Next week we travel to Kazan and get to finally play a game! Fellow USA teammate and American Jordan Larson-Burbach plays there. I am so looking forward to seeing her and catching up on how things went in Japan and just how she is doing in general. As an overseas athlete it's always a moral booster when you get to see another American. Unfortunately Jordan and I are the only American women playing in Russia this year so we don't have many of those opportunities. So each time that we see each other really counts. We are going to take the train from Tyumen to Kazan. It is going to take 20 hours! My teammates prefer traveling by train rather than plane because they can sleep on the train and move around. Ummmmmm I say YIKES! 20 hours?! Guess I'll get some reading done and hopefully some sleeping. Seems like quite the trip to me but everyone else doesn't seem to worried about it. I'll keep you posted on how all of that truly shakes out.
We have played 4 league games and 5 Russian Cup games. We hosted the first round of Russian Cup games so we didn't have to travel for those. I have flown to Novy Urengoy which is a town that is so far north that people who aren't born there have to leave after staying for 6 months because the oxygen level is so low that they can have health issues. So far I've taken one other train ride this season, an 8 hour train ride east into Siberia to play in Omsk. There were two sets of bunk beds to each car, so me and 3 teammates shared a sleeping car. We were given clean sheets and had to make the bed before we slept, when we woke up in the morning we stripped the bed and gave back the sheets. It was actually quite an old train that was much shakier than I expected. Many of my teammates asked if I traveled by train in the US. I said I hadn't and especially not overnight. They were shocked at that.
Our record is 2-2 in league games and we went 4-1 in Russian Cup and are waiting to see if we made it to the second round of Russian Cup or not. There are 11 teams in the Russian League this year because one team had to withdraw because of financial issues, so we will play a total of 20 games, home and away for each of the teams. The season should finish mid April. I'm not sure how playoffs will work this year. I've heard a few different ideas but I'm not sure that one has been decided on just yet.
Last note is can you believe it that I am without snow in Siberia?! Well by Siberian standards anyways. There is a light dusting on the ground that isn't melting because the temperature is in the low 30's and high 20's. My coach asked if I liked the weather the other day after practice. He said the unseasonable warmness is just for me. (This is all translated to me through my Croatian teammate because she speaks both Russian and English. I would be truly lost without her.) I said thanks and that it's like California weather and he just kinda smirked and shook his head, guess he didn't quite like that suggestion! The girls have been telling me that normally the temperatures are in the negatives and that they have had lots of snow by now. I'm not complaining! I'm sure that we will have plenty of snow this winter.
Heading to the train.
View from my hotel room in Omsk.
Gym entrance in Omsk. Their court is laid on top of a hockey rink so it was extra cold in there. They gave us individual foam pads to use when we stretched so our little butts didn't get too cold sitting on the court.
Of course I had to document my first train ride. Me, Dasha, Mira and Anya.
Assistant coaches caught writing in the dirt on one of their former players cars. Cars are so so so dirty here, lots of exhaust and loose dirt.
More hotel room views. I stuck my head out the window to enjoy the sunshine for a little bit.
Our bunks for the train ride. I took a lower one. For those of you who know me well you know why...
Flying into Novy Urengoy.
My translator, teammate and friend Mira and I before our first game. This is in Novy Urengoy in late September and it was already 0 degrees F there. Hence the puffer jackets.