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Sochi2014

People Are Awesome!

Throughout the Olympic Spirit Project I’ve seen generosity that I never knew existed. People are AWESOME! People I never expected to take an interest in what I’m doing have come out of nowhere and contributed to the project. People I haven’t seen or spoken to in years are supporting me beyond what I would have ever expected. And people I don’t even know are inspired by what I’m doing and have pledged their support and it has blown me away!

Whichever group you fall into, I say to you:

Thank You for being awesome!

 Some Examples of Awesomeness:

A corporate sponsor pledged a completely unexpected contribution to the project. Thank you Brandy’s Whistler!

A reporter from my local paper featured the project in the weekend newspaper.

An associate producer from CBC heard about my story and set up an interview with CBC Toronto’s Heather Hiscox for their CBC’s Road to the Olympics segment.

A group of Canadian volunteers offered me accommodations with their group in Adler, Russia at a cost that was far more reasonable than I was finding on my own.

A friend recommended an amazing travel agent who found me the perfect flights! Coincidentally, she booked all the flights for the Canadian Alpine and Snowboard teams, so I totally lucked out with someone who knows her stuff! (Contact me for her contact info, if you are looking for great service!)

I posted a message in a Facebook photography group this week that I was looking to borrow or rent some gear for the project and within 10 minutes I had a response from someone and had a lens in my hands within an hour!

And what has and continues to be the most amazing, are the people who are sharing the project on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and in their conversations with words of encouragement. Thank you all for sharing in this ambitious dream which is allowing me to live a life that inspires me! And THANK YOU for sharing the Olympic Spirit and making it a reality for me!

To everyone who has joined me on this adventure:
You are amazing and I am so grateful to have every one of you in my life!

With gratitude,
Mariska

CBC’s Road to the Olympics with the Olympic Spirit Project!

This morning I had my first ever television interview!

It was with Heather Hiscox of Toronto’s CBC News Now morning show, featured on CBC’s Road to the Olympics segment. Because of the 3-hour time difference, my alarm went off at 4:30am to be awake and ready for the 5:20am call. Here’s how it went:

The whole thing went so fast! I’ve been both excited and nervous about this interview for over a week, and waiting for my 5 minutes of fame felt like forever.  I called in via Skype and was on hold and listening to the show (I had no video on my end) for the longest 10 minutes of my life, and then Heather started talking to me and the next thing I knew, it was over.

Overall, I’m happy with how it went, despite a couple of verbal stumbles. After seeing the replay however, there are a few points I’d like to add.

The plan is to spark the Olympic Spirit back home while in Sochi. Those who will be in Sochi are driven to be there by their Olympic Spirit, which I will be there to document. But what I am really aiming to spark is the spirit back  in Canada and beyond! It’s challenging sometimes to get excited about a world event when all you hear about are the controversial issues and security threats. So I hope to spark the spirit in YOU from Sochi through the stories of my experiences and my images.

It’s time to put the focus back where it belongs: on the sports, the athletes and the fans.

I’m not saying that these other issues are not of concern to me, because they are. I am definitely aware of what’s happening and concerned but I’m also prepared to be cautious and safe. It’s not going to stop me from going and supporting our athletes and capturing the true Olympic spirit of the 2014 Winter Games.

I invite YOU to be a part of the excitement as well, through social media where I will be posting the images and stories throughout the experience. I’ll be posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as often as connectivity allows, so please be sure to follow along so you don’t miss any of the excitement. And of course, please share the excitement to grow that Olympic Spirit even more! (I will post the final edited images to Flickr as well.)

         

As of today, there are 10 days and 40% remaining to be raised on the Kickstarter.  Please pledge what you can to bring the Spirit to life.

For more information and to check out the great pledge rewards, please visit the The Olympic Spirit Project on Kickstarter.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

Thank you all for the support, and I’d love to hear what you thought of the interview in the comments below!

