A Day in the Life of an Olympic News Service Reporter

A lot of people have asked me just exactly what I was doing at the Sochi Winter Games. Working as a reporter for the Olympic News Service can be both exhausting and exhilarating. Below is a look at what a typical day for me in Sochi was like.

Good morning Sochi! Looking out at the Black Sea to start the day

Good morning Sochi! Looking out at the Black Sea to start the day

8:00am: Wake up in my tiny room in the media village and creep into the shower while my three roommates continue to sleep.

8:30am: Head to breakfast in the dining area. Catch a bit of the morning’s biathlon event on the televisions while I enjoy my meat pancakes, kasha and strawberry yogurt.

8:45am: Catch the media bus to the Main Press Center in the Coastal Cluster and then a connecting bus to the Ice Cube Curling Center to check out some Curling action.

A spirited game of curling leaves more than a few unanswered questions

A spirited game of curling leaves more than a few unanswered questions

9:30am: Confused over what’s happening in Curling, I blindly cheer on the USA against Russia. The USA loses.

10:30am: Leaving Curling early, I pay a quick visit to the USA house to visit a friend and pick up some Team USA swag.

USA House on the Olympic Park

USA House on the Olympic Park

11:30am: A long walk across Olympic Park brings me back to the Main Press Center where I encounter some pin traders outside of security. Unable to resist, I swap some pins before heading inside.

11:45am:  I pop into the AIPS office to pay a quick visit to Expat Edna whom I’ve talked to online for ages but never before met in person.

12:15pm: It’s time to head up to the Mountain Cluster so I jump on the train at Olympic Village station adjacent to the Main Press Center.

1:05pm: I arrive in Krasnaya Polyana, home of the Olympic Mountain cluster, and walk from the train station to the adjacent cable-car station. I ascend up the mountain, and then down into the heart of Rosa Khutor village. Cable-car is definitely the best part of the commute.

The best way to get to work, cable-car!

The best way to get to work, cable-car!

1:40pm: I grab a quick lunch at Luciano restaurant beside the Olympic Live site with two of my German colleagues. I have my first salad in nearly two weeks. It is glorious.

2:15pm: Back on the cable-car and up to the Sanki Sliding Center to report to work. We have a busy rest of the day today and the venue is already buzzing with activity as I walk down the track to the office.

2:30pm: I arrive at the Olympic News Service office to find out a track worker was accidentally struck by a forerunner bobsled before training. He was taken away in an ambulance with a concussion and broken legs. Two-man bobsled training runs are subsequently delayed. On the bright side, I see that some of my quotes from last night’s women’s luge finals are already being widely picked up by the media.

Some of the ONS team in the office

Some of the ONS team in the office

5:00pm: Following the two-man bobsled training runs, I get to catch up with Team USA’s Cory Butner and Vancouver Gold Medalist Steve Holcomb in the mix-zone. The mix-zone is where athletes and the media speak after events.

5:30pm: I return to the office to file some of the quotes I got from Cory and Steve which are subsequently picked up by various media outlets.

6:10pm: I grab a quick dinner in the workforce dining room with two of my colleagues as we prepare for tonight’s main event.

7:40pm: Women’s skeleton heat three kicks off on the track. Competitors final times will combine with yesterday’s heats one and two and the final heat four which will run later tonight to determine the winner. I watch part of the third heat from the finish line.

Skeleton competitor flies across the Sanki track

Skeleton competitor flies across the Sanki track

8:50pm: Women’s skeleton heat four kicks off and I  station myself in the mix-zone. As competitors finish their runs, they make their way through the mix-zone to do interviews with the media. Since we have a very multilingual team, my job is to get quotes from the native English speaking competitors.

9:19pm: I pick up some nice quotes from Australia’s Lucy Chaffer and Michelle Steele and a few from Canada’s Mellisa Hollingsworth once she got knocked out of medal contention. Melissa announces her retirement on Australia’s channel 10 and Lucy and Michelle confess regrets over some of the mistakes they made on the track.

Watching the races from the track finish

Watching the races from the finish line

9:42pm: As Russia’s Elena Nikitina crosses the finish line, Team USA’s Katie Uhlaender gets knocked out of medal contention. As she speaks to NBC’s Louis Johnson on camera, I’m standing beside the NBC camera furiously scribbling down quotes. As Katie tells NBC “I worked really hard with a lot of people to get here and I’m heartbroken” my heart breaks along with her.

9:48pm: Team USA’s Noelle Pikus-Pace crosses the finish line with a time that will earn her a silver medal. She is so excited she jumps into the grand stand and embraces her family as I watch from the sidelines.

10:05pm: With the race over, Team GB’s Lizzy Yarnold has taken Gold with Noelle Pikus-Pace the Silver and Russia’s Elena Nikitina the Bronze. The flower ceremony takes place at the finish area and I stand adjacent to the podium.

Flower ceremony for women's skeleton

Flower ceremony for women’s Skeleton

10:14pm: The winners make their way through the mix-zone and I focus on Noelle Pikus-Pace. I’m in the NBC box for their interview while she’s holding her baby girl in her arms. Noelle tells NBC that this was her last career race, that “we came, we conquered, we did it” and my USA pride swells as I furiously take notes.

Noelle Pikus-Pace being interviewed after winning the Silver medal for Skeleton

Noelle Pikus-Pace being interviewed after winning the Silver medal for Skeleton

10:30pm: Back to the office to enter all my quotes in the system and await the start of the winner press conference which takes place whenever medals are awarded.

10:55pm: The press conference at Sanki Media Center begins and I’m in the audience with my laptop. Lizzy Yarnold, Noelle Pikus-Pace and Elena Nikitina all take questions from the media as I type up highlights on the spot. For Elena, I wear a headset for simultaneous translation which is being done by an interpreter in a glass booth nearby.

11:22pm: With the press conference over, I can’t resist the urge to congratulate Noelle personally so I shake her hand and tell her how proud her country is of her.

Ladies Skeleton press conference following the match

Ladies Skeleton press conference following the match

11:45pm: With quotes entered and stories filed it’s time to call it a day. We begin the long trek from the mountain cluster back to the coastal cluster.

12:05am: My colleagues and I arrive at Gorki Media Center seconds after the bus to the Coastal Cluster departs. After waiting nearly a half hour, we decide to get on a different bus than usual and see what happens.

1:34am: The bus drops us off about a 30 minute walk from the media village. A half dozen of us  set off on foot the rest of the way.

Bar tender? Superman? What's the difference, really?

Bar tender? Superman? What’s the difference, really?

2:07am: Just a few blocks away from the media village we duck into a grocery store to see if we can buy a couple of beers. You can’t buy alcohol after 10pm, but the grocery store has a back-room bar that is happy to serve us. I buy a round for the team.

2:33am: Inspired by my round of drinks, my colleagues begin to take turns buying subsequent rounds. The Baltika is flowing freely and we have quickly become of great interest to the bar’s other patrons.

The ONS team having some beers in the back-room of a grocery store

The ONS team having some beers in the back-room of a grocery store

3:45am: So many Baltikas. So many bags of Lays chips being passed around. So many Russians eager to have deep in depth conversations with us. Team bonding continues with no end in sight.

4:45am: At this point, the bar tender is buying us drinks and everybody is friends. Russians, Germans, a Latvian, Aussie, Brit and me. We could solve the world’s problems with only a few more Baltikas.

5:25am: We finally call it a night, say goodnight to new friends and walk the rest of the way back to the media village. It has been a very Olympic day.

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