Upon arrival, there were signs everywhere to remind us of why we’re in Austria. Our official greeters met us, gave us a gingerbread welcome heart and helped us with our luggage and equipment bags. We loaded them onto the truck and boarded a cool double-decker bus for the 2 hour ride to Graz. The walk to the buses gave us our first breaths of fresh air (with a little cigarette smoke since so many Europeans smoke regularly).
We grabbed seats in the front of the top deck of the bus and settled into our seats. Sleep was definitely the priority as our circadian rhythms began adjusting to the time difference. The countryside was beautiful but who could keep their eyes open? We eventually arrived at the Ramada Hotel Graz which would house all of the Team USA during Hostown (a day & a half where the local Graz community organizes activities and highlights their culture for the USA delegation). We also learned that the Ramada Hotel would be the homebase for FH and Figure/Speed Skating during the games. It was a little crowded in the lobby as we checked in. Our fellow USA teammates and coaches were excited we had finally arrived. We received our room keys, dropped our stuff in our rooms and came downstairs for a buffet dinner. The athletes commented on how delicious the spaghetti bolognese sauce was and enjoyed lots of it! They also made a toast to the experience, hard work and a successful outcome for all.