|3/5/2014 1:08:00 PM|
Koos' Olympic journey comes to an end in Sochi
From Salt Lake City to Torino to Vancouver to Sochi, the Olympic journey of Leavenworth's Torin Koos has finally come to an end. It's a strange feeling for the 33-year old athlete.
Photo courtesy Torin Koos
Koos competes at Sochi, Russia in the Skate Sprint event. He failed to make the top 30, and move onto the head-to-head competition.
He finds it hard to put into words, all the emotions and experiences leading to the games in Sochi.
"I've been chasing the Olympic as long as I can remember. I've been having that as something to wake up with since 2000. It's been something I have been chasing for 14 years now," Koos said. "There's not going to be another one. I'm quite sure that is the last time I will walk into the Olympic arena as an athlete. You just have to embrace that and be super stoked I have had the opportunity to go to Salt Lake, Torino, Vancouver and Sochi."
Each Olympic games had its moments, he said. There was something really special about the first one, because that was the first time he could call himself an Olympian. He's incredibly proud to call himself a four time Olympian.
At Sochi, his only start came in the Skate Sprint. Only the top 30 move on to the head-to-head competition, which is where he is best. He finished 36th, missing the cut by a second or so.
"I really wanted to make it in there and go head to head with the best guys in the world. Missed it by just a little bit," he said. "It was incredibly tricky conditions that day."
Conditions at the race course went from stable and good to absolutely terrible, he said. The day leading up to the race, it was 50 or 60 degrees and cloudy so the snow couldn't stabilize at all.
For Koos, it felt like skiing on mashed potatoes. Usually, during these times, race course officials would salt the course to help harden the snow.
"They had such problems with their half pipe and slope style competitions that were going on, all those resources had been spent on the snowboarders," he said. "I heard that a couple days later and started laughing. It's comical something so big could be influenced. A couple days later they got a full Boeing jet of material to harden the course for the events. It just came too late for me."
He was hoping to get in other races, but that is entirely the discretion of the U.S. coaches, he said. Since Koos was not on the national team, he was not going to get the benefit of the doubt. And being a little bit older, he thought coaches might want to bring along some prospect.
"I was definitely hoping to get some more races. I just trying to keep myself ready to go, but I did get to see some other events," he said. "I got to see some hockey matches, speed skating, biathlon. Tried to make the most out of the Olympic experience."
He was slated to compete in the 50k race, but as luck would have it, Koos became sick with some nasty bug that was going around. It was a bummer, he said, "but what can you do?"
From his standpoint, Koos felt the athletic facilities were top notch. There were three athlete villages. There was the coastal cluster, down in Sochi and the mountain village for the alpine events, luge and bobsled. The endurance village where Koos stayed was on the other side of the mountains.
"It was really spectacular place. I think it was a national park before. Some really big, impressive mountains around there. I just wish they had a little salt by race day. That's the only thing I can really complain about," Koos said. "It was the nicest Olympic Village. Way nicer than Torino and even Vancouver. Salt Lake was the only one on par with it."
He walked in the opening ceremonies, but did not stay for the entire ceremony. But he loved the energy of the crowd there. Koos did stay for the closing ceremonies, soaking up all the memories he could.
Straight ahead, he's planning to race until the first week of April, in some marathons and the European Cup. Koos will be racing in the biggest skate race in the world, with some 14,000 people.
"It's a little different type of racing, point to point," he said. "Not the like World Cup loop racing. It is a little bit flatter. It also has these specialists, and that's all they do, so the competition level is pretty high. It will be cool to see a little different part of the sport. I've always known about it but haven't competed too much."
Racing will have a different focus now. He's going to try to enjoy it more, knowing he's not attempting to qualify for something or measure his performance.
As for his professional career moving forward, that's still an open book. He would like to get outside the ski world, since he's spent so much time there. Coaching is a possibility, but not skiing.
"Honestly, if I did some coaching, it would be more interesting in rowing or track and field. Something where I could bring some level of expertise about training or mentality, but also where I could learn more from a new sport," he said. "I think there could be a good, symbiotic relationship that way. If the University of Washington rowing coach is reading this, give me a call. I have no specific plans like that."
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or email@example.com.
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