Simi Hamilton


Back from Russia

Topic: General News

It’s basically impossible to put into words the magnitude of the undertaking in Sochi. Every corner you turn and kilometer you drive, new hotels, apartment complexes, athletic venues, parking lots, restaurants, gondolas, trams, rail lines, and rail stations are springing up out of thin air. Simply trying to count the number of dump trucks hauling earth along the highway from Sochi to Krasna Polyana (the site of all the ski/snowboard events and sliding events) would prove to be an undoable task. But with all the chaos and diesel fumes comes an exciting feeling that we are in the home stretch and final countdown to the 2014 games.

It was a great week of World Cup racing at the XC Olympic venue. Just to be able to learn the courses and the layout of the athlete’s village will prove to be huge advantages come next February. To get to both the stadium/race trails as well as the xc and biathlon athletes’ houses, you have to take a 15 minute gondola ride that spits you out on a forested ridge with some pretty amazing views of the surround Caucasus peaks. Despite the 10 or so cranes and round-the-clock nail pounding and bulldozing, the location of the village and the venue is spectacular.

The courses are unique. They are not particularly hard, but they certainly have plenty of hard components to them. I think they will be fun Olympic races to watch, mostly due to the fact that there will be so many variables on any given day. During this last weekend, we saw two straight days of a huge storm in which it snowed over 2 ft, followed immediately by two days of perfect blue-bird, sunny, 45 degree days. One of the highlights of the whole week was being able to look west on the clear days and see the coast along the Black Sea. The place is crazy.

The races went well. I was encouraged with how I felt on the sprint day, although some tactically poor decisions in my quarterfinal ended my day earlier than I would have liked. Still, I felt like I achieved one of my main goals going into the race weekend, which was to come up with a plan to ski the long and challenging sprint course smart, and then execute that plan during the qualifier. If the sprint day was a good day, then the team sprint day was a great day. Not only were the conditions awesome (fast and hard tracks, plenty of sun and warm temps), but I felt like I had the race that I’ve been looking to have all season. Newell and I were both ‘on’ that day, and our skiing showed. After winning our semi-final, we had a bit of bad luck in the final when Newell went down on the last corner into the stadium with about 250 meters left in the race. We had been sitting comfortably in 4th, with the podium just two seconds in front of us. I think it’s easy for people to look in from the outside and say “well, they had 4th place locked up, so why did they go for it and risk more than they needed to?” I, personally, am proud that Newell decided to go for all or nothing and tried to catch Emil and Axel on the last climb, risking a fall in the process from the crazy amount of lactate buildup potential on the 90 second steep final climb. If you never go for things like that in your life, you’re probably going to be doing some serious regretting when you are telling stories to your grandkids in 50 years.

I feel like I have my speed back after what has felt like a bit of a dissapointing and unlucky season so far. I’ve struggled with sickness during opportune moments this year, and finally I feel like my endurance and quickness are where I want them to be at this point in the year. I had the second-fastest 3rd leg time out of everyone in the team sprint final, so I know that my endurance is coming around just in time for World Champs.

It’s so nice to be in Davos again. Our friends Heinz and Herbert at the Kulm Hotel always know how to make us feel great again after long periods of travel. I can’t tell you how invigorating it is to wake up and look out your window in Davos. You just get psyched for everything from doing intensity on the race trails to taking a trip to town for an afternoon cup of coffee. I’m planning on hitting the slopes a bit during our training break here, so I’ll try to get some good pics and footage from up high on the piste. I’m stoked lock my heel in and seek out some face-shots. Cheers.

Leading the pack out of the stadium during the team sprint


Getting my stride on in the sun during the team sprint

Regular shuttle service around the village/venue... on a beast of a snowmobile


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