Category Archives: #michinsochi

The Hospitalities

Every day Sochi gets more packed, and I like it. It is a warmer feeling. 

Today was all about the hospitalities: P&G, Visa, and Coca Cola. What TOP Sponsor spend in the Olympics is incredible. Also, what they do for athletes or their special guests is unbelievable. That is why they are top corporations! In the P&G house you can get a haircut, the ladies can get their “manipedis”, they go the whole nine yards. Coca Cola has a huge inflatable hospitality place where I got to show my talents handling a soccer ball. Someone’s got a picture of me doing that, I’ll post it as soon as I get it. 
After that I got to volunteer again at the USA House. It was a good day for the mountain events so there were plenty of medalists to be cheered. 
Obviously there are a lot of US tourists, but non of them can get into the USA House unless they are special guests of the USOC or are athletes (or friends and family). One of our roles as volunteers is to be bouncers. I kind of enjoyed that role. Our shift ran from 5 to 12. It was a quiet night overall. Got to sleep in early.
Until next time.

Extraordinary and Weird Russia

Everyone we have talked to has told us that this Russia games have been very different from others. Basically said that everything is a bit more complicated and making things happen is more challenging. I think that that has to do more with the fact that everything in Sochi is new, and that despite the efforts of everyone to have things ready on time, they just could not do it. For example, on Wednesday the 12th, we talked to Nancy from the USOC, she is in charge of the logistics for the athletes. One thing that struck me was that not all the equipment for the athletes had arrived and they were scrambling to get them to Sochi.

They said very interesting things. They were staying in a hotel that they practically remodel and customized for their stance. All the remodeling was part of the contract that they had with the hotel owner. It is interesting how locals benefit in many ways from the Olympics, I had not thought about it before. 
After that we went back to the area where our hotel was. We had lunch! Yes there was time for lunch and not only our daily dose of granola bars. In the restaurant we had a couple of lectures from:
– Director of Spectator Experience – He was an energetic guy, the kind of person you need to run this area. 
– Atoos (TOP Sponsor) – Martha, a Spanish lady that worked with Atoos, the company in charge of all the technology systems for the Olympics. I was wowed by the amount of things that they do inside and outside the venues. 
Then we went back to the Olympic Park where the producer for the Opening Ceremony spoke to us. Unfortunately he couldn’t get us passes to go inside their workplace, so we had to stand in the sun and heat of Sochi. Trust me it was hot!

He cautiously mentioned the incident about the 5th ring not showing up… “Shit happens”. Nice guy.
Then I went to a couple of events, Curling (boring, unless you are rooting for a country), and the Switzerland vs Latvia hockey game. What was more striking about that you may ask? They have mirrors in the ceiling of the bathrooms inside the venues!!! Yes, I took a picture.

That was my highlight of the day, how could it not…
Until next time..

A Day up at the Mountain #michinsochi

Internet at our hotel is no fun. High speed Internet is not heard of here at the Amelia House. As everyone went ahead and made their way up to the Mountain Cluster I had to stay behind because I had to submit a homework. Yes, despite this trip I need to remind myself that I’m in a full-time MBA program. The Internet did not help me speed things up. Fortunately I was able to pray hard enough and get the Internet to upload my 100kb file up to Blackboard.

I made my way to the mountain. And it was a long ride. My trip included a walk to the main street, then I decided to take a public bus (not one of the free ones, I paid the equivalent of $1 USD) to the Adler Station, from there I took the train up to the mountains. Coincidentally, the high speed train that takes you to the mountains has the same speed as our Internet back at the hotel. The good thing is that even though it really goes slow in some parts of the ride, it only takes about 50 minutes to get there. Unfortunately for me, I needed to take an extra bus to get to where every one was. It took me about 1:30 hours to finally catch up with the rest of the group.

Once in the mountain I the group was meeting with a US Government Special Agent (security). He basically answered every question we had for him with “I cannot comment on that”, cool guy though. We also met with Rick Adams, the Director of Mountain Operations for the USOC, when he’s not in Russia he’s the Chief of Sport Administration. He told us a lot of things, but the most interesting I remember about his lecture was that they have a “quarantine room” for any athlete that gets sick. They really protect their athletes and are not willing to risk any kind of virus to spread around.

By far the coolest thing that day was going to the Olympic Village. The contact for Prof. Neirotti told us how lucky we were because not only were we going to the Mountain Village, but we would get to go to the parts where only athletes and their families get to go!

A pick of me at the mountain:



After doing a little tourism of the Village we ate a wonderful pizza. Eating is something that we don’t do here. While eating we got a little speech from a Christian group from the US. Yeah, they are everywhere, even Sochi. They gave us a pin, I gave mine to Dr. Neirotti in exchange for an A in the class (right?).

To end our day we went to the final of the Half Pipe event, a lot of people were crashing! The weather is not ideal for the Winter Olympic Games. I am not from the US, but a lot of my friends were highly disappointed to see Shaun White fail to get to the podium. I was not pleased either.




Overall and despite not getting to see the favorite win nor getting beer into my system, it was a phenomenal day!


