2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
Closing Ceremonies/Opening ceremonies: I must admit I did not turn the Closing Ceremonies on…. I did, hoever enjoy the Opening Ceremonies.
Now this is strange. For the “Dance of Peace,” we hear Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” but instead of scenes from the great Russian ballet, we get a bunch of women spinning with long glow-in-the-dark strings attached to their heads so that they look not like swans but like jellyfish. At their center is the great Russian ballerina Diana Vishneva, not doing ballet. The whole thing is taken from one of her one-woman shows, a number choreographed by the tacky American modern dance choreographer Moses Pendleton. It’s a curious international exposure of questionable Russian taste.
— Brian Seibert
bobsled competitions, Steve Holcomb: By the end this had become my favorite event this year: However, I was so glad I don’t have to wear the bobsledder’s uniform. 🙂
One of my favorite stories was of Steve Holcomb. You can watch his NBC interview heres: Nightly News: Steven Holcomb: Sochi hopeful in bobsled .
Steven Holcomb’s story of triumph over physical adversity was a highlight of the Vancouver Games, an everyman guy piloting the U.S. four-man team to its first Olympic gold medal in men’s bobsledding since 1948. But before the champion driver conquered an eye ailment that nearly stole his vision and ruined his career, Holcomb nearly gave in to the darkness of suicide. To hide his disease from friends and teammates, he withdrew into isolation and never let on that it had reached a critical stage. In his new book, But Now I See, Holcomb describes for the first time the spiral of depression that drove him to attempt suicide rather than accept and come forward with his ailment.
Once he found the right combination of visual and sensory cues to guide him, Holcomb began tearing up the circuit. He won world and Olympic titles in the four-man sleds, and last winter he captured gold medals in both the two and four-man sleds at the world championships in Lake Placid. He will likely be a favorite for more hardware at the Olympics in Sochi next winter.
He has become the cheery, approachable face of his sport that is gradually growing in popularity. But he had kept his depression secret even from family before starting his book with writer Steve Eubanks two years ago. In the summer of 2011, an Olympic teammate, aerial skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, took his own life at age 29.
“Speedy’s death made me think about it,” Holcomb said, “but the first person was the writer. I hadn’t told him about it or anyone. I thought it was something I’d take to my grave. Then I just said it.”
As Holcomb shared his thoughts, his words about depression sounded a caution for those around someone in trouble. “If someone’s struggling,” he says, “ask another question… I was lucky to get a second chance.”
The Sochi Olympics, Frame by Frame – NYTimes.com: And these frame by frame photos helped me see what the judges were looking for!
The Sochi Olympics, Frame by Frame
After the Olympics, said the planners, buildings would find new life as community sports centers, and the athletes’ village would become private housing (half to be earmarked for low-income buyers). The economic uplift would raise all boats.
A cautionary note: It is not uncommon for the Olympics to be long on promise and short on delivery, not to mention unintended consequences, such as the forlorn remains of stadia left behind like decaying whale carcasses. The Montreal Games in 1976 nearly bankrupted the city and left it with a spectacularly ugly stadium—”an architectural excrescence,” a Canadian journalist called it, that was prone to roof collapse from too much snow (yes, it does snow in Montreal). Meanwhile, paint is peeling on Beijing’s $423 million Bird’s Nest stadium, now a mediocre tourist attraction with an annual upkeep of $11 million.
follow-up: Some of the articles I found most interesting before and during the Olympics:
From 2.18.14 … salt and sochi, I would assume the salt arrived.
salt, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics:
A senior adviser to the Sochi Olympics convened an emergency meeting late last week with top winter sports officials at the Park Inn hotel in the Alpine village here.
A situation had grown dire. It was not security, attendance or doping that was the problem. It was salt.
Four months earlier, Hans Pieren, one of the world’s leading experts on salt and snow, had told Sochi officials that the Alpine skiing events required more than 19 tons of salt, a crucial ingredient for melting soft snow so it can refreeze into a hard surface.
But the organizers did not listen, to their great regret. Now, with 10 days of competition remaining, many of the Games’ signature events were in jeopardy of being compromised, and even canceled.
Tim Gayda, a Canadian consultant who is a senior adviser to the Sochi organizers, called the meeting Thursday night, according to some people who were there. He told the group that the strongest kind of salt, the large-grain variety, was simply not available in Russia. Mr. Gayda asked the group an urgent question: Does anyone know how we can get 25 tons of salt — tonight?
follow-up: Sad thing is … the coffee we are addicted to is really not that good. Silly Americans!! From via 2.21.14 …
NBC’s ‘Secret’ Starbucks, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, lockdown, WSJ.com: I bet everyone is really peeved with the WSJ for this story.
“The same guards that won’t let people in now won’t let Starbucks out,” one person with access to the coffee said, declining to be identified for fear of retribution.
That new policy also ended a smuggling operation wherein some NBC employees had been serving as Starbucks mules for friends and acquaintances at the Games. Why not share the java, after all, since the drinks—served round the clock—cost “customers” nothing? And with the nearest Starbucks branch in Russia more than 350 miles by car, Sochi is a kind of Siberia for Starbucks addicts.
But recently, according to one person with access to the coffee, someone trying to leave the NBC offices with a Starbucks cup was told by a guard: “No gifts. No gifts. Pour it out or go back and drink it.”
