A crowd of employees and customers gathered last week to welcome several Team USA athletes as they made their way through the United terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) airport. This was just one leg on their journey home from the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. This year’s athletes hail from all over the country. Find out who’s from your state with this interactive map.
“USA! USA! USA!” the crowd chanted every time an athlete – recognizable by his or her Team USA jacket and hat – came down the escalator into Terminal 1. Employees had the opportunity to talk with the athletes and take photos with them, and many Chicago media outlets were there to interview the athletes as well.
“This is now my lifetime favorite photo,” said Customer Service Representative Gulshadab Siddiqui as she held up her phone showing a photo of herself with U.S. snowboarder Alex Deibold and his bronze medal.
“I told him, ‘Welcome home – you made us so proud,’” Gulshadab said. “I’m so happy for Team USA and my heart was with them all the time. I’m so proud to be the airline to serve Team USA.”
With the Olympic Games over, we’ve flown almost 100 Team USA athletes and United States Olympic Committee members back to the U.S., mainly via FRA (Frankfurt) and MUC (Munich) through ORD and IAD (Washington Dulles).
At IAD, Airport Operations Supervisor Ken Montgomery was escorting U.S. bobsled and skeleton athlete Elana Meyers as she arrived at IAD from ZRH (Zurich). “She was kind enough to proudly show her silver medal and take a couple of pictures,” Ken said.
In addition to the media event at ORD to welcome home the athletes, through our partnership with Yahoo!, we surprised four athletes who participated in our “Athletes Aboard” TV commercial with welcome-home events on Feb. 24 and 25: U.S. figure skater Gracie Gold at LAX, U.S. ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson at SLC (Salt Lake City), U.S. bobsledder Steve Langton at BOS (Boston) and U.S. bobsledder Nick Cunningham at SJC (San Jose, Calif.).
At each location, the athletes’ family and friends and United employees surprised them in the baggage claim area, where they reunited and celebrated. Yahoo! will post a video of these events, highlighting United’s role in flying Team USA.
With this short break in between, the Road to Sochi continues with the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games kicking off this Friday, March 7. Find out more about the competition for 72 medals in five sports at the Team USA Paralympics site.