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away with a gold medal is amazing.” One of my favorite moments of the evening

is watching Meryl and Charlie receive enthusiastic congratulations from teammate Evan Bates. “Renee, come over here so we can get better

pictures,” he says and leads me to another part of the boards so we can snap shots of the flower cere- mony.

He and Madison Chock, while reveling in

their own Olympic moment, are grinning with pride as their friends stand atop the podium. “More than anything, I will take from the experience the excitement and inspiration I felt watching Meryl and Charlie win gold,” Bates said. Chock and Bates, two-time U.S. silver med-

Madison Chock and Evan Bates deliver their romantic free dance to music from Les Misérables en route to a person- al-best score of 99.18. The third-year team finished eighth with an overall score of 164.64 points.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani make the most of their Olympic experience. Their free dance to a medley of Michael Jackson music helped the siblings secure ninth place overall with a score of 155.17.

alists, are already looking toward the future within minutes of setting a personal-best free dance score of 99.18 points. Tey have said it before and they say it again — they want to be contenders for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. “I guess we can’t say right now that we will be

here in 2018,” Chock said. “It’s a goal of ours to continue working and season by season head to- ward another Olympics together.” After the aforementioned flower ceremo- ny and other in-venue obligations, I accompany Meryl and Charlie to several hours of interviews with NBC. We part for a few hours and reconvene the next morning for more interviews, sponsor ap- pearances and celebratory hugs from their parents. We all get chills as members of the VISA mar-

keting department show Meryl and Charlie their congratulatory ad, which coincidentally has just appeared on NBC during the prime time broad- cast in the United States. “I got a text from my cousin,” Meryl says to Charlie. “‘I think I just heard Morgan Freeman say your name.’”

Te pouring Tuesday rain does nothing to dampen the spirits of the athletes and their entou- rage, and the stormy weather actually adds a cool element as we make it to the pinnacle of the day. For me, the most special moment of the

Olympics is accompanying Meryl and Charlie to the Medals Plaza in the center of Olympic Park. As the athletes line up to take the stage, I make my way from the green room to the spectator area. Despite getting soaked, dodging umbrellas and jockeying for an unencumbered view of the stage, the rain doesn’t matter. Especially, when through the drops, I watch the flags rise and the Olympic flame blaze in the distance, and listen to “Te Star-Spangled Banner” ring throughout the plaza.

Whether it was rain or something else filling

my eyes, I can’t be sure, but in this moment I beam with pride at being an American and having the privilege of sharing just a little part of this jour- ney with Meryl and Charlie.




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