“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” — The Olympic Creed

Every four years, countries and athletes from around world put aside their differences to come together in the spirit of camaraderie and competition for the Olympic Games. This happens for two weeks in February, a sort of “time out” from our political, religious, social and economic differences.

Ok, so you know that .. but here are a few other things you may not know that may be of interest:

The Olympic Village A) What is unique about the Olympic Village is that there are thousands of athletes from around the world who are simultaneously living their athletic dreams in the same two weeks. B) Some competition venues are too far away from the Olympic Village for the athletes to commute to/from the Village. C) Some competitors whose events are at the end of the Olympics will skip the opening ceremonies to stay home or elsewhere to train leading up to their races. Some competitors choose to stay outside the Village simply to have their own space. Upon entering the Olympic Village, the excitement and energy is tangible at every hour of the day and night. For this reason, many athletes choose not stay in the Village until their events are over and they can let loose. Once in the flow of the Olympic Village, there is a kind of camaraderie and shared understanding with fellow Olympians that transcends borders, cultures and creates lifelong connections.

Olympic Team Finances The US Olympic Team expenses are covered for the two weeks during the Olympic Games. However, during the preparation training and competition periods in the course of the rest of the year, most of the US athletes are the only competitors in international and World Cup competitions who are not funded or subsidized. While the US athletes represent the United States in the Games, each individual sport’s national governing body must raise their own funds to field teams for the three years and fifty weeks between Olympics. The US Ski Team, for instance, financially supports only a few of the most successful Olympians. The rest of the US Ski Team must pay upwards of $30,000 to be members of the team and to offset their expenses.

Technology When competitions are decided by hundredths of a second, aerodynamics matter. A) Some of the racing suits and fabrics have been designed by aerospace engineers. (Why yes, my suit is designed by an actual rocket scientist!) B) In Alpine skiing, for the downhill events, sensors worn by skiers during training give feedback on muscle activity and aerodynamics for the individual on each section of the course. Sensors are now worn by athletes in the half pipe competitions to measure the height of the skiers’ and snowboarders’ tricks. C) Video review of training, racing and Mother Natures’ version of technology, visualization are all invaluable for every sport. D) Equipment: The US Cross Country Team now has their own mobile ski preparation for race tuning and waxing of the skis in the form of a semi-truck. The US bobsled teams now have Nascar technology used for sleds. E) Early mornings of alpine downhill race days, ski manufacturers have former champion ski testers who test base structures and waxes on a timed straight track near the race venue to find the fastest ski for their athletes.

Last, but not least, the Olympic Channel daily medal count The greatest athletic achievement of the Olympics is to win the gold medal, the “Holy Grail” of sports, “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.” There is only one gold medal in each Olympic event. Silver and bronze are counted separately. Fourth is said to be the worst. Most of the events covered by US media may not even mention placings below that. While the gold medal is an achievable goal for a rare handful of athletes in the world, there are thousands more competitors who are still fulfilling their lifetime dream; striving to be better each day along the road to excellence.

Tamara McKinney is the first American woman to win the overall World Cup Title. She is a 14-year member of the US Ski Team, a 5x World Cup Champion, a 3x Olympian.

Tamara currently works with Sotheby’s International Realty in national and international luxury sales, and is a principal owner of Tamara McKinney Luxury Group. Her daughter, Francesca, is a freshman at the University of Vermont and skis for the UVM Division 1 NCAA Alpine Ski Team.