The 1996 Olympics and the Evil Vault

The Olympics have always been my thing. 4 months ago, I told my boyfriend and roommate that we would have two weeks of non-stop sports television when the Olympics came on…Maybe they didn’t believe me. Maybe they didn’t understand the scope. Maybe they really didn’t think I could watch THAT much Olympic coverage…but I can. And I am. Suffice it to say, they were actually shocked that by the 4th night I was still obsessing. Brian even offered to watch a Disney movie with me, and I told him, “After the 12th.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried during this year’s Olympics. But it’s been a lot. Beginning with opening ceremonies, all the way through to the current morning, I can’t seem to keep my Olympic sized emotions in check. When I watched the Magnificent Seven video on Sunday morning (yes, I DVRed everything so I can watch it at my leisure and fast forward through commercials and boring stuff), I was bawling my eyes out.

1996 Olympics

I remember watching the 1996 Olympic Games like it was yesterday. I was 13 and angst-y, but the Olympics gave me something to dream about. I remember watching the late night coverage as I fell asleep in my bedroom, listening to the Gloria Esteban song a thousand times, and obsessing over Dominique Moceanu’s adorable floor routine. She was my favorite, probably because she was the closest in age to me, though most of the Mag Seven were all relatively young.

The most impressing moment of those Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia was, of course, Kerri Strug’s epic vault. I wasn’t the biggest Strug fan, as my loyalties were to her younger arch-rival also under Karolyi’s teaching, Dominique Moceanu. But as Kerri was a part of team USA, of course, I cheered for her. When she fell on her first vault and kept going…I was shocked and excited. When she stuck her final landing, I was crying. Mom and I watched as they carried Strug off the floor, in awe, and at the same time, we were so excited for the US Gold.

My Vaulting Experience

Of course, I did promise my own contribution to this little tale…

About a year later, I was a freshman in high school. I was an athlete, a cheerleader, and I loved high school. In Freshman Gym, we had a gymnastics unit, in which we utilized all of the gymnastics equipment. This was, by far, my favorite unit in typical gym classes. The last day before Christmas break, I was performing a jump over the vault, and I landed too close to the apparatus where the mats were unevenly spaced, and my ankle rolled off the bottom of the vault. I fell, and could not get up. Two of my classmates walked me down to the nurse, where they iced & elevated the ankle and called my mom.

Mom took me to the doctor, my last visit to Doctor Carol (the pediatrician that was so old she was my mom’s pediatrician). The ankle was sprained pretty badly and I needed crutches. Dr. Carol put me on crutches and told me to stay off my ankle for two weeks.

That night, at the home basketball game, I was obviously benched, and sat in the bleachers with my coaches and my crutches. I was really bummed out. I had been crying all day. I had missed “candy cane delivery” for the last day before Christmas break (sure that one of my many crushes would send me a candy cane professing their love for me). So I sat there, depressed, but managed to keep it in check while I cheered for our basketball team with the energy and excitement that I was known for.

Later that night, as a celebratory “coaches meeting” took place at Flaherty’s (the bar that my family owned), the high school sports trainer walked up to my dad and asked him what had happened to me. Dad told him the story of gym class gone awry, and after some additional rants from Mr. G about high school athletes not needing gym class, Mr. G told my dad to bring me in to see him in the morning.

That Saturday morning, during a wrestling meet, I met with Mr. G. He looked at my ankle and told me this, “If you want to cheer when you get back from Christmas break, you’ll need to start walking on it today.” He cut out some foam pieces and fit them into my cheer shoes. “These will help you walk a little easier. They will angle your feet so that you aren’t putting as much pressure on your hurt ankle. Try them out.”

I got up and started walking. This was, as I now understand, the biggest mistake of my life. It hurt like hell, but I wanted to cheer. You don’t threaten a 14-year-old to go against a doctor’s orders if he or she would like to continue their sport. But he did. And I listened. Dad and I didn’t know any better.

As a result, my ankle never healed properly (as my body had not fully developed), and my other ankle was weakened by favoring the injured one. I have sprained both ankles countless times, and even an orthopedic surgeon could only tell me that my ankles were “loosey goosey” and I would just have to “deal with annual ankle sprains.”

I may not have competed in the Olympics, but hey, Kerri Strug and I have something in common now.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Danell Leyva’s Towel

What’s that you say? Danell Leyva’s Towel is from Walmart? That’s right, folks. Rock on with your Walmart selves!

On Sunday night, while watching the United States men qualify for the Olympic gymnastics competition, I noticed something a little too familiar. I heard the NBC announcer talking about Danell Leyva’s Towel, and I thought to myself, I know that towel.

So I called over to my boyfriend, “Brian! Get over here.”

