Monday, February 27, 2006

Wrapping up

For the better part of an hour I have been trying to come up with a plan for how I am going to relate the energy and excitement of the past several days. It is sad that I am only going to be able to give you bits and pieces. Like I did in the beginning I feel overwhelmed with choices of what to highlight and what to weed out from the Olympic experience.
Last week I felt like my coverage was getting too organized. I spent lost of time planning and sitting in the press center. After a few days of that in a row, I realized that that was what everyone else was doing. I wanted to get out there and experience everything I could for a few days, then come back to my laptop and spew it all out.
It’s been tough coming to Italy and not speaking the language. If I were able to speak a little Italian I could have asked tons more questions to local people about what it has been like hosting the Olympics. I tried a few shop keepers and old ladies on the street, and they either looked at me like I had two heads or they only spoke enough English to sell their wares. As soon as the conversation turned away from that it dissolved.
One woman that owned a small grocery store in the village of Sestriere said that she was very happy and that she had done as much business as she does all winter in these past three weeks. That sounded like a generous estimation to me, but the wealth that the Olympics has brought in to the various villages surrounding Torino, not to mention Torino itself, has been immense.
For Torino hosting the Olympics has forced the city to redefine itself, maybe even more than that, it has been a savior. Though the city has a dearth of history and culture before the Olympics it was taken for granted. Once a major hub of the Roman Empire the city is home to the largest collection of Egyptian art outside of Cairo. The shroud that Jesus was buried in is kept here in Torino, there is a good collection of modern and classical art, and the architecture is really beautiful if you can see through the smog.
The more modern side of Torino is the home of car manufacturer Fiat, and the company gives the city a definite industrial overtone. The city has also grown well beyond its original center, and high-rise apartment buildings lie on the outskirts. Torino is, as you have probably already heard, the largest city to ever host the Winter Games.
All throughout the Games, commercials have run on Italian TV highlighting the modern and classical beauty of the city. It’s duality is interesting, and the play on it world-wide has made an impression, I think. That’s the view from the inside anyway. I don’t know if that perception has made it out there.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bogged down

A slight disclaimer to the last post. I did write it yesterday, but because of the crowding in the press room over the past two days the wireless connection was getting super bogged down. It seems that everyone is ramping it up another notch as the Games are coming to a close. Reporters are busy scheduling interviews and trying to put a wrap on things here in Sestriere. Surely it's no different in Torino.
The streets are busy today for the women's giant slalom. American Julia Mancuso is in the lead after a stellar first run. Paerson sits second and Poutianen third, and they're all within tenths of one another. The second run will be exciting.
More soon.

A view out across the Piedmonte region of Italy.

Photo by Marina Knight
Off track

After yesterday and the days before, and all the activity and hoopla, camera lenses and voice recorders I just needed to get as far away from everything Olympic as I possibly could. So, I got up and grabbed my cross-country skis, which have been sitting in the corner for the last two weeks and headed for the hills.
It was extremely refreshing.
There is a groomed track leading to San Sicario from Sestriere that edges its way along the mountain sides. People use it as a walking path for the first few kilometers, but after that it doesn’t get much traffic and by the time I got to the top I was probably the first human up there since the fall. After the grooming ended I left my skis in the snow and trudged through the powder to a rock where the sun was just right. I sat there looking out over the mountains for the better part of an hour until I felt like me again.
Up there in the mountain air I could look down at the village of Sestriere and to my right see the ladies’ downhill track. Way off somewhere in the steep valley was Bardonecchia where snowboarders were racing. I imagined what it would be like to travel here without the Olympics going on. Just how much less busy is town? Are the people as friendly and helpful? Is everything just a little bit cheaper? What is Sestriere really like?
I realized that I haven’t learned much about the town I’ve been staying in. My interactions have been so superficial, and it doesn’t help that I speak no Italian. I wonder what set of troubles they face. Do they need a new hockey rink? It looks like the whole place could use a facelift with its ugly collection of circa 1950s architecture. Is tourism as much of a driving force in Sestriere as it is in Stowe? It certainly doesn’t seem like there is anything else going on here, and from what I understand the town was built as a playground for the rich and famous in Fiat’s heyday. I’ve been looking for a local paper to read, but just find national ones.
What’s going to happen to all the buildings they’ve put up especially for the Olympics? Is this place going to look like Lake Placid, NY one day? What does hosting an event like this do to a place? If people are going to have to look at that God-awful athlete village for the rest of their lives I will pity them. How long will the wealth shopkeepers have reaped sustain them? Will some of the older business owners like the butcher down the road call it quits and move to Monaco?
There are so many questions going through my mind, and I thought I came up to keep them all at bay. Maybe the steep descent back down to the heart of it all will be enough of a thrill to erase them all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Austria's Gottwald celebrates gold in the Nordic combined sprint Tuesday.

