Go Time (11/12/13)

BY JULIA CLUKEY


At the track in Sochi

We just wrapped up our International Training Week in Sochi, Russia. I believe we are the first of the sports to head to Sochi this winter. Unlike most of our counterparts who rely on snow, our artificial refrigeration kicks our season into high gear quite a bit sooner. To describe the week in Sochi in three words, I would have to choose: hot, construction, inspiring.

If you blindfolded someone in the town of Krasnaya Polyana (where the sliding sports are) and asked them to guess which major international event was going to take place there, I am not sure one person would guess anything to do with winter. The weather there was unfavorable for sliding, with temperatures reaching the high 60s during the day and dropping to just the low 50s at night. Fortunately they built the track so that it is almost entirely enclosed, which helped some with the ice conditions, but hopefully we never see the soft sticky ice again, and we certainly don’t expect to this coming February. I have heard rumors that the area does get quite the snowfall, but I have yet to see it. Fingers crossed that the snow gods are holding out for right around late January.

Things certainly have changed quite a bit from when we last visited the area in March. It was exciting to see all the work that had been completed. It certainly has more of a city feel, and almost all of the storefronts had signs in them as to what was going to be filling the empty spaces. There was a grocery store open which was a nice addition, as well the train that connects Krasnaya Polyana (mountain cluster) to Adler/Sochi area was up and running and cuts the journey between the two in half in compared to cars. It was also relatively inexpensive at $10 round-trip; hopefully the price will stay the same come next February. The area where the luge track and other venues were built was a natural park, and even last March when we were there things were still quite spread out. It seemed this time that buildings lined the road the entire journey. I know that Russia is doing everything possible to make it the best Winter Games ever, so I’m excited to see the long-term plan in place for the area to remained used, and hopefully develop future Russian Olympians.


The team playing cards in the dark 

The most exciting part of the week was the fact that the power went out in the entire town. Rumor has it that a construction crew/worker hit the main line while he as digging. We spent the next four days with the town running on generators; it was quite amazing to see. It flickered on and off multiple times a day, and ironically enough when we lost power the Wi-Fi would still work but we had no running water. Except for the fact that there were multiple treks up the seven flights of stairs while the elevators were down, things went relatively smoothly despite the mishap.

It was certainly motivating to be in Sochi for the final training week before our world cup kicks off. Everything seemed so much more real, and at the same time I found myself wondering “Where the heck did the past four years go?” All of a sudden it is like I blinked and we are starting the Olympic selection process again. While I feel good about my training and preparation, we have such a strong group of five girls vying for three spots and I know it is going to be essential to lay everything on the line every weekend.

We are in Lillehammer, Norway right now training for our first world cup, which gets under way this weekend. I will keep everyone posted as things progress.