Posts Tagged ‘ 2014 winter olympics ’

Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White Talk Family and Friendship

Friday, June 13th, 2014

It’s been a busy year thus far for Olympic figure skating pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who have competed in Sochi and on Dancing with the Stars. “This has been an amazing time for us. What’s been so great about it has been our ability to just live in the moment and enjoy what we’re doing,” said White, describing his year, which seems to keep getting better and better. Since speaking with Parents.com, White got engaged to girlfriend and former Olympic ice dancer Tanith Belbin!

Here, the two athletes discuss their role as Puffs SoftPack ambassadors, lessons they learned from their parents, and how they’ve been able to stay friends over the past 17 years.

P: How did you establish a partnership with Puffs SoftPack and what do you like about the brand?

MD: One of the things that we love most about P&G and Puffs is that it’s so family-oriented. Charlie and I are incredibly close with our families, and we love the ambiance of the whole company and how welcoming they are to both Olympians and their families and how supportive they are, so that’s really important to us. We also just believe in the product. We’re working with Puffs with their release of their SoftPack tissue, and we are excited about it as people who are on the road often. It’s the same great Puffs tissue that we use all the time—especially as skaters in the cold environment on the ice—but it’s so convenient now. It’s flexible, and it’s easy to transport with us, whether it’s in our skating bag or our suitcases, so we’re really excited about this new product.

P: Mother’s Day just occurred and Father’s Day is this weekend. What lessons have you learned from your parents? 

MD: We’re blessed to have two of the most amazing sets of parents. It’s really cool because our parents are all very different, and yet they all have a very similar philosophy on raising their kids, and that’s definitely worked to our advantage in being a team. Respect, we always say, is one of the most amazing and useful things that we’ve learned from our parents, especially in our career and our partnership together. Respect for each other, respect for yourself, respect for the people around you, and for us that’s really been a key thing for the last 17 years.

P: How did your parents react when you began to skate and compete? What advice do you have for parents of child athletes—even those who aren’t at your level of competition?

CW: What was so great about our parents was their complete ignorance of the sport. My dad was a sailor, my mom rode horses growing up; they really were not figure skaters, competitively, especially. All they knew was that we loved to skate and that was our passion, so they wanted us to be able to have the opportunity to chase our passion as long we were passionate about it. I think what really set them apart is we could’ve retired right after winning a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics, where potentially we had a very bright future—if that was what we wanted, they would’ve been happy for us, and that was their philosophy for our entire skating career. I think in a lot of ways that separates them from a lot of parents, who want to see their kid succeed but have a tendency to push them into something that maybe they’re not comfortable with or that they’re not interested in doing.  I think we’re going to be forever grateful for having our parents give us all the opportunities that we needed, because when you have those opportunities, that’s when you find your inner strength and want to work hard and want to be your best….When we’re standing up there, the National Anthem’s playing, and we’re receiving our gold medals, that’s what we think of. We reminisce on all the times when they had to make sacrifices so that we could become good figure skaters, and it is a lot of sacrifice, especially on the part of a parent.

P: What has helped you stay friends and partners over the years?

MD: I think it’s attributable to a number of things. First and foremost, we learned respect at an early age, and that’s played a huge role in how we relate to one another. Also just to be completely realistic, I think we are just incredibly fortunate to have been paired together at an early age. We grew up down the street from one another, we grew up with incredibly supportive parents who were able to help us really go after our dreams, so while a lot of our success is attributable to things that we were able to do, I think it also was just a little bit of fortune on our side, in terms of getting paired together, being well-matched physically throughout our 17 years so far together, and just having personalities that really work well together.

P: Other than skating, what activities did you enjoy while growing up?

CW: I grew up playing hockey, I played the violin, I played soccer, I was very active, but I also loved video games, I loved TV. I think both of us actually just had a really nice balance. We both learned to love learning and school, and I think somehow our parents were able to make everything fun….But we did a little bit of everything growing up, we certainly weren’t just focused on figure skating. We learned to love the outdoors and spending time with our family.

Help fitness run in your family with these tips.