Photo by Getty Images
Austrian doping scandal raises questions

As I sit in the press center many of the reporters, especially the Austrians, are waiting for the urine tests of six cross-country and four biathletes to come back. A live interview with Austria's director of skiing just ended and the crowd of reporters has dispersed to their work stations around the room.
On February 18th a midnight raid by Italian police occurred in Pragelato at the chalet where Austrian coaches are staying. Official reports say nothing was found. Unofficial reports say a bag of syringes and other equipment used to blood dope were found. The Austrian federation has hired a lawyer, and the banned coach who came to visit the Austrian team has left Italy.
The raids were prompted by the arrival of Walter Mayer, the Austrian coach banned from these Olympics for his involvement in a blood doping scandal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Though the Austrians say the raid was unwarranted the IOC's chief medical commissioner Arne Ljungqvist Mayer's presence was enough reason to conduct the search.
Austrians are second in the medal count so far this Olympics. They've won three alpine gold, three alpine silver and three alpine bronze medals. Their nordic combined teams won two golds and one silver and the same for ski jumping.
Lots hangs on the results. A positive test will taint the games and Austrian's dominance of the ski world. A negative one would be a relief to all.

Monday, February 20, 2006

More snow in the mountains

It snowed a foot last night. Most of it came down while I was in Torino watching the US men's team get beat by Sweden, 2-1. As we came outside the rink we were surprised to see huge flakes coming down and collecting.
My mind flashed back to my friendly driver from the first day who told me it never snowed in the city. I could only imagine what was happening in Sestriere.
It doesn't take much snow to really mess things up here. The ride back took more than three hours, and once in Cesana the driver had to put chains on for the big set of switchbacks. I was lucky to be with my husband, and we were even luckier to have run into some of the ski team's VIPs who gave us a ride back. If we were left to our own devices we would have been stranded for sure as the media buses stopped running.
We arrived back in town at close to midnight to see the giant slalom hill still completely covered with powder. There wasn't a machine on it; only a few nice powder tracks left by some course worker. Looks like they decided to have some fun before they got to work.
Seems typical of the whole experience so far. Have fun first, then get serious. It applies to most everything and wait until the last possible second to organize anything.
Not that I'm bagging on it. It just takes some time to adjust to; one of those cultural differences that just are.
We woke this morning to cleared skies and beautiful sun. The hill was totally buffed and ready to go, and surprisingly the start was only delayed by an hour.
I'll try to come up with other examples of this chaos to further illustrate.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A jump to inspiration

As the Games wear on, believe it or not, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the torch burning. I'm not talking about the Olympic flame, I'm talking about the well of excitement that seemed so overwhelming the first week.
What was new is now becoming routine, and many journalists, myself included, have been talking about how to combat the feeling of a tremendously unique experience seeming like an everyday one.
We are all human and fall into what's comfortable. We understand the transportation system, know where to keep jazzed up on coffee, have established relationships with sources, and that's all fine and good if you can keep your perspective fresh and remain excited.
For me, the realization came from my mother via email. The charge was heavy.
"I thought you were going to cover 'all aspects' of the Olympics,' she wrote. She wanted more of a scene-setter, not just news about sports.
See that? Just when I thought I had this whole thing down like clockwork, I realize that lack of precision and slightly chaotic mode of being can be a good thing. I felt like a sponge full of water that was trying to soak up more.
Needing a jolt from the norm I took the bus to Pragelato to watch some ski jumping. I'm a huge fan of the sport, and was turned on to it two years ago when I spent the winter in Europe with my husband. Seeing it live and feeling the energy of the crowd was a good twist on what was becoming a one-track experience. Today, I'm heading back down to Torino to see the USA play Sweden in men's hockey.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Austria's Niki Hosp after the slalom portion of women's combined.

