Letters from Sochi

Hello-Hello, happy Thursday to you. Hopefully all is well in your corner of the globe, and you have either dug out from the most recent snow, or managed to keep yourself from melting in those places that are much warmer than normal.

Well, here it is, Day One of competition in Sochi and yours truly has been somewhat flummoxed. After weeks of hearing how NBC would marshal its network of channels to televise the Olympics, I had visions of watching today’s team figure skating competition (teams? a team skating event?!) live, as it was happening. Silly Princess. I didn’t expect the competition to be on NBC, so I tried the NBC Sports Channel, to no avail. Then I tried MSNBC. Nope. On to USA network, with no better results. The final channel I dialed up was MSNBC, but they also remained in regular programming.

Next, I decided to pull up the NBC Olympics page. Once on this site I looked for the TV schedule; it was helpful, showing there wasn’t anything we could watch until tonight’s prime time broadcasts with taped coverage of the events.  But then the brainstorm hit: Canadian coverage!! Because we are so close to Canada (within an hour or so) we can see the CBC’s programming! Hallelujah, thank you CBC.

If looking for coverage beyond TV there are plenty of options. One of the easiest: a sport’s social media pages. We’ll use skating as our example. The USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association) Olympic section on its website offers all the information you could want, and more.

USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association)

USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association)

The organization’s Twitter account  and Instagram feed offer more coverage. Below, ice dance champions and medal favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White meeting the media.

USFSA Instagram

USFSA Instagram

The best way to experience the Olympics is through the eyes of the athletes. Moving away from the governing bodies like the USFSA, and following the athlete’s social media feeds is the most informative (in my feeble opinion) method for getting an up-close version of things. Most governing bodies list the Twitter accounts of team members, the USFSA shares Twitter account information on the group’s Olympic page.

As for that team skating event, TIME has a good explainer piece here.

There has been some rough sledding in Sochi, many readers have probably heard about the housing challenges encountered by members of the media. Some facilities haven’t been entirely finished, others have plumbing problems and there are hundreds of stray dogs that roam Sochi.

The stray dogs meandering around this city have been as common a sight as the Olympic rings — trotting alongside transit buses, ambling outside the figure skating venue, even wandering into a hotel room or two.

But international concern for the strays is growing as Sochi cleans itself up for the games, which formally open on Friday night. Animal activists say hundreds of them have been killed in the days before the Olympics.

More from the Daily News.

Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, said his company is involved in what he described as the “catching and disposing” of dogs. Sorokin refused to specify whether they shoot or poison dogs or say where they take the carcasses.

NBC reports there are two shelters now open to temporarily house some of the dogs, but one doesn’t even have running water.

USA Today shared this picture on Twitter.

USA Today Twitter Feed

In its accompanying story USA Today explains that any solution at this point is only temporary.

And what happens after the international media leave and the spotlight on Sochi’s stray dogs fades away is very much a point of contention, even amongst those volunteering to take care of them.

Apparently there are also stray cats, this photo was taken in the Media Center.

Dave Schwartz/KARE11-TV/Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Greg Wyshynski, editor of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy hockey site, posted a photo of a sign in a restroom. It has, as is said, gone viral.

Greg Wyshynski

Greg Wyshynski

Stacy St. Clair writes for the Tribune and is part of the paper’s team in Sochi. She tweeted about the water in her room

Stacy St. Clair Twitter Feed

Stacy St. Clair Twitter Feed

Ms. St. Clair has a sense of humor.

Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune Twitter feed

Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune Twitter feed

In her next Tweet Stacy noted an upside to the water problems: “I just washed my face with Evian, like I’m a Kardashian or something.” Today she shared a photo of Sochi, tweeting that “Sochi is more than unfortunately colored tap water. In fact, it’s stunning in some spots.”

Stacy St. Clair Twitter Feed

Jo-Ann Barnass shared this photo on Twitter, the sun setting over the Black Sea.


I don’t think we’ll be chattering about the lodging issues beyond tomorrow. Once the Opening Ceremony is underway attention will return to the appropriate topic, the athletes. That’s where the stories will be, when actual sporting events will triumph over lodging problems. As Bill Plaschke put it in the Los Angeles Times:

While no Olympics in recent memory have begun under such a cloud, these Games can still be saved as other troubled ventures have been saved, with great athletic performances and triumphs of the spirit.

Will the Russian hockey team bring homeland glory to fans who will surely fill the Bolshoy Ice Dome? Will South Korea’s popular Yuna Kim defend her Olympic figure skating title against Japanese rival Mao Asada? Will the Jamaican bobsled team have a cool run?

Below, images from today’s competition, via the Sochi 2014 Twitter feed.

Sochi 2014 Twitter Feed

If you needed a sign that the athletics will eventually overcome other issues, here it is: Jamaica has a bobsled team again. Below, the team’s brakeman, Marvin Dixon, at the Olympic rings.



If not familiar with the Team’s story, this story in the Tribune offers background. (It was written by Ms. St. Clair, whose tweets we showed earlier.)

The Jamaican bobsledders – whose inaugural appearance in the 1988 Calgary Olympics inspired the movie “Cool Runnings” – qualified for the Games earlier this year but did not have the money to travel here to compete. They took their plight to the Internet, where a crowdfunding campaign raised $178,000 in just a few days.

“We had to hold a press conference to ask people to stop,” Watts said. “We are not greedy people. People want us to achieve and they had not seen us for a long time in the Olympics. They were so overwhelmed and wanted to help us.”

The team is not expected to medal, team members say it’s about competing, that is their focus.

The torch is on the way.

Sochi 2014

Team USA Has chosen its flag bearer. (I’m not saying who it is, merely showing the photo.)

Team USA

There is coverage on NBC tonight from 8p-11p.


Here are some links that may prove helpful:

  • the NBC Olympics site is here, its Facebook page may be read here, and the Twitter feed is here
  • there is a grid view of each sports schedule, for example, if you just want to look at the Figure skating schedule, it’s easy.
  • NBC’s schedule also lists events in your specific time zone, very helpful

2 Comments on Letters from Sochi

  1. akaleistar
    February 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm (6 months ago)

    I don’t understand the point of the team event. It’s not adding anything new since it’s pulling from the same skaters we’ll see in the individual events. Why not add synchro as an event instead? On another note, CBC has the best coverage of the Olympics!

  2. amidprivilege
    February 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm (6 months ago)

    Would that all reporters were as conscientious as you.

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