BY CHAS GULDEMOND
After making the Olympic Team I had no idea what to expect about traveling to Sochi. I have to admit that I was a little scared to head to Russia because of all the recent terror threats and media hype. I had to put my trust in the team that they would keep me safe and that God was watching over us.
My travel started out in Carlsbad, Calif., where I was chilling for a couple days with my wife after the X Games. As I had expected my travel did not go perfectly smooth. I arrived at the airport at 4 a.m. and sat there til 10. Fog can be a big problem in the San Diego area and that was one of those days. Fortunately, I rebooked my flight out of San Diego airport 30 minutes away and was able to spend some more time with wifey and our good friend Kevin Pearce got to tag along for a great lunch at Swamis Cafe in Encinitas before my long flights. It was nice to see him and chill for a bit before taking off to Munich for team processing. I hopped on my plane and it was pretty smooth from there and the next afternoon I arrived in Munich. Pretty killer to see all my friends from the U.S. in Germany.
Team processing day was wild. It was held at the Munich Olympic Stadium and we just walked around a big convention center getting our outfits fitted, picking out our Olympic rings and getting more swag than we could carry. I will have Christmas presents for the next 10 years. The Opening and Closing Ceremony outfits are insane — so much color and thick sweaters haha. I don’t know If I will wear it outside the Olympic Games but it’s so cool to have this kind of stuff to show my friends and family for years to come.
The next day everyone packed their heavy swag bags and headed to the airport for our Olympic Team charter flight to Sochi. It was sick, we all had our own rows and the plane was filled with excitement and energy. The plane ride was about three hours and when we started to descend I was peeping out the window. All I could see was the ocean and then all of a sudden a city popped out of nowhere…Sochi. There it was with the Olympic stadium and all the other buildings that had been constructed for the Games. It was all starting to feel real at this point. I was so anxious about coming here and it was all building up. When we landed there were armed guards and tanks protecting the airport. Wow. Russia really had made a lot of steps to keep the city of Sochi safe. That is a good thing. We took a bus to the welcome center and got all of our credentials made and checked and then it was up the hill to the mountain.
The bus ride up was pretty cool seeing all the things constructed for this huge event. The land was super soggy like it had been raining all year long. Passing through a bunch of huge tunnels we were climbing into the clouds and before I knew it we were getting out and walking up to our lodging. The U.S. team was all set up in a huge lodge with a ton of rooms. They were not anything special but the whole village was the same so you just feel lucky to have a bed and hot water. Later on the team gave us airweave mattress toppers, and know I am addicted to my bed haha.
After settling in we all headed to the cafeteria for some grub. Food from all different parts of the world, buffet style. All you can eat baby, just the way I like it. I think I actually am gaining weight which is a good thing because I was getting pretty thin, it’s hard to keep on weight while traveling and competing on such a hectic schedule.
The next morning I woke up and looked out my window. Holy cr*p, this place is amazing!!! The mountains revealed themselves and they are awesome. Sage, my coach Bill and I decided to go riding to check out the course and stretch out the legs. We were in for a pleasant surprise. We took the lift all the way to the top only to find whole zone filled with fresh pow. Seriously, this is what snowboarding is all about, hooting and hollering....getting freshies with your best friends in such an amazing place! Best day of the year. The start of my trip went off with a bang and I am sure it will end with one too.