Family Fitness
Family Fitness
Family Fitness

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Team M-O-M: Denise Gold and Melissa James Relish Raising Olympic Skaters

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

At the Olympics tonight, Gracie Gold, 18, and Ashley Wagner, 22, compete in the Ladies’ Short Program for Olympic Figure Skating (and again on Thursday in the free skate). But the spotlight isn’t just on the ice. Their mothers, Denise Gold and Melissa James, called in from Sochi to talk to Parents about raising Olympic athletes, courtesy of P&G’s Thank You Mom Campaign, which has been recognizing that no athlete reaches this level on her own (which all you moms out there already know).

P: What is it like to be the mother of an Olympian?

DG: It’s really just a dream. It’s amazing. To be a part of this group, all of these parents have dedicated their lives to helping their kids achieve this goal and that’s amazing.

MJ: I don’t know who has the bigger smile, the Olympians or the moms who have watched them get there. It’s just a very special feeling for all of us.

P: Tell me about the camaraderie between the moms of the Olympic athletes in Sochi. What are the emotions? How do you guys feel as a group?

MJ: All of the figure skating athletes train by themselves with separate coaches in different areas. Nobody knows each other, but suddenly we go to the  P&G house to meet all of the moms from all of the sports. We are so fortunate to have a safe environment to sit and relax. I was chatting with [ski slopestyle bronze medalist] Nick Goepper’s mom, and I learned she has gymnastic daughters. We had a great talk on how to raise daughters in sports.

DG: I was at the team figure skating medal ceremony. Our kids were getting medals and it was really crowded. The Russian crowd is very enthusiastic—their signs and their chanting; the energy was amazing. I’m very short so I couldn’t see, but when our kids came out I shouted, “Gracie! Gracie!” and the Russian crowd parted. It just opened up and everyone pushed me to the front so I could see Gracie. I’ll remember that forever.

P: The Olympics come around every four years, so your daughters have been working towards this moment for four years. But when they get on the ice they only have a few minutes to put all those years to the test. How do you help your daughters cope with the pressure?

DG: We text and I say all of the things that I can think of to remind Gracie that she’s worked hard, she’s well-trained, she’s never been so ready for this moment. I remind her that what she does is good enough.

MJ: My job is just to help Ashley stay calm. When I go to practice and sit in the stands, we do a little “Hey, Mom” and “Hey, Ashley” [routine]. I’m there for [putting] a little special gleam in her eye.

P: When did each of you realize that skating was more than just a hobby? How did you encourage that talent without worrying about the future?

DG: It was very gradual. Gracie was always a very gifted athlete and talented at whatever she did in other sports. People would say, “You ought to take her to…,” and then list some place. I thought, how’s that going to work out? What if she changes her mind and we’ve uprooted the whole family? I was a reluctant parent until she actually made it to the US Championships as a novice.

P: Both of you also have other children. How do you balance parenting an Olympian and another child without him or her feeling overshadowed?

MJ: Ashley has a 20-year-old brother who’s a junior at Pratt Institute. Right after he found out Ashley was [going to the Olympics] we almost booked his plane ticket. [Then] he called and we had a heart to heart. He said, “I love my sister, she loves me, but I really need to focus on myself.” I made sure to send him a big chocolate chip cookie on Valentine’s Day that said, “You Rock.” As a mom you have to think outside the box and tend to each individual child.

DG: We’ve had the blessing [of Gracie and her twin sister, Carly]. They are both skaters, and they know each other like no one else. Carly’s a huge part of Gracie’s success. She’s a very important part of the team.

P: How has the amount of traveling over the years affected your lives?

MJ: We moved to so many places [as a military family], so I’ve had to find Ashley an ice rink [each time]. But we have a fantastic photo album and fantastic memories, and her brother was able to travel with her a lot more when he was younger.

DG: Gracie didn’t travel internationally until very recently. I’ve been to Tokyo [about] four times. I love taking in all of these different worlds. Skating has opened up all sorts of doors, not just for Gracie but for our whole family. We’ve met the most amazing people.

P: When the girls finish their Olympic careers, have you considered what your life path will be?

MJ: I’ve already started my own life; I found my own sport. I’m a rower. I did it in college and I went back to it. I still have a competitive edge, and it’s a really great flip-flop when Ashley comes to my sporting events and cheers me on.

