Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back to the World Cup circus

I am not sure how it exactly translates but often the World Cup "circuit" is called the "circus" and this circus rolls on for 3 more weeks.  After a blur of travel from Sochi to Zurich to Copenhagen to Helsinki I arrived in Lahti, Finland last evening.  My travel day started at 4:30 pm Sochi time (9 hrs ahead of Eastern Standard Time) on Monday and started with a bus trip to Sochi from our Rosa Khutor accommodations.  Once at the Sochi airport we staged for 3 hours before we boarded our charter flight, sat on the plane on the runway for 90 mins as baggage from previous charter was loaded on.  Three hour flight to Zurich and then stood an airport parking garage with both charter flights waited for baggage to be driven over on baggage carts and left for us to pick through like wild predators.  This process began at 11 pm Zurich time which meant 2 am in Sochi.  There were teams from all different countries and disciplines present along with FIS and IOC representatives.  Quite the spectacle and I forgot to take a picture!  By 1 am I was at my hotel that I would spend 6 hrs sleeping in and then back to the airport to fly to Helsinki via Copenhagen.  Finally in my hotel in Lahti by 4 pm Tuesday now again in a new time zone.  One hour ahead of central Europe.  Somehow a new hotel room for a week feels like home?  Strangely that is true, and I can now count how many hotel room homes I have left for the season.  Here, two in Norway, and one in Sweden and then Anchorage.

Again I should really read what I wrote in my last blog post but I will just summarize my Sochi experience.  Great venue, great competitions, mostly great weather and incredible volunteers.  A lot can be said about human rights in Russia and that the Olympics should have never been allowed there, and I agreed before I arrived and probably still do. But I left hopeful for the future.  If the Olympics can do one thing for countries like Russia it gets the world's attention for 3 weeks through a two-way mirror.  As outsiders we get to see the human side of a country and the people not the politics that represent it.  From the inside the locals get to meet the world, they get to see other countries whose politics overshadow their great people.  I can't compare to the Vancouver games because I had no expectations for the volunteers, it wasn't a concern as a Canadian.  But coming to Sochi it was a great unknown and I can say it was the most memorable and surprising part of the games.  If the younger generation that made up most of the volunteer force takes this experience with them one can only hope that it creates a wave a change for the future.  But enough of that.  Time for more pictures.

 Our crew of 9 that contained 2 French, 2 Czech, Russia, Estonia, Germany, Finland and of course a Canadian.
 Despite sharing a hotel room for 3 weeks we were still great friends and colleagues
 Our volunteer force at the Laura cross-country stadium.  Thank you!
 Rain at the hotel meant snow at the venue.  We were lucky with our location.
 At the Audi house in Sochi.  Great live dance with moving performance
 The main bus terminal in Sochi.  Puffy jackets and palm trees, that was these games.
 A short thrill ride in Audi A6 with professional driver.  Climbed up at 58% slope.  Impressive!
 Fortune to catch a hockey game while in Sochi.
 Our crew relaxing a bit at the Audi house.
Our oldest member of the group Gape enjoying the local nightlife.

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