February 04, 2014

Our Sports Editor Arrives in Sochi


Our Sports Editor Arrives in Sochi
Sometimes you feel like an Arab sheikh in Abu-Dabi... That was my impression upon arriving in Sochi on Monday. So many new things have been built around with so much money – roads, complicated interchanges, trains along the highway...
 
But maybe it was so welcome because I was arriving in Sochi from frosty Moscow. When it's 2 degrees (35 Fahrenheit) in February, and cloudless, spotless, sunny and joyful, well, what's not to like?
 
Staffers form NTV+ and the local Olympic volunteers greeted me at the airport right, set me on a shuttle to the Alexandrovsky Sad (Alexander's Garden) hotel (which unlike its namesake garden alongside the Moscow Kremlin is snow free and bathing in the sun). I look out the window and see attractive youn speed skaters whizzing by on roller blades... It's hard to remember this is February.
 
Despite what the news was reporting about unfinished hotels, my room has all the modern amenities, including a separate (!) toilet (with a lavish supply of "myagki znak" toilet paper) and a huge shared bathroom down the hall.
 
A shuttle bus stops at the hotel every 10 minutes. I hop on a half-empty shuttle and it whisks me to the stadium-sized International Press Center – a high-tech, state-of-the art facility where Rostelecom (sponsors of the games) provides free internet access on one of their notebook computers.
 
I walk for three and a half hours, amazed at all the sites located in the Coastal Cluster: the Big Ice Stadium for hockey only (!) with a 7000 seats, the 12,000 capacity Iceberg Stadium exclusively for figure skating, the Shayba (Puck) stadium just for kerling, the separate speed skating center and then the Fisht Stadium, which seats 40,000 and will host only the opening and closing ceremonies.
 
All of this is located on 2-4 square km along the Black Sea coast. The hockey stadium is literally a stone's throw from the sea, with snowy mountains towering in the background. And then I watch planes landing and taking off before a splendid sun set...
 
Two caveats. I mistakenly called my shuttle sputnik a "Canadian" (his name was Daniel Grange, and grange is a French word, so I thought perhaps he was from Montreal), but he retorted "I am from the United States," politely adding, "but we like our Canadian neighbors." He is a member of a US TV crew assigned to cover ice hockey, so we chatted about Russia's chances to win that event.
 
Second, we talked about how McDonalds on the first floor of the Press Center was almost a welcome site, after having been ripped-off at the Food Court, where I paid R750 (over $20) for a not-so-good mushroom soup and potatoes, with just one sausage and one tiny blin (pancake) with cheese and ham (and plastic forks and spoons in lieu of silver wear).
 
Lest anyone forget, soldiers and reporters travel on their stomachs, so they are both prone to judge the "atmosphere" of a place by the availability and pricing of foodstuffs...
 
But not even lousy bliny could spoil this Olympic broth. The slogan we see everywhere for the games is "Zharky, zimniye, vashi" ("Hot, cool yours").
 
Tochno.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955