The end of the Sochi Olympics

Derek was gone less than 12 hours after the gold medal match finished.  I don’t really know why they were in such a hurry to get him out of here – but the game ended at like 8:30pm on Friday night and he was picked up at the hotel at 3:30am for a 5:30am flight on Saturday.  I stayed through Monday.  The remaining days were very mellow – just six-hour shifts, and even then, Mark wasn’t super strict about needing me there. Continue reading

Men’s Curling Playoffs

The matches didn’t go the way I ideally wanted – I was really rooting for China to win a medal.  I like Edin’s team from Sweden (who defeated China for the bronze) – but I just thought China played so amazingly well all week, played with such class and balance, and I just got pulled into rooting for them.  Plus – I loved David Murdoch’s story – so even though he and the Great Britain team were clearly underdogs in the gold medal match – I really wanted them to win.  Sadly – both games went the other way; and, even more sadly, each team kind of defeated themselves. Continue reading

Women’s curling playoffs

Great Britain v Switzerland for the bronze medal (Eve Muirhead and Mirjam Ott in this picture):

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A shot of jubilation:


Jennifer Jones making her gold medal winning shot:IMG_0652

And exulting afterwards:


The photographer scrum for the flower ceremony (I just thought this was funny):IMG_0667 IMG_0670

Yes – apparently Elvis roots for Canada:IMG_0681

Derek’s assigned desk:


The flower ceremony:

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Fun around the Olympics

Derek took a walk about (I think on my birthday) and went to the Bosco Olympic superstore.  This store was barely built in time for the Opening Ceremony – but then had really long lines throughout the Olympics.  The outside of it was super-shiny – here, you can see the reflection of the Iceberg (skating venue) in the side of the superstore:

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Round-robin play

Once we got the confusion straightened out – everything ran really smoothly.  My job kept me busy, but not overwhelmed.  I was there for the morning and afternoon draws, and left right as the evening draw was starting.  I enjoyed it – I really thrive in these kinds of environments – intense, focused efforts with a lot of energy.  One thing that was a little hard was that I often felt like my stuff was being sent into a black hole.   Everyone gets so busy – it’s not like they’ll say thank you all the time (or even send any reply) and you don’t often know if your stuff is being used or not (sometimes I’ll hear it in the broadcast feed, but as the curling was done both here in Sochi and in Stamford – I never heard what Stamford did because I couldn’t hear their broadcast feed).  I didn’t expect thank-yous or responses – but it did make it weird to be working in a backroom, sending a bunch of stuff out, and not really knowing whether it’s useful.  My best feedback was that people kept asking me to add others to my email lists and that no one asked to be taken off. Continue reading

The start of competition

The first weekend of the Olympics was still a prep weekend for us – as curling action doesn’t start until Monday.  I helped Derek orient himself – to the IBC, to the walk over to the IBC through Olympic Park, etc.  I was kept busy getting some stuff ready for the games.  But by Monday – when the games had started – I felt like I was drowning.  Somehow I had gotten myself into preparing pre-game prep sheets for each game that the team was broadcasting.  Well – I got Monday’s done (5) – but then on Monday, I had to watch the games; write summaries, gather interesting articles, quotes, and tweets; and prepare the Daily Olympian entry.  So – trying to do the pre-game preps was killing me.  I consider myself a highly efficient person – and I was drowning. Continue reading

Opening Ceremonies – some favorite moments


The mascots bowing to us:



A story of the birth of Russia that has something to do with being birthed from the belly of a whale?

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A very cool scene with the ship and water projected on the floor, and the dancers moving along with the ship across the floor:


The ballet:


Dove of peace:


The entrance of the Olympic flag:


Psychedelic glowing rollerbladers:IMG_0285

The torch with Tretiak:


The lit cauldron right after the Opening Ceremony:IMG_0299

Opening Ceremonies

The end of week one neared and that meant that the beginning of the Olympics was nearly upon us.  I was eagerly awaiting Derek’s arrival.  Some of the research room gets assigned to Opening Ceremony duty – but I wasn’t one of those assigned.  So – I figured I would watch the Opening Ceremony on Russian TV back at the hotel.  But in an amazing stroke of luck – around mid-day on Friday, I was offered a ticket to the Opening Ceremony!!! Continue reading

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.


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)


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


The Adler arena (speed skating)


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! Continue reading