I woke up on Day 2 to a beautiful day. It was sunny and about 18 degrees celsius. I decided to take a walk along the boardwalk along the river Mzymta before heading toward the Olympic Park and these are the views I was faced with. Adler was absolutely beautiful! It was so warm that I found myself wishing I had packed a pair of shorts and flip flops! The palm trees along the river made the idea that I was at the winter Olympics completely surreal!
I didn’t have any events scheduled for that day so I headed to the Olympic Park with the intention of buying a park pass to explore some of the cultural venues. I connected with an American friend who I had met through one of the Sochi Facebook groups, and as I went to stand in the 90 minute ticket lineup (ugh), he went looking for a pair of inexpensive event tickets from people selling extras outside the park. I figured that if I was going to pay for a park pass anyway, I was fine with paying a few extra dollars if it meant I would take in an Olympic event that day.
I wasn’t in line more than 15 minutes and my new friend messaged me saying that he had been successful! He had found a pair of short track speed skating tickets for only $30 each from another American who had extra tickets! Yay! And just like that, we were off to our first event of the 2014 Olympic Games! HappyDance!
If you have never watched speed skating live, it is an absolutely amazing sight! Short track is especially exciting because they move so quickly around such a small track. They lean in at such an angle around the corners that you think that they may just fall over! Unfortunately, one of our Canadian medal hopefuls did just that… I watched Charles Hamelin lose his balance and as he fell he also knocked the American competitor out of the race and they both hit the padded arena wall HARD!
In the end, two Russians won gold and silver, while the Netherlands brought home the bronze medal for the event Men’s 1000m event. They usually don’t actually present the medals at the events, but they do bring the athletes up onto a podium to recognize their achievement and to perform a flower ceremony. The medals were presented later that evening in the Medals Plaza.
When the event was over, I wandered around the park in search of Olympic Spirit and some Russians provided some excellent examples:
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the park photographing Olympic venues and landmarks and ended up at the House of Switzerland.
The Swiss House was great fun! Since Canadians were not permitted to go inside the Canada Olympic House unless they were friends or family of the athletes, the House of Switzerland became our second home. This is where we (Canadians) would end up daily to celebrate the events of the day with food, drinks and great company. It was no strange occurrence for the Canadian national anthem to break out (it would happen nightly, sometimes more than once), and the house would be packed until sometime between 2am and 4am, depending when they decided to shut it all down.
What I loved the most about the day was that it was a completely unplanned day without expectations and it turned into a day filled with incredible surprises from the warm weather to the unexpected short track ticket and all the wonderful people I met along the way. Any anxiety that I may have had about traveling to Russia and the Olympics solo had completely melted away, and when I got back to the hotel at 2am I was completely exhausted and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.