The trip was pretty long for us – like 40 hours total from the time we left Chicago until we arrived at the dropzone – with a layover at Charles De Gaulle. Logistically, it wasn’t terrible though – we had a little bit of a delay in Charles De Gaulle, and then they met us in the airport at Novosibirsk and drove us to the drop zone which was fine. There has been some waiting around to try to get into rooms and things like that, but I mean nothing too terrible.
We had to get all our Visa stuff done pretty early, for which Jim Reese (FS coordinator) was super, super helpful. Step-by-step instructions of what we needed to do for the visa process and what we had to fill out and the paperwork we needed. It took some time, and we had to send our passports away – but it was pretty easy.
Honestly, the way they have rearranged the competition just makes our trip a little bit shorter. That’s about it. With the weather we don’t have as much time to get the meet done, so that could be a factor. It has been a little rough with the weather so far. Trying to train had been a bit of a process. We would like to do back-to-backs to try and get as many jumps in as possible as we have never jumped a TurboLet before.
For 4-Way, jumping the Let is different for sure. It is super tall, so if you head jam anything it puts your placement a little different. Even for me at just under six feet, I have to stand all the way up in the door. The door is also big and slides inside the airplane and back the rear – which kind of takes up some space in the back of the door. It takes a bit of getting used to for those of us who have not jumped it.
It is good to finally have everybody here, and now it really feels like a meet. The best teams in our discipline are all here, and it is fun to hang out with them. We joke around and get along. In general, there is a bit of a language barrier, so information and communication can be a little tricky. Sometimes you get multiple different answers for the same question. The process to get us all checked in to the resort took a while, but it was a weather day anyway so we weren’t doing anything else. Everything is a little bit different, but the room is nice and I just walked down to a little zoo where they have wolves and bears and foxes. Also, the food is actually pretty good.
The Russians don’t smile much, and the general tone of their language seems like they are yelling – but we know they are not. There is quite a bit of bureaucracy, a lot of paperwork to fill out. Every morning we have to sign a piece of paper that says what we are doing and how many jumps we have and how many jumps we have done this year. The nice thing is that they have translators attached to every delegation. They are university students studying English and very much want to practice. They are not with us all the time, but if we need something they accommodate for sure.