I met Petra Majdič, coach Ivan Hudač and serviceman Gianlucca Marcolini ("Gianni") at the Vancouver airport on Tuesday and we drove directly to Whistler.
For Petra, Ivan, and Gianni, it's the first time to the Olympic venue, since all three of them missed the January World Cup events. The racing season ended a couple weeks ago, and the Whistler trip is either the tail end of the 2008/2009 checklist, or the beginning of the 09/2010 season's list of tasks; the distinction isn't too important.
Getting familiar with the Olympic courses is imperitive. Almost as important is getting familiar with the overall surroundings - to and from the airport, negotiating Whistler Village, locating grocery stores, and other day-to-day tasks that we take for granted unless we're in an unfamiliar place.
Petra is the winner of this season's Sprint World Cup, and finished 2nd in the overall World Cup standings. Petra is a very talented athlete and very motivated and focused - that's a hard-to-beat triple threat. Petra really enjoys cooking, and this week I learned that she makes terrific, strong, Turkish coffee (photo: Petra in the kitchen) .
There is a lot to do during the Whistler trip, but its not high-stress and not highly structured. No alarm clocks, no fixed schedule. The atmosphere was light. Smiles on every face almost all the time (photo: Gianni & Ivan getting ready to ski).
Also for me it was a chance to do a tiny bit of testing with wet/warm structures. And there is always work to be done when skiing is involved. Warm spring weather turns waxing into an outdoor activity!
There are only about 310 days until the games begin.