Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Davos - Val di Fiemme

After my quick trip to Lithuania I spent the next week in Davos, Switzerland. I think each blog post I have probably claimed a new favourite place. But I can say now without a doubt Davos is my favourite. The mountain views, the town, the trail accessibility and the trails themselves all come together to make the perfect ski town. Having said that unless we win the lottery we will never be able to afford living there. However, for a couple weeks a year one can dream. The skiing was great and I am starting to feel fit again. Even though there are 6 weeks left of World Cup it feels like we are on the homestretch. After the World Champs I will go straight to Finland then to Norway and Sweden and that is where things wrap up March 24. Wow it's gone fast. I am now in Val di Fiemme, Italy just two days from the start of the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships. We were here with the Tour de Ski just 6 weeks ago. Even though for the most part it is all the same top athletes that I see week in and week out on the World Cup, the World Championships is an entirely different beast. More total athletes and a countless increase in the media attention. I found myself in an interesting place here now. Despite the fact that I work for the governing Federation, and we are on the World Cup every week we find ourselves in almost an outsider role. Lot's of egos have arrived and have decided how things are going to go. It has just been amazing for me to see how this side of the ski championship business works. As a very small fish I am really just a spectator during these championships. I'll stop there.... Pics from the last couple of weeks: Our apartment for 4 days in Davos Valentines day at the Klatsch coffee house with Kikkanimal A little music at the Kulm Hotel Afternoon of work with the FIS Mag guys putting the stadium banners up. Nice to do some manual labour. A relaxing evening of meetings with the FIS crew....actually I like the wall mounted fireplace and stone work. Just couldn't resist taking a pic of the port-a-pot. The Schumacher boys forerunning the Davos World Cup course (Rudy and Gus from the left of the pic). Tough day Kikk with Anna Haag of Sweden. We will be back to visit in June. Davos knows how to watch a World Cup The homestretch....man those banners look good. Yeah that's what happiness/craziness looks like together when getting to drive Emil J├Ânsson's R8 Audi Cool as...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vilnius, Lithuania

I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to Vilnius, Lithuania to see Kestutis Celiesius (UNC teammate/roommate). We met almost 14 years ago at university and only met up once since graduation in 2002. I arrived Friday at 8 pm in Vilnius after taking three trains from Davos to Zurich, arriving in Zurich to learn that I booked a ticket for a week later. So after paying three times the original price I was off to Vilnius via Riga, Latvia. After saying our hello's we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant....yep Mexican in Lithuania. Then we were off to the downtown area for drinks with childhood friends of Kestas. Before we arrived he said that tonight would not be a long night and Saturday would be longer.... I didn't realize that longer meant 6:30am. I am still paying for that evening today as I arrived back in Davos last night just before 11 pm. The three train rides were a bit of a concern on the way back as I could hardly stay awake and I was sure I was going to fall asleep and miss my stops. Once I arrived at the train station in Davos I walked for about 15 minutes until I found the apartment of Emil Joensson and Anna Haag, who were kind enough to let me crash at their place for the night. They were away at a Swedish team training camp. My arrival in the dark was a bit difficult but I managed to find the right place on first try.
Kestas and I watching our roommate Liam in his film Textuality
Breakfast Lithuanian style
Kestas indoor track. Masters throwing competition going on. Standing chest pass with a kettle bell. Big big guys.
The biggest guy. Alekna! Two-time Olympic champion. What a giant, and nice guy.
Little boutique coffee shops all hidden amongst these narrow streets
Panorama view from the historic castle overlooking the city
Mardi Gras of Vilnius. The big day will be Tuesday but the activities began Saturday.
Big K with Big V.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sochi, Russia - Unreal

I have struggled since arriving and then departing from Sochi, Russia to come up with the words that do the place justice. I will steal some from Canadian skier Devon Kershaw. They are building three Whistler Villages in a place where there were no inhabitants....and all this is being done in the past 2.5 years with one year to go. Actually one year to go today to be exact. 60,000 workers working 24/7 was what I was told before I arrived, and that is what I witnessed. I hope my pictures can make up for where my words lack. The area geographical is absolutely beautiful. It's a mix of southern Appalachia, and Alaska's Chugach mtn range. Tight river valleys winding amongst deciduous forest covered steep hillsides while shadowed by 2000m peaks. Just incredible. Up at the Nordic venues (a 15 minute gondola ride up from the middle village) is deep in snow. Probably a meter fell while we were there, but it is wasn't enough to hide the scars of the construction process. Down low where ski jumping, and Nordic Combined will take place all you can see are recently moved piles of earth with construction equipment littering the view. Aahh I will stop writing and just post pictures. Basically the process of creating an entire Olympic space in underway with enough man-power and all the money needed. It's massive!
The Aussie's just before the races when the mtns showed up
The finish stretch
A stadium view
Walking from the gondola to the snowmobile/sled shuttle to the venue
The arrivals area from our charter flight.
8 workers to shovel snow.
SnowMo shuttle
Construction storage area and a massive building just beside the gondola station.
Roads cut into the hillside. Tree's erode down the hillside
Above the snowline
No lines on the road. Pass as you wish, just leave space for oncoming traffic. Wow.
Contrasting future. Tourist kids amongst poor as poor construction guys living in Conex trailers.
Train bridge that will link Sochi proper to the up valley villages. Where there was a one lane road that took 3-4 hours to travel is now a full highway and rail line. Less than one hour drive.
Sochi Airport. +17c when we arrived. Yep those are palm trees.
Across the street from the airport
No safety lines
Where did I park my crane
Same guy three days in a row shoveling that exact section of roof.
Another view of that massive building by the gondola.
Maybe that is where I left my crane. This is at the athletes village up at the Nordic venues (XC and Biathlon)