February 8th, 2010
I have to keep track of my credentials and room key everywhere I go. We’ve been told that we have no master key to open our rooms if we get locked out, and there will be consequences if we lose our accreditation. We are like walking mannequins, all dressed in the same line of Ralph Lauren and Nike clothing. It just takes a few hours to get used to identifying your teammates in fashionable wool hats, sweaters, and high top shoes instead of polypro half-zips and over-boots.
We flew back into Vancouver from the small regional airport in Comox (on Vancouver Island) at the end of our training camp. Vancouver Island, or Mount Washington rather (as there was no snow once you got off the mountain), provided us with a non-stop flurry of wet, wind-driven snow. The weather conditions made for slow tracks but I could see the course being great fun for racing. We spent one afternoon in Vancouver going through team processing. This included being outfitted with Team USA Nike and Ralph Lauren apparel, followed by a team picture and a briefing from some of our Olympic ambassadors the following morning. After that, it was off to the Whistler Olympic Village.
We arrived at the outer gates with all of our luggage, including rifles, and after some minor confusion about how to get the rifles past the metal detectors, presented them for inspection to the police and checked them into lockers. Our bus driver took us the long way through the village to our building, which happens to be right across from the one entrance we use most frequently, but we got the tour nonetheless. We had time to settle into our rooms and unpack before a team briefing, after which I spent some time trying to tape over all the Adidas stripes on my backpack and non-team issue gloves and hats, and the names on my rifle case and drinkbelt.
This morning, before the sun really showed up, we were back in the Callaghan Valley at Whistler Olympic Park, doing a time trial on the Olympic course. It’s nice to be back and even better to be here because we’ve raced on this course several times in the past and already know it well. You have to work this entire course. Even though it’s a little more rolling than most courses, none of the downhills follow straight lines so the legs and back are constantly under stress as you work the corners. The stadium is built up but not nearly as big as any of those in Europe—I hear they’ve limited the spectators to 4,000. Nevertheless, this is the Olympics, and cresting the last hill into that stadium on race day is going to feel like something very special.