I’ve been to the Summer Olympics before but enjoyed the Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014 even more, and this is why. First of all it was in Russia, a place I’d never been to before. That’s the great thing about sport. Big events such as the Olympics give you that incentive to visit places you’ve never been to previously. Second it meant I could also explore Moscow en-route. Thirdly it all seemed so much more accessible. Accessible in the sense that we were talking to presenters and competitions at most of the locations. It was hard to tell who was having the most fun, them or us!
Mixing with the competitors and TV crews
My most vivid memory is that of watching the BBC presenters at the slope style event just a few days before we flew out. 48 hours later we’re right there on-screen walking amongst them. Here’s Team GB’s Billy Morgan talking with the BBC’s Graham Bell … and there’s me to the side of them, sporting my Union Jack beanie! In the photo above on the same day we casually chatted to skiing hopeful Chemmy Alcott, with her posing for photos as if she was an excited spectator herself!
Where we stayed and what we saw?
Adler was the actual town where the Winter Olympics village “coastal cluster” was situated. It was from this base that we could easily take the train/bus up to the “mountain cluster” of Krasnaya Polyana high above. Incidentally Sochi is actually the name of the Black Sea resort so it’s the ‘Sochi’ name that they used for the event. Sandwiched in-between our stay in Adler was 1-2 nights either side in Moscow as that was the main route from the UK. As it happened we had to go to Moscow anyway to get our accreditation and event tickets we’d ordered online. We “probably” bought a few too many of them as some days it felt like we were up and down the mountain like a yo-yo!
- 13th Feb – Slopestyle & Ice Hockey (Russia vs Sweden)
- 14th Feb – Super Combined Skiing & Skeleton (with Lizzy Yarnold)
- 15th Feb – Curling & ice hockey (Russia v USA) & men’s ski jumping
- 16th Feb – Snowboard Cross
Meeting all the other spectators and “Games Makers”
What sticks with me the most were the people we met working out there along with our fellow spectators. We posed for photos with security guards who were as curious of us as we were of them, made new UK-based friends, and got involved with the Russians and Americans at the Russia vs USA ice hockey game. THE grudge match of the Olympics!
There were obviously a fairly large number of Brits in Sochi for the Games but not necessarily all in the same place. Whenever you saw a Union Jack you inevitably couldn’t help but wander over to say “hello”. Now if these Games had been in the French Alps I’m sure there would have been 1000s more Brits abroad and conversely less interaction with any of them. The extra complexity of getting visas and having to go to Moscow for the tickets made it just that bit more difficult to attend.
It was totally worth it though now looking back as we were able to openly mingle with the BBC journalists and presenters. We appeared up on the big screens and we featured in news feeds and Instagram posts. We didn’t quite get the chance of bumping into Claire Balding, but we knew where the BBC studio was. It’s just that timings meant we were always on the march somewhere else. However with such low numbers of Brits out there, if you really want to in Korea I’m sure you’ll get to see this event’s lead presenters as Claire Balding’s decided to stay in the warm BBC Manchester studio this time around. As the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games approach, once again there’s that big effort required to get the tickets, get the accomodation and actually get out there in the first place.
So any tips for attending the Winter Olympics?
- Flags! – Take a Union Jack Flag. In fact take a handful of them!
- Portable battery charger – to keep your iPhone fully charged up on the slopes. Get the RAVPower 22000mAh Power Bank!
- Adaptors – make sure you have the right ones for all your gadgets
- TV cameras – get involved and try to get interviewed
- Hand warmers – you might be in the hills standing around for quite a while
- Walking boots? – helped with the grip and keeping my feet warm
- Warm stuff generally!! PyeongChang is going to be COLD!
- Chat with the competitors – they were ever so approchable in Sochi
- ENJOY it – it really is an amazing spectacle!!
Anybody going to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics this month? 🙂