Week 1 in Sochi

Derek didn’t arrive until the day of the Opening Ceremony.  So – I was on my own until then.  Our 12-hour research room shifts were on, and as we were all staggered – there often wasn’t someone to go and do stuff with after my shift.  At any rate – I was pretty tired.  I tried to get a few runs in and beat the jet lag (which took me forever to do, very unlike my usual).

Work was – well, there really wasn’t that much to do.  I guess if I had been assigned a sport that I wasn’t intimately familiar with, it would have been busy – learning the sport, learning the athletes, etc.  But for me – it was a lot of surfing the web, hanging out on twitter and facebook, etc.  I was able to chat with Derek through facebook sometimes (we had to coordinate the hours – as a lot of my working hours were when he was sleeping).  He was trying to get his stats stuff ready for the games and was pretty busy and stressed – so I told him to give it to me to do, as I clearly had time.

The stats work kept me quite busy – a nice steady busy but not crazy.  To be honest, I still didn’t really fully understand what my job was and what I was supposed to be doing.  Not really having a strong sense of my own, I kind of took Derek’s direction – which led me astray a little bit, as he is a statistician (which is a somewhat different role) and also didn’t have a lot of interaction with the curling researcher in Vancouver – so he didn’t really know what the guy’s role was.

My role as a researcher is to help serve the entire NBC production – not just the specific curling broadcast.  Derek’s job as a statistician is fully dedicated to the curling broadcast itself – providing the information that the folks on-air need and the producers need, to put on a great show.  He also can call on me in the research room to verify facts or look into things.  But I also need to support the rest of the NBC production – keeping them informed where things stand in curling (playoff scenarios as we got closer to them, US hopes, any other breaking stories); help explain the sport when necessary; help clarify facts about the game, the athletes, records for any and all who ask – this could be people working on the online presence, people working on the overall broadcasts, etc.  The full-time researchers spend their time in the years prior to an Olympics getting to know all of the athletes who might be at the Olympics – so that we can tell their stories.  It adds the richness behind the broadcast – so my role during the Olympics is a bit of an extension of that.

At any rate – I kept busy – and the group of us got to know eachother better in our many commissary breaks.  NBC provides a commissary – food 24 hours a day – where all of its staff can eat their meals.  It was great – although after a bit, the options did get a bit repetitive.  I ate tons of wheat – so much for avoiding that!  And I ate tons of dessert.  I’m sure I’m going home several pounds heavier – I’m hoping it’s not dreadful and I’ll have to do a serious sugar detox when I arrive home to try and get all of this sugar and sugar cravings.

For the first few days – I took the bus from the hotel to the IBC.  It was always dark – so I really had no orientation to Olympic Park or the venues, but I knew that they were all close together and that the commute from my hotel to the IBC was definitely walkable.  I took a quick jaunt to the curling venue during the middle of one of the days so that I could get oriented.

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Once I saw Olympic Park during the daytime, I instantly had my bearings and had no worries about walking back and forth to my hotel in the dark.  Here are some photos from my pre-opening ceremony walks:

The Bolshoy (main hockey arena)

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The cauldron or torch (not yet lit) (with the lights from medal plaza surrounding it)

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The Adler arena (speed skating)

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