Sophomore Alex Krass went to Sochi, Russia for eight days to watch his sister, Julia, 16, compete in the women’s freestyle skiing competition. Julia won 11th place overall, and was the youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team to compete in Sochi.
Alex, his brother, mother and father all traveled the 14-hour plane ride, bus and gondola rides, to support Julia in her competitions. While in Russia, Alex and his family stayed 30 minutes outside Sochi in the town of Adler.
“The location of our hotel was in a kind of sketchy area,” Alex said, “but it was right in between the two Olympic venues. It was also right on the Black Sea, which was really amazing.”
During their first couple of days in the hotel, the managers weren’t very nice to the Americans, Alex said. But once his family learned basic phrases such as “thank you” and “good morning,” the managers warmed up to them, he said.
The weather conditions were a bit odd as well. The majority of the time, the temperature in Sochi was 65 degrees and sunny all day, Alex said. The melting snow caused problems for ski and snowboard competitions.
“The snow got really soft, especially on the women’s runs, which made the skiers lose speed going into their jumps,” he said.
On their eight-day trip, Alex and his family spent three days at both of the Olympic venues: the Sochi coastal cluster and the mountain cluster. The coastal cluster included the hockey, ice and speed-skating rinks, while the mountain cluster included the ski slopes and half-pipes. Julia competed in the mountain cluster, and also stayed in the Olympic Village there.
Alex spent most of his time during the day at the mountain cluster, going to different food vendors and sponsored events. He also spent time in the town of Rosa Khutor, which was created specifically for the Olympics. Rosa Khutor was a 30-minute bus ride from the base of the mountain in the cluster.
“Rosa Khutor basically just had a lot of restaurants, hotels and bars,” Alex said. “That’s where Julia and the other Olympians would spend their free time.”
Despite initial reports from U.S. athletes, the conditions in the Olympic Village weren’t so bad either, Julia said. By the second day, everything was up and running like normal. The experience was similar to living in a college dorm, Julia said.
Julia, who competed in the qualifiers and the finals while in Sochi, had the support of the Krass family from day one. Julia, a New Hampshire native, has been skiing since she was young.
The entire family was more nervous than Julia was before her runs, Alex said. Even Alex couldn’t sleep the night before, he said.
“From where we were standing, we couldn’t really see her run until she came off her last jump,” Alex said. “But when we saw her score come up on the board, and saw she had made it to the finals, we were all really relieved and excited.”
Julia scored 5th in the qualifiers, which allowed her to move on to the final round. In the finals, Julia scored 11th overall.
Alex was just proud to be supporting his sister in the Olympics, he said.
“The fact that Julia is so young and has made it this far is really amazing,” he said.
Contact reporter Olivia Simons at firstname.lastname@example.org