From Russia With Love: Opening Ceremony & Day One Recap

“Yes, love, ….I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything….” ― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

Friday night’s theme was love: romantic love, the love of sport, patriotism, and tradition.  With the first portion of the 2014 opening ceremony centered around a girl named Lubov (which is Russian for love), the program then continued with a  brief and very selective history of Russia depicted through animation and theatrical performances.  It was new IOC president Thomas Bach who stole the show.  His first speech at an Olympic Games was the first one of its kind that I can remember.  Never do I recall an IOC President speaking from the heart and making such bold statements.  It gives me hope for the IOC.  Perhaps I am naive.

It was a safe program; and while it wasn’t as visually appealing as Vancouver’s, it edges out Danny Boyle’s disaster of London two years ago.  But I was puzzled by the persons chose to carry the cauldron into the stadium.  Were the Protopopovs slighted because they defected from the former Soviet Union?  Where was Ekaterina Gordeeva?  I was, however, very pleased to see that Irina Rodnina was chosen to light the cauldron with hockey star Vladislav Tretiak.

Day one of the Olympics is usually jam-packed with events.  But after rising at 5:00 AM to watch live competition, I was done by the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t remember the first day’s schedule of events being so sparse.  So what was yesterday’s highlight for me?  Sven Kramer and team Netherlands sweeping the men’s 5,000 meters in speed skating.  I love watching the Dutch speed skaters.  They are a joy to watch.

Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day of Olympics to watch.  I’m staying in my PJ’s and ordering take-out.  Sochi is my Sunday sanctuary!

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Shop for the Olympic Look!

Below is a list of countries with links to the designer or retailer websites of 2014 Olympic clothing:

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Russia’s (Fashion) Runway

Russia2 (Bosco)

Love it or hate it, this is your host country’s uniform.

Interested in where to pick up some of these looks?  Click here for a link to where you can inquire about or purchase these Olympic uniforms!

For some, Paris Fashion Week is the most coveted event in fashion.  For me, it’s the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.  Few are wearing labels like Armani and Ralph Lauren.  And absent are the other fashion powerhouses such as Prada, Dior, and Valentino.  But what’s present is patriotic pride bursting forth in all types of colors, patterns, and lines.  It’s that time again.  Time for the opening ceremony fashion preview!

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2014 Medals – Sochi Scores!

A few months ago I shared the design for the 2014 Sochi Olympic medals and promised more information.  Better late than never, I suppose.

While I’ve deemed Sochi as a potential “hot  mess,” I’ve decided that its  Olympic medals are quite nice.   Sochi’s medals are a bit reminiscent of the ones awarded 10 years ago in Lillehammer, Norway.  According to the Sochi Olympic Committee, the medals include a “mosaic of  designs” from cultures within the Russian Federation. The metal-polycarbonate design also represents the Caucasus Mountains in Sochi and its coast along the Black Sea.   This winning design is from advertising agency Leo Burnett.  The American company and its team of four Russian designers crafted the winning look which will hang around the necks of medalists at both the 2014 Olympics and the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Double toilets, corruption, and unfinished construction aside, Sochi got it right with its medal design.  While I loved Vancouver’s games and the symbolism in its medal design, Sochi’s medals are a definite improvement, returning to a more traditional aesthetic which I appreciate.   Enjoy the slide show below! – Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Competition Couture

First, it was the Spiderman-inspired suits of the 90’s worn by American skiers.  Then in 2010 it was the pants of the Norwegian curling team.  Guess what, folks?  Both skiing and Norway’s men of curling are making new fashion statements in Sochi!

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How a Fanatic (Usually) Prepares

This Friday–even amid wariness and being ill-prepared–I’ll be glued to the sofa, my eyes fixed on the television, and a smile will spread across my face.  I’ll say to myself, “They’re here again!  The Olympics are back!  Yessss!”

I’m usually much more prepared than I find myself this year.  Being an adult really stinks sometimes.

