It’s official. In just a few short weeks I’ll be heading to Russia for the Sochi 2014 Olympics. I’m so excited it’s hard to focus on anything else but there is so much to do! Thankfully I have most of my arrangements taken care of already but I am counting the days until I get on the plane to head over. I know from my previous experience in Beijing that an Olympics is intense. But I’m ready for the challenge – bring it on!
Where I’m Going
The 2014 Winter Games are being held in and around the city of Sochi. Most Americans have never heard of Sochi. Before they announced the Games would be held in Sochi, neither had I. Turns out Sochi is probably the opposite of everything you think of when you think of Russia. I could go into lots of detail about what makes Sochi so unique, but NBC has already done that for me. Check out this video.
How I’m Getting There
Sochi isn’t really an international hub which makes getting there a bit of a challenge. I spent weeks trying to figure out the best route and in the end made three separate bookings on three separate airlines in order to make it all work. I’ll be departing from New York’s JFK International Airport and flying to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. Once in Istanbul I’ll be just 577 miles from Sochi on the other side of the Black Sea. A one hour flight on Aeroflot will take me the rest of the way. Returning home, I’ll fly from Sochi to Kiev on Ukraine International Airlines and then onward to Istanbul where I’ll pick up the return leg of my JFK-Istanbul round-trip. Thanks to miles, I was able to get all these flights for only about $600 out of pocket.
What I’ll Be Doing
I am super excited to be working for the Sochi 2014 Olympic News Service (ONS), which is the internal news bureau for the Olympic Games. I’ll be based at the Olympic Mountain Cluster in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana amidst the Western Caucasus Mountains. Specifically, I’ll be at the Sanki Sliding Center which is home to Olympic Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton. As a member of the Olympic News Service (ONS) team, my job will be to interview athletes after their competitions in order to generate quotes and content that can then be provided to the world’s media. Since no media outlet can be present for every event at the Games, the ONS plays the crucial role of providing Olympic news and content to all members of the media to facilitate effective coverage of all events.
What I Need to Learn
A lot! At this point I’ve printed nearly a full ream of material I need to learn. Not only do I need to learn as much as possible about Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton but I’ve been studying up on the Games themselves, the city of Sochi, the Russian language and how to read the Cyrillic alphabet. There’s no shortage of material to study, but at times there is an overwhelming amount of it. I have no doubt I’ll be prepared by the time I get to Sochi, but at this point nearly all my free time is going towards reading these materials.
What I Need to Pack
Besides my usual must-have travel gear, the list is just getting ridiculous. I’ve already ordered two cases of Clif Bars to have for breakfasts. I need to get a good winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves that I can use my iPhone through, good winter boots, probably more Clif bars, a headlamp, some sort of waterproof spray for my clothes, thermal underwear, a water purifier, shoe dryers (?), something called a balaclava and a really good thermos. Once I figure all that out I’ll do a separate post just on what I’m packing for the Olympics. In the mean time, if you have any suggestions please post it in the comments!
Come Join Me
Are you going to be in Sochi for the Olympics? If so, please let me know! If you are still planning your details, check out this guide I wrote for Men’s Journal on how to plan a trip to Sochi for the Winter Games.