Whether it’s the views, the weather, or the facilities, figure skaters from around the world are singing the praises of Sochi after the first test event was held in the 2014 Olympic Park over the weekend.
“It’s a beautiful arena and the atmosphere here is just fantastic,” world champ Meryl Davis told Reuters. “We’ve been several times in Moscow but this is our first visit to Sochi. Everything feels great.”
“For us it’s a great privilege to be here so early,” added 2010 gold medalist Scott Moir. “The venue definitely has an Olympic feeling to it It reminds me a lot of the arena in Vancouver.”
Davis and her partner, Charlie White, won the first event held at Sochi’s Iceberg Palace – the Russian Grand Prix. The pair said they’re excited to return to Sochi in 14 months to try for the Olympic title that eluded them when they won silver in Vancouver.
Not everything is perfect of course. Traffic and empty arena seats seemed to plague the weekend’s event, but the President of the International Skating Union, Ottavio Cinquanta, wasn’t concerned. Those kinks are why Sochi will continue to regularly run test events leading up to the Games.
And the athletes weren’t bothered much, either.
“We’re seasoned competitors and we’ve been around many places, so if we’re stuck in traffic or the food is not that great, these things don’t bother us,” White concluded. “It doesn’t take our focus away from our main goal, which is to skate well.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.