P: What are you feeling as your daughters get ready to compete in the final ladies’ figure skating events?

MJ: For me, the pressure’s a little bit off and I’m a little calmer.  I just want Ashley to have the best realization of her dream.

DG:I just hope that [Gracie] is happy with her performance. That’s what I want every time.

 

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Olympic Birthday Cake
Olympic Birthday Cake
Olympic Birthday Cake

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Rico Roman: Veteran, Paralympian, and Father

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

The 18 straight nights of TV coverage of the Sochi Olympics start today! But as we gear up, be sure to also mark March 7, 2014 on your calendars for the first ever broadcast of the Winter Paralympic Games. In recognition of this momentous occasion, Parents chatted with U.S. military veteran and member of our Paralympic Sled Hockey team Rico Roman. From his tours in Iraq and his injury to life as an athlete and father of Juliet, 12, and Raul, 10, Rico shared his experiences and his excitement for what’s to come.

P: How do you feel about going to Sochi and representing Team USA?

RR: It’s just a great feeling to be a part of a team again, to wear the red, white, and blue and represent USA.

P: How are the emotions similar and different to what you felt when you represented your country in the service?

RR: I feel just that same pride in putting on that uniform and being able to represent my country. It’s just a little different. I know that going over there to play hockey is just a game and it’s just to have fun and represent my country, but going over there to war is a tad bit different. You can always not come back, so that’s always in the back of your mind. In some ways, it’s very similar—being a part of a team. We’re from all over the United States, just like you are when you’re with your platoons and squads in the army, so that is very similar. The different accents. The different cultures and the different foods we like, so I love that part of it.

P: How old were your kids when you first left home to go overseas?

RR: I want to say Juliet was 2 and Raul was a couple months, because when I left I was carrying him around and when I came back he was crawling and standing. I was blown away.

P: Obviously, you felt a sense of duty and pride, but what was it like to leave them home when you had to go?

RR: It’s hard. It’s really hard to be away from your loved ones when you’re deployed. You constantly think about them. You constantly want to make sure that they’re good and that they’ve got everything they need. I would pray for them over there, even though I know they’re okay I would always say a little prayer for them. And you miss them. You miss them so much. My wife would send me pictures and I would always try to write letters.

P: When you became injured and you came home, how did your role as a father change with your new abilities?

RR: I don’t think it changed, you know. I just felt, Hey, I’ve got to get better and I need to get better and take care of my family. It goes in part with this Liberty Mutual RISE program that they have going on: With every setback there’s a chance for a comeback and to rise up from that. With me being injured, I didn’t really look at it as, This is gonna be the end and I’m never gonna be able to do the same things. I do them, I just have to do them a little differently now.

P: You were injured when your kids were quite young. Did they notice anything different in terms of the way you related to them and played with them?

RR: They did. They understood. I was in limb salvage for about a year. The doctors saved my leg, but it couldn’t bend and it was very painful. My kids have seen that and they’ve seen that I was really either very medicated, unfortunately, because of the pain, or I was very cranky because of being in pain. I’m the one that opted for the amputation and sure enough my daughter was really worried. She said, “Is it gonna grow back?” She was really nervous about it. My son knew right away from being around other injured service members that “Oh you’re gonna get a robot leg!” But they handled it very well. They seem to be very proud of me. I’m blessed with two great children.

P: Are your unique abilities everyday to them now, or do they recognize how extraordinary it is that you’re going off to the Paralympics?

RR: I think that they think it’s just me being me. One of their teacher asked my daughter—I guess she found out that I’m an amputee—and she asked, “So what can your father do?” And my daughter says she looked at her and said, “Everything.” I was so blown away that she said that. I don’t think it’s even part of the equation. We go about our days like no big deal. They love teasing me. Sometimes if I don’t have my crutches I’ll kind of hop around on one leg and they’ll have their pajamas on and they’ll fold their leg up in one of the pajama legs and hop around the house [laughter]. It’s a lot of fun.

P: After your accident and later your recovery, did you ever dream that you would end up taking the path of an athlete?

