&G does to really bring the community together and create an Olympic family.

With the amount of time that you spend with each other there, have you developed any lasting friendships that exist outside of the games?

Brian - It’s actually funny we have a friend, Gwen Jorgenson, who is going to Rio for triathlon and she is also from the twin cities. So on more than one occasion we have shown up to some random 5k event and she has been there too, which makes the event a lot more fun having three Olympians there to compete with! But she is stiff competition, for sure.

So Caitlin you won bronze at the 2015 World Championships, one of only 12 medals ever given to the US of the over 1000 that have been presented, how does that compare to competing at the Olympics?

Caitlin - So its really exciting, because that world championship is going to be mirrored at the Olympics. So that same event that I medaled in in Falun will be the same event in Peyoncheng, and I’ve already had an opportunity to compete in Peyongcheng before.  I love the courses there. So that’s definitely the goal, to be in that 10k event, and be in medal contention.  Another area that I would love to be a part of is our relay team, which races in a 4x5 km race.   I already have an affinity towards skate skiing, so I would love to be one of the skate legs on that team as well. Although the [World championship medal] doesn’t guarantee a spot in the 2018 games, I have been focusing on my skate skiing and taking that to the next level to make sure I can secure a spot for both of those events in Peyongcheng.

Brian - Watching Caitlin win that medal was really a dream come true. It was kind of a bittersweet moment when we were both over in Europe and I got the email saying I had made the 2014 Olympic Team, and obviously I was extremely excited and elated about that, but at the same time reading the email that Caitlin hadn’t made [the Team] made us realize that those low points and struggles really make the successes even greater.  When Caitlin got to climb that podium in Falun, it really made it such a special thing - that no matter what your career is, you are going to have highs and lows. It shows that importance of really believing in yourself.  

 

"You need to always be a student to your sport and really embrace the entire lifestyle." - Caitlin Gregg

 

You asked earlier about when we realized you were more than just good and that we could make it to the Olympics... I think it’s important to sort of stay modest, but you also need to have that confidence within and almost belief that you are way better than anyone else thinks you are to have that success.  That’s a really important part, you don’t really need to act that way, but at the same time you really need to have that confidence in yourself.

 

Confidence in yourself is definitely a really important part of competing, especially when you’re in a sport that you really don’t rely on team.  As an Olympian do you feel some pressure being on a world stage, and representing the country, or do you still mostly compete with yourself out there?

Caitlin - I think for me, I really like that pressure. You know through the years I have learned to take that pressure and focus it on myself and kind of use it to get excited about the race.  You think about all these people watching you, and having the country relying on you; it helps to get me focused.  It’s also a great opportunity for the world to see a sport like cross country skiing that people may not really know all that much about. It’s a good way get people interested in the sport especially if they get to cheer you on to a win. So really I kind of feel the opposite of how you would expect, rather than getting nervous or folding under the pressure, for me it’s all motivation.

Brian - I think we both really enjoy that pressure and having people talk about cross country skiing, because really outside of that Olympic cycle it doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity. It is something we are both extremely passionate about so being able to put it in the best light possible is amazing.  And since [the country doesn't] really have a lot of medals or world championships in the sport, it’s really important to get kids more involved and get them to think “Hey, I want to be one of those first people to win a gold medal for cross country!”

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