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Day 16: A shower curtain in Barrack 15

Written by Brady McCollough on .

sochi17

I have now been in Russia for 16 days. What a blur. 

In Magnitogorsk, I was jet lagged and going on full adrenaline doing the reporting for my story on Evgeni Malkin. When I arrived in Sochi, I was no longer jet lagged and ready to hit the ground running. The only problem was that Sochi wasn't ready for me. As I previously noted, I had no door latch, no shower curtain, no working heat and no wifi in my hotel building, which I have affectionately called "Barrack 15."
 
sochi showerThe Miracle on Vinyl.But I will give the Russians credit. There was nothing malicious about them ignoring media accommodations. The preparations for this event have been on such a massive scale, and I honestly think they just weren't ready for media to arrive a few days before the Games begun. Within a few days, I had a new door latch, heat and wifi. After a while, I had given up on a shower curtain.
 
And then a few days ago, I returned to my room to find one hanging. Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!
 
I have no complaints about this place. It is gorgeous, and the venues where I watch events and do work are futuristic and first-class. The views of the Black Sea coast, where the weather has been in the 50s most days, are only surpassed by the views of the stunning Krasnaya Polyana mountains in the distance.
 
So far, Russia is winning these games, at least as much as a country could in the midst of allegations of killing stray dogs and the ever-present feeling that not everybody is welcome to be themselves in this country. 
 
They needed the Olympic venues to shine, and they needed there to be no terrorist acts. So far, they're two for two, and let's pray it stays that way for the next 10 days.
 
Now, some observations from my travels:
 
* The mountain area is way nicer. I went up there to cover Shaun White in the snowboarding and crashed with my friend Rick Maese of the Washington Post, and when I saw Rick's room, I felt like I was in a Marriott. (There is actually a Marriott being built in the mountain area, but this was just a hotel where media were staying). Apparently, they really get stuff done in the mountain area. When Rick got there, there was an empty building next to his hotel. Three days later, there was a fully operational Subway. And to think that I get excited for a shower curtain down here!
sochi marriott
 
* The halfpipe is way steeper than it appears on TV:
sochi halfpipe
 
* The hockey scene is going to be great as it gets going. This is a photo of a Russian Evgeni Malkin fan taking a picture with a bunch of Canadians wearing Curling hats: 
curlheads
 
* The mountain is pretty great, but you can't fish there like these guys on a recent afternoon in Sochi. 
sochi beach

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Seeing Sochi clearly & a chance encounter with Mr. Malkin

Written by Brady McCollough on .

sochi mountainsThe view of the Caucasus Mountains from my hotel area.
 
Maybe it's because I have wifi in my hotel room now. Maybe it's because I have a working door latch. Maybe it's because I have heat. Maybe it's because I've finished my feature story on Evgeni Malkin and Magnitogorsk, which has been stressing me out all week (in a good way!). But now I am able to see Sochi very clearly.
 
I can see the sun setting on the Black Sea to my left, and breathtaking snow-capped mountains to my right. I can see the cool, futuristic stadiums fashioned with Putin's billions in Olympic Park, and I'm wowed, while at the same time thinking, "How in the world are they going to use all of this stuff enough in this remote part of Russia to make it worth their investment?" Luckily, that's not my problem. 
 
Sure, there is the occasional stray dog, and the threat of terrorism, and broken hotel elevators when you really just want to go to bed at 5 a.m. after a long day. But this is Russia. This is any place. It's good, and it's bad, and it's complicated. 
 
How about we look at it through the eyes of Vladimir Malkin, Evgeni's father? I happened to run into him walking back to my hotel from lunch, and we talked in broken English. Vladimir was ebullient, so happy to be out of the arctic temperatures of his home in Magnitogorsk. Sochi was 50 but felt like 90. He and Natalia were headed to the team figure skating event tonight, and he seemed excited for it. Evgeni gets to town on February 10, he said. Vladimir's television in the hotel wasn't working, but he didn't seem to care too much. After all, we're not in Sochi to watch TV. 
 
I'll be at team figure skating on Sunday and possibly U.S. women's hockey on Monday. That should be fun, but the Games won't really get going for me until the men's hockey tournament begins on Thursday.
 
Some quick pix: 
 
sochi bolshoyThe Bolshoy Ice Dome, where hockey gold medal will be handed out in two weeks.

sochi stadiumFisht Olympic Stadium: miniature JerryWorld without the humongous TV screens.

sochi blackseaThe Black Sea shoreline just a mile or so from Fisht Olympic Stadium.


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"Totally and ridiculously awesome"

Written by Brady McCollough on .

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Comrade Beidi MakKollou

Written by Brady McCollough on .

Pardon the "Game of Thrones" reference, but it appears my friends in Magnitogorsk have sent a raven about my visit to a Russian media Web site

brady kgb

I recommend Google Translate. (editor's note: Seriously, translate it. It's hilarious.)

However, my name will still show up as Beidi MakKollou.

And, for an article like this, they can call me Beidi MakKollou. You can call me Beidi MakKollou. I am Beidi MakKollou.

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