Entering Russia, it was all good. Being from Romania I am used to being required to get Visas for everywhere – so it wasn’t such a big deal. I organised it far ahead of time. Aside from needing a PCR test and getting asked a lot of questions, because only people with a working Visa can go there. Why are you going there? You are not allowed to go there. We also have the letter from the federation though, so after they have asked for all that a thousand times it is fine. Layover from Moscow, another PCR test and everything else was quite easy. We arrived in Novosibirsk – which is about two hours away from the location – and everybody had people waiting with a shuttle bus to take them to the dropzone.
The event seems good and they have a lot of volunteers to help us through the process. I think around sixty young people, maybe nineteen or twenty years old, will help us out. They are the ones greeting us at the airport and then here at the dropzone. Obviously, they are not skydivers and they are translating as best they can, but they are really good. The ladies behind the counter in the cafeteria don’t speak any English but it is all good – we get by and can communicate alright.
I have been to this dropzone a few years ago, so I knew what to expect a little bit. The facilities on site are really good, but I have not seen the other hotels. It is a small ski resort place, but of course, it is summertime. It is a bit challenging for vegetarians and vegans – but I think that is just Russia in general. From the 6th the judges start to arrive along with everyone else that is not here already. The swoopers like to arrive early to train as much as possible with the actual course we are going to use.
The two dropzones being used for everything are about 80kms apart, so I don’t know if we are even going to see a lot of the others. As far as I was told, we are going to have shuttle busses every fifteen minutes from the hotels to the dropzone and back. The whole competition happens over two weeks but it is all divided. I am in the first week. It kind of makes more sense to do it this way, as nobody wants to stay a whole two weeks for just nine rounds.
Yesterday I did just six jumps because I was still tired from traveling, and today we stopped because of the conditions. The weather is beautiful though. It gets pretty hot, and then we have cumulonimbus clouds building up. We are jumping with a turbine aircraft, and the Antonov AN-2 used for the swoopers is actually a nice aircraft – but it is a big biplane and perhaps not the best to have near a storm cloud. The swoop course itself is amazing though, actually one of the best I have seen. The facilities at the dropzone, from my point of view, are actually really good. The downside is that the place is in the middle of nowhere. It is really, really small. There are little shops in the nearby village, and you cannot find a supermarket – but if you are here to focus on the competition and training – it is perfect.
I feel good about things. There are a few people competing here that are at the top of their game right now – so I don’t know how it will go. I am going to focus and train hard to push as much as I can. We will see…