(a continuation of до свидания, Сочи)
It looks like I didn't have a chance to finish my last post. My plane boarded earlier than I thought, and all of a sudden, I was off. Flying away from Sochi. Up up and away, just like the eagle I landed as. I suppose things come and go, time passes, no adventure is permanent. Just as it came, it went. And I went with it... but below I will look back...
The Olympics were insane. Complete insanity. So many people, so much work. so much construction, bustle, cheering, hustle, energy and warmth. We (speed alpine skiers) got incredibly lucky with weather...for the 2 weeks that we were in Sochi the sun shone down on us almost every single day, and never did a flake or fleck or speck or spit fall from the sky. It was amazing....especially given all the hype around the absurd weather predictions. Although it was warm and the snow deteriorated a bit, we were so, incredibly lucky. And it was so so so wonderful to spend some time in the sun.
I had to throw this photo in there, because I loved the Sochi slogan, "Hot. Cool. Yours." At first I laughed and guffawed at the ridiculousness, but I grew to love and embrace it. It was certainly hot during the time I was there. I guess it was also sexy in some way or another... If not sexy at least hip. Cool. Neato! And all yours. Or, was it mine?
Jackie and I at processing in Munich.
Processing was nuts. We stepped into this warehouse to get our credentials, uniforms, phones, etc. and it was like a dream: free shit everywhere. The opening ceremonies uniforms (and shoes!) were hysterically awesome, all the Nike stuff we got is so so nice, comfortable and super duper stylish. There were free goggles, sunglasses, P&G stuff (razors, soap, face cream, body wash, etc), watches, Olympic rings, ski gear, off-hill gear, casual wear, cell phones, blah blah blah IT WAS NUTS.
the Olympic torch the night we went down to cheer on Jules
Jules started it off with a bang. She won the Downhill run of the Super Combined and had a miraculous slalom run to pull into third. Watching her excitement and being a part of it was so fun and inspiring. It was so cool to see her receive her medal... PROPS for performing when it counts. Rock on.
dancing around as per usual
Unfortunately my ski fell off toward the top of the Downhill portion of the Super Combined, so that wasn't super rad. Regardless, the energy in the start was unbelievable: it was my first Olympic race, and the incredible atmosphere in the starting gate that day proved how special of an experience it was. I have never been more excited to send myself down a Downhill course. It was extreme, intense, paranormal, and extraordinary.
Racing in the Downhill felt similar. I had a lot of excitement and pent-up energy left over from the Super Combined. I felt like I skied really well, and had a good, but not perfect, run. At the Olympics the only places that matter are first, second and third. Everyone is skiing to win, and even one tiny mistake puts you that far behind the leader. Because somebody out there is going to have a nearly flawless run...and it's really tough to compete with that. But I'm really happy with my skiing, and am going to take that feeling into the remainder of my ski season.
Leanne bein peachy-- on our way to the medal ceremony
Of all the things I saw, places I went, and energy that I felt, I enjoyed most the happiness. The giddiness that comes along with simply being at the Olympics. The smiles from unknown Moroccans, high-fives from Peruvians, hugs from Canadians, bright eyes from Jamaicans. Those I will always hold so so close to me...the diversity that comes together for a mere sporting event is truly remarkable.
Aside from the competitions, the 'shows' that we as athletes put on, the most significant thing about the Olympics was the unity. It shows, time and time again, that we can all come together, from different nations, different backgrounds, different religions, different political beliefs, even different ideas of good and bad, to form an amazingly diverse and unique group of young people. And the potential within that distinctive group, those unconventional friendships built, is limitless. It proves that we can work together, no matter how varying our beliefs, for the good of the world. We are the future, and as we step onto the stage to perform in front of the world, we give ourselves an opportunity to make amazing changes in so many ways. Just with one step.
Shuang Li competing in the women's snowboard cross finals
Attending other events was also a significant step on my Olympic journey. Seeing how other athletes in incredibly different sports work and compete was huge. The women's snowboard half-pipe was definitely one of my favorites. It really gave me a new perspective and sense of respect for those girls--they completely huck themselves! So awesome and inspiring. I want to bring that fearless flight into my sport, and hope I can push it like those girls do theirs.
although I cannot tell or recall, I believe I took this delirious photograph at a men's hockey game
Another one of my favorite events was ski jumping... I have watched ski jumping countless times on the TV over here in Europe, but have never understood the magnitude of the jump/landing. It was really neat to see it in person, and gave me a new respect for that sport as well.
Having my family in Sochi was so huge for me. It was a serious event, surrounded by serious people, so to have my parents and sisters there to lighten things up was really meaningful. We got to explore the actual city of Sochi, which was incredibly different from any of the Olympic venues. There were definitely signs of Olympic happenings all around the city, but it felt so raw compared to all of the other places I had experienced (the mountain villages, venues, etc) that were so recently built and updated. I'm glad I got to see a bit of the real Russia...
It was a crazy interesting experience...I learned some remarkable things about competing, culture, friendship, and myself. I am so lucky to have raced in the Olympics, to have experienced the energy and spirit, to have been a part of such a huge event, to have met so many varying individuals. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along my journey...your love and kind words mean the world to me. Although my Olympic performance wasn't perfect, it was good. I went in with no expectations; I just wanted to soak up the experience, live in the moment and leave with no regrets. And I did just that. So I'm smiling :)
Below are a few pictures I took while walking around Krasnaya Polyana. Enjoy. Peace and love.
a beautiful, but sadly unfinished building
finishing up a paint job. this and similar sights were extremely common around Sochi
lots and lots of trash cans...where they were supposed to go I'm not sure...
a different angle
some more interesting trash cans...
just what you see <3 <3 <3
adventures to and from, here and there, home and away, around the world--through my eyes, lens, and mind