Days at the Olympics begin quite early for me. I’ve always been an early riser, and then throw in a 15 hour time change and my body thinks it is the afternoon when the clock says it is three in the morning! Thankfully I only had one day when 3 o’clock was the permanent wake up, but otherwise I’ve been rolling out of bed around 6.
The cross country ski races in PyeongChang all occur in the late afternoon/evening/night (the sprint final is at 8 p.m.!). I think it is super interesting how and why events are scheduled at different times. Essentially TV broadcasters attempt to schedule events for prime times in their most popular countries. So figure skating is in the morning, while ski jumping is at 10 p.m. I’m rooming with three ski jumpers (one of them is Sarah Hendrickson, a World Champion!) and she explained that in Sochi they would stay up until 2 in the morning so that they could be feeling fresh at 10 p.m.
Anyways, as a result of the afternoon race starts, we have been doing ski training at 3 p.m., which provides lots of time in the morning to drink coffee, go for runs, go the gym, or even get your hair done. Kikkan just got her pink racing hair re-done, and while the color costs money the cut and style are free!
Hanging out with the official mascot, Soohoorang,in the Olympic Village
We have been eating at “the Haven,” a United States Olympic Committee and US Ski and Snowboard Collaboration. This is primarily to avoid sickness. When you have thousands of athletes all staying in one village, the grounds are prime for illness (in fact right now the Norovirus is circulating). We leave the village via shuttle, and while going through security can be a bit of a hassle it is well worth the food, and honestly gives a framework for the day.
Getting back into the village is a bit like going through airport security. You put your bags through a scanner, you go through a metal detector and then get wanded-down, and finally have your credentials verified by a walk through scanner. While it is a little brutal to have this glamour shot shown to everyone, I appreciate the security and think is worth the hassle.
There are also armed guards walking the village at all times, as well as Malinoi dogs (not German Shepards, as Thomas was quick to point out).
Getting to the ski venue takes 20 minutes, but getting back only five as the buses run on a loop. The biathlon,ski jumping, and cross country trails are all in the same area…and they are all VERY impressive.
The stadium. Gives me goosebumps!
I didn’t get a photo of this, but yesterday during training they were holding a mock race with the forerunners to test out the timing, announcing, and video feed. They have high speed tracked cameras running all along the course.
Even with Christmas in February, my favorite moment so far of this whole experience was skiing on our first day. Up until that point I’m not sure the significance of the Olympics and what officially being an Olympian meant to me. But skiing around perfectly groomed trails with Olympic-ring emblazoned V-Boards all decked out in USA gear brought me nearly to tears. I know it isn’t good to seek affirmation from the outside, but skiing around in an Olympic bib surrounded by other people who have reached the same goal gave me immense pride in the work I–and countless others– put in to get to this point. There are individuals who have competed at five Olympics and those at one, but I felt a universal sense of contentment and joy for the goal achieved. It is comforting and inspiring to recognize that every person took a different path, but all of our trials and tribulations led us to skiing around together at the World’s biggest stage. While competition day will be intense, there was a palpable aura of respect for every person out there. I skied with a silly grin on my face for a full hour, maybe partially because it was frozen on there (the wind at the stadium is aggressive).
Can’t stop me and my frozen smile!
Our skis our completely taken care of by the USA wax service staff, so after skiing we just drop them outside the wax cabin and get back on the shuttle. A quick shower and snack later we are back on a shuttle to dinner. After some games and relaxing it is bed time, and we start the whole process over again.
Thank you everyone for your kind and supportive messages after my first post! I’ll probably be posting again after Opening Ceremonies!!