Photo by Marina Knight

Weather plagues speed races

After nearly a day of waiting around for an opening clear enough to start the women's downhill portion of the combined race the ladies finally got a chance to race. The slalom, a veritable 40-second sprint, was held last night at Sestriere Colle.
Marlies Schild is in the lead with Janica Kostelic in second and Anja Paerson third.
The downhill is likely to be rescheduled again because again we woke up to snow. The men's super g is scheduled to re-start at 1:30pm after close to 15 racers went down before visibility got too dangerous and unfair to go on. It started to snow hard after about five racers had gone and they posted times which the later and not to mention better skiers could not match.
The forecast is for continued snow through tomorrow.
In hindsight it would have been better to schedule the speed races closer to the beginning so that in the case of bad weather there would be more room to reschedule. As it is now the alpine races are stacked up until the end.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gold slips away

Vermont's Lindsey Jacobellis fell on the second to last jump after pulling a trick air to lose a sizeable lead and come in second, winning the silver medal in Bardonecchia, Italy.
Tanja Frieden of Switzerland passed Jacobellis as she tried to get back her momentum and won the gold medal. Canada's Domique Maltais won bronze after a fall of her own on the top part of the course.

Women's DH postponed

The downhill portion of the women's combined has been postponed and officials have not said when the race will take place. The slalom portion is set for 17:00 and 19:30 in Sestriere Colle. Winds that blew away clouds and snow became a problem as gusts swept up the hill at San Sicario early this afternoon. Croatian Nikka Fleiss was the first and only racer to run the course. She was blown backward off the top jump and fell, but got up and finished.
"The race is not fair," she told Italian tv at the bottom. Shortly after, the race was postponed.

Snowy weather puts downhill in question

Skies that cleared yesterday afternoon reverted to clouds and snow this morning. A few inches has fallen so far and the winds have picked up, too. It's putting into question whether they will be able to run the women's dowhnill portion of the combined. The start has been delayed until one o'clock, and the start has been moved down to where the super g begins.
The forecast in the mountains is for snow until Sunday with clearing after. It's sunny in Torino...
All of us reporters are sitting around in the press center trying to decide what to do. Some will head off to cover other events, some will remain here until a decision is made then either make a break for San Sicario, about half an hour from here by bus, or watch the race here and wait for tonight's slalom.
Starters for the US include, Lindsey Kildow, Resi Steigler, Julia Mancuso and Kaylin Richardson, and if history plays a role in today's outcome the team could do very well. Kildow has a 5th in combined at San Sicario in 2005. In the same race Mancuso was 6th, Stiegler was 8th and Richardson on 16th. In addition, Mancuso has two World Junior combined gold medals, one in 2002 and another in 2004. Kildow's best finish in World Cup combined was a 4th at World Championships in 2005. Stiegler could also contend as she holds a bronze medal in the event from World Juniors in 2003.

Sestriere, Italy
Photo by Marina Knight

Here is a shot of Sestriere, the heart of the mountain competitions at the Winter Games. The peak to the right is Sestriere Colle, where the giant slalom and slalom will be held for men and women. To the left is Sestriere Borgata, host to the men's downhill and super g courses.
The garish orange tower in the center and buildings below it make up the athlete village, and way over to the left - the speck of blue - is the press center where I am sitting right now!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dinner with Courtney

I'm not sure what about this trip is sending me in the direction of the U.S. Luge Team, but last night I met and had dinner with Courtney Zablocki who placed fourth in the women's single event held on Valentine's day.
It was complete happenstance. I walked into a crowded restaurant on the main street of Sestriere to find two of Courtney's friends eating dinner. I had met them the first night I arrived in Sestriere and since I was alone they asked me to join them. When I saw them last night they invited me to sit down again and said Courtney was on her way, too. I felt like I was imposing, but they were sincere and insisted I sit. So I did.
I enjoyed learning a bit about luge, or sliding, as they say. I had tons of questions about it, since I know next to nothing about the sport. Most surprising was that she said the Austrian team is the most fun to hang around. She said they are relaxed, funny even. The news hit me as the Austrian skiers are anything but relaxed and funny. They are the most uptight team on the World Cup. Turns out the German's are luge's OSV equivalent.
Courtney also said the luge track here is not as difficult as people are making it out to be. There has been a lot of press about that lately, and several athletes have been sent to the hospital after bad crashes. She said the problem is training on the track was cut in half compared to normal races. When athletes are asked to race full gas on a track they aren't completely comfortable on accidents are bound to happen, and she could think of at least three tracks on the World Cup that are more difficult than the one here in Torino.
She also confirmed reports that the food in the athlete village is horrible. Her team got up early one morning for breakfast and found dinner still sitting out, the pasta's overcooked and they serve croissants wrapped in plastic in the morning. Such a shame as here we are in Italy of all places where the food is typically terrific. Check out next week's print version to learn more about the region's food.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ligety digging for gold in the slalom portion of the men's combined Tuesday night in Sestriere.
Photo by Getty Images
Media Blitz

