Dalbello Team Rider Janina Kuzma talks about the Olympic Games experience in Sochi. Enjoy!
“Where to start? It’s been quite the build up! For the last 3 years. We were briefed by the NZOC members and coaches (who had previously been to the Olympics) just how crazy this event is. Well after finally experiencing it for myself I can only agree. It definitely affects different people in different ways. For me it was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I got to meet so many people from different countries and sports. I got to see how different athletes in different sports train and compete. I got to see a small part of the Russian culture (which is very different from the Kiwi culture). And I got to compete in front of the world representing my country and I couldn’t be more proud.
I arrived in the village eleven days later than the rest of the NZ team. My coach and I decided it would be better for me to stay in Laax, Switzerland and train in their pipe. So I missed out on the opening ceremony, which was a sacrifice, but it allowed me to refine my run and keep a clear head and not get too caught up in the hype.
When I arrived In the Olympic Village, I was greeted by the New Zealand team performing the Haka, which was lead by Byron Wells. It was a powerful experience which definitely bought a tear to my eye. I was then presented with a pounamu (green stone) by Pete Wardell our Chef de Mission. Each member of the team was given a pounamu which was hand carved originating from the same piece of green stone. Pretty special!
Our Team accommodation was nice as well with most athletes getting their own room. We also had a team lounge with two huge flat screens to watch all the other events and just hang out.
With a couple days off snow I was then into practice. I was felling good and stoked to be back in the pipe. With the conditions consistently above 10’c John Melville and his team did an outstanding job shaping the pipe. My training sessions went well and I quickly adjusted to the pipes shape and it didn’t take long for me to piece my run together.
The day of the event… Qualifications didn’t start until 6:30pm so I had a sleep in which is unheard of at most other events. Normally you’re up at 6am, on hill at 8am and ready to ski by 8:30am. So this was definitely a luxury!
Over this last period before my event I received so many messages from friends and family saying, “ I should enjoy the experience” and “take in the moment”. This had a profound effect on me! I did exactly that. I am happy with the way I skied and stoked with my result.
I came 5th at the Olympics!!! It’s definitely taken a few days to sink in.
I know this is such a cliché’ but I want to thank all my sponsors, family and friends. I wouldn’t of been able to do this with-out you. I am so grateful for the support I have received from you all over the years.So now I’m going to finish off my season freeriding and filming with #Shadesofwinter in Europe.”