But yes – it is indeed one whole year since I raced in Sochi to become the Olympic Champion, by the largest ever margin (is it arrogant to say that?!) It was a special time in my life and sitting here as I write this, looking up towards the track where it all happened is quite surreal. We are back in Sochi, getting ready to race in the last World Cup event of this season which takes place today, the 14th February, the same date when I won the gold medal last year. A good omen you would hope!
Nothing much has changed here, snow is slowly falling trying to cover the lower lying mountains and the music is still blaring out from bars of Rosa Khutor! The only things that are missing are the thousands of people who have come to watch and the bright Olympic branding that has given way to local shops opening up for the snowboaders and skiers who venture out this far. So no fanfare this time around, I just have to get on and race, do the same preparations as before and get the job done.But I am a different athlete this time around, a different person even. I feel older (definitely), wiser (a little) and a bit braver (which helps when you feel like the one everyone is aiming to beat).
The team around me has changed too – people have moved on and I’m lucky to have another great group of people who support me and help make me as fast as I can be on the track. The morning before the Olympic final last year I went and sat at the top of the hill overlooking the Athletes’ Village with some of my trusted team. I have such fond memories of that quiet time before the craziness of the final race. I made sure I told the media afterwards that we took a healthy picnic for our breakfast to set me up for the race ahead. We did in fact take a load of yummy cakes and treats and I like to think that moment of indulgence helped me give it my all later on that day!
I don’t think my Coach will let me indulge in the same way again this weekend unfortunately, it is my final race before the World Championships in March, the only title to allude me so far. I had secretly hoped to defend my Overall World Cup title this year, however missing the Calgary race has set me back too far to deliver against an opportunistic group of World Cup rookies!
So my focus remains on the World Champs in a few weeks and the race here in Sochi. I wasn’t sure how I would feel coming back, I thought the race would be pretty ordinary and post-Olympics it would have lost its specialness for me. However, it feels like coming home, or like an adult returning to their primary school with fond memories where they learnt so much. Sochi is that place for me, it helped me spread my wings and here’s hoping I can fly again today!
Enjoy the race – watch it on www.bbc.co.uk/sport at 2pm GMT.