For the first time I am watching an Olymic event inside at the press center. I feel like I'm cheating a bit, but there are lots of other journalists in here doing the same. The pluses are that it's warm and I'm online watching the live tv feed of the race which I can see perfectly. I can also listen to the quotes athletes give live to various tv stations and translate them from German if that's what they're speaking.
Michaela Dorfmeister just won the downhill, Marlies Schild was second and Anja Paerson was third, and I would not have been able to tell you that if I were standing at the finish.
At the venue press center in Sestriere Borgata and Sestriere Colle for example, the guys (and they are guys) who do the live comments and live timing are tucked away in their own little tent. I stuck my head in yesterday and felt like I had discovered the Wizard of Oz. Tons of computers and tv screens and other equipment I didn't even recognize, and no one was saying a word.
In the main press room the vibe is quite different. There is lots of talking going on. Reporters showing off their angles and making small talk, asking logistical questions and generally sharing information. Sometimes it's too much and I have to put on my ipod to tune it all out.
Also distracting is the mass amounts of information that is coming at me all the time. The walls are lined with boxes where the latest result are placed. Biathlon, snowboard, skiing, skeleton, you name it and there is more than enough information for a hundred different articles. On top of the results there are dozens of quote sheets and press conference highlights, even interviews with different athletes.
It all shows the complexity of the Olympics for the media. It is super busy all the time. We wake up early get on a bus, go to an event, stand in the security line, get scanned find the venue press center turn on our computers right away and begin typing. By the time you get where you're going there are four or five emails with updates on who is leading what event or who has crashed out. Overnight there are about 40 emails waiting in your inbox that take a solid half-hour to wade through. After the event there's a rush to get quotes. We pack in against the fence and lean our voice recorders the athlete's way. Then it's back to the press center for the conference after the flower ceremony at the finish. Back on the bus now, computers on if you're smart or a good time to catch a nap, then back to the main media center to file stories and send photos.
Granted it's all new to me and luckily I have a weekly deadline instead of a daily for my first Olympics, but slowly I am getting the routine and filing more quickly.
That's a typical day. The tough part is deciding when to quit go get some pasta and head to sleep. Tougher is resisting the urge to go live it up a little, this is the Olympics after all.
Crying for two reasons

The first was for joy obviously after Ted won the gold medal. He is a great guy, a good friend and being here to see him win was one of the highlights of my year. After the downhill portion of the combined I decided to walk back up to Sestriere Colle. It was a nice day, and I needed a little hike. On the way, I met up with Ted's parents who came over to watch the opening ceremonies and are staying for the entire games over in Bardoneccia. They seemed happy, but don't think they would have predicted him winning. I never say them after, but they must have been out of their heads with excitement.
The second reason for crying is because Dane Spencer of the US Ski Team suffered a horrible crash yesterday that is going to take a long time to recover from. Dane broke his neck and pelvis after crashing in a downhill at Big Mountain. He is currently in the hospital with a halo on his head to keep his neck secure, and doctors have been draining fluid from his abdomen. Right now he's not conscious, but it's only medically induced. Doctors say his spinal column is fine, and he will recover but not for months.
Dane competes regularly on the World Cup, and is especially good at giant slalom. He's been in the top-ten several times. After missing qualifying for the Olympic team, he traveled back to the US to compete in Nor-Am speed events.
Words of encouragement can be sent to

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vermont Gold!
Hannah Teter, the Green Mountain girl, dazzles the crowd on her way to Olympic gold. Way to go!

Gretchen Bleiler of Aspen, Colorado.
Photo by Getty Images

Norway's Kjersti Buaas blasts out of the pipe.
Photo by Getty Images

Monday, February 13, 2006

Vermont Gold!

