Thursday, February 7, 2013

So much about Sochi!

I know, I know.... my blog has been quiet lately but it's not because I haven't been writing. I was doing a "dispath" from Sochi for my home paper, the Anchorage Daily News. And, I just got word that one of my quotes was picked up by the New York Times!  You can read that article HERE. Basically, the Times reflects a lot of the things I said in my own articles, just better :) 

Rather than re-writing or re-posting the entire length of my short articles, I'll simply put links to the Anchorage Daily News website. You can check out the three published articles below: 

Then, I wrote a final, fourth article that I don't believe made it to print:

My last articles have presented some of the hardships of Sochi: the odd cultural customs, the impossible lines & the difficult dietary options.  I think it's about time to note that Sochi is growing on me. While I still have bucket-loads of questions, I can navigate the Olympic venue now better than when I arrived and that was the purpose of this exploratory trip, one year out from the Games.

First and foremost, I cannot BELIEVE the amount of work, time, preparation and DOLLARS (or Rubles!) that are going into making the Olympics next year a top-notch event.  It's apparent that Vladimir Putin & CO are prepared to put on a show for the rest of the World. The Olympics is the most televised event on earth and it is apparent that Russia aspires to impress us by flexing their muscles as the 2014 hosts. They're building high speed trains, new power plants & most relevant to us, the cross country & biathlon venues on the top of a mountain which was just about bare only handful of years ago.  Each night, walking to and from meals I passed by workers of many different nationalities, readying themselves for their 12-hour shifts.  The construction workers were rumored to be anywhere between 40,000-80,000 strong and those working at “Laura” (the ski venue) could be seen as silhouettes on the tops of buildings, roped up, late at night - working in snow storms, under the shadows of cranes and to the beat of jack hammers and big machinery.  It looked like a scene from a movie and I had to pinch myself to realize that what I was looking at was real…. I cannot wait to (hopefully) return next year and see the final product because I know it’s going to dramatic.

 Just a couple of the cranes visible on the way to and from meals... 

Sochi, like Vancouver will have the dichotomy of indoor sports (ice skating, curling, hockey) down low, near the beach (!) and snow sports (alpine, cross country, biathlon, sliding sports) up high, in winter.  I remember hearing during the Olympics in Canada that the weather in Sochi was nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit the week of the Games!  Sochi is touted as the “longest city in the world” and a popular get-a-way for the Russian elite.  While our arrival was in the dark and we couldn’t see a thing, our departure from the venue was midday. Thus, we were able to see the palm trees from the bus windows and get a (small) sense of the black sea and life off what we affectionately now call the “Rock!” Our trip from the base of the gondola to Adler Airport took nearly an hour and we drove through construction the entire time.  It was enough to make you feel that in addition to your seat belt, you should be wearing a hard hat too!

During our stay many of us made it our personal missions to pick up a few words of Russian.  Just simple things like,"Spacibo" which means thank you or "Dobroe utro", good morning lights up the workers and volunteer's faces when they realize that we're making an effort to reach out and embrace their culture.  

In all, our team spent a full week in Russia.  Yes, we competed, but maybe more importantly, we got a feeling for what it will be like next year when we’ll return with medals on our minds. We’ve slept in the beds, we’ve digested the food, we’ve ridden buses, gondolas, snow machines & electro-mobiles.  Because we are a team that spends so much time away from home I think we’re prepared to excel when things are different than what we’re used too and there is no question about it; Sochi is one of a kind!

Thank you Sochi for showing us a great time & we’ll see you very soon for the 2014 Opening Ceremonies almost one year from today on February 7th, 2014!

Huge, new houses with literally 4x the space that we had in Vancouver.... SAWEET! 

 "Electro-mobiles"  ... Just one of the many forms of alternative, funky transportation

A really friendly volunteer that greeted us upon our arrival... Pssekhako Ridge is the official name of where we were staying

 With USST Men's Coach, Matt 

 Teammates looking at map of surrounding mountains. Kind of looked like Alaska (!) 

Lots of this stuff.... 

Skiing up the biggest final hill into the stadium.... (pic- Sadie)

Jessie and Ida doing contrast baths after races - 4xtimes 1 minute in hot/cold/hot/cold, etc

 Me & Sadie! 

 Sport specific Olympic powerade! 

 No lack of snow in Sochi... in fact it snowed off and on the entire week! 

 The Swedish team enjoying the sunshine for the team sprint final 

 The big screen in the stadium.... 

 Sadie and Ida rocked the classic team sprint by winning their semi final and coming in 5th in the final

 Newell and Simi skied really, really well in the team sprint

Funny picture! 

Today marks exactly one year out from the Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympics.  I have a feeling that the next year is going to absolutely fly by.  

Vancouver Olympic rings - three years ago! 

Have a good one! 
Holly :)