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Mom Nerves of Olympic Proportions

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For every athlete who steps out onto the ice or blasts down a mountain competing for an Olympic medal, there's a mom out there somewhere freaking out.

evan lysacek

Ronda Kaysen: Evan Lysacek's mom has her ritual: She doesn't watch her son skate. She stuck to that tradition the night Evan took home a gold medal in men's figure skating, opting to watch the games on television.

With a glass of wine in hand, Tanya Lysacek watched her son beat out Russian favorite Yevgeny Plyushchenko for the gold. "Right before he skated, of course I was nervous," she told the Today show. "But as the program went on, I was just getting excited because he was nailing everything -- so it was terrific."

Some moms do just the opposite: They show up even when they're not wanted. Australian snowboarding wonder Torah Bright's parents promised her they wouldn't come to the Games. Instead, they showed up without her knowledge -- going so far as to hide in a hotel closet so she wouldn't see them -- and didn't make their presence known until after she had clinched the gold medal.

Her mom, Marion, told reporters, "We thought, 'We won't rock the boat. Whatever you want, Torah, you get. Well, it's going to be a surprise, then. We [don't] want it to be a shock, so we'll hide ourselves until after the last run.'"

Mom angst is so prevalent that Proctor & Gamble ran an ad just for all the nervous mothers out there. After a long montage of little kids decked out in hockey gear and holding press conferences, the tagline read, "To their moms, they'll always be kids."

It's not just moms who get rattled nerves. Dave Gulini, the father of 17-year-old American snowboarder Faye Gulini, was near tears when he watched his daughter advance to the quarterfinals.

"It's unbelievable, is all I can say," he told reporters as his eyes welled up. Dave had raised Faye as a single father after her mom died when she was five. During her performance, he winced, cringed and cheered with every move, clutching a "Go Faye" sign.

There's nothing like swag to settle a nervous stomach, though. Sixteen of the competitors' mamas will take home gift bags valued at $800 and filled with a Tory Burch purse, an Alexis Bittar bracelet, and Olay and Pantene beauty products.

The Olympic Committee offers official advice to nervous parents, complete with a pamphlet entitled, "How Can Olympic Friends and Family Help Olympians Perform Their Best?"

Their tips? Be low maintenance. Keep busy. Expect to be nervous. Be happy. Have fun. 

To that, I say, "Good luck."

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