Sochi City, USA House, & The Holland House #michinsochi

On Monday the 10th, we went as a group to Sochi City, it’s about 40 minutes by train from the Adler Station which is closer to the Olympic Park. It was hot. 



We went to a hotel where we met with a Nike representative, also with Nawal el Moutawakel, a Moroccan Gold Medalist and now current member of the IOC, and a Canadian legal representative of the IOC. All of them shared incredible stories that really made me think about the possibility of getting involved in one way or another in the Olympic movement.  It’s incredible enormous! It’s really unbelievable how many people work behind the scenes. Just the other day that we went to the IBS, there were hundreds of technicians, journalists, logistics operators, etc. It is amazing.



After our lectures up in Sochi City were done, we hurried down to the Olympic Park where I had scheduled my first of two volunteering shifts at the USA House. What I did not know is that that night was a special event night and that the house was closed even to the regular special guests and athletes. The USOC was hosting IOC Members! So we rearranged the house and the furniture the way they asked us to and our next order was to stand outside and wave US flags creating some sort of corridor so that IOC members were able to follow the flags into the House. It was not the most interesting of the activities until I saw all the big shots walking 3 feet from me.







After a couple of hours standing outside in the rain waving COI members into the house, I got the green light to finish early my volunteering, the reason for that: Ruud had gotten me a couple of tickets to the Holland House. 



I think that party-wise the Heineken Holland House is by far the best place to go. Ruud got me 2 tickets so I took Ryan with me. It happened to be a night where the Netherlands had won 1-2-3 in 1000m for speed skating. The place was madness. They brought in a local dutch pop-star to sing and everyone was singing and dancing along. Ryan and me even became close friends with Miss Montreal, funny story how she got that name, but I can’t tell it in this space.


 


I named that Youtube video wrong, but that’s where they were presenting their medalists! It was an awesome experience! All I can say is, I hope I get the chance to go again.







Long and Rewarding Day #michinsochi

Let me start by saying stating that I am a light sleeper and that snoring will wake me up and prevent me from getting a good night rest. To my bad luck, my 2 roommates are big time snorers. Here is proof to that:


I don’t know how, but about 20 of us got into a taxi van and headed to another early start. This time our destination was a hotel where in the conference room we heard from one of the members of the TAS. I found pretty interesting that in the same room where we were holding he meeting athletes had come and gone in the past few days in order to present their cases in hopes for gaining a spot for the Olympics “on the table”. Apparently a couple of Austrian skiers didn’t see fair that they had been excluded from the competition so they went to the TAS to have their cases heard. Unfortunately for them, both cases were heard and rejected.



After the talk I approached the TAS member that was giving us the lecture and asked him about the case of the Mexican Soccer team regarding clembuterol during the Gold Cup. He was not aware of the case which I highly doubt. Too bad, I really wanted to hear his opinion.


Next we had a lecture by the former major of Salt Lake City and one of the key members of the successful bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. She was also one of the most important persons that successfully promoted the presence of Women Ski Jumping in the Olympics. In the next few days that competition will begin for the first time in the history of Olympic Games. Of course we had to ask her about the bribing scandal for the Salt Lake City bid. She cleverly said that they had learned from what Nagano had done for the 1998 bid when SLC lost to them. Gifts, gifts, gifts…


We then headed back to the Olympic Park where we were invited to the Pyeonyang House. They greeted us with a nice scarf and free booze! They were presenting the next Winter Olympic Games which will take place in that South Korean city. I didn’t know before we got there, but it wasn’t only us in the house,Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC was present too! Here’s a picture I took of him walking right next to me before entering the house.



Later we met the one and only Masato Mizuno! I know I’ve been saying this and probably will continue to do so, it has been one of my favorite lectures! He is such an amazing guy. I had no idea about his retail company (which he didn’t talk about). He only focused on the Tokyo 2020 bid and how they managed to win. He spoke about the 6 bidding elements and how they bounced back after losing to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games: “Keep the best improve the rest.”



1.       1. The Plan – vision, concept, and legacy


2.      2.  Support other people.


3.       3. International and domestic communication


4.       4. Evaluation commission – no mistakes.


5.       5. Presentation.


6.       6. Lobbying


I specially loved the lobbying part. Totally made sense from what we had heard earlier in the day with the Salt Lake City bid.


To finish of what had been a great day, a couple of us went to the Azimut Hotel where the Heineken Holland House was located. Unfortunately for us only 2 out of the 5 that went had tickets for the event. I stayed with the other 2 and had a few drinks at the hotel’s bar. It was a great decision because I met Ruud, OC member for the Netherlands. I chatted with him for about 2 hours, we talked about the Olympics, Mexico, his girlfriend, our mutual interest in charity foundations, and more. I told him about us not having tickets for the Heineken House and how it was impossible to get any tickets online. He promised that he’d try to get some tickets for me for another night. I gave him my business card and hoped that he would contact me the next day.


So to recap a regular Sunday:


          Snoring


          Crowded van


          Met TAS member


          Met former major of Salt Lake City


          Met the IOC president.


          Enjoyed the lecture by one of the most influential Japanese men in the world.


          Added a new friendship in Ruud.


Not bad for a Sunday!