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2015 Greetings from Sally Swanson, AIA

Sochi Paralympics Winter Games 2014 Celebrating Skier

Happy. New. Year. Is youth really wasted on the young? I’ve been thinking about this more than usual these days as my daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law get ready to leave for my daughter’s Gastroenterology (GI) Fellowship at the University of Washington Medical School. And the twinge of an empty nest strikes a tremulous chord. Okay, enough melancholy. Near or far, my mood is constantly elevated by my loved ones. My daughter and family will excel as she pursues what she loves and they will do fine. And, honestly, I will miss them.

Sally at Bear MountainAs I write this, we’re deep into the third week of January. On nightly newscasts, pundits proclaim that this is the point in time at which those who made New Year’s resolutions begin to lose their resolve. Is it simply an urge to retreat, give up, and slow down expectations almost as fast as the impulse to speed up change bolted one into action seemingly days ago? I’m good at reminding myself how important it is to reflect and refocus, and the start of the New Year does seem to offer the logical portal for being especially open to new opportunities. My dream is to form a non-profit Foundation for the development of an accessible ski home in Bear Valley, California. (You’ll be hearing more about this very soon.) So, now you know my New Year’s resolution. Please share yours and how you are supporting it.

Sally and friends at the Sochi Paralympic Winter GamesSometimes, though, no matter how well-focused one’s outlook for the future is defined, something inevitably turns up out of the blue and redirects one’s attention. And, that’s exactly what happened to me when an email appeared one especially stressful afternoon as a welcome surprise from a friend bearing a link to a video that made me feel terrific – and, unexpectedly, young at heart. The YouTube video celebrates the first graduating class of the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) – engaging and dynamic students some of whom I had the good fortune to meet at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

What is the Russian International Olympic University, you ask? In the words of The Chairman of the RIOU Board of Trustees and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin: “RIOU is the world’s first university dedicated to sport business education, offering unique programmes infused with Olympic values and experiences. RIOU’s activities concentrate on training specialists in sports management for the Russian and international sports industry, and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.”

Sochi Paralympic Winter Games SettingHaving witnessed the last three Paralympic Games, I can say that these students are emblematic of Russia’s national unity and pride as evidenced in Sochi and by their pursuit of this exciting and specialized education. The RIOU’s website notes its Mission in the following tenets:


  • To create a next generation university – the very best in the sphere of sports and Olympic education
  • To prepare leaders for the Russian and worldwide sport industry
  • To build modern research facilities for the Olympic Movement and Russian sport
  • To keep and develop the Olympic legacy of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games

Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, with whom I personally worked on the planning and design team commissioned to prepare

Sochi Paralympic Winter Games Metal Podium

Russia’s International Olympic Committee bid, notes that “…Many athletes, after ending their sports careers, will choose to undertake a sports management qualification, become a specialist in organizing major events, operating and managing sports facilities…”

And so, I am thrilled to share the sheer exhilaration of these profoundly talented students – the next generation that will leave an indelible mark on the international stage of sports management. Their enthusiasm is irrepressible and will work wonders to jumpstart anyone’s flagging resolve.

Think young; be happy. It’s my New Year’s wish.

Sochi Paralympic Winter Games Opening Night