Greetings from the mountain cluster athlete village. It's been a busy week to say the least. It's nice to know that the loop distances and range are technically the same as they would be at any other world cup event because everything else has a different quality to it. It's not just variety of athletes it's the Korean atmosphere, the extra time between races, the revamped apparel that every team goes through, and hype that's in the cold air everyday. I have yet to acquire a race bib, but the racing is far from over. The team has only been here for one week and that's been just enough time to acquire some grip of familiarity with the ins and outs.
The US athletes that are based in the mountain village are all staying in the same building. For reasons unknown to me I'm on the top floor. I like to think of the 15th floor as the cool kids floor, but really I spend more time in elevator or even just waiting for the elevator. I would take the stairs but they are random slippery zones and I get dizzy after a few levels. The village is pretty simple once you take a look around. Every county has there own 15 story building. There is a fitness center with a gym and treadmills open all day, a laundry tent (very useful), a small shopping plaza, a down time recreation tent, a few other essentials, and of course the dining hall dome.
The dining hall is fine by my standards. There is a wide variety of food and it's all pick and choose buffet style. The structure is a large dome. The building itself isn't that far of a walk. Most of the walking is done in the dome trying to get what you food you want from each station on your trail before sitting down at the table. We have other options for food. The USOC set up their own personal cafeteria outside of the village. It's pretty much a transplanted OTC. We also have a US athletes only hang out apartment with good coffee and food on the bottom floor of our building and if you really wanted you could even eat at the Y club at the race venue. So, as you can see, lack of food is not an option.
The never ending clutch of failing to stay healthy is an ongoing ordeal. While I've made it this far with out succumbing to cold or sore throat others have not been so lucky. I still maintain that the key to not getting sick is to stop traveling and get lucky. Hand sanitizer is everywhere. They might as well start dispersing it into the air because the masses are on full germ paranoia. Bleach wipes have been handed out like candy by our team doctors. While I question the use of these products in the long term I'll role with it for the month to minimize any risk.
The Alpenisa Olympic biathlon venue is alright by my opinion. It's not very convoluted. Once you're off the buss it's very straight forward. Wax cabins on the lower floor, athlete cabins above those, Y-club and bathrooms to the right. Then it's a straight away stretch to the rifle storage. The race course is easily accessible from there or the cabins. To makes things even more convenient the XC trails and stadium are a 90 second ski away from each other. The course profile is also to my liking. The pacing is tricky. It's very possible to go too hard and or too easy. The steep climbs into rest sections held together with some well placed transitions make it an interesting course to tackle. It's mostly cold with an obnoxious wind that blows through the rolling hills and what looks like an Asian variety of pine tree.
There is no confirmed race start for me that I know of. At the earliest I would know the night before the next race. At the latest it could be an hour before the race start. That's the deal with being the fifth man in a four person start deal. I'm still happy to be here and have been preparing everyday as if I were going to race. Yesterday had me doing a time trial. It was very windy and snowing. More than anything it just felt lonely. The XC classic sprints were taking place a few meters over. I could see the heats rolling out as I was warming up. Leaving the starting gate and sprinting to the finish at the Olympic stadium with no one but my coach and heart rate monitor to witness was a surreal feeling.
It should also be mentioned that the biathlon field is on their own time zone structure. Biathlon isn't a sport to scoff at in Europe and the Euro prime time tv ratings don't give into the local time zone. The end result being that the races all start in the late evening. The women race their 15km individual tonight with the first stater going out at 8:05pm. Personally, I've been calling 2:30am an early bed time. If I close the shades I can sleep into 11. Training in the mid afternoon is logged as a morning session in the training log. I can't speak for others, but I kind of enjoy it. It adds to the whole different atmosphere.
Rest assured many pictures have been taken. Some shots haven't even had much care to them as usual because I just wanted to capture what every bit I could for memory's sake. Don't be expecting any videos up here as the IOC has capped each athlete on what they can and can not post to social media outlets. Maybe some more on that next month when the black out period is lifted.
For good measure let me say thank you again for the positive feed back that has been coming in these past few weeks. Most of the team was able to do the opening ceremonies this time around. I didn't think I would show up in the large crowd that was the US team, but firends were posting the screen shot of my face on my fb wall. If you have an NBC subscrition or are crafty enough with a VPN I reccomend tunning in for today and tomorrow's individual races.