One week in the Olympic Village, one week getting to know the Olympic Courses, and one week of figuring out the environment of Sochi! In this one week, I feel like I have learned a ton! Not only have I learned the race courses, but I have gotten to race them... and feel the true burn of what Sochi has!

Feeling the burn!
A lot of construction still going on EVERYWHERE! (Holly photo)
Over the course of the weekend, we had three races. A skate sprint, a pursuit, and a team sprint. The exciting news is I had a personal best on every single one of these races on the Olympic Course. Which means I walk away with a feeling of confidence, but also an understanding for what sort of improvements and skills I need to work on between now and the Olympic Games!
American Spirit!!
As far as the atmosphere here in Sochi, that was the true experience of the past week I have spent in Russia. It all begins with security and credentials. Credentials are like your magic carpet; you can't get anywhere without them. They are your pass for the five minute walk to breakfast, they are your pass to get to the race venue, and they are your pass to basically leave your house. At first, this seems annoying- but it is just part of the experience! And truly it is to our own safety. Sochi is about security. It is a wild and different scene here- like nowhere else I have ever been. Everything is new, everything is different, but in a good way. Based on the cameras perched every ten feet all across the top of this mountain, I feel safe! I didn't get much of a chance to experience the town at the bottom of the Gondola, but I am sure during the Olympics, we will hopefully get more time.

So much snow here in Sochi!!
Beautiful views right out the window of our cottage
Strength facilities are not so good yet... but you have to get creative sometimes (Hoff photo)
As for the racing, it was awesome. Every single person on our team had at least one shining performance! Starting with Ida making her first A-final, and Liz coming in 8th in the pursuit, and then both American teams winning their semi-finals in the team sprint and going on finishing the best results ever. It was a successful weekend for the Americans. What better way to leave the pre-Olympic venue the year before? It's fun, it's exciting, and we are all pumped! We are starting to truly believe in ourselves, and believe we can do it!
Me, crossing the line first in our semi-finals for the team sprint. (Hoff photo)
Ida and I stoked on hard efforts, and making history!! (Hoff photos)
chasing down those Russians and Norwegians!
So now, its back to Switzerland. We will have a short training block there, with one more weekend of World Cups before World Champs!