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Berry Tramel


Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure: Super Bowl makes its way to Russia

by Berry Tramel Modified: February 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm •  Published: February 3, 2014

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, is an Oklahoman and a man for all seasons. He routinely volunteers at every Olympics and gives friends and colleagues a peek at his adventures with daily email dispatches. Everyone looks forward to them, which is why I post them on the blog, so everyone can get a feel for what’s going on around the Olympic venues:

Sunday, February 2

“(Please excuse the typos and bad writing in this friendly message to family. Will hurry.  There’s much Olympics to explore.)

“The mountains were out again today. Wow. Spectacular  Also we got a beautiful sunrise.  The sun likes to build suspense here; today it rose about 8:45 a.m.  But it was well worth the wait.  This really is a beautiful place

“And a rainbow was in the western sky this morning.  Awesome!!!!  The pot of gold was in the athletes’ village.  That’s symbolism if I ever saw it.

“Nicki spoke to the nice woman at the Chistye Prudy desk this morning about (1) getting a second key, (2) getting a shower curtain and (3) getting that light above the mirror in the bathroom.  She got (1) sorry, can’t do, (2) I’ll write it down, and (3) I’ll write it down.  We can live happily with what we have.  More than happily.

Commute to Main Press Center (MPC) – 17 minutes in MT-2 bus.  There’s a beautiful church right by the freeway.  I wondered if the authorities tried to tear it down but the community resisted and so they relocated the freeway five yards north.  Or not.

“Breakfast: egg cake, cucumber, pear, toast with great raspberry preserves, bite of Nicki’s mullet porridge, muesli with warm milk (the only kind available) and orange juice.  Oops, Nicki says it’s ‘millet’ porridge.

“Much talk today about the Super Bowl, of course. is having a party at its hotel.  The USA Today folks plan to watch in their office next to ours.  Kickoff is at 3:30 a.m. Monday here.  I would wake up at 3:30 for a bike ride, or for a long run in the running days.  Now?  Maybe only for college football.  Or if Jesus came back.  Or for Andie’s, William’s or Jack’s piano recital.  Something big like that.

“Volunteer du jour:  Yuri, night manager at Chistye (CHEESE-tee-uh) Prudy.  I thought Yuri was a Japanese news anchor waiting in line to check in.  When he offered to show us around, I thought, ‘what a friendly Japanese news anchor.’ He lives in Siberia, in a city whose name I couldn’t understand.  His English was pretty dang good for a Siberia guy.  He came to Sochi in September.  I wanted to ask if his hero was Yuri Gagarin but then felt silly; he might ask if my hero was Bill Cosby, Bill Russell, Bill Clinton or Bill of Rights.

“Does anybody reading this know who Yuri Gagarin was?  Please say yes, somebody!

Lunch: Peanut butter, jelly, crackers, raisins.

“Yes there’s mud here.  Yes, some hotels are not ready.  Yes, electrical lines are visibly coming out of the ground.  But it’s like you’re giving a dinner party at 5 p.m. and the guests all arrive at 2 and you’re now finished vacuuming.

“Fact is, the venues are beautiful—particularly at night with the fantastic lighting—and the people are really trying to make their guests happy.

“When it’s 10 a.m. in Evanston, it’s 8 p.m. in Sochi.

Weather: Partly cloudy, but plenty of sun.  Breezy again.   High 45, low 37.

Dinner:  Salad.

“Valeriy the Small drove Nicki to the mountain media center today. He is spitting image for Danny Devito. (Valery the Tall, the other driver, hung out at McDonald’s in the MPC.) Nicki delivered telephones to the staff at the Gorky Media Center in the mountains.  It’s a one-hour drive.  Nicki reported the place is beautiful.  I hope she will write about it.  She spent the rest of the day chasing cars and confirming hotel rooms for people.  You have no doubt read about the hotel situation.  I thought I had it bad with no shower curtain until I heard about the people with no beds.

“What a privilege to be here!  Every day is an adventure.  Sochi.  Hot. Cold. Ours.”

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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