RR: No, I never did. I was always very into sports and I was so fortunate that I did my rehab in San Antonio, at The Center for the Intrepid. We had Paralympians come and speak with us. It gave me that drive that if I ever found a sport that I could play and get a chance to play in the Paralympics that I would really go for it. It just so happens that worked out.

P: What was Operation Comfort’s role in helping you find sled hockey?

RR: Operation Comfort invited me to do an MS-150, it’s a bike ride for multiple sclerosis and Operation Comfort helps veterans with disabilities due to combat. We did this bike ride and from there they had asked me to come and try the sport of sled hockey. They are the ones who sponsored this all-veteran team there in San Antonio. After playing for 8 months, our coach at the time, Lonny Hannah, was on the national team and said he thought I could make the Paralympic team. I didn’t even know there was a Paralympic team for this sport. I thought this was just the local, fun, rec thing to do. I tried out for the 2010 Vancouver games, but I didn’t make the team. I had to rise up and work really hard to make this national team. I made it the following year and have been on it now for four seasons, so I’m so excited to play in the Paralympics coming up.

P: Are your kids into sports? Do you hope that maybe one of them will take on hockey?

RR: Oh definitely. Texas is not that big into hockey, though. Football is #1 there. My son plays a little football. My daughter just finished basketball season so now she’s starting swimming. My son, I just got him started with skating lessons.

Shop for sports & game gear for your kids here.

P: What do you hope your kids can learn from your experiences, everything from your service to your injury and recovery to now your representing Team USA?

RR: I’m hoping that they’ll learn that you never know what life’s going to throw at you and to just be happy with what you’ve got and always to work hard at the things you want. Focus on things that you want. Tell yourself that you can do it and go get it.

P: Is your family coming with you to Sochi?

RR: They are. I’m so excited about it. They’ve never seen me play in the international games. They’ve seen me play in the club league but this will be the first international tournament and it’s the biggest thing, of course, the Paralympics. I’m very excited about them coming. I would love to eat some local food and enjoy the scenery with them and hopefully they embrace all of that and take it all with them.

For those at home: The Paralympic Games will be aired on NBC for 50 hours of coverage. This is the first time this is to ever happen.

Celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics at your house with this themed cake!

[ramp 61652041]

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Olympian Sarah Hendrickson’s Unbreakable Daddy-Daughter Bond

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Just before her flight to Sochi, Parents caught up with 19-year-old Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. Inspired by her father, Bill, Sarah started Alpine skiing at age 2 and then followed in her older brother and father’s footsteps into ski jumping at age 7. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes recently released a study showing that sports are a prime way for dads and daughters to bond. Sarah and Bill each took time to chat with us about Sarah’s dreams as a young athlete and how skiing helped to bring father and daughter closer than ever.

P: Congratulations on your huge accomplishment making this year’s Olympic team, not to mention the first team in your sport! What was the first thought that went through your mind when you find out you were going to Sochi?

SH: It’s been my goal since I was little and when I had my knee injury my dream kind of seemed to flash before my eyes. But I worked hard and luckily I rehabbed just in time. Obviously just super excited to represent Team USA and compete at the highest level. I don’t think I really realize it at the moment how big it is historically, but it’s really exciting.

P: And, Bill, tell me what you’re feeling. 

BH: It’s a dream come true. Who would’ve asked for anything this tremendous and awesome? A lot of it hasn’t sunk in and I don’t think it really will until maybe I set foot in Russia and see all the fanfare. It’s just gonna be tremendous to see Sarah at the venue with an elite group of jumpers and to see how she can do.

P: How is it to have a child who is so determined to achieve her dreams?

BH: It’s pretty inspiring, right? As a parent we try to inspire our children so when things flip and you realize my child is inspiring me, that’s pretty impressive. You kind of ask yourself, where does that come from? What gives her that drive? I carry passion for life and passion for skiing and maybe I’ve passed some along to her. I’m just so impressed with her. She takes the time to be the best she can be within her sport. It just warms my heart to find that she seeks that thrill and that joy out of doing what she loves to do.

P: When Sarah was younger, when it wasn’t clear yet that she was destined for the Olympics, how did you manage to balance a healthy encouragement of her talent without stepping into pressurized territory?