The person said that he and his colleagues were told that NBC was working on getting new, unbranded cups to allow employees to travel more freely with their elite coffee. Sure enough, according a number of people, new generic cups had shown up by Wednesday: an orange-and-brown variant with arguably less cachet.
From 1.30.14 … I agreed with my friends: “They look like they came from QVC’s Quacker Lady line!” “Looks like my Grandmother’s sweater…but, at least they were made in America!” However I must admit I grew to like the outfits as i saw them being worn.
2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, New Olympic Uniforms, Ugly, News from the Field | OutsideOnline.com: Once again … UGLY!
The U.S. Olympic team’s uniforms for the opening ceremonies at Sochi were unveiled Thursday on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and the reactions have been, ah, not so terrific.
The uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, were modeled on the show by figure skater Evan Lysacek, hockey player Julie Chu, ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis, and freestyle skiers Hannah Kearney and Alex Schlopy.
The Outside staff had this to say about them.
And from 1.25.14
2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Fitbit Flex , training, WSJ.com: I have one.
We gave a Fitbit Flex to three Team USA hopefuls: Eliassen, speed skater Brian Hansen and mogul skier Heather McPhie. All agreed to wear the device for a week in November and share their data, as well as details of their ascetic diets. Three reporters decidedly less active than the would-be Olympians also wore Fitbits for a week.
The results say a lot about what it takes to try to become a Winter Olympian, and plenty more about the effectiveness of those increasingly ubiquitous personal-fitness trackers.
Still, with a workout routine that involved mostly skating and cycling, Hansen started to get the same concerns about his workout that McPhie did. His left wrist, which wore the Fitbit, rests on his back as he circles the skating oval, and it doesn\’t move when he bikes. And yet, even with the manually-entered calories from an hour of cycling, or 40 laps around the 400-meter skating oval, his calorie count never surpassed 3,960. He averaged 3,518 through six training days in Milwaukee.
Hansen is hardly a slacker. That’s about 30% more than the reporters who wore the Fitbit for a week, even on days when they took more than 17,000 steps. But his output isn’t too far beyond the reach of a hard-core weekend warrior.
Eliassen, on the other hand, worked on an entirely different plane. Twice during her week training in Breckenridge, Colo., Eliassen cleared 7,000 calories, including the calories the gadget might have missed while she was on an exercise bicycle, doing calisthenics, weightlifting, skiing for as long as five hours, doing 90 minutes of push-ups and sit-ups, 30 minutes of yoga or running. It was all part of her plan to win the first Olympic gold medal in slopestyle skiing. Even without adding calories that might not have been picked up from arm-swinging, Eliassen burned on average more than 4,400 on her hardest training days.
2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, South Africa, News from the Field | OutsideOnline.com: Very sad.
In a statement, SASCOC pledged to “continue to adhere to its selection policies in order to ensure participation … is of the highest quality.” In other words, Speelman isnt good enough.
via 1.19.14 …
2014 Winter Olympics – Sochi, Jamaican Bobsled Team: Woohoo … The Jamaican bobsled team is expected to qualify for the Sochi Olympics after a 12-year absence from competition. Cool runnings mon….Flashbacks of Cool Runnings will certainly emerge as the Jamaican bobsled team is expected to qualify for the Sochi Olympics at this weekend’s event in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon make up the two-man team hoping to end the country’s 12-year absence from bobsled competition.Watts, 46, has come out of retirement to lead the Jamaican team, which, if it qualifies, would make him the oldest Olympic bobsled competitor by eight years. Watts originally competed in the 1994 Olympics and then retired after missing out on the 2006 games, according to reports from the International Business Times.
“Man, you should see me! Age is just a number. You’d never believe I was a man of 46… You’d say maybe 30, 35. I’m big, dark, and handsome, like a six-foot, 235-pound runnin’ back,” Watts confidently told The Telegraph.
Will they be back …
SOCHI, Russia — The Jamaican bobsled team was the life of the party once again at the Winter Olympics, laughing and joking its way through a trip to Sochi that was fraught with enough financial hardship and travel hijinks to film a sequel to “Cool Runnings.”
They remain as lovable as ever, drawing big crowds wherever they went in Sochi. But they almost never got here at all. And after a 29th-place finish in the two-man competition with a 46-year-old driver, the program faces an uncertain future as it tries to move from novelty act to legitimate medal contender.
“We have the athletic ability. We have shown we can do it,” Chris Stokes, president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, said. “We just have to pull things together in Jamaica itself.”
From 2.28.2011: What did you think of the mascot … does it matter?
2014 Olympics, mascots, politics:
Allegations of plagiarism, high-level political meddling and sheer poor taste on Sunday marred Russia’s choice of three furry mascots to represent the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Russians chose three mascots — a cute-looking snow leopard, polar bear and hare — by popular vote in a seemingly innocent television show late Saturday that aimed to choose a people’s mascot.
Eyebrows were first raised when the initial favourite to win the most votes — a portrayal of Russian Father Christmas Ded Moroz — was rather undemocratically ditched from the competition by the organisers.
Then it just so happened that the mascot which strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had declared his favourite — the “strong, fast and beautiful” snow leopard — polled easily the most votes.
via Row over Russia winter Olympics mascots.