Snapshots: Sochi experience better than reported

Performers dance as spectators arrive at the Olympic Park for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics,...

Performers dance as spectators arrive at the Olympic Park for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 9, 2014. (REUTERS)

TED WYMAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 2:25 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - On social media and even in the mainstream, it seems everybody is slagging Sochi.

From unfinished hotel rooms to broken doors to small beds, to lost bus drivers, to missing light bulbs, it seems everybody has a complaint about the preparedness, or lack thereof, of the Russian hosts.

Personally, I have very few beefs.

I've only had hot water five out of 10 days. That's it.

My hotel room is nice and spacious, the bed comfortable and the wireless works most of the time. The transportation system has been tremendous, the work areas for media are excellent, the volunteers are extremely helpful, the venues are beautiful and the region itself is spectacular.

I think the Russians have done a great job getting this place ready, with a few obvious hiccups.

Certainly, many people would disagree with me, because there are always problems.

But one Canadian fan I spoke to Monday was gushing about the experience of being here.

"Everything we've experienced to this point has exceeded our expectations," said Mike McEwen, husband of Canadian curler Dawn McEwen. "Where we're staying, the city, the transportation, the venue, everything has been top notch. It's a pretty cool environment. It just blows your mind when you walk into that Olympic Park. It's just gargantuan."

There, we said it.

WARM IN WINTER

It was sunny and 16C at one point in Sochi on Monday and the temperature wasn't much different up in the mountains, where some alpine training runs and ski jumps trials had to be cancelled because of soft snow and warm conditions.

It's not looking great for the rest of the week either, with rain forecast for Tuesday and a high of 17C with sunshine on Thursday.

Nordic combined athlete Todd Lodwick, the American flag-bearer in these Games, had this to say about the unseasonably warm weather high in the Western Caucasus Mountains.

" I'd like to compensate with a margarita, chips and salsa, but that will have to wait till after competition," he joked to the Olympic News Service.

NAKED NEWS

Last year at the world championship, the Norwegian hockey players sent four rookies walking through the streets of Stockholm, wearing only their underwear.

Norway forward Patrick Thoresen says there may be a reprise in Sochi before the men's hockey tournament begins on Wednesday.

"We have a few new guys here so we will come up with something fun for them to do, too," Thoresen said. "That's just how it is, everybody will go through that. We might just have to give the police a heads-up before we do something that is too abnormal here, so we won't create too big headlines."

UPSET ON THE MIND

Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan is the head coach of the Latvian Olympic team here and is coming in with lofty goals.

"Am I looking for an upset? Yes sir, you bet your sweet booty, I am," Nolan said to the Olympic News Service Monday.

" There is too much negativity in this world. People say you can't do things and I refuse to believe that."

The Latvians will play Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland in the opening round of tournament.

NEWS AND NOTES

They were not selling beer in the curling venue here on Monday. Man, the Russians really don't know anything about the sport do they? "¦ Canadian slopestyle freestyle skier Kaya Turski of Montreal, a definite gold-medal contender in Tuesday's competition, revealed Monday that she has been sick for the last two weeks. She's also coming off recent knee surgery but Turski is determined to go for the gold at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. "It's some mean virus, for sure," she said of her illness. "It's been 14 days now. But I'm finally turning the corner. I just need to make sure I sleep right tonight." "¦ While there are many empty seats showing up on TV screens around the world from these Sochi venues, organizers say they sold 92% of the tickets on the weekend. However, they admitted many tickets went unused and some fans were unable to get to their seats because of lineups at security.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


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