He looked at the TV, expecting to see some stellar Olympic gymnast doing cool moves, but instead he say someone waiting for results hidden by a towel. “Hey, that’s our towel. Weird.”

Weird, indeed. Apparently this towel is making a huge splash all over the internet, and we have a whole set of them. But, I’m not really a fan of them. In fact, I’ve hated them almost since I started using them. I prefer a bigger towel, and I’ve been saying for months that I need to find new towels. Luckily for me, other purchases were more pressing than a new set o’ towels. I can safely say that I own a set of towels that match Danell Leyva’s Towel, but of course, we had ours long before Danell’s Olympic all-around bronze medal.

Brian bought the towel set years ago from Walmart. They’re a little worn, but they are replicas of Danell’s towel, albeit a little darker in color. How fun for me!

I was so excited to see Danell medal last night, and so I realized that I needed to have a photo shoot in honor of him and his towel. All apologies for the red eye and scary faces. It was pretty late and I was having some fun.

Without further ado, the many faces of Chrissy with Leyva’s Towel:

Danell frequently hides beneath his towel, while he waits for the results.

That’s right. Danel Leyva’s Towel lives in my bathroom.

Woah! Towel!

Hiding Under the Towel Again

Your Welcome.

Despite their fame, I’m still not the biggest fan of the towels, so Danell, buddy, if you want a few more, feel free to stop by the Chicagoland area to pick them up. We’ve even got a few little matching hand towels for ya!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Olympic Games & the Presidential Election

As the Olympic Games draw nearer and the 2012 United States Elections a short distance behind them, I am reminded of a time that I thought I was the most clever writer. So much so, that my pal Debbie and I believed we could become famous with a pseudonym-ed blog. We called ourselves Quinn Sanders, and we were brilliant. Well, we thought we were anyways.

The idea was Debbie’s brainchild, and she brought me into the mix a month after Quinn’s inception. We shamelessly plugged the shit out of Quinn, telling all of our friends that it was our new favorite blog. Of course, we were writing every word of it…so clearly it was pure genius in our minds.

Quinn gave advice to readers, rocked out her MySpace page, and she may have even had a Facebook for a brief time. She often conversed with her fans through MySpace, and gained a small following among anyone that would add “us” as friends on MySpace.

She was more than just a pseudonym. Quinn was a character that we created. She had a job (she was a freelance journalist). She had favorites. She was something of a nationalist. She loved to travel. She loved to write and speak at workshops & seminars. Quinn was not us. Quinn was what Debbie and I wished we were at 23 and 25 respectively.

To this day, I am still quite proud of several pieces that I wrote for Quinn’s blog, and I’ve taken the liberty of cutting (and mildly editing) my Olympics Election Connection post, as I believe this is the perfect time to bring back my comparison to these oh-so-important events in our country. Let Freedom Ring and all that jazz.

Olympic Games Followed by the Presidential Election: Coincidence or By Design?

~Quinn Sanders

Every four years, in August, our country unites. We stand together and cheer for the United States, land of the free, home of the brave, etc. We glue ourselves to NBC and obsess about the athletes from our home country as the compete against China, Romania, and Russia, among hundreds of other countries.

We put a lot of stock into our young athletes to prove we’re better than any other country out there. We spend billions of dollars to view, endorse, and sometimes even exploit these people, some of whom are still just children. But together, we find joy in supporting Team USA.

Then, a few weeks after this united front, we divide, quickly and bitterly, just like clockwork. Because the Summer Olympics occur just a few short months before our big presidential election. We fight, argue, and debate(yes, I believe those are 3 different things entirely). We take every possible controversy and turn it against our opposing political side, whichever side we choose–if we even choose.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are millions of people who could care less about the Olympics, and there’s millions of people who don’t “rock the vote.” But I personally love the Olympics and rock the vote. Maybe it’s the journalist in me that feels the need to be informed and know EVERYTHING of any importance, but I dig it.

But it seems as though we don’t play well with others–world athletic competitions, wars, economics, you name it. And when there are no others around…we don’t play well with ourselves–athletic competitions, politics, economics, religion (yes, freedom of religion doesn’t mean we’re not going to fight about it) even wars… And it all comes out during election time. “He never fought in a war!” “She doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose.” “He has no experience.” “He won’t end the war.”

When does it end? Why does it have to be all about witty jabs and verbal punches? A few weeks ago we were raving about how great our country is, and now we’re tearing each other apart.

Well, my dear readers, I hope you do your research, stay informed and please…. ROCK THE VOTE! No matter who you choose, keep in mind that our country isn’t too bad. We are able to decide who runs our country every four years. No dynasties, no dictators, Take that, China!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!