Their events aren’t the only long-distance challenges Stockholm native Russell Currier and the rest of the U.S. Olympic biathlon team are facing during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to do much around here,” said Currier via e-mail from the Sloboda Olympic Endurance Village where he is staying. The Endurance Village is one of three housing complexes located within the Olympic venue and has housing for 1,100 athletes and delegation members.
“The USA house is pretty much the farthest house from anything. The transport is unreliable and with that coupled with our race schedule we don’t have too much time for fun yet.”
Currier, the lone Maine native competing in Sochi, said that with the unpredictability of the shuttle bus service to and from the Endurance Village, a lot of walking is required among the U.S. athletes staying there to get to their competitive venues for events and practices.
In the case of the biathletes, the Laura Cross-country Ski and Biathlon Center is located at the top of a hill he describes as “steep and long enough to count as training.”
But the while the walking may be time-consuming, Currier said it is a relatively small inconvenience in an otherwise unique athletic experience.
“So far the atmosphere of the Olympic Winter Games has been amazing,” he said. “It’s on a whole new level from any World Cup or World Championships I’ve been to in years past. The venue, Endurance Village, course, building structures, all of it has a foreign feel to it (different than the central European or Scandinavian atmosphere typical of World Cup biathlon venues).”
Currier planned Monday to attempt to get a guest pass to see his parents, Chris and Debbie Currier of Stockholm, who traveled to Sochi and saw their son make his Olympic debut in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint Saturday.
The 26-year-old Currier, a graduate of Caribou High School and a product of the Maine Winter Sports Center, finished 61st overall in the 10K sprint and just missed qualifying for Monday’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit event.
Currier completed Saturday’s race in 26 minutes, 58.5 seconds, including four penalties when he missed four of his first five targets while shooting from the prone position. He had to ski an extra 150-meter penalty lap for each of those misses.
Currier hit all five of his targets from the standing position, and his final time was just 2.6 seconds behind 60th-place Vladimir Iliev of Bulgaria, who also had four penalties and finished with a time of 26:55.9.
“The sprint race did not go as well as hoped result-wise,” said Currier. “Ski speed was great, my standing stage was almost the best I’ve ever had, and the shot grouping in prone was plenty good, but the group was just to the left of the target.
“Unfortunately, only the top 60 from the sprint race compete in the following pursuit race. I was 61st.”
Currier said he and the rest of the U.S. men’s biathletes did not participate in Friday’s opening ceremonies because of their proximity to Saturday’s race.
“Biathlon is not the kind of sport where you can stand around outside for six hours the day before a race,” he said. “There were almost no biathletes in the opening ceremonies from any country. We usually eat dinner right around the time that was happening, and naturally there are no screens in the dining hall so that about sums up my review of the opening ceremonies.”
Currier is scheduled to compete next in Thursday’s men’s individual 20-kilometer race.