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.


Post a Comment

<< Home