First days in Sochi

First day- I was up way, way too early.  The gym wasn’t open at 6am (like they said it would be) – so no run for me.  With no computer, and very little television in a language that I understand (all that we had were Russian stations and BBC News) – there was very little to entertain me at the hotel.  So – I figured I’d head over to the IBC and get oriented.  I hopped on the TM2 bus (the hotel to IBC loop) and arrived there in no time.  The IBC is visually impressive – the size and proportions of it outside, the gargantuan hallways – incredible.   And then you get back to the NBC area – and it’s pretty industrial – unfinished ceilings in the hallways (exposed ductwork, etc.), very basic furnishings – hey – it works!

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I didn’t know exactly where to go, but found the research room on the map and headed there.  There weren’t many people there and I wasn’t sure if they were research room people or not (as we have a shared space).  So I  just kinda loitered around.  Then I met two guys walking in – Pete and Tik – and they had Starbucks cups in their hands!!!  I asked them where they got that – and they said, in the commissary – free Starbucks in the commissary – score!  Of course – what that meant was that I drank way more Starbucks than usual during my weeks here.

The room:

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So I got my skinny vanilla latte and came back to the room.  And just chilled.  We each had a computer with our name on it – so I found mine (at the end of a table) and started logging in.  The first day was basically just getting logged on, learning the systems, and meeting people.  We had an orientation meeting and several folks up the chain of command came in to say hello and impress on us the importance and significance of the research room.  Peter Diamond, Joe Gesue, Ron Vaccaro, and Lee Ann Gschwind.  An unsung job, but in some ways, the heart beat of the production.

Gifts from OBS (Olympic Broadcast Service):

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I can’t remember the schedule that they gave us for Saturday (maybe like 9a-5p?).  When that shift was over, I scooted over to the Iceberg (the figure skating venue) to  catch Patrick Chan (Canadian men’s skater) practicing.  I went over with Kimmie Meissner (Olympian and former World Champion!) and Cindy Hsieh – the two figure skating researchres.  Very cool – totally impressed by how strong his skating appeared in person, how fast the skating was – definitely more impressive in person than on the TV.

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Outside the figure skating venue (the Iceberg):

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And then they gave each of us a half day for Sunday (a half-day in the research room is a 6 hour shift, and we often tag-team- so that someone is always in the room).  A bunch of us who had the same shift on Sunday headed to the mountains when our shift was done – to check out the mountain venues.

We got a little lost.  We hopped the right bus up the mountains to the Gorki Media Center (the media hub in the mountains) – but then, it was completely unclear what to do at that point.  We walked up the street a bit and then hopped into a gondola up a mountain.  It turned out to be the wrong mountain – but hey, the views were beautiful.

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After getting turned away at a second gondola to go further up – we headed back down the gondola.  Then we asked some Canadians how to get to the venues – and they told us we had to walk down the hill a bit to find the bus station and then you could get a bus to each venue.  So we ended up picking up a bus to the Extreme Sports venue (Pete is the researcher covering those events).  There was practice for the women moguls skiers – so it was lit up and there was activity – pretty cool.  Very impressive seeing it up close.

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After that – well it was down to work.  We started our 12-hour shifts on Monday and they gradually shifted to our final shift times (this was not that big of a deal for me as my shift was 7am-7pm, but for those who had late night or overnight shifts – they had Monday thru Thursday to gradually make that transition)

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