Following World Championships in Germany, the biathlon circus packed onto 3 different charter planes headed for central Russian and the final World Cup competitions of the season. I was excited for the chance to see Khanty-Mansiysk after hearing so much about it, but I was also very tired from the previous week’s racing. I couldn’t help but feel like I traveling 5 timezones in the wrong direction. However, the racing has been awesome, the temperatures have been reasonable, the food is (somewhat) edible and Russia’s oddities have kept us plenty entertained.
Many athletes haven’t bothered to adjust to the time change, especially since all the competitions are in the evening. The bright white lights of the stadium extend normal daylight hours and I keeping forgetting that it is well past sunset when I cool down from my races. Sara and I have watching movies late at night (starting around 11:00) to help us fall asleep and we’ve been sleeping-in until well past 9.
Where in the world are we? At an oil boom town in Siberia
Some of athlete housing: a tropical paradise. I can almost imagine the snow as a white sandy beach.
Adventures at the grocery store, where the vodka aisle is the same size as the vegetable aisle
Hungry? With the wide selection, you should to be able to find some type of canned meat to your liking. I was also very excited to find some white cheddar in the cheese section, but it didn't live up to my high Vermont standards.
Since the tap water is not safe to drink, we've been going through lots of bottled water. Don't worry, we are finding ways to be green and reuse all those plastic bottles. Photo: Sara Studebaker
A fur vendor who set up in the lobby of our hotel
This beautiful church sits on top of the hill overlooking downtown
A familiar face. Posters featuring Russian and Soviet superstars from years past line the road to the venue. Walking by the signs one day, Sara commented "That one looks like Algis!" and it was indeed. Algis Shalna, formerly of Lithuania, now lives in Vermont and coaches many local biathletes, including our Craftsbury crew.
Reindeer and sled on route to the stadium to pick up medalists for a victory loop. Seconds after I took this picture, these animals ran wild knocking their driver off the sled and dragging him into the woods. I started wondering if any of the medalists would survive to race in the next day's pursuit.
For all its quirks, Khanty has one of the most professional and state-of-the-art race venues I have ever seen.