BH: Most parents probably don’t think about raising a child to be an Olympian and I certainly didn’t either. It was just a matter of doing what you love to do and having fun doing it. I would do my best to encourage my kids to get out of bed on Saturday mornings so we could go up to the mountain and go skiing. Then it kind of just naturally evolved. Because you have fun you want to go back and do it again and again and again.

P: Sarah, your dad was a ski jumper. Were you drawn to jumping because of your dad?

SH: He jumped when he was in high school. My dad really helped me get my start when he taught me how to ski at the young age of 2 here, in Park City. He loves bringing me and my brother out and enjoying the snow and the outdoors with me, so when I wanted to start ski jumping, of course he was super excited that I was following in his footsteps and also in my brother’s.

P: Do you think ski jumping brings the two of you closer together?

SH: What brings dads and their daughters more together is that athletic bond. It’s really important to have that bond with my dad. He supports me in every way and we still love going out skiing together. He obviously didn’t jump after high school, but he always says how proud he is of me and how crazy I am for jumping the hills that I’ve jumped. I’ve jumped further than he ever did. We share the love of skiing and we have so many memories of going on ski vacations.

P: How is the father-daughter relationship different from the father-son relationship in your house?

SH: I guess I’m Daddy’s little girl. He thought having a girl, I would be a little princess, but I have a tough side to me obviously.

BH: As Nick was going through adolescence, as a father-son relationship he just needed some more space. But with Sarah, I think we got a little bit closer as she’s been going through that 15-19 range.

P: Do you think your dad ever worries about you as his little girl?

SH: He definitely gets nervous, as well as my mom. They’re the ones at the bottom peaking through their hands as I jump at World Cups or World Championships when they both came and watched. I think they get more nervous than I do.

P: Is that true? Were you ever fearful for either of your kids to ski jump?

BH:  Not particularly. I have a sense of what it is and what it’s about and that under the right conditions it’s reasonably safe. It’s not without risk, but I’m a bit of a risk-taker myself so I can appreciate that they take some risk. In terms of damage to the body because women are different from men, I would say not a concern. But I did have the concern that, Sarah being just under 100 pounds, she doesn’t necessarily have the strength Nick does to deal with conditions that aren’t ideal. What she does have is amazing body control and finesse and smoothness and grace that usually more than makes up for any concerns I would have. She is Daddy’s little girl, but great things come in small packages. She’s a tremendous little athlete.

P: How were you feeling when she got injured?

BH:  It pained me to have her going through such agony. It was almost like we were one. She’s feeling pain, I’m also feeling the same pain for her. As parents we don’t want our children to suffer any pain. So that was tough, plus I knew she had aspirations to go to Sochi and just the uncertainty of all that. Could she recover 100 percent? Could she recover in time? Would she be able to jump again? Would she experience the same level of joy that she did previously now that she’s crashed?

Learn about sports injuries and how to prevent your child from sustaining one with this video.

Sports Injuries
Sports Injuries
Sports Injuries

P: What is it about a sport, specifically, that lends itself to strong father-daughter bonds?

BH: Sports seem to really allow dads and daughters to spend time together. Participating in a sport, you have to let other things fall away and that passion comes out and it just opens up and exposes who we are as human beings. You really let the real you come out. I think that when we allow ourselves to be authentic with each other, whether it be dads and daughters or fathers and sons, that creates a special bond where we can know each other authentically and accept each other.

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Kristi Yamaguchi: She’s Hanging Out at the Ice Rink Like a Local

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

With the Sochi Winter Olympics just around the corner, Parents chatted with Olympic figure-skating legend Kristi Kristi Yamaguchi with her daughters Keara and EmmaYamaguchi about her favorite Olympic memories, keeping herself and her daughters (Keara, 10, and Emma, 8) healthy, and her work for the 2014 Olympics with Team Kellogg’s.

P: What is your favorite Olympic memory?

KY: They’re all so inspiring. I would probably have to go with something from ’92. I would say participating in the Opening Ceremony. At that point, putting on the Team USA uniform and meeting all of the athletes and marching in as a team was…you just felt the honor and the pride of representing our country and you just felt the enormity of the event and it wasn’t just about going out and skating, it’s the Olympics.

