Students at Park City Day School receive a gold-medal visit
April 1, 2014
Olympic gold-medalists Joss Christensen and Ted Ligety grew up in Park City, and Tuesday, April 1, they came back to speak to children at Park City Day School about their success at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Tess Miner-Farra, associate head of school, said one of the parents on the marketing committee at the school works for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and arranged for the Olympians to visit.
"Michael Jacquet is [the U.S.S.A.’s] chief marketing officer, and we asked him early in the year to consider whether or not he could bring some Olympians to speak with the kids after the Winter Games were over, and he lined them up for us," she said.
Joss Christensen is in only in town for a couple of days, because after winning the gold medal in men’s freestyle skiing in Sochi, he has been busy filming in Bosnia and most recently competed in Maine two days ago. He said he hopes he can give the kids an important message.
"I hope they learn to just have fun and not give up, because it’s the only way you can achieve your goals," he said. "In my situation, I never thought I could achieve what I achieved, but if you just keep going for it and don’t give up, you can do anything you want."
Ted Ligety won the gold medal in giant slalom skiing and took the stage in the multi-purpose room at the school with Christensen. Jacquet introduced them to the students after they sang a welcome song for the Olympians.
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He began the discussion by asking Ligety and Christensen about their experiences in Sochi and commenting on the pressure they must have felt to win medals for their country.
"I felt way more pressure at the qualifying event here in Park City, because I just wanted to be able to make it to the Olympics," Christensen said. "Once I got to Sochi, I just wanted to have fun and prove myself."
When the discussion was opened to the students, they had imaginative questions. They asked the Olympians what their favorite foods and colors were, the names of their puppies (neither Ligety or Christensen own any puppies), and what their favorite ski resort in Park City was. Both gold medalists responded with Park City Mountain Resort, the resort where they grew up skiing. There is even a new run at the resort called the "Ligety Split."
When asked about their favorite food in Russia, Ligety said he he didn’t like any of the food while Christensen said he loved anything with potatoes in it.
Before the Q&A session ended, one of the students stood in front of the stage proudly displaying an art project he had drawn displaying his favorite Olympians, Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. Ligety signed the art project before he left.
Miner-Farra said she was grateful to have the Olympians speak to the students about developing resilience and the commitment and hard work it takes to achieve their goals.
"It speaks to some of the values we have here at Park City Day School," she said. "The responsibility, respect and teamwork it takes to be successful is important, but also the compassion for those with whom you may compete that maybe don’t share the same success you have."
Jacquet opened the discussion to questions from the students. When the Q&A was over, the Olympians signed photos, t-shirts and other possessions for them.
Christensen said he was glad he was able to speak to the students while in town for just two days, because he thought it would be a lot of fun, something he hopes the children will have when trying to accomplish their goals.
"Just make sure you’re having fun in whatever you’re doing, because in my opinion, if you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it," he said. "You’ll only be holding yourself back and not enjoying life, and you only live once."