My website has been experiencing serious technical issues. I’ve been working with a website designer back in Park City, Utah to resolve the issues. We think the issues are actually being caused by too much traffic. We are working to move the site to different servers, but there may be continued issues in the next couple of days until we get it moved. Bear with us.
Since my last post I’ve completed my first Olympic race! It didn’t go exactly as I planned, but it was an incredible experience. I can’t wait for my next opportunity. More on the race later, but I’m going to start where my pictures start.
When it comes to the actual racing, most things here at the Olympics are the same as the World Cup. However, there are small things that the organizers are doing differently (sometimes better and sometimes worse) than the International Ski Federation (FIS) does every other weekend of the year. For instance, the Olympic Organizing Committee distributed this flow chart as part of the coaches’ slide show to make sure there is no confusion about how the athletes should get to and from the race:
Race morning yesterday was very grey. I actually thought the cloud cover was a blessing (It pains me to say that; I LOVE the sun.) because without direct sunlight the conditions on course should have been more consistent.
We finally joined the rest of the nations with flags on the outside of our apartments. We have a U.S. flag on one balcony and a U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) flag on the other.
I haven’t seen too many security officers inside the Olympic Village. For the most part they are just at the perimeter, but this guard looked like she meant business outside our apartment yesterday.
I went for a jog yesterday morning to shake my legs out and stay active before the race. I discovered another little loop (every meter counts when running in the village) that took me between the outermost chalets and the fence. The route took me by Team Canada’s housing.
We finally received our Nike and Ralph Lauren duffle bags. They contain all the clothing we got at processing on Monday. They were sent directly from processing to Sochi.
I found out yesterday why the USOC recommended we not drink the water out of the tap here in the village.
In my first Olympic race the magnitude of the Olympics was driven home for me. There were television cameras waiting for us as we got off the transport shuttle at the venue.
All of our wax technicians and the other athletes seemed pretty relaxed before the race. Here is my teammate Erik Bjornsen:
Here is our head kick wax tester, Estonian Oleg Ragilo.
And here is my technique coach and the technician this week for Kris Freeman and Brian Gregg, Zach Caldwell, working on Brian’s skis.
And here is Brian, psyched before his first Olympic race.
The ski depot was a busy place. Skiathlon races are very ski intensive because they require both classic and skate skis. All of the skis have to be ready at the same time because athletes have to load their own pit stations with their skate skis before the start of the race.
While I was warming up the stands in the stadium were not very full, but I noticed before the start of the race that they had filled all the way up.
The biathlon ladies raced later in the day. Their course parallels ours and both courses were prepared while I was warming up. Their V boards are blue while ours are purple.
The crowd on the last hill into the stadium was pretty good for the race.
I have always viewed the International Olympic Committee as a very exclusive organization unwilling to share its brand. I was surprised to see an International Ski Federation sign on course yesterday.
I was well prepared for the race. I believe I am in good shape, and I am happy with the gains Zach and I have made in classic technique this week. I had a good plan and I executed as well as I could.
The first two laps were great. I was relaxed and skiing comfortably. I moved up and was in the top 10. On the third of four classic laps the sun came out, the snow got warm and I started slipping. I was struggling and yo-yoing off the back of the front group. I was suffering. Coming into the stadium at the end of the third lap I crashed around a sharp corner. My ski got caught in some loose snow, but I probably fell because my legs were so wobbly. If you’re in the U.S. you can probably watch the fall here. I can’t view it in Russia. In the fall I broke my pole. It was a terrible place to break a pole because the entire stadium is a no-coaching zone. I had to ski the whole lap of the stadium with one pole. I lost a ton of time and places. Once I got a spare pole I struggled to get through the last classic lap.
I then had a terrible transition to skate. I managed to pull my pole straps all the way out of the loops they thread through to Velcro back on themselves. I had to re-thread them while skiing down a long fast downhill. It took me forever and I lost more time and places.
The skate portion of the race was OK. I was suffering after the classic portion, but I managed to recover and move up in the last lap. I finished in 35th position.
Overall, I am disappointed with the result but happy with my fitness and my pre-race execution.
Zach took this picture of me in the race:
Everything that happened after the race finished caught me a little off guard. I was disappointed and exhausted and didn’t really want anything to do with anybody. However, I got randomly selected for an anit-doping test, so I was immediately assigned a chaperon. I then had to go through the media mix zone. It was full!
I got pulled for an interview with NBC, something I was not expecting after the poor result. They wanted to hear about my crash. Here is Norwegian Sjur Røthe following me through the line of cameras.
Then on the back side of the television mix zone was the print media mix zone.
The flower ceremony for the race was happening while I wound my way through the reporters. Here are the medalists: silver medalist from Sweden Marcus Hellner (left), bronze medalist from Norway Martin Johnsrud Sundby (center) and winner from Switzerland Dario Cologna:
Once I got my skis back to the wax room and got changed, I had a personal van to take me to doping control.
Doping control was in the biathlon stadium. We had to drive more than a mile to snake around to it even though it’s only a couple hundred meters from the cross country stadium. The biathlon stadium is a huge structure.
I was still in good spirits even after the disappointing race.
I thought the whole doping control process was efficient and professional. I was accompanied by Dr. Larry Gaul from Vail.
I was able to produce the 90 milliliter urine sample faster than I expected. That’s good because it means I wasn’t too dehydrated even after the race.
I was surprised to see a Norwegian NRK broadcasting truck outside the biathlon stadium. I’m pretty sure NRK lost the Olympic broadcasting contract to TV2 Norway.
As Larry and I were walking back to the village from doping control there were a lot of fans leaving from cross country and coming for biathlon.
Because Zach isn’t here on a USOC credential, he isn’t allowed in the village. Therefore, I haven’t seen much of him. Yesterday evening I decided to go down the gondola with him to his hotel for dinner so we could chat about my skiing. The food at his hotel was really high quality.
Zach’s hotel is in Krasnaya Polyana. It is a mile walk from the base of the gondola.
I spent a couple evenings in Krasnaya Polyana last year when we were here for the test event. It was pretty built out at that time and didn’t look very different last night.
Here’s a look at the Krasnaya Polyana transportation hub. It is both the train station and the gondola depot for a spectator gondola that goes to our venue (or close to it).
The Olympic Rings in Krasnaya Polyana were popular with visitors.
Many of the trees on the hillside above the walking path were lit. I’m not sure if it is for aesthetics or security, but it looked cool.
When I got back to the village I had a wonderful good luck card waiting on my bed from the Aspen Valley Ski Club cross country team. I think Simi Hamilton’s family must have brought it over.
Today dawned bright and beautiful.
I am so excited to watch the Olympic Sprint Race tomorrow! As a team, it is our best event and our best chance for individual medals. I cannot wait to cheer on my teammates.
I have gotten a lot of attention this week from this blog more than my skiing. This afternoon I had a Skype interview with RBC TV Moscow, an interview on the phone with the Washington Jewish Week and a live interview on the phone with Radio VR Russia. (I’ve never done a live interview. I was nervous.) This evening I have an in-person interview with Channel One T.V. Russia.
Assuming we get the technical difficulties straightened out, I’ll be blogging daily again.