LAKE PLACID — Local athletes and their support personnel have arrived safely in Sochi.
Based in Lake Placid, USA Luge made the journey in four flights, landing under clear blue skies.
“The travel here was perfect,” USA Luge spokesman Caligiore said early Wednesday via email from Sochi. “Four flights either on time or early.”
Many Sochi volunteers met the Olympic contingent in Moscow and Sochi, he said.
“They struck me as hardworking, friendly and very helpful. So we’re off on the right foot in that sense.”
Only six of nine hotels for media are open, Caligiore said.
“There were five of us that are in a different hotel than what we thought, but at least it’s in the same area. So it’s not a big deal.
“But construction never stops in the effort to finish everything.”
The Winter Games officially begin on Friday with opening ceremonies.
Saranac Lake Luger Chris Mazdzer starts racing on Saturday.
Women’s events, which will bring Lake Placid resident Erin Hamlin to the ice, start on Monday, Feb. 10. And doubles competition with Jayson Terdiman starts on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
They will be competing at the Sanki Olympic Sliding Center in Rzhanaya Polyana among ski and outdoor sport venues 37 miles north of Sochi.
With perfect conditions, practice runs on the Sanki track went well, Caligiore said.
“Sunny and clear with crisp air; temps in the mid 30s, the ice at the Sanki Sliding Center was fast and flawless for (Tuesday’s) training runs. Our team gave it a big thumbs-up,” he said.
“This is in marked contrast to previous trips here, when the weather was warm and humid, leading to softer ice. Today’s ice was real, and we hope it remains this way for our races.”
Caligiore described the mountain venues as clustered together “close as the crow flies,” providing ease of access.
The luge team sent greetings to the North Country and anticipate the local torch-lighting ceremony in Lake Placid on Friday will keep the home fire burning.
Lake Placid will light its historic Olympic Torch on Feb. 7 and keep the flame burning throughout the Sochi Winter Games.
“Looks like the Lake Placid region is getting some snow; that’s great timing for the lighting of the torch. Maybe that’ll be a beacon of good luck for the LP area athletes and Team USA!!” Caligiore said.
VILLAGE FILLING UP
Also there in the mountains is biathlon competitor Lowell Bailey, a Lake Placid musician who brought a travel guitar and shared a selfie, holding it up in front of the Sochi Welcome Center.
This is Bailey’s third return to biathlon events.
“The village is starting to fill up with more athletes now as different teams make their entrance,” he wrote in his online journal before sunrise in Lake Placid on Wednesday.
“The venue and shooting range has felt a little empty over the past couple of days, as a lot of the teams haven’t arrived yet.”
Athletes are staying in chalets built in village areas set aside for competitors.
“I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the logistics arriving in Russia,” U.S.A. Biathlon teammate Tim Burke, who grew up in Paul Smiths, wrote Wednesday.
“Even the rifle processing was quick and uneventful, which is not always the case!
“This is clearly one of the prettiest venues in the world. We had the morning off from training so we took the opportunity to explore around and get to know the village a little more.”
Burke said the construction progress since their visit last March is remarkable.
“At first, we were a little nervous about getting bored up here on the mountain for three weeks, but after seeing the entire village today, I don’t think that will be a problem. The village is complete with swimming pools, a game room, stores, post office, bank and even a beauty salon.”
Biathlon events at Sochi start on Saturday, with 12 Americans competing.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts will broadcast the 2014 Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremonies live at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the movie screen there as a part of Lake Placid's Olympic celebration.
There is no charge to attend the screening. Coverage will begin at 6:30 PM.
"The Opening Ceremonies celebrate the artistry and majesty of the Olympics," said LPCA Executive Director James Lemons. "This is our way to celebrate our local athletes as well be a part of the entire Olympic global celebration.
Other Olympic-themed events at the LPCA include the art exhibit "Olympic Inspirations: Celebrating the Olympic and Paralympic Games," with original work and photography that celebrate the Olympic spirit. It opens Friday with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and runs through April 6. Gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.