Krasnaya Polyana

Most of my teammates had an easy day yesterday. Andy Newell was passing the time playing guitar:

Andy Newell

Simi Hamilton decided to cut his own hair with a knife.

Simi Hamilton Cutting Hair

It actually turned out remarkably well.

I had the entire day off. Yesterday afternoon I went off the mountain to the town of Krasnaya Polyana. It was a forty five minute commute including the shuttle to the gondola, the gondola and the shuttle at the bottom. I don’t know how much of Krasnaya Polyana existed before the construction for the games began, but it certainly looked different than it does now.

Krasnaya Polyana

Some of the construction seems a little too rushed. This cement support didn’t seem very effective:

Russian Construction

The amount of current construction in Krasnaya Polyana makes the work at the venue look like an afterthought. They are working on diverting the river.

River Diversion

According to head U.S. Ski Team coach Chris Grover, there will be three official athlete villages for the games: one will be in Sochi for the indoor sports, one will be up a different gondola for most of the on-mountain sports and one will be up at Psekhako Ridge, where we’re staying and where our venue and the biathlon venue are located. Many teams, including the Canadians and us, are considering different options for where we want to stay next year. The games run from February 8th to the 23rd. The cross country events start the first day and end with the men’s 50k on the last day of the games. We will arrive in Sochi five days early. Three weeks is a long time to stay up here on the mountain. I do not want to be commuting 45 minutes every day and I believe most of my teammates agree with me, so we will almost definitely stay up here in the village. But, we may also reserve some rooms, not enough for every athlete, in a hotel near Krasnaya Polyana. This would give athletes the ability to get off the mountain for a couple of nights if they had some time before their next race.

The Canadians are considering something similar, but they may even stay down low. They are staying low this week to test it out. I went with them to check out a hotel, different than the one they’re in this year, that they may use next year:

Canadian Olympic Hotel

There is a lot more happening down there than up here because they are in a huge strip of hotels.

Krasnaya Polyana Strip

After checking out potential lodging I played a game of Settlers of Catan with Perianne Jones, Devon Kershaw (center) and Lenny Valjas:

Settlers of Catan in Russia

I have played several games of Settlers against the Canadians. Yesterday was my first win.

I stayed for dinner at the Canadian hotel. It was the best meal I’ve had in several weeks. If there was going to be such a huge discrepancy between quality of food next year it might be worth it to stay down low. However, we are counting on much improved food up here on the Ridge for the games.

By the time I headed back up, the organizer shuttle from Krasnaya Polyana to the bottom of the gondola had stopped running. I hopped on the public bus with a ton of construction workers. The trip cost me 10 rubles or 33 cents. It was cool taking the gondola at night.

Sochi Night Gondola

Today was another snowy day. Since my last ski on Tuesday, the venue looked a lot more like a World Cup venue:

Sochi World Cup Stadium

Britain’s Andrew Musgrave was psyched for tomorrow:

Andrew Musgrave

I am sprinting tomorrow because we have an extra start spot. The men’s sprint course is the hardest I’ve ever seen. Andy estimated it will take four minutes if the snow is as slow as it was today. I am continually fascinated by the moving finish line cameras:

Finish Line Cam

Here are Holly Brooks and Matt Whitcomb:

Holly Brooks and Matt Whitcomb

A bunch of us became friends with the 2010 Olympic Sprint Champion, Nikita Kriukov in New Zealand two years ago when we played poker with the Russians. Nikita is psyched to have the Olympics on home turf this time around. Here he is today with some volunteers:

Nikita Kriukov

Lastly, the roads around here aren’t all paved. Some of the shuttle rides in the mud are quite an experience.

Russian Mud Shuttle