The women's gold medal in the snowboarding halfpipe will remain in Vermont! Hannah Teter came from third place after the qualifiers to jump on top of the podium. Sadly though defending champion and Vermonter Kelly Clark slipped back into fourth place after a fall at the bottom of her last run.
It was so cool to witness the whole event. From the time I got off the press bus I could feel much more energy in the crowd. There were scores of American fans, so much so that it almost felt like a competition in the states. On my way in I ran into Tricia Byrnes, who is also a Vermonter and former Olympian. She was there to cheer on her teammates even though she missed qualifying for the team. Nick Sargent of Stowe was also there. I ran into him after the event in the streets of the old part of town.
It was quite different from the men's downhill yesterday. The snowboarders know how to have a good time!
The skies were blue and the temperature mild. A slight breeze dissolved with the afternoon.
After the event, I ran into Daron and Michelle and we had some lunch at a small restaurant in the old town before driving back to Sestriere together.
Now I'm sitting at the press center getting ready for the action tomorrow. Should be an exciting day. The men's combined and Any Newell's team spring down the road in Pragelato. I obviously can't be in two places at once, and think logistically it will be easier and better for me to watch here, then run in between the downhill and slalom to catch Andy on the live feed here in the press center.
Much more later.
Men's downhill on the inside

The men's downhill was a strange race. When Michael Walchofer's mistake ridden run held up for first place for 20 racers everyone was surprised, and when Frenchman Antoine Deneriaz came down and beat him the crowd had nearly been lulled to sleep. It was only halfway down that people started to process that he might come through in the lead.
For me, it was an even stranger experience. In the morning I headed off to the venue press center early to get a workspace before the throngs of journalists made thier way up from Torino. After working inside for a while, I went out to the finish to make sure I had a good viewing position along with a bunch of other writers. We stood there for an hour before the race began. During that time we threw out predictions about who would win, and who should win and what the hill was like and who it favored. Some of the comments were illuminating and other flat out silly. I was surprised to learn how little some knew about ski racing.
The core group of ski writers definately stood out from the ones who normally cover football or basketball.
It made me realize that a lot of what has been written about Bode Miller came from journalists who understand little. In fact, some are even looking for a hostile angle, reading into things with complete bias. When Bode came through the finish in fourth place he looked into the camera and threw up his hands. A journalist beside me said, "Did you see that? I think he just pushed away the camera!"
I was taken aback as that was so clearly not what happened.
Everyone began postulating about how upset the Americans must be; they probably were dissapointed. Two were clear medal contenders and they did not perform. But it turns out both Bode and Daron were fairly happy with their runs. They said they wouldn't have done much different. Bode lost his edge in the last three turns after a great run, and Daron had a small mistake on top but otherwise thought he had a solid run.
When the two racers made their way toward us for comments everyone began pushing and shoving their voice recorders within range. It was almost embarassing.
After a while I broke away and hopped on the bus back up to Sestriere, grabbed my camera and went out to take some more photos. The town was crowded with people and lively. Buses lined the roads as people began to make their way back to the city and off to the next event.

Antoine Deneriaz of France celebrates Olympic Gold after winning the men's downhill in Sestriere Borgata. He came from 30th to win with a perfect run.

Daron Rahlves of the United States talks to the press after the men's Olympic downhill on Sunday. He finished in 10th place.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

From the finish

I am sitting at the finish of the men’s downhill in Sestriere Borgata. There’s a small press center here, and I was lucky enough to arrive early and get a workspace.
There is much to re-cap so I’ll start at the beginning.
The starts must be aligned in my favor because despite arriving very late I made it to the opening ceremonies. As soon as my plane landed I ran outside the airport to beat the crowd and grabbed a driver who took me to the main press center in the center of Torino. The organizing committee had a slew of drivers waiting for the members of the press equipped with shiny new Fiats to take us where we needed to go. My driver was particularly friendly, spoke no English and insisted on taking me on a tour of Torino before driving to the press center where my ticket to the opening ceremonies was waiting. I made it there about half an hour before they started to find the office I needed to go to closed! Amazingly, the first person I asked happened to be a journalist who decided not to go to the opening ceremonies. He gave me his ticket.
I ran quickly back to the car where my driver was waiting. We went to the hotel to drop off my bags, and they told me they didn’t have a reservation under my name. So, I just left my bags there and rushed to the Stadio Olympico. I was literally running across the empty piazza staring at the lights beaming from the show which was just underway. Once inside I made my way right to the floor where the teams entered. It was a thrill to be so close, crowded among the photographers with huge lenses – me with my small one.
The ceremony blended tradition with Italy’s modern era. It was aesthetically pleasing, exciting and had an air of pride about it that was fitting. I’ll describe it more in a feature.
After the ceremony I needed to figure out where I was going to stay. A friendly-looking woman was walking next to me and I asked if I could use her cell phone, then described my predicament. Turns out she was at the Olympics with Visa International and was able to give me a room in one of Torino’s nicest hotels. Sometimes things just work out.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day getting oriented at the main press center in Torino. Setting up my phone, getting wireless access and figuring out the media transport system took the better part of three hours. After I was en-route to the mountains.
Claviere, where I’m staying is about 17 kilometers from Sestriere but luck plays into how long it takes to get here. Sometimes the bus is on time and other times you wait an hour. It’s all entertaining though, as people are chatty and inquisitive; especially the volunteers.
It should be a great race today. The sky is blue, it was cold last night and the Americans are firing: traumwetter, as the Austrians say.
The Olympic Flame - Opening Ceremonies
Torino 2006

