Full Tilt & Canadian Canadian Freestyle Ski Team member Kristi Richards recently went on a trip to Sochi, sight of the 2014 Winter Olympics. See and read about her trip below! Also check out more from Kristi on her BLOG.
We embarked on a mission to Russia to familiarize ourselves with the site and conditions of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The mogul venue will be held on the newly constructed resort of Rosa Khutar, so the organizing committee invited international teams to participate in a Europa Cup as an Olympic test event for the site.
I had heard tales of massive mountains and grand construction plans for the Games, but my first hand impression of the area is that it is much more spectacular than the tales themselves. It seems that they are building a resort, from scratch, that will be the size of Whistler or bigger. The difference? They are building it in a matter of a few years! The entire valley from the airport up to the hotel (1 hr drive) where we stayed is lined with the skeleton beginnings of massive buildings, train stations, Olympic sporting venues, restaurants and transit systems. People are working around the clock to get everything prepared in time, traffic jams are caused by dump trucks and cement trucks, and the rumble of foundations being set vibrate through the valley at all hours. Security is already high, with a strong presence of police, military personnel, and snow snipers! The resort was closed to public for the test events, but our official accreditation gave us access to the lifts after going through a full security screening with metal detectors and physical search. A check point at the top of the mogul run gave us access to the course, which is designed to finish in the same arena as the aerial and half pipe venues. A landslide last fall had toppled over the towers of the new chairlift for the mogul course, so 2 rope-tows and a snowmobile tow was the quick solution for the test event.
The conditions there were all-time, with 15-40cms of snowfall every night. It made for interesting conditions that were changing every 10 minutes. One run would be soft and fluffy, the next big and rutted, and the next slick and catchy. The clouds would roll in and out with fog, heavy snow, wind and rain, then break up to let in a little sunshine in. Much like Cypress in 2010, we will need to be ready for anything in 2014. I loved the pitch of the course, which is very similar to both the Cypress mogul course and ‘Kristi’s Run’ on my home mountain of Apex. It will be great for big jumps and showcasing the middle section of skiing. It was emotional to see the half pipe venue ready to go… I brought a ‘Ride for Sarah’ bandana that I staked the middle of the pipe for her. From the work she did to get her sport into the Games, it really felt like her pipe.
The resort itself is a spectacle, with a massive network of new lifts and gondolas that can access some very impressive terrain. The top gondola is rarely open, as the zone is a cliff ban with avalanche chutes massive drops. Avalanche control will be a huge priority for the resort. Luckily, I had the foresight to pack my powder skis, so I took advantage of every moment I had to ski waist deep fresh on a great resort with no crowds! I would load the gondola every morning with my mogul sis over one shoulder and my fat skis over the other. ‘Warm up’ runs for mogul training were powder laps, which would get me grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day. My ‘cool down’ activity was also powder skiing… in the most epic untouched tree lines I have ever seen. Every day it just got progressively deeper, and I can honestly say that on the last day (contest day), I skied the deepest powder of my life! It seems that I’m hooked on Russian powder. I’ll be packing my fat skis with me for the 2014 Games…
From Russia, with Love. -Kristi