Along with many world leaders, Georgia’s official delegation did not attend the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Russia occupies 20% of Georgia’s territories and continues to violate the country’s territorial integrity. This was the reason authorities protested but Georgia still sent four athletes, saying ‘sport should not mix with politics’.
To boycott or not, to send athletes or not - this was probably the main issue for hot discussion in Georgian society. Part of society put pressure on the Georgian athletes not to attend the games but they were also faced with competing in a tough international sporting arena.
Agenda.ge asked alpine skier and member of the Georgian team Nino Tsiklauri to share her personal impressions of the Olympic Games. She was honoured as the national flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
Please note, the blog was written during the Olympic Games.
It is a huge honour to be the flag bearer of your country at the Olympic Games.
When I heard the news I was shocked for a long time. I was the youngest representative of Georgia to attend these Games and it meant a lot for me to get that chance.
At the Opening Ceremony I was nervous of course. I don't actually remember how I walked in the stadium, I just remember I had a smile frozen on my face and I could not change it.
The ceremony was really nice. There were some historical stories and the hosts put on a really wonderful show. The stadium was full of people. There really were a lot of people there; even outside the stadium tourists were watching the show on the big screens.
At the the races I was expecting more supporters. There were some people watching but they had mostly come from abroad to see the Olympics. And there were some Russian people but they were only cheering for Russian athletes.
Georgian fans during the Olympic race. Photo from Nino Tsikauri's archive.
I have to say the Russians certainly know how to cheer on their Olympic alpine skiers. When there was a Russian competitor on the slope, it sounded as if there was a two minute earthquake and then it was dead silent, even when the world's most famous athletes were skiing.
When we arrived in the mountain Village, where all the athletes were living together, I was little scared to see some of the same things I saw on the internet ahead of the competition - two toilets in one room and other bizarre things like this, but fortunately everything was normal.
One more thing I really liked was that all the athletes were living together in one Village. It was not as separate as it was in Vancouver. Here we could stay together, eat together, talk and enjoy our free time together. This meant we could also get some advice from more experienced athletes.
Nino and Kjetil JANSRUD, Olympic gold winner in Super Giant Slalom, and bronze winner in Downhill. Photo from Nino Tsiklauri's archive.
Only athletes and volunteers were allowed in the Olympic Village and others, including fans, could not get in.
That rule ensured the Village remained positive and we could concentrate and focus on our races.
On the mountain everything was organised really well. That was one of the things I liked the most. There were three or four different training slopes and they were all prepared really well and everyone could train together.
The volunteers were positive, always smiling and full of respect for all the athletes.
Specialties of Olympic award ceremony
After each race there was a "flower ceremony" as a formal prize giving and then in the evening in the main Olympic Village there was the Medal Ceremony. This meant every athlete was able to go and watch and support the winners. And possibly get a picture with some Olympic champions.
I was really happy to see the volunteers looking out for us and asking us for photos. Some even tried speaking to us in the small amount of Georgian they knew. All around me I could see a lot of happy faces and everyone thanked us for coming to the Olympic Games.
Nino Tsiklauri and the other members of Georgian Olympic team, Alex Benianidze (left) and Iason Abramashvili (right) giving an interview in The Olympic village.
There were some moments when I was really proud and it was really nice to be the reason of someone else’s happiness.
But in Sochi, people were simply happy to see us as Georgian athletes. Hopefully they will understand that sport is bringing peace to everyone.
Olympic snow and my result
Generally I was satisfied with the Olympics and also of my result. For me 49th position in the Giant Slalom was okay as I had 67th as my start number. And in the Slalom race, I skied out, I didn't finish, but regardless I was happy with my performance and most importantly, I gained a lot of experience.
The ladies were not lucky with the weather – there were ten days of sunshine then on day 11, race day, it started to rain. The rain damaged the snow a little bit, especially for the athletes with the higher start numbers, but the course workers did a great job at keeping the snow conditions pretty high.
They put a lot of salt on the course, which kept the slopes in a reasonable condition. Mostly they put salt to keep the snow hard and frozen.
The course setting for the races was really nice, especially for the ladies but the men's slalom second run was one of the most difficult courses I have ever seen. It was supper difficult even for the world’s best skiers, so you can imagine how was for the guys with less experience. That's why from 130 starting skiers, only around 43 men finished.
That was really sad but I’m sure everyone had a great experience.
It is the Olympic Games of course and everyone does everything they can to make it an unforgettable experience.
Nino Tsiklauri and Iason Abramashvili, who has broken a Georgian record and claimed Georgia's best result by gaining 22nd place in the men’s Slalom event at the Sochi Olympic Games. Photo from Nino's private archive.