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Olympic Spirit Project Book is HERE!!


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A year ago today I made a life choice to leave the shackles of the corporate office world behind and to pursue my dreams a digital nomad.

The year that I’ve had has been incredible!

  • I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly $7500 for the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I traveled to Russia for 12 unforgettable days at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games
  • blogged about the whole experience – sharing the good, the bad and the photos from the Olympic Spirit Project
  • I built an online store and am selling postcards and enlarged prints and the Olympic Spirit Project Book
  • I learned all about creating and self-publishing a photo book!!!

And now I’m excited to announce that…

The 2014 Olympic Spirit Project Book is available in print and eBook format!

OSP Book Cover

Book Preview

About the Olympic Spirit Project Book

This 40-page book of photography from the ‘Olympic Spirit Project’ is created through a love of sport and the examination of human emotion. Mariska Richters creates a dramatic collection of work that captures the diverse expression of national pride and Olympic spirit from around the world.

Mariska’s work tells a powerful story through captured moments in time where lives are changed and memories of a lifetime are made. In this collection, Mariska gives us an intimate glimpse into Olympic Spirit that makes the Olympic experience so memorable.

About the Olympic Spirit Project eBook

The eBook is available through both Blurb and iBooks.  The eBook book is rich with links leading you to more detailed articles Sochi Olympic experience.

eBook Preview

About the Photographer

Mariska Richters is a freelance photographer whose collection of works can be found at mariskarichters.com and across various online social networks. Raised in the Cowichan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Mariska’s passion for capturing the human experience through images and words was born from her experience at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She has attended three Olympics to date, and aspires to continue the Olympic Spirit Project in future. Proceeds from the Olympic Spirit Project will be put toward continuing this project in 2016 and beyond.

Postcard: The Sochi 2014 Olympic CauldronGratitude!

I’d like to, once again, send out a HUGE thank you to my Kickstarter project backers who made the Olympic Spirit Project book – with special thanks to my corporate sponsor, Brandy’s Whistler – without all of you this book would never have been possible. You will all find your names on the contributors page of the book, as promised.

I’m flooded with gratitude for the kindness and generosity from all of my family, friends and people I’ve never even met who helped make my Olympic dream a reality! Thank You all for this unforgettable experience!

Special Thanks To…

I’d like to send a special thanks out to a few people who were especially helpful to me on the ground in Sochi – Shauna, Greg, and Jordan – You guys are SUPERHEROES!!

Shauna was at my side on almost a daily basis and was an adventurous partner in crime and the exact Olympic Spirit poster girl I was hoping for when I began this project! Thank You Shauna!

Greg helped me out with Canadian Olympic Spirit swag when my luggage didn’t arrive and he provided me with much needed cold and flu medication when the Sochi Flu knocked me down. To top that off, he was my Olympic Spirit poster boy with his epic custom made Canada suit. Thank you Greg! You’re awesome, as always!

Jordan helped me when I first landed in Russia and got me into the Canada Olympic House open house where I saw President Putin. He also helped me find the giant stack of postcards that I sent off to all my Kickstarter backers. Thank you!

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be sending the eBook out to my Kickstarter backers as promised. You should be receiving it in your inbox soon. If you did not back the project, please visit the web shop to order your very own copy, or click the button below.

Buy eBook!          Buy Printed Book!

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Epic Canadian Olympic Fans


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The Olympic Park was all but deserted on the final day of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. There were only two events scheduled that day: Men’s Gold Medal Hockey and the Closing Ceremony. Only those with tickets to at least one of these events were permitted to enter the park.

With Canada playing for GOLD there was a large Canadian presence. I went in early in search of epic Canadian Olympic fans and I found my first group at the first open concession cart buying beer (because a Canadian watching hockey without beer is just wrong!).

Day10-2

Olympic Spirit Project Books and Postcards now available!

Learn More!

Free Beer Guy & Other More Fans

Next I made my way to Canada Olympic House to see who had collected there to prep for the game and this guy walked up with a tray full of beers and started handing them out to fellow Canadians. Did I mention how much I love Canadians?

(Thank you, Free Beer Guy!)

