behind the scenes at olympic team processing
By o.c. tanner in Editor Picks
The real kick off to the Olympics isn’t the Opening Ceremony, it’s a little-known event called Team Processing. Weeks before the games begin, Team USA comes together at an undisclosed location to get everything they need for the Olympics. Including their personalized Olympic Team rings—hand-crafted in Salt Lake City like all our custom awards by O.C. Tanner’s artisans.
In just two weeks, more than 2,200 athletes, coaches, doctors, trainers, and staff get their headshots taken, receive mountains of swag, and get fitted for their official team outfits. Tailors work around the clock along with a small army of volunteers to make sure everyone has exactly what they need to look their best for the opening, closing, and medal ceremonies.
“It’s controlled chaos,” said Katie Clifford, former Director of Olympic processing for the Vancouver, Sochi, and London Olympics. “To give you a sense of scale, we had 22 semis filled to the brim with gear, outfits, and gifts. It’s a HUGE operation.”
Thanks to Katie, processing has evolved from an Olympic cattle-call into an exciting, engaging experience that sets the tone for the games to come. There are Nike lounges to try on outfits, music playing, snacks everywhere, and a palpable vibe of excitement and anticipation. “Lebron James and Kobe Bryant were like little kids in a candy store as they picked out their Olympic Team rings,” laughed Katie, “The rings are something everyone really treasures, a daily reminder for years to come. I wear mine all the time and it always gets comments.”
This year, we sent cameras along with the O.C. Tanner staff volunteering at processing, and the images they came back with were so irrepressibly joyful, we just had to make a video out of them. Witness the excitement and get swept up in the emotion.