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."
The 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!
* The halfpipe is way steeper than it appears on TV:
* 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:
* The mountain is pretty great, but you can't fish there like these guys on a recent afternoon in Sochi.