Swept up in the excitement in Sochi

Brian Jones/Special to Coast Reporter / Staff writer
March 7, 2014 01:00 AM

Elphinstone Secondary School grad Brian Jones, studying journalism at Kwantlen University, just returned from Sochi Russia where he covered the Winter Olympics for the Olympic News Service

Imagine the biggest event you've ever been to, and then add 3,000 athletes, 15,000 journalists, 37,000 security guards and $51 billion.

My six weeks in Sochi are over, but the experiences will be enduring.

When I first learned that my role within the Sochi organizing committee's Olympic News Service (ONS) would be limited to covering press conferences, I was disheartened. I became envious of the venue teams, the ones in the thick of the action, watching live events and interviewing sweaty, tearful, glowing medallists.

But my job at the Gorki Media Centre -the main press centre for the mountain cluster -proved to be more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I interviewed gold medallists - what seems like half the Canadian Olympic team - broke news stories and filled in at a couple of venues when they needed extra help.

Mark McMorris, Mike Riddle, Lydia Lassila, Torah Bright, Iouri 'iPod' Podladtchikov, Bode Miller and Dominique Maltais are a few of the of the athletes I was lucky enough to share words with.

In the case of Australia's Bright -the enigmatic silver medallist in women's halfpipe - I was even luckier when our paths crossed at a nightclub in the mountains. I'll admit that her dancing ability is on par with her prowess on the slopes.

I was sent to help interview athletes in the mixed zone at both the cross-country skiing and speed skating venues. At the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Centre, I watched the heavily favoured Norwegians falter, as Sweden won gold in both the men's and women's relays. At Adler Arena, I witnessed the fourth Dutch podium sweep in Sochi, as Jorrit Bergsma set a new Olympic record in the men's 10,000m.

During my limited but much appreciated downtime, I watched Podladtchikov destroy the American snowboard team's hopes in the halfpipe with his perfectly executed YOLO flip.

I was six rows behind Team Canada's bench for their Olympic opening against Norway, slipping away from my journalistic neutrality for an evening to scream, clap and cheer in a sea of red and white at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

The magnitude of this sporting event was hard to put into words. It's something that you have to physically feel to fully appreciate.

The buzz that permeates the mass of frenetic international fans is so easily absorbed upon entry to the Olympic Park. The chatter between reporters at the morning breakfast buffet after a memorable medal performance the night prior breathed life into each day.

Phrases like "The Dutch did it again!" or "Can you believe Belarus?" and "Shaun White is a joke," are just as often heard as the drunk bellows of 'RUS-SI-YA!' that echo throughout Adler in the still of the night.

Apart from the Games, the relationships and connections I made through the ONS are going to be life-long. It feels like I've known some of my fellow reporters for years due to the amount of time we've spent working, commuting and celebrating together.

Before coming to Sochi, I would hear athletes describe the allure and prestige of the Olympics comparing to little else, but I did not even begin to fully appreciate what that means until now. The fact that the Games only happen once every four years is a testament to the impact they leave on those who take part.

I couldn't wait to get back home, but at the same time, I never wanted it to end.

Editor's note: Brian Jones was born and raised on the Sunshine Coast. He is currently in his final year of Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Bachelor of Journalism program and just finishedworking at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games as a reporter forthe Olympic News Service.


© Coast Reporter

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