P: Do you watch with your daughters? How do you guys get into the Olympic spirit?

KY: We wear red, white and blue and I try to tell them a little bit about the athletes we’re watching if I happen to know anything about them. It’s fun just to cheer on all the athletes and hope to see great performances from them. I definitely encourage them to check out the Great Start stories of the athletes from Team Kellogg’s. It’s fun to learn about who they are before you actually watch them, before Sochi.

P: What is each of their favorite event to watch?

KY: I think probably skating is one of them, but then again, we’re sure to have that on. My older daughter is becoming a pretty good hockey fan. They’ll be exposed to more this year because they’re a little bit older and can understand it a little more. I think they’ll enjoy the snowboarding and some of the skiing events.

P: Your younger one, Emma, skates. At this point, it may be too soon to tell, but what would be a sign to you that she could take it to the next level?

KY: If she shows me the desire. It’s still fairly new, she started about two years ago, and I’m not pushing it too hard. If I see that desire to always want to go in and learn more and practice more and experience more within the sport, then that’s when I’ll know.

P: Is 6 about the age when kids usually start?

KY: It’s different for everyone. You see some who are learning how to walk and they’re already out there. I think it depends what part of the country you’re in and how available the ice is. I was about 6. Boys tend to be a little later in skating.

P: What advice do you have to moms who want to start their kids skating?

KY: Go to the local rink and, especially this time of year, they’ll have group classes to sign up with. At that point it’s not a huge commitment—probably once a week—where they can try skating and get some instruction in a group atmosphere. If they seem to like it and take to it, after a session or two of that, perhaps see if there is a particular coach that is teaching at that rink that your child connects with personality-wise. You can probably ask for a short private lesson.

P: Are there safety precautions that are important? At the end of the day it is a sport.

KY: It is. The U.S. Figure Skating Association has some guidelines. They recommend all beginner skaters wear a helmet when they’re first starting out. Our kids did until they were 5 or at least until they had a little more control on the ice. I think that’s why it is a good idea to put them in the classes, because there they learn how to get up when they fall and learn some techniques that will help them be safer on the ice.

P: I know you live in California so it’s warm, but what are some of your favorite winter recipes to make?

KY: I’m not a huge cook. I do cook dinner, but my kids are very particular and not as adventurous as I’d like them to be. I would say stir-fry chicken with some vegetables and some steamed rice as a go-to just because I know it’s something they’ll eat and it’s pretty quick and easy.

How To Stir-Fry
How To Stir-Fry
How To Stir-Fry

P: Eating is just one part of a healthy lifestyle and exercise is the other part. As an athlete, you’re obviously still very fit. How did your body change after your pregnancies?

KY: It’s quite different, especially coming from the athlete side of things. My lifestyle changed, with me not training like an athlete and burning calories like an athlete. The body slows down a bit and I wasn’t as active as I had been. I definitely didn’t feel as fit. People would say, “You don’t look like you’re out of shape.” But there’s a difference between looking fit and actually being fit.

P: Was that activity essentially the key to what got you back to a comfortable level of fitness for your life as a mom?

KY: It was gradual. What did I have time for? What could I do that fits into the schedule with the kids? Working in a routine at home worked when they were little because if they were home and I was looking after them, I could fit just a half hour in and I felt like I was doing something for myself and I didn’t have to find a babysitter to get that workout in. Now I have the luxury that when they’re at school there’s a bit more open time.

Check out our Lose the Baby Weight Newsletter for great tips to regain your fitness after the little one arrives.

P: Do you still skate?

KY: Every now and then. Emma goes twice a week so I try to get myself on the ice while she’s working with her coach and having a lesson I’ll go on the ice and skate just for fun. I’m like one of the public skaters out there these days, just recreationally skating around.

P: Can skating be a lifelong sport?

KY: Oh absolutely. For sure. There’s definitely skaters who have picked it up at a later time in life and there are definitely skaters who enjoy the sport recreationally for their entire life. It’s always inspiring to see the next generation out there still enjoying it and I’m always hoping that I can continue to get out there and have fun with it, too.

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