Friday, January 23, 2015

25 Crazy Things that Happen to you on the Biathlon World Cup

My very first experience on the Biathlon World Cup was exactly 2 years ago here in Antholz, Italy.  Back then, everything was new and exciting and I was not taking any of it for granted.  I was SO excited about the nice hotel we stayed at close to the stadium, the awesome breakfast buffet and salad bar, the massages we got to help us prepare for and recover from races, the fans lining the course, the famous biathletes skiing around next to me at practice...I could go on and on and on!  And back then I never thought that it would happen...but I've realized this winter that I've pretty much gotten used to it all.  Maybe too much.  I want to be able to keep seeing the excitement and fun of it all, as well as the absurdity and sometimes the downsides too.  Basically, I don't want to start taking myself too seriously and in the process take this whole crazy experience for granted.  And so for the past week or so, I've been trying to make a mental list of all of the awesome, wacky, abnormal things that happen when you travel around with the Biathlon Circus.

1. You get to go to places that look like THIS as part of your job!!!

2.  People don't even know your name, but they want your "autograph".  Yesterday I got to autograph one guy's 10-kilo, huge, wooden, spinning noise-maker.  I hope he doesn't spin that thing while he's in the stands, or he would probably kill someone.

3. Even crazier is that some fans DO know your name and yell at you even while you're just out training.

4. You get fan mail from people in places like Poland and Russia who want you to send autographed cards.
this is a real letter

5. 15,000 Germans stand outside in the rain and snow for hours to watch your race, wearing ridiculous things and drinking lots and lots of beer.

6.  You now have a made-for-tv video clip "Hannah" who turns to look at the camera and smiles...if you ever do well and they show you on TV, that will show up along with your name to show who you are.  (sorry, I don't have a copy of it...)

7.  You walk by a wax truck that looks like this.  The text on the truck says (no joke): "From the forests of the north comes a new breed.  Harder. Faster. Stronger.  Let the battle begin."

8.  Girls race with hairdo's like this and lots of makeup, and it starts to look normal to you.

9.  You get free food and beer right at the venue, in every place you go, in what they call a "family club".
Hansa, Gara, and Toni (from L to R), three of our wax techs, enjoying the family club fare. 

10.  Your team (USA) includes staff from Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic and Canada...and occasionally the USA.

11.  Words from many languages become a part of your everyday vocabulary.  "Ahoj!" (Czech), "Moi" (Finnish), "grüss dich", "servus", and "habe die ehre" (all Bavarian/German) are all common greetings, "malzeit!" starts most of your meals, and "Ciao!" is a common goodbye.

12.  Need new ski boots?  Just go ask your sponsor rep and you get some for free. (Thanks Salomon!)

13.  You have about 10 pairs of skate skis.  Actually, you might have a lot more than that.  Most of them you don't even touch except to test every now and then, and then to race on them.  (We have awesome wax techs who are constantly testing and waxing and make our skis as fast as possible)

14.  Its totally normal for you to be skiing behind two heterosexual men in full spandex and watch them hold hands as they go down the hill.  (many wax techs do this to get themselves going the same speed, before letting go to see whose skis go faster).

15.  In an average day, you change clothing 7-8 times.

16. Getting massages becomes normal for you.  (we are so spoiled!)  But they really do help a lot with recovery and injury prevention.

17.  A funny result of getting a massage is "massage face."  Its common for you to show up at dinner with your face all covered with lines and dents from lying with your face in the hole of the massage table.  They can take a long time to go away!

18.  When you say "I cleaned today!!", its a really good thing, not just something to check off of your chore to-do list.

19.  You spend one week in each of about 12 different places all over Europe...mostly places where other people go for vacation.

20.  You don't go home for 3 months straight.   (alright, so a few of these are not particularly positive...)

21.  You share a bed with your teammate/roommate for more nights out of the year than your boyfriend.

22.  After one or two races, your tights have big sticky patches that don't wash out from the leg stickers you race in, and they stick to themselves and look like this:

23.  You regularly get to fill your afternoons with watching your teammates race on TV

24.  No snow? No problem.  Its now become totally normal to do all of our training and racing on a 2.5k loop of manmade snow, surrounded by brown.  (this is sad)

25.  0.1 seconds can decide whether you get to race again the next day or not.  But today, I came out on the right side of that one!  Tomorrow I'll be the last starter in the pursuit...but I am just psyched to be starting another race in my favorite of all the world cup venues.  

1 comment:

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