We're up here in the middle of nowhere in Lake Placid, so we're often a bit removed from the media and news. But apparently the recent visit from a trio of U.S. Summer Olympians -- Lolo Jones (hurdles), Hyleas Fountain (heptathlon) and Tianna Madison (long jump and 100 meters) -- has come under fire for being a publicity stunt. Call it what you will, but whether it's a media play or not doesn't really matter to us. The truth is, their visit has given us some tremendous momentum going into the season.
I've had the chance to meet Lolo and Hyleas before -- in fact we talked in passing about a visit like this two years ago -- and I can't say enough about them. Just getting the chance to see how they train and compete is incredible. Bobsled is brand new to them, but you should see how fired up they get for any competition. Even if they're playing checkers, the three of them want to dust the rest of us.
The track Olympians came to our training center with such intensity they were able to hang with girls who have pushed a bobsled for years. That made us all step up our game. We had the fastest combined programs (power and speed testing) ever. But what do you expect when you've got a 100-meter Olympic sprinter out there testing with you?
Talking with Tianna and hearing how hard she trained for London was an important reminder for me, too. I know I need to be on top of every aspect of my game going into Sochi. And it's not just about workouts. Everything these ladies do -- on and off the track, and in and out of the weight room -- is done with intention and purpose. Whether it's taking care of recovery things in their room at night or eating the right foods, it's all important. It brought it home for me: I don't want to neglect stretching, foam rolling, the cold tub -- all of those seemingly little things that are actually essential to truly performing at my best.
A lot of times we see athletes belittled in the media or on Twitter. And we often don't value Olympians if they fail to win a gold medal, even if they're incredible athletes and even better people.
The only response I can give to the critics out there is that having Lolo, Hyleas and Tianna come up here and share their Olympic experiences with us worked. It made our very young team better and motivated each and every one of us to go out there and go for 1-2-3 in Sochi. We're trying to do great things and having these three women in Lake Placid has been an amazing inspiration.