World Junior Championships in Kazakhstan

By: Julia Kern

I spent the last two weeks in Almaty, Kazakhstan training and competing at Junior World Championships! I must say it was quite the adventure. The volunteers were extremely friendly and helpful right from the beginning, starting with the airport.

The team arrives in Almaty!    

Our wonderful volunteer Altynai (in the green jacket) with the team!

Our volunteer made us delicious fried buns, a traditional Kazak delicacy!

There is no doubt Kazakhstan has a unique culture and a way of life. They had quite the weird driving system. Some cars had the wheels on the left, others on the right. Also, the stoplights had timers, which signaled how long the light would be green or red for. On the topic of driving, the people are insane drivers there, driving fast and in close proximity to other cars. The bus drivers are incredible, every day they made it up and down the extremely windy access road and through narrow gates without any problems.

Bus selfie with the USA and Canadian Team!

Bus selfies are clearly so important…

I guess umbrellas are Earthquake safe?

Coach Boobar and Katharine in the city with a view of our hotel in the background.   

The subway system is very deep under the ground.

As the volunteers worked hard to blow snow all week, we were able to ski on all of the trails the city venue had to offer. The rocks poked through at times and the warm weather made the snow cover thin, but with all of the hard work, they were able to prep great courses!

Lower course overview.

Looks a lot like Weston with all of those S-turns!
Excitement levels really high in the stars and stripes! (Julia, Hailey, Katharine)    

The tunnel entrance to the stadium. (The venue is a 2022 Olympic Candidate City)

Opening ceremonies J

One of the most exciting days for the USA is relay day! Our entire relay team and all other athletes put on glitter for relay day. Hailey, Katharine and I then tracked down all of the coaches and wax techs and put glitter on their face in spirit of relay day.

Boobar being glittered up by Hailey.

Fish receiving his dose of glitter.
Me (Julia) racing in the scramble leg of the relay!    

Julia, Hailey, Katharine cheering for the boys relay!
Every race week and venue has its quirks. Pollution was present in the city we were staying in unfortunately, but everyone has to deal with it. Keeping a positive mindset and being flexible is one of my biggest takeaways. I had an amazing experience at World Juniors and learned A LOT about racing internationally at a high level! Now I am off to the Czech Republic for Slavic Cup races!

I guess my mask style is the new style….

The smog laying low in the city in the morning.

Red, White, Blue= Check!

By Julia Kern

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