Monday, February 10, 2014

Exhaustion on the slopes Sochi-style

The women's cross-country skiathlon finish line. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
When I saw this photograph at first on The Guardian website, I thought there had been a terrible tragedy. But no, it's just the aftermath of the Cross-country skiathlon.

It took a while to work out what that actually is - the Internet is awash at the moment with people who understand winter sports so the 'Snow for Dummies' sites have been pushed into the background.

Anyway, it turns out to get this exhausted all you have to do is race 15 km across the country, the first 7.5 using classical technique, and the remainder using free technique. They set up special boxes to change over the equipment which seems to be quite a complex undertaking.

The BBC sports pages (as always with big tournaments) came to the rescue then with words like gruelling and exhausting just in case you'd missed that from the bare descriptions. So the two techniques involved according to the Beeb are: 'classic, which involves skiing along pre-set parallel tracks, and freestyle, which closely resembles the motions of ice skating."

Considering how hard I've found it the few times I've just run in light snow, we will definitely be leaving this one to the experts.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Death of Lucy Stack, when nothing takes away the pain

PIC found on Irish Mirror
When we do sport, we feel free, we feel there is nothing bad in the world. But sometimes there is just nothing to take away the pain.

This week a much-loved Irish racehorse breeder, Lucy Stack took her own life. Just 28, she and her husband Fozzy Stack were well-known around the racing circuit, but it seems what the rest of us didn't know is how much Lucy struggled with depression. 

This is the letter she left, reproduced in many newspapers today having been read out at her funeral. We can only imagine the pain and loss felt by those who knew her well: 

"To my great friends, thank you for the fun times, the laughing, dancing and giggles. I've been so blessed with the friends I've had. You're a very special bunch and I need you to know that what has happened is no reflection of how you were as my friend.

No call could have changed this. No chats over wine.
Sadly, this is just my fate. I know it is selfish and cowardly but for me it is my only option. I can't face this world any longer. I'm just not strong enough. Too much has happened. 

One last request for you all  - please be there for mum, Jesse, Nick and Fozzy. They need you now more than ever. Tell them stories of our time together. Make them laugh and please let my memory be one of happiness and laughter.

Do not remember me for the sadness and the way things ended. Think of the good times, I know I will. Please continue to be the close-knit gang that you are. I pray each and every one of you have a happy life. I'm glad I got to share some great days with you all. 

Friends forever, Lucy"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Is Sochi ready for the Games?

Sports journalists who've reached Sochi in Russia for the Winter Olympics are having a few problems adjusting to the hotels there. The photos are amusing but the corrupt building practices behind them, not so funny.

Photos of journos pointing in consternation at falling curtains have been circulating on Twitter as they come to terms with staying in less than 5-star facilities. It's entertaining but very revealing considering it's been estimated that $51bn has been spent on these Games.  

These are some of the photos taken from Twitter accounts - follow the links underneath each if you feel like more updates:

This is the one hotel room have given us so far. Shambles.

Really? I mean if this is your biggest concern? To be fair Reekie later posted dramatic images of construction sites where hotels and sports facilities should be - for the Games that start on the 7th!  Like this one: 

Then you have this from Greg Wyshynski:

Greg Wyshynski ‏@wyshynski 19h
People have asked me what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It's this. Without question ... it's ... THIS.

This photo I thought was more than a bit mean, this is a typical occurrence in countries where the sewage system isn't the best - not much the Russians can do about this really in such a short time. 

Feb 3
Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.

Now this is a worrying photo - that's the water coming out of the taps in St Clair's hotel room. Complete with warning from hotel staff re Not washing her face with it. 

 You can read the more here on the Washington Post.