The Olympic Spirit Project in the News

The Olympic Spirit Project is in the news! The project was featured in this weekend’s local newspaper in my hometown of Duncan, BC, Canada. It was even the top story on the paper’s website all day Friday! The traction this project is getting is so exciting!

You can read the article at www.cowichannewsleader.com.

Cowichan News Leader - Olympic Spirit Project article

Other Upcoming Media Coverage

This coming Tuesday I’m scheduled for a live interview via Skype with CBC Toronto’s Heather Hiscox for the morning news! I hope to have a video to share with you after the show airs.

Project Update

I’m happy and excited to report that yesterday the Kickstarter campaign passed the 50% mark! There are still 13 days left in the campaign, so please pledge your support today and be a part of the spirit in Sochi!

I’m so excited that the Olympic Spirit is starting to spread both through all of my backers and supports as well as in the news. Thank you all for the continued support.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

Thank You Brandy’s Whistler!

Sending out a HUGE thank you to Brandy’s Whistler for their generous support to the Olympic Spirit Project! Their contribution has brought the project to 33% of the funding goal!

Next time you’re in Whistler, check out Brandy’s, the best sports bar in town!

www.whistlersportsbar.com

Brandy's Sport Bar and Lounge, Whislter

 

And of course, thank you to ALL of my project backers as well! It’s because of YOUR support that this project is becoming a reality. Your encouragement is so amazing and appreciated more than you know!

We are much closer, but still a long way away from the target. This is now your project too! Please continue to share it with your friends and networks so we can reach our goal and bring the Olympic Spirit to life!

With Gratitude,
Mariska

A Message From a Backer

I received a message from one of my Olympic Spirit Project backers on Kickstarter and loved it so much, I wanted to share it. It’s from someone I don’t know, who randomly found my project.

I love the entrepreneurial spirit of this family and LOVE that I’ve inspired a young sports fan and entrepreneur to get involved with my project and with Kickstarter! It’s people and support like this that make projects like mine possible! I would love to see more of these creative ways of being inspiring our youth!

 

inspire_be_inspired“Hi Mariska, 

Thought I might let you know how it came about . I wanted to expose my four kids to Kickstarter, as a means of inspiring their entrepreneurial spirit, expose them to crowdfunding, and at very least give them an opportunity to support the arts.

I gave them each $40 as part of their Christmas. The kids are aged 17 to 28 and they all loved the idea. The youngest, a 17 year old, selected you and your project because he wanted to support a fellow Canadian and loved your posted work from the Vancouver Games (he’s also quite an avid photographer and sports nut and will be following the events you will be attending with interest). 

We’re all routing for you to make your funding target Mariska, and bring the project to life!!! Best of luck!”    

(The message has been slightly edited for privacy.)

I send huge gratitude out to you for getting involved, backing my project, and for exposing your kids to Kickstarter!

 

To see where the inspiration all stemmed from, please visit The Olympic Spirit Project on Kickstarter by clicking the button below.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

Thank you for your support!

What’s In My Olympics Memory Box?

I opened my Olympics memory box this week and am now even more excited and inspired for the Olympic Spirit Project at the Sochi 2014 Olymipc Winter Games!

Here are a few of the item that I found:

Van2010-6190

The 2010 Olympics section from the Vancouver Sun from March 2, 2010.

My 2014 Olympics uniform for Sochi 2014 in Russia.
Van2010-6205

My BCMC media accreditation badge, official IPC (International Paralympic Committee) media accreditation badge, and my IPC photographer sleeve from Vancouver 2010.

Van2010-6212

Sochi 2014 media badge from Sochi House at Vancouver 2010, My True North Media House badge, House of Switzerland media badge, Holland House Press card, and Samsung media badge. All from Vancouver 2010.

Van2010-6228

Vancouver 2010 Ice Hockey and Speed Skating tickets, and London 2012 Athletics ticket.

Van2010-6236

My pin and memorabilia collection from Vancouver 2010, and a single pin from London 2012.

