“The Olympic experience was just incredible,” said Coughlin, a 39-year-old from Columbus, Ohio. “From the moment we arrived in Vancouver we were just absorbed by the spirit of the Games and what it represents to all the nations of the world.
“Even going through customs it takes a hold of you that there is something very special going on. You hear all these different languages being spoken and meet people from around the globe. There are all these nationalities and countries and everyone is so fired-up to be there. It’s a special feeling.”
Coughlin, his fiancé Samantha Kenny, and a few friends attended the 21st Winter Olympics as guests of the USA Bobsled team, which JEGS Mail Order and Lucas Oil, as well as a host of NHRA drivers, support through the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. NASCAR star Geoff Bodine started the project more than a decade ago to provide U.S. athletes with the best bobsleds in the world. Now the team is on top of the world.
“It’s very humbling to be a small part of the team’s success and it’s all thanks to the effort of our 300-plus associates at JEGS as well as our millions of customers worldwide that allow us the opportunity to help,” Coughlin said. “We should all celebrate the bobsled team’s success — the first gold medal in men’s four-man in 62 years and a great bronze medal showing in women’s two-man competition.
“It was awesome to be there and see it all unfold. The team is very aware of how much the Bo-Dyn Project has changed the face of their sport and they are so appreciative of the help their sponsors provide. The icing on the cake was the success they achieved.”
Coughlin’s Vancouver visit started immediately after the Phoenix NHRA event. The first Olympic contest they watched was Ice Dancing, where the U.S. earned a silver medal.
“Samantha ice skated for most of her life growing up in Kingston, Ontario, so she was excited to see this event,” Coughlin said. “She competed for Canada at the national level so this was a real highlight for her, and when the Canadian couple won, she was very happy. It was great to see Canada and USA go 1-2 there.”
The group then drove to Whistler, where the sliding events and several skiing competitions took place.
“Where we stayed was just a quick walk to the Whistler Olympic Village, which was the epicenter of everything going on up there,” Coughlin said. “They’d hold the official medal ceremonies in the center of this little village and Canadian TV was broadcasting live from there throughout the Olympics. It was the place to be.
“The first event we watched up on the mountain was Men’s Giant Slalom. To me, the atmosphere for that deal was something I will never forget. We were in an area with a lot of the teammates and family members of the people skiing so it was very emotional. It also was extremely loud with thousands of fans rooting for their favorite skiers and ringing these giant cowbells. Just a really cool deal.”
Next was the women’s two-man bobsled competition, where American driver Erin Pac and brakeman Elana Myers took bronze.
“Having very limited experience in driving a bobsled from the charity race we do each year, it was stunning to see the facility up there, not to mention the intensity of the athletes and the competition on the course,” Coughlin said. “In some ways, I saw a lot of the same traits from the drivers and brakemen as you see in drag racing — they’re all looking to be as efficient as they can be to save fractions of a second.
“After Erin and Elana took the bronze the team threw a huge party and it was quite a deal. To have these athletes and their coaches come over and thank us for our help was really something. I even found out that Erin was driving the very latest sled from the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, so it obviously made a difference.”
In a country where hockey reigns supreme, Coughlin’s group was then treated to tickets to the women’s bronze medal game between Finland and Sweden, which ended with a Finish win in overtime.
“Canadians love their hockey and the mood in that building was electric,” Coughlin said. “I can’t even imagine what it was like when Team Canada was playing.
“After that madness we stopped to say hello to the Oakley folks, who had this really cool lounge deal where the athletes they support could come and hang out. While they were there these men and women could get their gear tuned up — lenses changed, colors swapped out to match their country’s uniforms, different goggles or gloves — basically anything you could think of from Oakley and it could all be handled right there.
“The whole visit to Vancouver was just phenomenal. I’ll never forget it. More than anything, I enjoyed meeting all these athletes from around the world. It makes you realize very quickly that we’re not very different at all. The Olympics have a way of doing that.”
Information regarding JEGS Mail Order can be found atwww.jegs.com and for media/fan resources checkout www.teamjegs.com .
Scott “Woody” Woodruff
JEGS, Director of Media & Motorsports
Office: 800.345.4545 (#3, ext 412)