Joss Christensen recounts White House trip, meeting with President and First Lady
Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team ventured to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave this afternoon where they enjoyed time on the South Lawn, “self-guided tours” of the White House, a meet & greet with President Obama and the First Lady, as well as a short speech from the POTUS himself. Shortly afterwards, we caught up with Joss Christensen on the phone, who had this to say about the big day…
They shuttled us all over in a bunch of big buses, we went right through security, it was pretty mellow. It was funny, though, we had to stand on these bleachers, there were dogs below you and they would smell the air coming off of you, in case you had drugs on you, so that was a bit wild.
We hung out on the South Lawn for about an hour. We didn’t see too much security. A few snipers on the roof which is pretty awesome. We just roamed around. Gus and Aaron took a pretty funny photo with the Washington Monument, with Aaron laying down on the lawn, with the Monument in the place of his junk. Two Secret Service guys noticed, and they came right over. They said it was super inappropriate and said that the photo can’t go anywhere on social media. They probably have to deal with that every now and again…
Then, they let us in, and we did a self tour. It was cool that we were able to roam around by ourselves. They had some people in the various rooms explaining the significance of each room, etc. We saw quite a few rooms. A few people were able to take a number two inside the White House bathrooms which I was jealous of.
It was cool, one room had all the chinaware, collected throughout history. The First Lady and the President pick a plate and a few pieces to be put in there, and there’s some stuff from every President, so that was awesome.
We had a sack lunch, people were on the floor sitting around, others laying down. That was the first time anyone had been sitting and laying on the White House floor they said. Pretty crazy.
After touring around and checking it all out, they lined us all up. Barack and Michelle were in this one room and we got funneled in. We got to first shake President Obama’s hand. Either he talked to you for a bit, or just said hi, and right after we got a hug from the First Lady. President Obama talked to Sage [Kotsenburg] for quite a bit. Obama said he had one of the most “chill” interviews he’d ever seen.
We weren’t allowed to take any cameras in there, but they’re mailing us all signed photos of us shaking Obama’s hand.
Obama mentioned to me that it was a bummer about the snow conditions over in Russia, he got the impression that things were pretty bad. I explained to him that we actually enjoy the softer, slushier snow. He had a weird look at first, but then seemed to get it.
It was pretty funny, Michelle Obama was really interested in Gus and his dog situation, she was stoked to meet him. Right after that we went to a press conference of sorts. Both Michelle and Barack gave a little speech, it was live on CNN. There were two cool things I thought that happened there.
President Obama gave as shout out to everyone who did well. He talked about Gus and his “bringing back more than just a medal.” He was really excited about the slopestyle sweep and the new sports, [ski slope and pipe], and he goes, “I don’t know what it means, but I really want to say it… ‘Back-to-back double cork 12s.’” He thought it was really cool.
It was a crazy experience. We all signed the Olympic flag and gave it to President Obama. It all happened pretty quick’. It was so cool to see the support from President Obama, and how stoked he was on the Winter Olympics. He spoke his true opinion on how stoked he was on all of us, and he gave us some words of advice:
“Just go for it,” he said. Words to live by. That was awesome to hear from him.
Christensen also recounted the general excitement level that was shared among the White House staff; he explained how all on site seemed genuinely excited about the U.S. Team’s presence. So, how’s that for a Thursday afternoon?
Side note: Christensen recently returned from Bosnia, where he was bitten by a stray dog. He estimates he’s had more than 40 shots since the incident. Mr. Nate Abbott was on location shooting photos; the images and accompanying story are set to appear in Volume 17 of Freeskier magazine.