Part 3/4: The New Normal
Part 3: Arrival
We picked up our bags and headed to meet up with the team. We all had our passports, visas and multiple documents proving our reasons for travel, special permission, proof of insurance, etc. In our team vans, everyone has to wear a mask at all times, and there is only 1 person allowed per seat (we have vans with bench seats). To be honest, this 4.5h ride over multiple passes ending with over 47 switch backs was slightly nauseating due to wearing a mask, while jet lagged in warm summer weather.
We have to get a COVID assessment test once a week while we are here. We had a first COVID test upon landing. In Italy the testing is slightly different. They take out a long q-tip like swab. They first stick this very far back in the throat and then one time in each nostril, spinning it around in each. I found that it wasn’t as uncomfortable as the Canadian test, but my eyes did water and it isn’t enjoyable at all. Additionally, we have to download an app for contact tracing in Italy. As well as filling out out a COVID questionnaire in the morning and at night, which includes our temperatures. These are all things that we are equipped to do to not only keep our team safe, but also to follow the guidelines of Italy and follow the protocols of travel in a foreign country.
Our hotel in the clouds below the lower training run.
Our hotel is at over 3000m in altitude. The only people that come here are ski teams training on the Stelvio glacier. On the ski hill there are only pompa lifts, or riding in front of or behind a snow cat, which greatly reduces the risk. We are grateful to avoid trams and gondolas for the time being. In each line up (if we have to line up) we have to wear a mask and social distance, as does every other athlete training on the glacier. However... it is always hard to control what others do, and the actions of others are very much out of our control.
Manny Gamper, our head coach, ready for the cat ride up at 5:45am.
Our head coach, Manny, has been rolling with the punches, or zigging while others are zagging, so when he sees that something makes us uncomfortable he makes plans to change it. We are now allowed to use a “World Cup line” at the pomas, to avoid the uncontrollables. We also have a “crazy Canadian” zone in the boot room at the hotel, where we can get ready, store our things and stay distanced from other teams.
These views make the 4:30am wake ups worth it!
Part 4: The New Normal
It took me a while to get used to the “new normal” of living in a hotel room again and being around more people. We wear a mask around the hotel, to and from dinner and each time we get up from the table. Before entering the dining room we sanitize our hands and take our temperatures. We then sit down at tables that are quite far from any other team. We take off our masks when we eat, and there are sheets of plexi glass running down the length of the table to separate the two sides. The waitstaff wear masks and gloves as well. We have hand sanitizer on our table, and use it multiple times throughout a meal, especially after touching anything communal. These precautions are followed by everyone that is staying at the hotel. Our team took additional precautions by eating meals 30minutes before most other teams, so that we spend most of our dinner alone in the dining room and we are able to get seated without coming into contact with many people. We also try to wash our clothes and masks as much as possible, which means that I have already done about 5 loads of laundry in my little Scrubba bag.
We just finished up our first two blocks of training on snow (more on that later) but it was incredible. We had amazing snow each day, we trained hard, we learned a lot... and I was able to test my new ski/boot set up with Atomic.
Each day, each run, each turn, has been a blessing and I feel tremendous gratitude each day for being able to get back on snow, and for the hard work that our team (and team behind the team) puts in each day to keep us safe, while working towards top performances. I hope that this gratitude shows each and every day because I know that others are waiting for the day to come, and reading this in disbelief.
After each block, we took two days off at a lower altitude.
We then go for another COVID assessment test before heading back up to Stelvio. This is now my fourth COVID test in 3 weeks. I no longer get as nervous for the testing because I now know what to expect. It is still uncomfortable, makes my eyes water, and my nose sting, but it is short lived. Although, having someone come at my face with a long cue tip while wearing incredibly intense safety attire while be forever etched into my memory.
Waiting at the testing center.
I won’t say that every day is anxiety free or comfortable. Sometimes I have to leave situations, sometimes I severely overthink about how I am feeling, always I have to control the direction of my thoughts. As a long-term germ girl, I am proud of my team for the precautions that we are taking, for hand sanitizing after touching anything that someone else may have touched, for protecting each other and thinking about the comfort levels of others. My family is at home being extremely careful. They check in with me each day. I am honest with them, share my turns with them, and hope that they aren’t too worried about me.
Amelia and I with our new technician, Nicola
This season will be like no other. These precautions may vary, but as one changes, another will take it’s place. I am hopeful that I have the mental agility to zig while others zag. I’m sure that things will not always be easy, and many of these difficult situations we will not be able to plan for, however through it all I will try to take you with me. I will try to be as honest as possible about my feelings and my story. I am so uncertain about many things that are occurring at the moment, but then out of nowhere a glimmer of hope begins to burn and illuminates all of the shadowy corners.
Most of our team after a great training day
I hope that you are well wherever you are. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope that my story may help someone along the way.