Olympic Mountains

Living in a place that hosted the Winter Olympics twice, and having nine local Olympians for this year’s games in Russia, plus 30 or so more who live here part-time while training – these things help fill people’s hearts with the Olympic spirit up here in the Adirondack Mountains.

On one hand we were sad to see the Sochi games end, but on the other, because we had worked hard covering them for you, we were ready for them to be over. It was a fun, challenging adventure.

Here are just a few of the highlights of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, as seen from our editor’s desk. No valleys this time – just mountains.

MOUNTAIN – Chris Knight and Lou Reuter, our Olympic reporters, got back home from Russia safe and sound Sunday. Changing planes in tumultuous Kiev, Ukraine, on the way home proved uneventful, thank God. They’re getting some much-needed sleep, adapting to the nine-hour time difference and taking a little time off – they didn’t get a day off for the last three weeks – before phasing back into their beats here. We’re glad to see them.

MOUNTAIN – Chris and Lou say the Olympic venues were top-notch, and that the athletes seemed happy with them as well as their lodging situations. The same couldn’t always be said of snow conditions, due to warm weather, but that couldn’t be helped. These games, more than some others, ended up being about the athletes, and that’s how it should be.

MOUNTAIN – Outside the sporting venues things were pretty nice, too, according to Chris and Lou. Transportation was plentiful and well organized. There were some issues early on regarding their unfinished hotel – which Chris wrote about for the Enterprise – and construction never really stopped throughout the Olympics. Nevertheless, within a few days these things were readied enough to host the world, more or less. And the hotels, shops, etc. are pretty nice, even if they’re late for their debut.

MOUNTAIN – The much-feared terrorism never showed itself, and Chris and Lou said they felt safe throughout the games. This was due in part to omnipresent security forces, which could have been disconcerting, but all the soldiers and police officers they saw were well behaved and didn’t give people a hard time. With the exception of a well-publicized horsewhip attack by militiamen on women punk protesters, the security forces apparently didn’t stir up trouble.

MOUNTAIN – By all accounts, the Russian hosts were generally friendly and helpful. Chris and Lou noticed a few older Russians with reservations about Americans – leftover feelings from the Cold War that can be found among many older Americans as well – and some Russian television news programs played up stories charged with resentment against the U.S. But the younger Russians they met were eager to welcome Americans and everyone else.

MOUNTAIN – We are proud of our local Olympians, both as world-class people and as world-class athletes, no matter how highly they placed. Some, however, posted amazing results, so we give special congratulations to silver medalist Alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht (more on him tomorrow); bronze medalist luger Erin Hamlin; the U.S. women’s bobsled teams of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams (silver) and Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans (bronze); the men’s bronze-medalist bobsled teams driven by Steven Holcomb, including push athletes Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt; and the biathletes who made history by finishing better than any Americans ever have done before in that sport in the Olympics: Lowell Bailey, Susan Dunklee and the women’s relay team. Each of these successes made our day and will certainly inspire generations to come. We already see it among young kids at Dewey Mountain, Mount Van Hoevenberg, Whiteface Mountain and the sliding track. We have another generation of Olympians in the works.

MOUNTAIN – It made our hearts glad to see Ukraine’s women’s biathlon team take their country’s revolutionary turmoil to heart and turn that energy into something powerful and beautiful – a gold-medal win in the relay. We heartily congratulate them and pray for peace in their nation. The core idea of the Olympic is for nations to meet and compete and meet peacefully in sports, and thereby alleviate the desire for war. These Ukrainian women exemplified that for us.