Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Experience of a Lifetime - Sochi Winter Olympics of 2014!

After already creating incredible experiences abroad we had finally made it to Sochi - the real reason why we were on our adventure! We quickly learned that we were in fact not staying in the city of Sochi, but in another town named Adler. Adler consisted of a smaller downtown area with shops and restaurants, a plethora of finished and unfinished hotels and the main airport and train station. From the Adler train station we were able to travel to Sochi in one direction and Olympic Park in the other. While security in the airport was nearly non existent, we quickly were overwhelmed by the police force surrounding the Olympic Park and Village. Two levels of security checkpoints were put in place just to enter the trains. Along the route to the Mountains, security officers were positioned every one hundred feet along the highway, a clear force to be reckoned with. It soon became apparent that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to make an attack here, the security was too widespread and dominant. No cars or trucks were allowed to enter or leave any secured zones without thorough inspections, including K-9 dogs and inspections of the interior and underside of the vehicles. We even passed a giant truck with a massive U-shaped arm protruding from its top - a mobile tractor trailer X-Ray machine that passed its pronged arms across the bed of the truck, creating an X-Ray scan of the inside.

Upon arriving to Olympic Park, we were absolutely blown away. The park itself apparently was only finished days before our arrival, Tom described the last stretch as a massive scramble to clean up left over debris and trash. Five massive arenas sat in a semi circle, each costing a few billion dollars each to build. The size and complexity was staggering. In the middle of the semi circle of arenas sat a circle of flags, one flag for each country represented. And inside of that circle sat the Olympic Torch, a massive structure worthy of holding the precious Olympic flame. Scattered throughout sat different countries houses, we saw the likes of the American, Canada and Swiss shelters. These were hospitality houses for athletes and the special friends and families of each athlete.

Watching the Slope-Style event was sweet. Sitting in bleachers at the base of the awe-inspiring course, we watched athletes race down and perform
a series of tricks on the technical course followed by flip after flip off the massive triple jumps at the bottom. One by one each snowboarder could be seen flying off the jumps, hurtling themselves in a series of spins and flips twenty feet above the ground before landing and preparing for the next jump.
Speed Skating was also a joy to watch. We were lucky enough to witness a Dutch competitor break an Olympic record for the men's 5,000 meter. 

One of my personal highlights includes walking through a Russian market barefoot and with nothing but a bathrobe wrapped around me in 45 degree weather. Taran and I had the brilliant idea of jumping into the Black Sea, despite the frigid weather. After working ourselves up to it, both Taran and I both backflipped into the freezing water. I'll never forget the surge of submerging myself in that freezing water - but every second we froze was completely worth the laughs and memories made. 

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