Whooo! We’re here! We made it to Sochi! I’m so happy and excited to be here!!!! Ok, whoa, slow down…too many exclamation points. Alright. My goal for this website during the Games is to update you with as many pictures and inside stories and information as possible, so look for a new post every couple days. I’ve been in the Endurance Athlete Village for exactly 24 hours now, so here’s the low-down on what it took to get here, and what it’s been like so far! *update – I wrote this all up the day after we got here, but the internet comes in and out a lot.
THE TRAVEL: Our alarm clocks went off in Munich at 4:50am. Sophie rolled over and said “hey…guess what? We’re GOING TO SOCHI TODAY!” And that was basically the tone for the whole day…long travel, lots of waiting, tired sleepy eyes at the start…but just so happy and excited the whole time. We drove to the Munich airport where we boarded a charter flight that went straight to Sochi in about 3 hours. It was pretty cool because we got to sit wherever we wanted, and the flight was really pretty empty. Which turned out to be a good thing since we all carried on Ralph Lauren bags full of Opening Ceremony outfits, just to make sure they arrived in time (our other village clothes were shipped from Munich and will take a couple days to get here).
As cheesy as this sounds, I was just so genuinely excited to be going to my first Olympics that my heart was pounding and every hour or so I’d grab that arm of whomever was nearest to me and squeal “we’re going to Sochi!” I just couldn’t get over my excitement!
Don’t worry, I had some serious time to calm back down! Once we got to the Sochi airport, there were volunteers swarming all over, even taking our luggage off the belt for us. It took a while to get all our bags organized because we were carefully checking to make sure we had every last piece of luggage. It was so great to get all our bags smoothly!
Then, we started a series of checkpoints and screening stations. The first stop was your regular customs station, where they checked our passports and visas (which were also our games credentials that allow us access to the villages and venues). Then, we moved all our bags outside and got them on a bus that took us to the Costal Village, which is where all the ice-skating, hockey, curling and other indoor events are located.
At the Welcome Center, we put each of our bags through a screening process and then got our credentials activated and laminated so we can wear them all the time. And I really do mean ALL THE TIME. I think I’m going to start brushing my teeth and going to sleep with that lanyard around my neck, because if I lose it I go nowhere. Not one step!
After getting our bags back onto the buses, we headed out for about an hour drive up to the Mountain cluster. At the Mountain Village, there’s all the sports on the slopes: ski jumping, alpine, slope-style, snowboarding, Nordic combined, aerials, moguls…all those athlete stay at the village at the base of the mountain there. But we kept going up, up, up!
We got off the bus at the base of the gondola, and had to scan our credentials once again before riding up the mountain (the mountain we’re at the top of is opposite the alpine mountain).
At the top, we got into small buses and took our last ride of the day (phew!) to our ski chalet! The boys are staying in apartments, and all the girls and female staff members are in one big house together. Of course, you probably already know that I LOVE it when we all get to live together. 🙂
Speaking of all that security, I feel so, so safe here. I want to make sure I make that clear, because I haven’t been reading newspapers lately, but I can guess that there’s been some speculation. But get this – the Chief Security Officer for the US Olympic team came from the Secret Service, and intercepted a Presidential assassination, so I think we’re in pretty good hands.
The house has a nice common living area for us to hang out in, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be part of such a great team! The team behind the team has already been here for a week, running around doing so much prep work to ensure that we have everything we need to have success at the competitions. Our house has three spin bikes in it, as well as strength equipment and medicine balls. We have two coffee makers (a race day essential…ok, essential for every day…) and a fridge stocked full of powerades, waters, coke products, milk, almond milk and yogurts. We have a cupboard full of cereals, instant oatmeal, a rice maker, tuna, and enough peanut butter and jelly to feed us for a year. This is especially great because although the dining hall is open 24-7, sometimes you just want a small snack and don’t want to get all dressed up and do the walk over.
When we do walk to the dining hall, however, it’s absolutely beautiful! Especially since the sun’s been out all day. We walk down the road in between the ski chalets with different countries flags flying, and then alongside the snowmaking pond with all the flagpoles. Some countries are staying in housing, and some are in apartments while others are living in the hotel.
The hotel is enormous, and the athlete dining hall is on the side of it. The food is good here with tons of options to try and cover needs from every nation and every possible food allergy. It’s also a fun atmosphere because it’s the best people watching out there, since we get to see all the uniforms from every country!
In the main building there are also other places to check out, like a post office, laundry room, game room, a disco, fitness center, art gallery and internet center.
And although we try not to be materialists….lets talk about the clothes!
Our ski suits are so fun, with both stars and stripes. We look so patriotic (finally). I remember in years past, at World Junior trips, not many countries wanted to trade suits with us. But now, skiing around, we’ve already gotten so many people asking to trade after the games! Booyah.
The Sochi volunteers all have these super bright, rainbow-ish jackets. Which makes them easy to find! The volunteers are all very helpful, and they went through an intense interview process in order to be selected to be here. They speak great english and I’ve had very positive experiences with them.
The warmup outfits we have are all white – white pants with white, red and blue jackets. I’m sad to say that I’ve already gotten mine muddy!
Time for me to go hit up the classic tracks!