Thursday, March 15, 2012

Khanty-Mansiysk

       Day two here in Siberia and so far all is well. Despite everything that I heard I still wasn't sure just what to expect. I wasn't expecting a smooth and easy trip over. I wasn't expecting mildly warm temperatures and I certainly wasn't expecting half decent internet. Some parts have lived up to their reputation. Others had no warning. Overall I'm feeling good about tomorrow's race.
       We left Ruhpolding at 7:30. The airport had a special charter flight for the athletes. This was a nice perk because the airport staff knew what to expect and everything worked smoothly for a change. The plane was an actual plane. I had heard horror stories about this particular flight. I was expecting some old rusted Russian MIG and instead I got a whole row of seats to myself! Going through customs was easy and all of our bags were there waiting for us. Excluding our rifles which were to be delivered to the venue apparently.
       Hotel rooms are fine. I don't think our floor has been cleaned in a while. I don't really mind things like that, but it is a little different from the standards set by other places. Also, don't drink the water! The food... works. Butter seems to be the main ingredient in most meals. There's minimal exaggeration on that one by the way. All three meals are buffet style. This is the best part. No longer do I have to sit away  an hour and a half of my life waiting for part three of my dinner. What you see is what you get and you can eat it as fast as you want. 
         The Khanty-Mansiysk venue is the biathlon version of the Scheeberg hotel in Ridnaun. It's a clockwork of hallways and gates. No one warned me about this one. The athlete entrance is a little path around a corner of some random building. Not sure how that one came into play. There is security all over the place. You couldn't even sneak onto the course if you tried. It is essentially an impenetrable fortress with out your credentials. I unwillingly familiarized myself with the maze yesterday trying to find the room with everyone's rifle. Once found, I realized I didn't have the key to my rifle case. 20 minutes later I'm opening the case and remembering that I had broken my firing pin just before I left Germany. Hats off to Armin for changing a firing pin on the range while zeroing the other guys at the same time.
         The part about this place that I really value so far is the course. This might be my favorite race course yet. There are no tight downhill corners. The snow holds up and doesn't turn to knee deep sugar like certain other Bavarian places. Most of it is in the woods giving it that cozy feeling of skiing back home. One part even takes you over a bridge overlooking the stadium. There's a good balance of terrain that suits my style. Once you know how to get yourself around, this place is down right fine. I would like to be able to bring my rifle back with me to the hotel room, but it's always a five minute walk away.
        I would also like to note that we are now five hours ahead of central Euro time. Here I was thinking that I would get closer to my native time zone as the season comes to an end. That said it's anything but over. Training felt very good yesterday. I'm looking forward to racing this weekend. I don't know what my start number is tomorrow but the mens race start at four in the afternoon. So... 11 in the morning if you live in Europe and five AM if you're from the county.

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