Canadian Free Beer Guy

Next, Shauna and I strolled toward the Bolshoy Arena and came across these Russian guys who unexpectedly swept me off my feet, and then we found more Canadians with flags and a crazy collection of signatures.

Russians and Canadians

Signed Canadian Flag

Signed Canadian Flag

Then there was a couple who almost didn’t make it to Sochi due to a leg injury, but they pushed through and made it, wheelchair and all! Well done guys! Talk about dedicated fans! YAY!

Canadian Fans

The Olympic Party Boy

But the hands-down BEST had to be the “Olympic Party Boy!”

I first met this OPB at the London 2012 Olympics where I got my first introduction to Olympic Party Boy awesomeness. Back in Vancouver, he had mentioned that he was having a custom Canada suit designed by Ash Turner of Mechanic Organic for the Sochi 2014, so I was excited to include it in the Olympic Spirit Project!

He showed up for the Gold Medal Game wearing tailored white pants, a white suit jacket with red arms, “Canada” embroidered on the breast pocket and a giant maple leaf sewn on the back. (You did an phenomenal job Ash Turner!) He topped that off with a red t-shirt, red and white Adidas sneakers and a maple leaf pin on the lapel.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone else looked awesome too with their jerseys, face paint, helmets and flags, but what made this so epic was the originality and the fact that this super classy suit is one of a kind. It just doesn’t get cooler than that! Complete AWESOMENESS!

(Thanks for the photoshoot OPB! Yay!)

Olympic Party Boy - Greg Olympic Party Boy - Greg Olympic Party Boy - Greg Olympic Party Boy - Greg

How did you show your Olympic Spirit during the Games?

 

Olympic Spirit Project BOOKS are now available in Print, ePub and PDF! 

BUY NOW!

Postcards From Russia, With Love!


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Writing Postcards in Russia

As part of my Kickstarter rewards for the Olympic Spirit Project, I had promised to send postcards to my project backers. So on my last couple of days in Russia, after I had somewhat recovered from the flu, and the Games were over I found a nice little patio on the boardwalk along the Black Sea in Adler, ordered a Coke and sat down to deliver on my promise.

I don’t think I’ve ever sent that many postcards all at once! There were 70 cards in total! I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I hand wrote so much all at one time. It was a bit of a reality check as to how much we rely on computers for everything these days, yet refreshing to do something so very analog.

I took a few breaks to relieve the writer’s cramp, but after a couple of hours, two Cokes, and a salad for lunch, I was done! I attached the stamps and went in search of a mailbox.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Postage Stamps

A couple of weeks ago I started getting tweets and messages that the cards were arriving. (Note to self: Postcards from Russia take an entire month to get to their destination!) I asked my backers to send me fun creative photos of their postcards when they received them and here are the pics I’ve received so far. 

Thank you all again for your support on the project! It was an incredible adventure and you all helped make it possible! I will be forever grateful for your support and generosity!

With gratitude,
xo Mariska

PS. If you still have a photo to send me, please do! I will add them to this post when I receive it.

Olympic Spirit Project postcards are now available! 

BUY NOW!

 

The Sochi Flu Smacked Me With a Sidewalk


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I had heard from a few people about the Sochi Flu when I arrived, and when I woke up on Day 3 I was not impressed to feel a bit of a tickle in my throat. I was relieved when it went away in the first few hours of the day, but then on the ride back to the Coastal Cluster after my first day in the mountains I started to feel my head stuff up and the sore throat returned. Noooooo!!!!

I still hadn’t received my luggage, so didn’t have any preventative meds, and when I returned from the mountain it became clear that I was going to get full blown sick. The mountain bus dropped me at the Olympic Park and it would take about a half hour to get back to my hotel from there. With every step I took I could feel the flu taking over my body. (I hadn’t been sick in several years, so it figures that it would happen now, of all times, while I was in Russia! Grrr!)

After a train ride and another bus ride I had a 15 minute walk ahead of me, during which I stopped at a corner store to pick up some bottled water and snacks. It started to rain, and of course I didn’t have my umbrella with me (it was in my luggage), so I proceeded to get soaked.

