Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green, Canadian Olympic Biathletes provides a post Sochi wrap up.
The Olympics have come and gone in flash. Almost too fast if you ask me, but what a time it was! Now that the dust has settled we are able to look back and reflect on our experience. All in all Sochi was great! It was our second Olympic games and Rosanna and I were ready. We knew what to expect, we were less overwhelmed, we had both spent time racing in Russia prior to the Olympics, and were excited to take on the World!
Our race schedule in Sochi was pretty full on right from the beginning to the end of the games with 6 races spread out over 15 days. That didn’t leave a lot of time to see much else other then the Endurance Village and the biathlon venue but in the end that was fine. Initially I was bummed that we weren’t going to be able to really experience any other events, but we did manage one day to explore the nearby Mountain Village, and before the closing ceremonies we had some time to take in the coastal scene in Sochi. In the end I can happily say that we weren’t missing out on too much and it turned out the endurance village up high in the mountains was the best place to be! Our ski chalet style accommodation was amazing, the commuting we had to do was minimal, and we were eating some of the best food at the games (but that doesn’t necessarily say a whole lot about the dining!) The food was great by russian standards, but Rosanna and I were happy to get back to central Europe and fill our stomachs with some slightly finer eating! Our first couple days back in Europe after leaving Russia we were constantly commenting to each other about how good the food was tasting here in Italy!
The Biathlon venue in Sochi as I’m sure many of you saw on TV is absolutely stunning. All of our races were at night in order to accommodate the prime time viewing slot for the millions of biathlon fans tuning in across Europe. Biathlon has a massive following in Europe and it is one of the most highly watched sports in Russia. According to polls, biathlon was the sport Russian’s were most excited to watch during the Olympics behind figure skating.
The first thing you see when arriving to the biathlon venue is the very modern looking 8 story high stadium building. The massive structure looms over the shooting range and right away gives the venue a very grandeur feeling. Massive grande stands adjoin the stadium building which would hold the thousands of intense russian fans. Directly across the stadium sits the shooting range which is also the most spectacular range I’ve ever seen. Gondola cars run directly overtop of the range dropping off spectators at a station a little higher up after giving them an amazing view of the stadium. The range backs onto a gigantic retaining wall a few stories high and in the centre of the wall sits the biggest set of Olympic rings I have seen in my life. Needless to say it was impossible to forget you were at the Olympics with the massive rings looming above you as you approached the range! The biathlon race trails are equally as impressive in their own special way, and boast some of the most gruelling and lung burning climbs on the racing circuit followed by some of the most technical descents. It is without doubt one of the toughest courses we have ever raced. To make the experience even more spectacular, all of this is set high up in the mountains surrounded my meters of snow, large mountain peaks, and a view across the valley towards Sochi where we would experience the most stunning sunsets just moments before we would race! Add thousands of loud screaming Russian fans to the mix and you get a pretty special experience. I’ll never forget the thunderous noise of the Russian fans chanting “Ro-ssi-ya, Ro-ssi-ya” over and over in unison.
As for our races Rosanna and I are both proud and honoured to have represented the great country of Canada. Rosanna opened up her Olympics by having the top Canadian result in the 7.5km Sprint race by finishing in 25th. This would also be the top women’s result during the Sochi Olympics! My best result came in the 15km Mass Start where I finished in 9th. Finishing in the top 10 was a huge result for myself and Biathlon Canada and is a race I’ll never forget! I also had two other finishes within the top 25 and was the top Canadian finisher twice. One of the highlights for both Rosanna and I was being able to race in the Mixed Relay race together. We made history by debuting in the first ever Olympic Mixed Relay race and getting to do so together was pretty special. I don’t think there are too many couples that can say they participated in the same Olympic race together!
At the moment Rosanna and I are in the beautiful Italian town of Dobbiaco where we have a few days to rest up and train before we start up again on the World Cup circuit. We’ll still be on the road for another month with three more World Cups before we board a plane back to Canada. It would have been nice to get back home for a bit after the Olympics but racing is what Rosanna and I love to do and the the season isn’t quite over yet! Next up is World Cup #7 in Pokljuka, Slovenia from March 3-9th, followed by World Cup #8 in Kontiolahti, Finland from March 10-16, and lastly World Cup #9 in Oslo, Norway from March 17-23. We fly home on March 24th and will be in Canmore for a day before driving home up North to Hay River for a visit and to participate in the 31st annual PTUB ski race! We’re both getting pretty excited for our trip north!
Thank you so much for your support and for playing an important role in helping Rosanna and I realize our Olympic dreams. It’s been an amazing journey to get here and we are grateful for all the help we had along the way. Thank you for all of the messages we received during the Olympics. They were awesome to read and so inspiring! Hope to see you all at some point during this spring!
Brendan & Rosanna