Here’s an excerpt from an earlier post in 2012 about how I usually prepare:

Just as the athletes train, the fanatic must also prepare.  Before the age of the Internet, I relied solely on print media and television for information.  USA Today’s Olympic bonus section was my bible.  Today I  have all the information at my fingertips.,  It can be overwhelming.  Tweets from the athletes, Facebook updates from sports’ governing bodies, blogs, news sites dedicated to sports.  It’s almost pure nirvana, but dizzying too.

When I was a teenager, I took a two-fold approach in my strategic planning.  I taped to the walls of our family den USA Today’s schedule of events, highlighting the ones that were of special interest.  Then I took the viewer’s guide from TV Guide and taped it to the wall, highlighting special events being televised, cross-referencing those with USA Today’s chart.

Now well into adulthood, I don’t have as much flexibility as I once did….It drives me crazy that while I am at work there is Olympic competition going on.  (Again, thank goodness for the Internet!)  Just as I did in 2012, I’ll be taking a few vacation days this month to watch the Olympics live.  My house is the one with the giant “Do Not Disturb” sign planted in the front yard.

Even with the Internet, I’m still printing a schedule and taping it up on my living room wall.  As I get dressed for work, the TV will be on either NBC’s “Today Show,” or ESPN.  Better yet, I might see if I can get a stream of CTV Sports on the laptop.  Then I’ll scurry home after work to get ready for the evening coverage — unless it’s one of the days I’m staying home to watch the Olympics!

One new tradition:  Now that I’m married, my husband and I always enjoy an Olympic-themed meal. In 2006 it was lasagna and tiramisu (Torino, Italy).  In 2008 it we ordered Chinese (Beijing).  In 2010 it was poutine and fries.  2012, Beef & Alt Hot Pot with peas or carrots, and Schooldays Treacle for dessert.  This year?  Hard to say since we’re trying to go gluten-free.  Maybe meat and cabbage?

I’m sort of ready–Are you?  Let the Games begin!

Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Is Sochi a ‘Hot Mess?’

hot mess:  1.  An item that is dizzyingly chaotic in appearance; a situation or incidence that is extraordinarily bad.

BolshoiUno

Sochi’s Bolshoi Ice Dome. Does this mean we’re in store for wild and unpredictable competition there?

Four days from now the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin, and there’s a huge lack of preparation for several.  Sochi is still scrambling to finish construction on some of its venues.  There are continued security threats, with many athletes’ family members choosing to stay home rather than risk their safety in Russia.  Some athletes are determined to protest Russia’s anti-gay legislation during the opening ceremony.   And I haven’t even mentioned the uproar Sochi’s twin toilets have caused.

This time four years ago I was stoked, prepped, ready for the games to begin.  So was the City of Vancouver.  And just two years ago, the excitement and preparation for London’s Summer Olympics was almost indescribable. Move forward to 2014 and I am under-prepared, tired, and wary.  My day job has left me little or no time to prepare, and the news coming from Sochi over the past year has made me frustrated and disappointed.   It seems that Sochi is a hot mess, and for now so am I.  We are both dizzyingly chaotic as we approach the eve of the XXII Olympiad.

Venue design is usually a topic that fills me with awe and excitement.  Thus far Sochi’s venue architecture leaves me bored, with one exception.  The Bolshoi Ice Dome impresses until it’s lit up at night and suddenly resembles a Uno card.  Where Vancouver and London had sustainability measures in place for their venues, the Russian government has yet to confirm plans for how it will recycle or maintain the upkeep of all the new construction in Sochi.

I am keeping a stiff upper lip and hoping for the best.  This is the greatest winter sporting event in the world!  I don’t want anyone or anything (toilets included) to dampen my spirits.  I’m crossing all fingers that these Olympics will have the grace and awe of  an Anna Pavlova, the smartness of a Kasparov, and the sparkle of a Fabergé egg.  It is what fans and athletes yearn for, hope for, and most of importantly, deserve.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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