Published: January 13th 2008January 11th 2008
Next Olympic Skier
Well, maybe not, but I did ski the moutain where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held (Sochi / Red Meadow).
In keeping with what has become an annual tradition, I decided to go skiing over MLK weekend, which is also my birthday weekend. I got the idea when Freddie was looking for (cross country) ski pants and I threw out the idea to Leo and/or Freddie about downhill skiing. Neither had downhill skiied, but both were interested. The other barrier we ran into, they have not served in the army yet so they do not have their external passports so we had to stay in the country. There is some skiing just north of Moscow, but I wanted to do something bigger then it came to me. I have wanted to visit Sochi (more in the summer with all of the resorts I have heard about), but with Russia (Sochi) hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, I thought it would be fun and exciting to ski the mountain where the Olympics will be held. I am sure they will be very different by 2014 and so will the town, but this would be a great get away place to go for the weekend. So we will be flying into to Sochi/Adler airport on Friday and staying at a nicer hotel in downtown
From atop of one of the ski runs in Red Meadow (Sochi).
Sochi so I can see the resort town then we will take the shuttle to Red Meadow (Красная Поляна), which is about 40 miles from Sochi, to go skiing on Saturday. If we are up for it, we may hit the town on Saturday night after we get back from the mountain, if not, we will just rest in the sauna, and have a few drinks at the hotel.
I invited my American ski partner, aka Jamie, who has been with me for my past ski trips, and is also the one who somehow talks me into the more difficult hills. After the initial scare, I am usually thankful, because the more difficult runs are much longer and less crowded. We neither are advance skiers, but we have fun trying the intermediate level runs. Although he will laugh at me, especially the one time I about skied through kiddie land because I could not make the turn, but he will pick up my poles, skies, clothes, body parts, etc. after making me go first down a steep areas. All joking aside, I will miss having Jamie along this year, but I will have a great time with my new
At the Airport
Take a look at the future Olympic skiers, bowlers, swimers, etc. from Obninsk Russia on their way to Sochi! All of us waiting at the airport, but please notice the matching logo with our names on it that I worked on while at home. Thanks Mom for your help!
friends. As you can tell, I am writing part of this before we depart so that I can get it and the pictures posted quickly after we get back. Also, for those of you who find this blog as you search for information on skiing in Sochi, here are a few websites that may help. I had a very difficult time finding information about Red Meadow skiing when I was doing my homework about the trip.
Now that we are back, here is the blog update. I am not sure how to start, first, we had a great time as a group; but as for Sochi and the skiing, they were not so good. For being the largest resort town in Russia that supposedly people from all over the world come to visit, I was very disappointed! I know, why should I be that surprised after living here for a year and half? I have to admit the overall service was better than I have seen in most Russian cities I have visited, but at the same time, it still does not meet what I think most people would expect from the hositality industry. We
Heading to the Beach
It was probably 45oF so pretty nice still too cold for me to swim in the Sea, but yes, I did get "in" (touching the water) it.
stayed at the Radisson Hotel (4 star), which I would have expected to be pretty good, but it was just okay to poor and I would not stay there again because of the lack of service we received for the price we paid. But then agian, I doubt I will be back to Sochi again, summer or winter. Sochi has a long ways to go before they host the 2014 Winter Olympics and I do not mean just building, hotels, roads, airports, etc., but customer service. One other thing Sochi (Red Meadow) will need in order to host the Winter Olympics, SNOW! By no means am I any kind of skier, but WOW, those were the worse ski runs I have ever been on and poor Leo and Alexey who had never skied, trying learning on ice, which is the worse kind of skiing. I have to admit, Freddie did really well for his first time and even enjoyed it. I told him if he liked that kind of skiing, he will have to try real powder some place. But let me repeat, even with all of the negative above, we had a great time and it was worth the
I just liked the picture with the sun setting in the background of the lighthouse and ship there in the Black Sea from one of the ports in Sochi.
trip to say I have been there and skied the slopes were the Olympics will hopefully take place in 2014.