Van2010-6238

My Canada t-shirt that I wore at London 2012, and an awesome “eh!” t-shirt given to me to wear at Sochi 2014.

Van2010-6241

A mix of Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 clothing to wear as my Sochi 2014 fan uniform.

Van2010-6243

The Vancouver 2010 mascots! Quatchi, Miga, Mukmuk, and Sumi.

 

How to Apply for a Russian Tourist Visa

With the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games just a few weeks away, many are scrambling to get their Russian tourist visa organized. The application process is not easy, cheap, or quick.

In Canada, you need to use an independent company to submit visa application. You cannot apply with the Russian consulate or embassy directly. In Vancouver, I used Any Visa Corporation, which is conveniently located in the same office as the Russian consulate.

Russian Visa

Before applying for a Russian visa, there are a few things you need to arrange:

1. You need to have an invitation arranged with the hotel you will be staying at in Russia. If you are staying in a private home with friends or family, your host can also provide you with this invitation. If you don’t know where you will be staying when you apply for your visa, you can have the visa company arrange one for you at an additional fee.

2. If your purpose for visiting Russia is to attend the 2014 Olympic Games next month, you will need a copy of your Spectator Pass to submit with your visa application. In order to obtain a Spectator Pass, you must purchase official Olympics event tickets and provide the confirmation number found on your receipt. I purchased my Olympic event tickets in Canada through Co-Sport. Visit  www.pass.sochi2014.com to apply for your Spectator Pass.

3. Next you will need to fill in the online Russian visa application, then print and sign it. Depending on your nationality, you could have a 1-page application or a 3-page application. My application was a 1-pager, because I have a Dutch passport, but Canadian friends who applied had a 3-page application and apparently they had to provide 10 years worth or work history, home address history and travel history.

4. You will need to provide a passport photo with your application. The required size is 35mm x 45mm. I had mine taken at London Drugs.

5. Any Visa Corporation requires you to fill out their Visa Support Form as well as a Cover Sheet for the Visa Application.

6. You are also required to write a letter explaining your travel plans while in Russia. Mine stated my intended dates of entry and exit from Russia, the list of cities I plan to visit, and that I’m there to attend the Olympic Games.

7. Finally, you will need to leave your passport (make sure you have at least 2 blank pages in it, and that it is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure to Russia) with the third party visa company, so they can send it to Ottawa with your application for processing.

8. If you are not Canadian and you are a permanent resident, like me, you will also need to provide a copy of your PR Card with the application.

The normal turnaround time for a Russian visa is 20 business days (so about a month). I’m not comfortable being without my passport for that long, so I paid the rush fee, which is supposed to have it back with a 5-day turnaround. Because I applied over the Christmas break, it took about 10 days.

The total cost for my visa with an EU passport, rush fee, and invitation was $386. The Canadian visa cost is a bit more than this. Contact Any Visa Corporation for an accurate quote at 604.559.8472.

When your visa is ready, you will get a call to come pick up your passport and supporting paperwork from your third party visa company.

Good luck!

What’s This Kickstarter Thing?

I’ve recently launched my first Kickstarter campaign to support the creation and publication of my very first photography book! YAY! I’m so excited that after 2 days I’m already at 10% of my fundraising goal, but there is much work left to be done to raise the balance of the funding and I’ve had a few people ask me, “What’s this Kickstarter thing?” So here’s a quick rundown.

What's this Kickstarter thing?

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the collective effort of people to pool their money to support the efforts of other people. Crowdfunding is used to support a wide variety of activities, including creative projects, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, startup company funding, and more. My Olympic Spirit Project is an example of a creative project.

How does Kickstarter work?

Thousands of creative projects are added to Kickstarter everyday. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

Are you guaranteed to get funding?

No. With Kickstarter, projects will only get funded if the total funding goal is reached. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding target, all backers’ credit cards are charged when the project reaches its deadline. If the project falls short, no one is charged and the project does not get funded.

Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

 

With the all-or-nothing model, it’s important to get the momentum of the campaign rolling early so that the campaign has a chance of getting on the “Staff Picks” page of the Kickstarter website. This allows the project to get more views within the crowdfunding community, and in turn more pledges.

Remember that your credit card does not get charged unless the project succeeds. Therefore your pledge is more important at the start than it is near the end of the funding deadline so that the momentum builds for the project. 

 

The Olympic Spirit ProjectWhat is the Olympic Spirit Project?

The Sochi 2014 Olympics have been labeled as the most controversial and most expensive Games of our time, and I feel that the Olympic spirit has been lost for many. Some are even boycotting the Games completely.

After experiencing the Olympic energy in Vancouver in 2010 as media and again in London in 2012 as a spectator, I am inspired to recreate that feeling in Sochi this February to support our athletes (and their competitors) as they compete in the biggest competition of their lives. The athletes have worked so hard to get to this point and it’s unfair to them not to support their efforts in what for most is a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country.

So I came up with The Olympic Spirit Project.

The goal of this project is to get on the ground in Sochi Russia for 10 days during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to photograph and document the Olympic spirit. I will attend both official Olympic and cultural events and photograph the different ways that cultures celebrate a win, or display their disappointment in a loss. The images I capture during my time in Sochi will be edited and compiled into the Olympic Spirit photo book, with a targeted publishing date of September 2014.

Because funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing, I need your help to get the momentum rolling on the funding campaign now. Every dollar counts! Two dollars, five dollars, twenty-five dollars, it all adds up! And please share the project with your friends and family to help spread the Olympic Spirit even further!

In exchange for your generous support, I’m offering some great rewards. From digital and hard cover copies of the finished book to the opportunity to join me at an official Olympic event during the project! And of course every backer will be acknowledged and thanked in the book itself on the Project Contributors page.

Please click the Kickstarter button below to pledge your support today!

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

 

I thank you for your generosity and support, and look forward to creating an amazing and inspiring book!

If you have any questions about either Kickstarter or the Olympic Spirit Project, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

Announcing the Olympic Spirit Project

As most of you know, I am working to get to Sochi in February to photograph the fan and cultural side of the 2014 Olympics. I launched a fundraising campaign a few weeks back, and have received a lot of feedback that this campaign did not really encompass my passions. I appreciate all of your honest feedback and have as a result created a new project that encompasses my passions for photography and the Olympics and is way more ME!

I’m very excited to share with you, “The Olympic Spirit Project.” – http://bit.ly/spirit2014

The Olympic Spirit Project on Kickstarter

Vancouver 2010 Men's Gold Medal Game

Vancouver 2010 Men's Gold Medal Hockey

 

What Is The Olympic Spirit Project?

I feel that with all the controversy surrounding the 2014 Olympic Games, the Olympic spirit has been somewhat lost. This is unfair to our Canadian athletes as well as their international competitors who have worked HARD to qualify for the biggest competition of their lives. They need our support! This project is geared at reviving the Olympic spirit and putting the attention back where it belongs: On the Athletes!

The goal of the Olympic Spirit Project is to capture images illustrating the Olympic Spirit through the eyes of different cultures from around the globe,  in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. I will share some of the images and stories with you from Russia on my blog, and after the Games are over the images will be edited and compiled into a book, which will then be available for sale. The targeted publishing date is September 2014.

 

Vancouver 2010 - Men's Team Pursuit Speed Skating Gold Medal Team
Vancouver 2010 – Men’s Team Pursuit Speed Skating Gold Medal Team

 

Vancouver 2010 - Paralympic Alpine Skiing
Vancouver 2010 – Paralympic Alpine Skiing

 

Vancouver 2010 - Paralympic Medal Ceremony
Vancouver 2010 – Paralympic Medal Ceremony

 

What’s in it for you?

In return for your support, I am offering rewards from a hand written postcard from Russia to the opportunity to experience an official Olympic event with me at the Games. All backers will be acknowledged in the final printed book.

