a sign in the village–aren’t Russian letters incredible!?
So I made it. After 2 hours of filling out a visa application, messing it up, and filling it out again, two days of travel, and plenty of security checkpoints…. I am actually IN RUSSIA! It is certainly a unique place, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure that it is exactly like the movies portray, but it is definitely somewhat similar. Everywhere you look there is another policeman, another guard, another security officer… I feel extremely safe and somehow a little uncomfortable at the same time. It is hard to be relaxed when you feel like you are constantly being watched. Our accreditations here mean more than a passport–in fact, you aren’t supposed to leave our hotel without one. Every single building up here in Krasnaya Polyana (the name of the village at the base of Rosa Khutor) is brand new, every gondola on Rosa Khutor recently built, and even the downhill run was cut within the last year. It’s crazy how this area went from barren valleys and vast mountains to a booming ski resort. The hotel we are staying in is brand new, and so are all the surrounding buildings. They all have similar layouts, identical colors, and indistinguishable accents and design. I sort of feel like I am in Disneyland–in another world, almost a dream-world, like nothing around me is real. It is an unusual feeling in a remarkable place: the venue for the 2014 Olympic games.
Apparently by the time the Olympics roll around in 2014 there will be some 40,000 hotel rooms here in Krasnaya Polyana. That is a difficult number rooms, nonetheless people, for me to imagine or comprehend. They are working constantly–day and night–on constructing hotels, restaurants, parks, bridges, different venues (x-country, bobsled, skier/boarder cross, ski jump, etc), roads and whole villages in order to have an unmatched and exceptional Olympic village. Sochi, Russia will certainly be the host of an extraordinary event in 2014. I cannot imagine what this area looked like 2 years ago when there were no buildings, no chairlifts, and no access to this valley. How they decided to cut the tracks for the downhill races is incredible–I want that job! It makes me realize that if you have all of the appropriate resources, building anything is possible. I am inspired to build my own ski resort on some desolate, rocky mountain somewhere beautiful and awe-inspiring. This place is going to be a zoo in 2014.
Anyhow, the last month has been a fun one. After Garmisch I got to spend some time touring around Italy–this time without my ski bags. I went back to Venice (!), explored a bit of Verona and saw a little Brescia as well. Having these last 10 days off of racing has been nice, though I am certainly ready to get back in the starting gate. The course here is pretty fun (from what we have experienced thus far) and I am excited to give it another go or two. Hopefully the snow lets up and lets us race this weekend! Yesterday there were strong headwinds in the first training run, and we were required to slow down before each jump…last night it snowed a foot on the downhill track and the training run today was cancelled. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and this weekend–apparently weather reports for this area are unreliable, so no one truly knows what is coming our way.
Like always, we will just have to wait and see–adapt, laugh and flow with the change. I get to start the training run tomorrow with bib 1…speaking of adapting!
More pictures and such will appear in the near future. Peace and love :)