Thursday, February 6, 2014

Back to Russia with love

Sorry in advance for typos.  This will be written quickly.

How quickly 4 years can go by.  I feel like I was just in Vancouver as a wax tech with the Australian Olympic team and now I am here in Sochi, Russia one day before the start of the XXII Olympiade with an office at the cross-country stadium.  I can't remember again what my last post was but I will just write about Sochi.  

I travelled to Sochi on Tuesday from Zurich.  It was a challenging day filled with polite and helpful people.  I left from skis at last weekend's World Cup in Toblach, Italy but they were brought by the Norwegian team to the airport in Zurich where we were all flying on a charter flight direct to Sochi.  Unfortunately, the skis sent were not mine and in fact that those of a lady who want them back right away.  My skis will now join me in Finland after the games for the first World Cup weekend.  It was requested that I try and send the other skis back to Italy....while waiting in line to check in for the flight.  After racing over the Swiss Post I learned that the skis were 30 cms to long to be shipped to Italy.  So I checked them into a storage locker and left 20 swiss francs for the head of FIS travel to pay to get out of storage and take to the Zurich Hilton to be stored for 3 weeks until I return.  That was the first test of the day.

When going through passport control in Zurich to head to my gate I was told that I had been in the EU for too many days and needed a work permit to be able to stay any longer....after a little bit of pleading I was allowed on my flight to Sochi, with a warning to figure something out before returning on Feb. 24.  Once landed in Sochi things went quite smoothly until passport control again where it was determined that my official accreditation/Russia visa was incorrect.  it had my birthday as Oct 19 instead of 18.  I was pulled out of line and asked to wait.  They said there was no major concern, but it would take time to fix.  After 45 minutes of sitting alone in the terminal with no one but two policeman.  I had to fill out new paperwork to re-apply for a visa and was then taken to an ATM to pay 3000 ruples (roughly $100) to finance this new visa application.  While doing that the bags of a colleague that I was to collect were removed and taken to left baggage.  But 3 hrs after my flight landed I had a new visa application filed, found the lost bags and a date with the accreditation office for the following morning.  Through all of this I can say the process was not a negative due to the incredible assistance from very polite and friendly Sochi volunteers.  They have been amazing and the highlight of a games that is not quite ready in many ways.

It's now been two days here.  I am staying in the FIS hotel.  It has all the disciplines within FIS in one place.  It's great for me to meet others from the Federation in different sports.  It's schmooze time!  I learned today that I will be in charge of getting athletes into the stadium for all mass start competitions.  I also gave my first talk during a meeting with all the represented countries during a Team Info session.  I spoke about Rule 50 which relates to all commercial markings at the games as dictated by the IOC.  I was unsure about my role coming into the games but now it have actually stepped up a bit of a level with responsibilities as we try and assist/guide the sport process to make sure the athletes have a fair competition experience and the event is a success on TV.  More updates to come.  Tomorrow will be the first official training day and the start of the games.  First event for Cross-country begins in two days.

 View from the Jury room at the finish line.
 A view back down the big uphill.

 The stadium

The mix zone.  The view from my office.

1 comment:

  1. Great job Jeff, we look forward to reading more.
    Jack & Maureen