Our trip began Thursday night at my house. We ordered pizza and watched a movie. Freddie and Alexey stayed the night so Misha only had to make one stop in the morning since Leo lives next door. When we got to the airport, we discovered our flight was cancelled. This is exactly what Oleg warned me about with SkyExpress, one of the discounted airlines in Russia. Thankful, they put us on the next flight which left about an hour after ours. As we sat and drank coffee, I learned that this was the first time Freddie and Alexey had ever flown and the first time in almost 20 years since Leo has flown so a very new experience for all three of them.
Although we got in later than expected, the flight and trip to Sochi went well. The hotel was very nice on the outside with some customer service issues on the inside, but it was still very nice. After getting checked in, we wondered down to the "beach". I use quotations around beach if you call
Obninsk Bowling Team
It would not take much to beat us in terms of scores, but I doubt you could have more fun than we did!
rocks a beach. I sure would not to lay on this beach soaking up the sun; it is way too rough for me. I also thought it was sort of dirty looking, but it may have just been me. It just was not what I would call a nice beach for relaxing. After that, we headed to downtown Sochi and walked around a little while looking for sourveiners. We found a nice little restaurant on the Sea to eat and watch the sunset. The food there was good and we had good service. After that, we head back to the hotel to enjoy some bowling and the pool/sauna.
The next morning we got up for an excellent breakfast buffet before heading to the mountain. Red Meadow is out past the airport so for those going to the area for only skiing, you do not want to stay in Sochi because it will only add time to your drive. As we were driving along, we could not see any snow. Finally, way in the background, we saw a moutain with a little snow on it and yes, that was it. We got there and it was this small little place
with maybe four shops and several cafes. I kept walking around looking for where we skiied at because I could see people carrying skies, but really saw no snow. We finally figured out that we had to take the lift up to the next level to get to the "snow", I mean ice path. We found a place to rent skies and clothes and on our way we went. This was the first time for all them and I am not much of a skier so you talk about the blind (non-Russian speaking/reading) leading the blind, that was us!
We get to the next level, still carrying our skies and poles and find a little snow, but was so packed and melted down, it was nothing but ice, but it was the only green (beginner's) run. I try to teach a few points, but do not do very well as Leo and Alexey spent most of their time on their butts as oppose to on their feet...lol Freddie on the other hand, did really well for his first time especially on ice. After one run, Leo and Alexey decided to take pictures and just look around while Freddie and
As a coach, I should be fired, but here are my three students.
I took a few more runs. We all decided to go to the next run. One thing I really did not like, you had to take your skies off every time you got on the lift. It was not a ski on/off lift. I am not that coordinated to carry skies, poles, jump into the moving chair and hold on without dropping something. Thankfully, the one time I dropped my skies, I caught them in my knees so I did not have to go get them, but it was close. I also exited the wrong way, this one, if you were on the left, you had to exit left, wait for the chair to go by and then cross over. The first time, I exited right with Freddie and got yelled at. It was not a problem, just very different than any ski resort I have been to. Although we did not see him, President Putin and others from his staff, flew in to "see us" ski. I knew someone important was in town by the number of police all along the road to/from Red Meadow.
Had Jamie come along, I know he would have talked us into skiing
Water Basketball Team
The international water basketball team taking a break in the whirlpool.
that next higher run. It was a blue, but looked manageable, except the first drop, which made both Freddie and I nervous. Had I been more daring, I think Freddie would have gone with me, but I was not pushing hard enough for him to want to go although it was both of our ideas initially to try it. For obvious reasons, there was no one there skiing, which made it nice that we could just take our time and enjoy our trips down the slopes and not have to wait at the lifts, but the icey contions made for very poor skiing. They are right when they say be sure to call ahead before planning your trip to Sochi to go skiing.
The value of the trip was not very good, but I wanted to visit Sochi and I think it is exciting to brag I skiied the mountain where the 2014 Olympics will be held. It is something I wanted to do so no regrets and I could not ask for better company to enjoy it with. Thanks Leo, Freddie and Alexey for a great trip!
There are more photos below