All Levels: Thank-You Postcard from Russia – All backers pledging $10 or more will receive a hand-written Postcard sent from Russia during the Olympic Games.

All Levels: Your Name Featured in the Book – All backers pledging to the project will acknowledged on the Project Contributors page in the final printed book.

$25 Level: 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project, and a digital copy of the finished book.

$85 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, a signed 5×7 print featuring an image from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.

$150 Level: A digital copy of the finished book, 2 signed 8×10 prints featuring images from the project, and a 5-pack of postcards featuring images from the project.

$350 Level: A hard cover copy of the finished book, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.

$1000 Level: 2 signed hard cover copies if the finished book, a signed 11×14 print featuring an image from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks.

$1500 Level (9 available): 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, a (used) official 2014 Olympic event ticket, a signed 11×14 print of an images from the project, 10 prints of photos taken of your personal pocket-sized mascot (provided by you) at 10 Russian Olympic landmarks. (there are

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s and Ladies’ Team Pursuit Speed Skating event on February 21st, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Women’s Hockey Play-off Semi-Final Game on February 17th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 signed hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2000 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Men’s Hockey Play-off Quarter-Final Game on February 19th, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

$2500 Level (1 available): A ticket to join me at the 2014 Olympic Bronze Medal Men’s Hockey Game on February 22nd, 2014 in Sochi Russia (flight, accommodations and related travel expenses not included). You will also receive 2 hard cover copies of the finished book, and a signed 11×14 print of an image from the project.

All Levels: Karma points and huge gratitude from me! : )

How You Can Help

With your support this project will come to life. Click the Kickstarter button below for full project details and for an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the Olympic Spirit for our athletes in Sochi this coming February.

Pledge your support on Kickstarter

THANK YOU for your support!

New Events to Debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympics Games

The biggest Winter Olympics in history is set to take place in the biggest country in the world starting on February 6th, 2014 in Sochi, Russia, and there are some new events making their Olympic debuts:

Ski Halfpipe – Men and Women

Halfpipe Skiing

Competitors get two separate runs in the preliminaries to qualify for two final runs for 12 skiers. Judges score on take off, height, landing and difficulty of trick. Skiers are ranked based on highest score taken out of the two final runs.

Women’s Ski Jumping

Ski Jumping

Each competitor gets two runs, and are scored based on distance and style. The athlete with the highest combined score from all four jumps is the winner.

Biathlon Mixed Relay

Biathlon

There are two males and two females per team. Female athletes start the relay, each with two six-kilometer kegs. The two male athletes then follow with two 7.5-kilometer kegs. Each competitor shoots twice (one prone, one standing) and there is a 150 km penalty loop is added on for each miss. The team with the lowest combined time wins.

Figure Skating Team Event

Figure Skating

Teams of six skaters from each country perform in four separate categories: men’s, women’s, pairs and dance. There will be two skaters each for pairs and dance, and one male and one female skater for individual runs. The team with the highest aggregated score wins. The event will be spread over three days.

Luge Team Relay

Luge Team Relay

The new race format comprises three teams: a doubles sled, a woman’s single sled and a men’s single sled. Each sled slides one after the other as teams compete for the fastest combined time. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by a teammate to open the gate for the next sled in line.

Ski Slopestyle

Ski Slope Skiing

Skiers make their way down an obstacle course of rails, jumps and other features. They are judged on the quality, style and originality of their tricks in both men’s and women’s competitions.

Snowboard Parallel Special Slalom

Snowboarding

Athletes race head-to-head downhill between gates. The one who gets to the bottom first, without falling, wins. This event is seen as more technically challenging than the snowboard parallel giant slalom, which was introduced to the Olympics in 2002.

Snowboard Slopestyle

Snowboard Slope Style

Snowboard slopestyle works the same way as its ski counterpart: athletes jump, twist and grind down an obstacle course and are judged on the tricks they perform. Both men and women will compete.