What a day I had yesterday!!! Racing in the Olympics has always been a dream of mine... Racing in the Olympic downhill always seemed like the most extreme, insane thing I could ever shoot for... And yesterday, I did just that. It was such a crazy, intense, magical atmosphere in the start gate--I couldn't decide whether to be jazzed or pee-my-pants-nervous. I think a combination of these emotions pushed me out of the gate and caught me charging down the course.
It was a tough day of racing. I knew I had a shot at a medal, and I think that knowledge in itself made me a little stiff. Needless to say, I was incredibly nervous. I was feeling good and fast on the top part of the course, but I came into the flat section a bit tentatively and didn't carry quite as much speed as I could have. I was a bit tense, getting tossed over a few rollers and not tucking quite as much as possible... but in the end, it turned out to be a really good run.
The best run of my season, in fact. I came down into 3rd position, behind two really talented, speedy girls, so I was happy (I ended up 11th overall!). Having my family in the finish was also such a warming feeling...knowing that there were people at the bottom to hug and love me, regardless of what place I came in to.
(plus, they had an awesome sign)
It was a relief to have made it down with both skis on, as I managed to lose one part way down the course two days before. Just crossing the finish line was such an incredible feeling, I knew it didn't matter who I beat, or what the outcome was. Just being here at the Olympics has been more than I could have ever asked for...
I had a function this morning with some USSA trustees, and while we (the alpine speed girls) were at the front of the room talking about our experiences, Stacey brought up a really neat point...
It's not all about winning medals. Although the medal count is pretty much all anyone talks about, the experience we're gaining just by being here is so significant, life-changing, and irreplaceable, it's hard to think that a medal could elevate it any more. I'm learning so much about myself, about traveling, about the world and about living that I would have otherwise completely missed out on. These lessons are extremely special in so many ways: I had to work my ass off to get here, so much luck has come my way during my journey, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Like now... here I am, in Russia, riding a train up into the mountains, learning about the ways of the world, change, and all about myself. I'm growing tremendously with these experiences, suffering unbelievably, bouncing up and down, sometimes flying and sometimes drowning. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.
On a lighter note, after the downhill race yesterday I found out that I also get to race in the super-g!!! That race is on Saturday (Friday late night if you're reading this from Oregon), so I took a day off to rest and hang out with my family today.
While riding down on the train from the mountains I looked out my window to see sun-bathers on the beach. It's amazing how warm it is here right now, yet how great the conditions on the hill are. It's definitely getting warmer every day, and the snow softens up and gets bumpier with every sun rise and set, but the weather has been basically perfect since the day we arrived here in Sochi.
I met my family at their train stop, and we headed into Sochi (actual Sochi, the city) to check it out. We walked all over the city, exploring the arboretum and riding a crazy tram to the top of a hill that overlooked much of the city.
We walked some more, and then some more, and made it down to the boardwalk where all the cruise ships are docked. I actually heard that some of the athlete's parents are staying on these cruise ships, due to lack of space in (completed, occupancy-approved) hotels. It seems crazy to step off a cruise ship in the morning and be in the snowy mountains a few hours later... that's dedication! And a lot of walking, shuttles, train and gondola riding, etc.
But walking along the Black Sea was beautiful, and such a nice change from the insanity of the Olympics for a few hours.
Not only was it beautiful, it was WARM. As in, walk-around-in-a-tank-top warm. It felt lovely to soak up some sun on my pasty-white skin. We ate lunner (lunch-dinner?) at an amazing Georgian restaurant that my sister Allana was determined to dine at. It was quite the trek to get there, but we were all thankful after filling our bellies with scrumptious Georgian food (Allana visited Georgia last year, so ordered perfectly for the whole table...nom nom).
(above--view from the tram at the top of the city, and a self-proclaimed 'bench' in the park)
After gorging ourselves on too much food, we headed back to the train. My family disembarked at their stop, and I'm continuing up to Rosa Khutor, the Olympic mountain village. The sun is setting peacefully over the Black Sea, and I'm feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated after a day of adventuring.
Thus far my journey has been insane, busy, uplifting, stressful, and enchanting. I'm glad I have my family here to help me soak it up and keep me grounded, because there's a lot to take in. I'm so blessed to be here...it's all still a bit surreal. But I'm embracing it and enjoying seeing all of your support and kind words during this ride of my life. I've got a few days left, so I'm going to live it up and take advantage of every minute.
So with love, hope, and hugs, I'm signing out.
<3 <3 <3 Laurenne
adventures to and from, here and there, home and away, around the world--through my eyes, lens, and mind