KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Alpine skiers arriving at the Olympics are amazed by the lift facilities at the Rosa Khutor resort. And they say the security isn't nearly as much of a bother as they expected.
One of the only complaints so far is that there isn't much in the way of training slopes.
And one major food item is missing at breakfast in the athletes village.
“There is no yogurt,” said Aksel Lund Svindal, the Norwegian who won a medal of each color at the 2010 Vancouver Games. “And that's kind of my go-to thing every morning — muesli and natural yogurt — so I don't get too much sugar. That seems to be a hard thing to track down.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., called on the Russian government to allow Chobani Greek yogurt to be delivered to Sochi for U.S. Olympic athletes and NBC Studios employees.
Schumer said Tuesday that a shipment of Chobani yogurt is being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because of “unattainable” Russian Customs certifications.
Official men's and women's downhill training sessions don't start until Thursday, so skiers were allowed only on a tight training slope Wednesday.
“There's not a lot of training space,” American skier Julia Mancuso said. “The courses crisscross too much and there's nowhere to really ski. So that's too bad. There is a lot of off-piste. It's kind of a narrow valley with two downhills taking up all the space.”
The first medal event in Alpine is also one of the biggest — the men's downhill Sunday. The first women's race is the super-combined Monday.
“Everything looks fine. It's pretty amazing what they built here since the last time,” said Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who won the super-combined at the test event here two years ago. “There's a whole city down there now. It's something that not a lot of countries could afford.”
American downhiller Steven Nyman missed the test event because of injury, so this is his first time here.
“The resort is insane. What they've done here and built up is massive,” Nyman said. “It's probably the best lift-access ski resort in the world. When this is all done, to go and ski all this stuff will be incredible.
“We toured around yesterday, checked out the slopestyle venue and cheered on some of our guys testing the course. Then we walked through town and all the shops and everything. The other guys said last time there were two hotels and now the entire riverfront is covered. The whole Olympic vibe is here.”
The weather has been clear and sunny for several days but with the temperature above freezing in the finish area, snow conditions are varied.
“The snow is great on the training hill,” Peter Fill of Italy said. “Obviously it will be different on the race hill. The coaches told me there are several types of snow on the course: On top it's very compact and aggressive, then it gets a bit icy in the middle, then it's spring-like on the bottom.”
Most skiers are staying in an Olympic Village halfway up the mountain, providing easy access to the gondolas and lifts.
“Everyone was afraid of Sochi but it's really great,” said Christof Innerhofer, another top Italian skier. “Even the security controls are nothing extra compared to Vancouver. The rooms are nice and large, the food is good.
“The thing I like most is meeting other athletes in the village. Yesterday afternoon I met a few girls in the gym,” added Innerhofer, who is known on the circuit as somewhat of a playboy.
Svindal is rooming with teammate Kjetil Jansrud and one other Norwegian.
“It's like being in camp,” Svindal said. “We have two rooms with the same bathroom.”
Snowboarders, freestyle skiers and other athletes are staying in the same village as the Alpine skiers.
“In Alpine skiing we're like a class from one school And then we meet all these other kids from the other schools,” Svindal said. “It's kind of fun.”
The U.S. skiers are staying outside the village in their own setup a bit further down the valley.
“We've got a cook from USOC. We're cooking some good old American meals,” said American downhiller Marco Sullivan, who will be competing in his third Olympics. “Actually, we had pad thai last night.”