Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CEHS Professor shares his Olympic experience

photo of Rich Gordon
Rich Gordon by the Olympic rings
When the Olympics unfolded in Sochi, Dr. Rich Gordin was there—both behind the scenes and in the stadium while Team USA made its entrance during the opening ceremony.
Gordin is a sports psychologist in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department, and he has supported more than one Olympic team over the last 26 years.
“It was a special thing to represent your country and be there in that kind of atmosphere,” he said. “The athletes were very excited about the games, as they always are. There’s a genuine Olympic spirit there.”
photo of Olympic torch
He’s hoping for one more chance to support U.S. athletes in the Olympics, at Pyeongchang, Korea in 2018.  It would be a good way to round out his Olympic experiences, which started in Seoul, Korea in 1988. He worked with the US Gymnastics team at the time. It would be nice to start with Korea and end in Korea, he said.
This year he helped support the U.S. Nordic Combined Team. In 2010 he worked with the same team, which ended up taking home its first ever medals—four of them.
night scene of hotels near Sochi He was happy to talk about his time in Sochi—which was a lot more secure and comfortable than media reports might have led viewers to believe.
Sochi had two clusters—the coastal cluster and the mountain cluster. “I was in the mountain cluster,” he said. “Just getting from Sochi into the mountains was incredible. They had to make new tunnels for a train and busses and roads…. Everything was brand-new, and I suspect every hotel was new within the last seven years. … The hotels were the highest-grade hotels you can have. You can’t make them any better than that.”
How was the security? “It was immense. There were so many police and security people and the checkpoints… they did it well, without being intrusive, but they got the job done.”
Even spectators had to have a background check, credentials and tickets. “I never felt unsafe.”
 He had the chance to be a spectator himself, most notably at the final hockey game between the U.S. and Canada. “That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It was a tremendous athletic contest.”
Gordin poses at the game
Gordin poses with Colleen Hacker, sports psychologist for the USA Women's Ice Hockey Team, during a
happy moment when the United States was ahead. Canada won gold in the final minutes of the game.
 As for the Nordic Combined events, it looked like 2014 was Norway’s year. “We’ll have four years until Korea,” he said. “We’ll see what we do.”
Gordin will give an on-campus presentation about the Sochi Olympics on March 21 in HPER 135.
The ski jumps at the Nordic Combined venue. 

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