The Endurance Village has a lot of fun! This will definitely make you HAPPY! Video courtesy of the USA Biathalon team, with cameos by skiers from so many countries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkH0TQsveLc
At the moment the Endurance Village has an interesting spring-series kind of feel to it. When you’re competing in an endurance sport where your results rely so much on how your body can perform, you have a slightly different set of rules than the sports where it’s all about skill sets and tactics. Earlier in the Games, the village was full of people since we couldn’t go wandering around the Costal village for hours – it would have tired us out before our races. But now that a lot of athletes have finished racing, they have time to go to other events, check out the Park, and get off the rock a little more. A lot of countries also flew their athletes home once they were finished competing, so the dining hall has suddenly gotten a lot quieter! I had my chance to check out the Park earlier in the week, but I’m definitely looking forward to cheering for some other events in person as soon as I’m finished with the 30km!
I’ve been so pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve been able to hang out with my family much more than I thought I’d be able to! The second day we learned quickly that if I tried to visit with my family near the spectator fencing we’d be quickly mobbed by people wanting pictures or autographs, people who would push aside my family members as I was trying to talk to them (as you can imagine, this really pissed me off). After that we found ways to get my family onto the athlete side of the fence, which was better anyways!
Something I didn’t realize till week 2 was that Pin Trading is a sport in and of itself. People love trading and collecting those things on their credential lanyards, and they are also better than money when it comes to getting what you want. Want the bus driver to drop you off right at your door? Hand him a pin. Want to smuggle water past the security checkpoint? Hand the guard a pin. Want a volunteer to help you find something in the village? Hand them a pin and you have yourself a tour guide for the day.
Of course, all the volunteers are super helpful anyways and will help you out whether or not you have pins on you. But like most places I’ve ever been, there’s a subtle divide between people who only want to help you and people who want something from you. There’s so many volunteers who’s first words to you are “Hi! Have a nice day!” and there are some who’s first words are “Gift me? You have pin? I can have your bib?”. I find my stubborn little self only wanting to give things to the people that never asked for it.
Trading clothes is another big thing! Aino-Kaisa Saarinen of Finland came over yesterday with her duffel bag full of Finnish gear, and we all got our trade on big time! That’s one of the fun things about the Olympics is getting to know other countries a little bit better (although we are already good friends with Aiku).
Since there are events on TV all the time (no, really….there’s ALWAYS something to watch!) we’ve spent a lot of time cheering on our friends in their competitions. It’s more fun to be there in person, but one bonus of cheering from inside? You can wear whatever you want!
I was so excited for our team when both the men and women made the team sprint finals! Our coaches got a lot of TV time as well during the event 🙂
Sophie was leg 1 and Kikkan was leg 2 for the women, and for the men Simi led out and Erik was leg 2. I’m really proud of both teams!
Erik had an especially awesome move during his quarterfinal where he pulled a crazy sprint over the top of the last hill to drop down into the stadium in first place. He was leading the Olympics! You should have heard the cheering coming from the USA house…it was absolutely deafening. He got passed in the finishing stretch but they still qualified for the finals by time.
After the finals the top three teams always take a lap up and down the finishing lanes, to wave to the crowd and celebrate. We like to call this the “happy lap” instead of the victory lap because everyone’s always so giddy!
So, about Wally the Wombat. He’s the mascot/leading man for the Australian team, and he travels everywhere with them, making his way into photos from World Champs and the Olympics. Here he is, hanging out in the USA house for a night!
And of course we’ve taken our fair share of “cheesy Olympic pictures”. How could we not?
It’s time for me to go pack up my race bag and head out for my final race of the Olympics, the 30km skate. It’s going to be a hard, hot race out there, but I’m so excited because I love to skate, I love to race, and there’s going to be a whole lot of US flags waving out there. I can’t say “thank you” enough to all of you for you cheering, your support, and your belief in this team. It makes all the difference in the world to know that when I’m out racing, there’s a lot of people cheering and rooting for this team! So, once again…thank you!