Monday, February 24, 2014

Pleased to have met you, Sochi

I'm a fan of Olympic games. I rarely watch sports (live or otherwise), and I've never been much of a (sports) player, although I did win silver in a 1.5 km race back when I was... twelve? First race I ever ran. Last, too.

But I love the Olympics.

It's the dreams, I guess. The hope in every face, spectator or competitor. The coming together. I know--cheesy. I choke up with the first strains of the Chariots of Fire theme (yes, even on the Carnival Cruise ad).

I watched the Nadia Comaneci movie dozens of times. And Ice Castles? Hundreds.

I probably learned to skate more from this movie than from the lessons I got at the Galleria rink every time we were in Houston for vacation. (Disclaimer: I can't skate to save my life. Do not try this at home.)

The rink at the Houston Galleria where I learned
 to skate (humming Through The Eyes Of Love)
So the past two-plus weeks have been a mix of heaven and frustration for me. Heaven because--well, see above. Frustration because of TV coverage, or lack thereof. But I managed to watch some events, not as many as I'd have liked--not, for example, nearly enough figure skating, or skiing--but still.

And beyond the sports, what struck me was how different Russia seems to be from the idea I had of it. Yeah, I grew up in Cold War times.

Being Mexican, I'm no stranger to the lengths a country will go to in order to put on a show worthy of international Olympic coverage. Still, Russia's presentation to the world was impressive. How real it was, what it cost (I'm not talking about money here), whether it was a sweeping-under-the-rug or the proof of a true desire to move forward, rise above... Well, time will tell. There's that LGBT issue, for example, that shows no signs of changing in the near future. But this article in the New Yorker added a level of depth to these XXII Winter Games that make them a greater part of history.

Are you an Olympic fan? Did you watch the Sochi games? What did you think about Russia's image?


  1. I am not that much into winter sports, but i love to watch the Olympic opening celebration with the athletes from all nations. It's like an icon of "1 world", with the same emotions present in so many different faces from different countries. Will go and read the New Yorker article now - oh, did you see? It's from the future, it says "March 3, 2014" under the title.

  2. Guilie!

    I loved the games and I loved the glimpses of Sochi. I have Russian friends and we were online babbling about dacha and banya and food! Must have food and Vodka! Da! I turn completely Russian at the mention of black break, cucumbers vodka! A country with that vastness and the richest history imaginable, is just so enticing to me. I see you were caught up in it as well, Spaciba!
    #teamDamnyanti #atozreveal

  3. My sport-watching is normally limited to Formula 1 and touring cars (not forgetting indoor and crown green bowling), but I always enjoy the Olympic, Paralympic and Winter Olympic games. I think I preferred the pre-1992 games, when all athletes were amateurs, but the spirit of the games is still there. In the Sochi games, I enjoyed ice dancing, speed skating, slopestyle and halfpipe, but as I tend to prefer brain over brawn, skill over strength, finesse over force, it's the curling for me, every time.
    I'm not convinced that the Olympic spectacle tells us anything about the host country, beyond its ability (creative and financial) to put on a good show. Like most other countries, if you look under the glitz and glamour, under the veneer of wealth, affluence and privilege, you will find pockets of poverty, unrest and deprivation.
    Before I left school, 49 years ago, I was studying Russian. I was delighted that I could still read most of the signs etc that were left on screen long enough for me to decipher, even if I couldn't understand many of them. That added a small intellectual challenge for me - never a bad thing.

  4. I love the Olympic games. I watched a good amount this year (loved the ice dancers, skiers). Watched the closing ceremony the other night. What a great show.
    You mentioned Nadia, my countrywoman. :) I remember her perfect ten, was a kid watching in Romania. Every Romanian mother wanted her daughter to be a little gymnast after Nadia. I wasn't cut out for it -- grew too tall -- but yes, I remember being dragged to the gym, until finally the coach had to break my mom's heart and announce I'd be a better volleyball player than gymnast. Great post, Guilie. Brought back wonderful memories.

  5. Oh, wait, I left out your important question here: Russia's image.
    The bar was set very low and they jumped way over it. All in all excellent. To that respect, I'm glad for them, though I don't agree with the politics coming out of there, but that's another topic. Russians are a *very* proud people, so I say they did great for Mother Russia.

  6. Hi Guilie - I saw some of the winter Olympics as I do love sport at its pinnacle. The athletes work so amazingly hard to achieve to their maximum, they have dedication and focus.

    Sochi seemed to work very well ... yet it seemed empty, if I was there I'd be grateful .. easy to get around etc ... but unable to accommodate its own peoples ...

    I was interested that the Fisht Stadium was only used for the Opening and Closing ceremonies - made life easier for the artistic designers ... the main one being an Italian, surprised me. However it will be used for the Football World Cup in 2018 ...

    I enjoyed reading the article in the New Yorker ... made for a better understanding of the feeling of diminishment for the Russian peoples after 1989.

    Thanks .. I have a contact who has been at Sochi - but I need to spend some time catching up with her posts ... I loved the light relief ad .. of the kids and the watershute - fun! Cheers Hilary

  7. I also enjoyed watching the Olympics this year. I have the utmost respect for everyone who was able to participate. I remember when Ice Castles first came out. Lynn-Holly Johnson grew up in my hometown, so it was very exciting to see her. Nice to meet you Guilie! I'm a new follower.


  8. As Ethiopia didn't compete, it wasn't on TV at all T.T I missed watching it.


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