Monday, February 17, 2014

Backtracking - The Opening Ceremonies

February 7 would be a busy day.  As a quick aside, we are in a building which is about a 5 minute walk from the dining hall, where all athletes and team members go for their meals.  The dining hall is opened 24 hours a day and tried to cater to the variety of tastes, cultures and habits of the 1,100 athletes living in the Endurance Village.  

The dining hall is located in the main Village Building, a bit like a Lodge, where all of the amenities can be found: fitness center, wellness center, movie theater, disco, game hall, a small clinic, press offices, organizers' offices, laundry and some very limited retail.

Back to the 7th, after breakfast, we prepared to go up to the trail head for training.  The Laura Center hosts both cross country and biathlon and is served by a number of shuttle minibuses that takes around.  The very first day we went to ski, after the second turn in the minibus, we noticed a antiaircraft missile station about 50 mt from the road.  There was o skimping on security!

After the training session, we had a quick lunch and returned to the apartment to get ready to leave for the OC.  I was the first back and realized that a pipe had broken on the first floor - apparently still being worked on as I entered the building - and there was no running water in the building.  I made the quick decision to go to the gym to shower and left a note for the rest of the team.  

By the time I returned to the apartment, the water had returned - a bit brown apparently - so the guys had taken a shower there.  

All ready to go, we were to meet the other teams at 4.47pm, walk to the Gondola, board the Gondola for the 15 minute ride to the valley and then board the buses to be taken to the Coastal Village where all arenas are located and the C would take place.  

At about 7.30, we were all under a huge tunnel where it was like a tailgate party.  The atmosphere was festive, the athletes were going from team to team to say hello and to exchange pins (who would have thought that was such a popular thing!), and in general we are all excited and getting ready to go.  Here are a few photos:

The order of entry into the stadium was determined by the Russian alphabet, we were after Denmark and before Zimbabwe.  The teams finally start moving, there are volunteers steering us all, it is quite an exercise in logistics but somehow it worked!

The TV crews give us the go ahead, as we start up the ramp the country is called, the music is playing, Gary si waving the flag and we are steered around the right half of the stadium to our seats.  It was all very exciting and touching, we settled in our seats sandwiched between the very friendly Argentinian team and a very loud Brazilian team, and we get ready to take in the show.

After sitting down, we cheered on and welcomed the other teams in the stadium.  Most impressive in terms of sheer number: Canada, USA and Russia.  

The show itself was vey well done, a great display of the Russian glorious past, very well done.  

The evening concluded with a few speeches and the lighting of the torch. 

Great atmosphere all around, fantastic feeling to be part of something so much larger that oneself!

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