Team of One – Representing the USA at the Olympic Park in Sochi (Photo: Erin Weber)
After some of the excitement wears off from simply coming into an Olympic theater, I am thinking about all the questions people have presented regarding ice climbing’s presence at the Olympics. For sure, there are issues to consider, and many people have variable opinions. We ran into some MBA students from Washington D.C. while having lunch the the Austrian House at the base of where all the action is for the ski village. They were having people take a survey (in English) for spectator’s experience at this Olympics. I thought about it some and I can’t think of a better experience where a spectator is able to hang out with the athletes (generally not going to happen at the Olympics), and try the sport out (also not going to happen)- although if they asked me to go on the bobsled, I’d likely give ‘er ! So, as I remain in Sochi and this week’s athletes get cycled out at the ice climbing venue for a fresh set of athletes, I’m looking forward to continuing the movement that has been initiated, and I hope all things move in a good direction. I suspect I will not be able to compete in the Olympics in this sport when it becomes a fully sanctioned IOC sport, but one never knows until the approval is signed. It’s looking quite good at this time that ice climbing will continue on later next week as discussions will continue with the IOC and the UIAA. Again, I am glad to be a part of this movement and am having a great time in Sochi while it materializes.
Erin and I took a train to Sochi today as well. It was really cool to check out the Black Sea from a posh train. I suspect that the long range plan is to fill in the gaps and revitalize the area between the Olympic Park and Sochi proper. There is already a lot of improvements being made. Both of us agreed that if Sochi was located in the USA, everyone would want to live there. It is reminiscent of Southern California in many ways.
Domo Arigato:Masayuki Nara teaching me proper Japanese (Photo: Erin Weber)
It’s been a great time to climb with some of the athletes I met on my first World Cup over 5 years ago. Masayuki gave me some wasabi on the train to Kirov, which was greatly appreciated since I had not hot green chile on the trans siberian express. Mar Kus, from Germany was a great to see make a connection with some of the youth while he was here in Sochi. Petra, from Switzerland, was able to put on a good show and represent. The Russian consortium has been working hard under the direction of Pavel Shabalin and have been continuing to not disappoint. Canada’s Gordon McArthur has been spreading cheers and jeers and keeping energy levels high. There’s many more that we live and climb with every day not mentioned here, but suffice it’s a great crew without strife. This highs and lows come and go and soon it will all be over with. So, for now, I’m taking a big breath and taking it all in.
Security here has been off the chart. I can’t even delve into the amount of security that there is, but riding the train in any direction for miles and miles, there is a security guard, policeman, or soldier, every 300-600 feet (100-200 meters). Within the Olympic Park, there is no outside food, water, or sharp objects allowed unless brought in by a special designated agent. I’d say there’s no issues with safety or security. We have more than all the amenities of home and there’s ample shopping for anything you could possibly want, within a :10 minute walk from where we are staying. I’d have to say, it’s a pretty safe place to be. Oh ya, the double toilet thing…that photo was taken before the restrooms were finished. I’m not sure why the US media has been so negative with the press of Sochi, it definitely didn’t help the Olympics.
DTS style allows for a “rest” (Photo: Erin Weber)
Anyway, more on the climbing event:
Funny that the Olympic MASCOT ahs climbing attires: harness, rope, and carabiner, but no climbing in the Olympics ? Hmmm
The temperatures have been quite warm and so we have had a difficult time keeping the ice climbing venue open to the general public the past couple of days.Otherwise, we’ve been cranking through hundreds of people on the ice climbing wall, giving them a first-hand experience on how to climb ice. We’ve had a kids team participate on a regular basis. I can only imagine how good these kids will be in in 10 years if they keep with it.
The difficulty route has been really fun. All of the athletes have been able to get in many laps on the suspended moving ice cubes. Everyone is getting as much climbing in as possible, or as much as they can tolerate. It’s been a really good chance for athletes to get to know each other out of the competition realm and hang out and learn from each other and get stronger and better.
We are considering putting on a Youth Ice North American Championship in the coming year. I’m not sure how it will all work out, but keep your ears to the railroad track for this to happen in the early winter of 2014. The future of this sport lays within the youth. There’s no doubt about it. Mentorship or coaching is where it’s at. I hope that I can do more in the future and keep the flame alive. This exciting sport needs your support, chiefly directed at the youth programs. Share my blogs, my posts, and be a positive influence on the development of competition ice climbing.
In the meantime, we will finish what we have started years ago, in Sochi in a little over a week. I’m looking forward to making more good memories with friends, but it’s always bitter-sweet at this time of the season, as it comes to a close in the following weeks, knowing that it will be almost another year before the ice competition season returns.