Photo by Marina Knight

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dispatch from Paris

In the five hours I have been sitting here at the airport in Paris as the time ticks down to the Opening Ceremonies I've had lots of fun. Since landing I've wandered the halls, browsed in shops, had some poached eggs and even got to sit outside for a minute. It's almost warm enough to cause a little body shock from the cooler Vermont climes.
One of the highlights was meeting former Luger Tim Wiley and his wife while waiting in line to try and get on an earlier flight to Torino. Tim was in the 1992 and 1994 Olypics and after he retired from Luge, he became a whitewater Kayaker and almost qualified for the 1996 Olympic Team. He was an alternate.
They both live in the Boston area, and are headed to the Games to enjoy and spectate. Tim is on the board of the US Olympic Committee now. Kristen's French nearly got me on an earlier flight, but just when we though we had the Air France people keen on the idea of switching my ticket for their friend's, who was on the early flight, they started shaking their heads and pouting, "No, no, I am so sorry, but it izz impossible, in a heavy French accent.
Oh, well. It was a good solid try.
Anyway, it's a sunny day here in Paris. Probably about 60 degrees. I was here once as a child and remeber sitting on a big fountain somewhere while my mother took my picture. That's a much fonder memory than the one I'm currently creating.
On the road
“Come on, Marina, find your groove,” the voice on the other end of the phone said. I was checking off the final details before pulling out of Stowe Thursday morning, and talking to a good friend.
Indeed, I was not myself.
I’m not sure when gung-ho, ready for everything me was replaced with a nervous and travel-stressed version of myself, but I am not liking it. Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I’m becoming like all those other comfort-honing people. The thought is disturbing.
The ultimate perturbing factor that I continue to ponder as I sit in the Logan airport is that I am not headed anywhere outrageous. I’m not going to cover the war in Iraq; I know there’s no danger involved. I’m going to Italy to cover the Winter Olympics!
These rationalizations have made me feel only slightly better.
I’m headed into uncharted territory, and part of me feels as though this event is going to swallow me whole. I will be one reporter amid 10,000 members of the press – that’s like two whole Stowe’s full. I’ve organized all the travel details myself, and for those who know me well that’s reason enough for me to be worried.
The levels of logistic gymnastics reached new heights yesterday when I found out I had a ticket to the Opening Ceremonies. Since I planned to arrive in Torino on the day of the Opening Ceremonies and am staying outside the city in a mountain-town called Claviere I needed to find a room so I could just check into the mountains a day late. I probably don’t need to say that finding a hotel room the day before the Olympics begin is not easy. In the end I must give credit to my best friend for helping me in a pinch.
While the thought of taking on the Olympics by myself seems stifling, on the other hand I imagine that could be a plus. Surely NBC’s entourage has to be clunky and hard to get around. I will be able to come and go as I please, digital voice recorder and laptop in hand. There is really nothing holding me back.
The sentiment among some athletes I’ve spoken with is that they just want to get things underway. They want to stop talking and thinking about it and start competing. I guess, I feel the exact same thing. I can’t wait for the thrill and excitement of the competitions themselves to start fueling me.
Meanwhile, my departing flight has been delayed by two hours, which means I am going to miss my connection to Torino. I’ll have a five-hour layover in Paris, and arrive in Torino at about 5:30pm. This will add new excitement to making it to the Opening Ceremonies.
I guess the fun starts now.