KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Sunglasses, Sublime and sleeves missing everywhere. Is this Sochi or SoCal?
Feels more like a weekend at Mammoth Mountain than being in the mountains of Russia inland from the Black Sea.
And American fans were extra loud Thursday with the United States sweeping the medals in freestyle ski slopestyle, a far cry from consistent chants of "Ro-ssi-ya, Ro-ssi-ya" in Sochi's coastal cluster arenas.
Three quick things (beyond the red, white and blue flags) that distinguished Rosa Khutor Extreme Park from other Olympic venues on a day the Americans had their best showing at the Sochi Games so far:
— The playlist: Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade," Bob Marley's "Jammin'" and Sublimes "Santeria." The Western music selections elsewhere are pulled straight from the Billboard Hot 100, not dorm room staples from the early 2000s.
— The weather: The ground just below the park looks like a spring thaw. And in the stands, young women are wearing tank tops and reapplying sunblock, while some Canadian guys are cheering without shirts at all. Even Bobby Brown, the only American in the finals who didn't medal in slopestyle, took his two runs in a T-shirt: "You don't have to wear a jacket. It's always warm in Colorado in the spring so I love it. Makes me feel like I'm riding back home."
— The play-by-play: When the skiiers start their runs, they can't be seen from the finish line. It's not until the last three jumps when they come into view. Making up for it beyond the huge screen showing the action are two play-by-play announcers, in English and in Russian. Seemed a bit odd at first — this ain't horse racing — but makes sense when you physically can't see the athletes during a key moment in their run.
— By Oskar Garcia — Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu