While social media was showing images of a distraught and run-down Sochi, our Modis Colleague paints a different picture from the trip of a lifetime! Here’s more from this exciting adventure:
On Thursday, we attended both the Men’s and Women’s Short Track Speed Skating. It is a very different feel than the long track and definitely had you on the edge of your seat. One wrong move by an athlete and they could wipe out, taking other competitors with them. After the speed skating, Bill and I went to the Team USA hockey game against Slovakia. We were in the first row on the glass behind the Team USA bench. Bill and I are season ticket holders for our local NHL team so seeing so many of our favorite players in person was amazing.
On Friday morning we were exhausted, but mustered up the energy to visit the spa in our hotel. Word of advice, learn the word “lighter” in Russian before ever attempting a massage. My therapist ended our session 20 minutes early and I was never so thankful for a massage to end! That afternoon, we attended the first part of a vodka tasting. Thankfully we had to cut it short for our next event, as we tasted 3 samples in the first 15 minutes!
Plus, we were sporting our Team USA hockey jerseys and cheered them on to a win. Later that night, we were able to score tickets to the Canada vs. Norway hockey game. Canada won and seeing how stacked their lineup was, we knew they had a very good chance at gold.
That afternoon, we went to the NBC house, which is connected to the Team USA house. We were sitting on the outside deck when I realized we were right next to a former US Olympian!
A short time later, we heard someone say that Vladimir Putin was coming to the Team USA house in 30 minutes. We saw them close off one side of the deck with a velvet rope and the security personnel started increasing. Putin met with the US Olympic Committee chairman and we were just 10 feet away from it all. I can honestly say that I had a glass of wine with Putin! After that we went to see the Men’s Figuring Skating final. Again we had great seats and it was nice to see an individual skating event.
On Saturday morning, Bill and I attended a function where we got to meet and skate with a former Olympic Gold medalist. She was extremely sweet, very approachable and quite down to earth. It was amazing to hear her inspirational story and how much her parents gave up so she could pursue her dream.
Saturday was our last day in Sochi and that evening was the highlight of our entire trip. Dressed in our Olympic Ice Hockey jerseys, we attended the Team USA men’s hockey game vs. Russia. I can honestly say it was the best sporting event I have attended in my entire life. It was a nail biter of a game and at multiple times I thought the outcome might be different. However in a tense shootout, Team USA pulled out a win and the crowd went crazy! Even though there were probably 50-75 Russia fans for every US fan, the Russians had great sportsmanship. The never taunted the other fans or called names. Even after the game they were high-fiving us and asking for pictures with Bill and me.
One of the most surprising things about the trip was how wonderful we were treated by the people of Russia. Many of them spoke English and they often went out of their way to make sure those from other countries felt safe and welcomed in their country. Sochi failed but not in the way it was advertised on social media. Sochi failed in not living up to fear and negative hype. The country was beautiful, the people were warm and inviting, the Olympic Winter Games and venues were top notch and we felt safe and protected. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and something we will tell our grandkids about one day!