Bruised KneesWhen I was about 5 minutes away from my hotel, I tripped and fell HARD on both knees on the now mucky sidewalk. The stuff I had just bought flew all over the place, my only pair of pants were now covered in mud and the white maple leaf on the palms of my Canada mittens were now covered in mud.

That was it. I had held it back until that moment. Tripping was the last straw. I collapsed on the ground and felt my eyes fill with tears of frustration. This was not how I pictured my awesome day ending!

I sat there for about half a minute in disbelief that this had just happened when a lovely Russian man ran up and started to pick up my strewn “groceries” and despite my insisting that it wasn’t necessary, he carried it back my hotel for me in the pouring rain. I thanked him saying “spasibo“, and gave him a Canadian Olympic pin, a hug and an appreciative (but disheartened) smile before going inside.

When I got to my room I changed out of my wet muddy clothes into one of my borrowed t-shirts and searched my stuff for a bandaid. I found a few in my carry-on luggage (thank goodness!) and applied one to my bleeding knee before collapsing into bed with hopes that some sleep would encourage the Sochi Flu to pass me by.

Every travel adventure comes with its share of frustrations and mishaps, and I was happy to leave the past couple of hours behind me. I closed my eyes and went to sleep looking forward to waking up to a new day of new possibilities.

 What mishaps have you experienced while traveling? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

A Message from the Shore of the Black Sea in Russia


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I haven’t posted much since I’ve been in Russia, thanks to a nasty flu, so I thought I would record a bit of a wrap-up video before I leave Russia early tomorrow morning. So here’s a little message from the shores of the Black Sea in Russia:

Planes, the Stanley Cup and Lost Luggage


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My flight from Amsterdam to Sochi was smooth. I enjoyed some classic Dutch pub food (bitterballen & een biertje) at the Schiphol airport pre-flight and then boarded the plane for the first leg to Istanbul. The layover in Istanbul was short and the board was already flashing “last call” for my next flight, so I was once again running thought he airport. It was probably one of the more confusing airports I’ve seen with unclear signage and odd organization. But after some confusion and asking around, I found my gate. This was my first experience boarding a bus to get out to the plane on the tarmac. (I’ve never shared the road with giant airplanes before!) It was kinda cool to feel how big these machines actually are by standing with beside it on the ground and then climbing the stairs to board.

I sat down beside a man who turned out to be an agent for many of the USA hockey team’s NHL players and he told me that he had been sitting beside the Stanley Cup on display in the airport lounge for about 8 hours that day. Then he told me that the Stanley Cup was on the plane with us! How awesome is that?! Ya, pretty awesome!

We landed at the Sochi airport at 4am and it took about 30 minutes to pass through passport control and then I went to the luggage belt to I wait for my bag. I waited and waited and in the end, no bag. Arg!

No luggage

photo: Kyle Brayer

I spent the next 2+ hours filling out paperwork and trying to figure out where my bag got held. It seems this isn’t uncommon with Turkish Airlines, as I was one of four people whose luggage didn’t arrive. So after much frustration, they found that my bag had been left behind in Istanbul and it would be on the next flight out. On Monday. Today was Friday. I’m not looking forward to 3 days in the same clothes.

After activating my Spectator Pass, I went looking for a taxi to get me to my hotel. The 10 minute drive took a half hour because he had no idea where he was going, even though I had printed out a map to the hotel. After much convincing, he finally called the hotel and we were only a block away. I thanked him, paid him and he ended up giving me some money back for the inconvenience. Pretty sure THAT has never happened before!

It was now 7am, and I was finally in my hotel. Evgeny, the lovely man who runs the hotel, doesn’t speak more than about 5 words of English, so he communicates through his mobile phone’s translator app. He’s pretty awesome. Finally, everything was done and I creeped into the room where my new roommate was sleeping, apologized for waking her, brushed my teeth and flopped into bed for a much needed nap after a long night and frustrating morning of travel.

How to Apply for a Russian Tourist Visa


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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!

Announcing the Olympic Spirit Project


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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


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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.

 

Luge Relay Debuts at Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games


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Take an in-depth look at the Luge Relay event as they build to its Olympic debut at the upcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T23HBElQmaI” width=”560″ height=”315″


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