AD Main Menu

Alaska to Sochi Notebook: Getting there

Nathaniel Herz
Team USA skip Erika Brown, right, uses a stopwatch to time the throw from teammate Jessica Schultz during the first day of curling training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty
Sadie Bjornsen is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Team USA's Jessica Schultz, right, delivers the rock as Allison Pottinger sweeps during the first day of training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty
Ryan Stassel is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top as snow deteriorates during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News Erik Bjornsen competing in the men's 30-K cross-country pursuit race on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at the Laura cross-country ski center in the mountains outside of Sochi, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Ashley Wagner of the United States skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top as snow deteriorates during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Team USA skip Erika Brown, right, uses a stopwatch to time the throw from teammate Jessica Schultz during the first day of curling training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty
Sadie Bjornsen is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
Photo by Michael Smith Nina Kemppel holds a Rogers Park Elementary School banner near the Olympic rings in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and her banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Photo by Michael Smith
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News Erik Bjornsen competing in the men's 30-K cross-country pursuit race on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at the Laura cross-country ski center in the mountains outside of Sochi, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Photo by Michael Smith Nina Kemppel holds a Rogers Park Elementary School banner near the Olympic rings in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and her banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Photo by Michael Smith
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News Erik Bjornsen competing in the men's 30-K cross-country pursuit race on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at the Laura cross-country ski center in the mountains outside of Sochi, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Ashley Wagner of the United States skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Photo by Michael Smith Nina Kemppel holds a Rogers Park Elementary School banner near the Olympic flame in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and her banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Michael Smith
Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Vadim Ghirda
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Photo by Michael Smith Nina Kemppel holds a Rogers Park Elementary School banner near the Olympic flame in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and her banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Michael Smith
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News Erik Bjornsen competing in the men's 30-K cross-country pursuit race on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at the Laura cross-country ski center in the mountains outside of Sochi, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Nina Kemppel and husband Michael Smith hold a Rogers Park Elementary School banner in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and the banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Photo courtesy Nina Kemppel
Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Nina Kemppel and husband Michael Smith hold a Rogers Park Elementary School banner in Sochi. Kemppel, a four-time Olympian in nordic skiing, is the aunt of Rogers Park first grader Logan Cuddy, and the banner is signed by some of the first graders and kindergartners at the school. Rogers Park held its own opening ceremony Feb. 6, 2014, and students are participating in various events during their physical education classes.
Photo courtesy Nina Kemppel
Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Vadim Ghirda
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz of the United States sweep the ice during the women's curling competition against Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E
Ashley Wagner of the United States waits for her results after competing in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)
Darron Cummings
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Andy Wong
Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz of the United States sweep the ice during the women's curling competition against Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E
Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue
Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev
Germany's Nicole Fessel, left, and United States' Sadie Bjornsen ski on the finish straight during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Sara Studebaker of the United States skis during a biathlon training session, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Andy Wong
Germany's Nicole Fessel, left, and United States' Sadie Bjornsen ski on the finish straight during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Ashley Wagner of the United States waits for her results after competing in the women's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)
Darron Cummings
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Andy Wong
Ida Sargent (left) and Holly Brooks ski in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Sara Studebaker of the United States shoots during a biathlon training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Sergei Grits
Ida Sargent (left) and Holly Brooks ski in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Sara Studebaker of the United States skis during a biathlon training session, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Andy Wong
Holly Brooks skis in the women's 10 K classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Sara Studebaker, of the United States, center, gets ready to shoot during a Biathlon training session, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Holly Brooks skis in the women's 10 K classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Sara Studebaker of the United States shoots during a biathlon training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Ryan Stassel of the United States takes a jump during a snowboard slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Sergei Grits
Holly Brooks skis in the women's 10 K classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Ryan Stassel takes a jump during the men's snowboard slopestyle semifinal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Sergei Grits
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Holly Brooks skis in the women's 10 K classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
Sara Studebaker, of the United States, center, gets ready to shoot during a Biathlon training session, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Lee Jin-man
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Sadie Bjornsen skis in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Sophie Caldwell, left, and Sadie Bjornsen hang jokingly on the Olympic rings during a cross country training session prior to the Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Sadie Bjornsen skis in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Ryan Stassel takes a jump during the men's snowboard slopestyle semifinal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Sergei Grits
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall skis the first leg in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Sadie Bjornsen skis in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Kikkan Randall catches her breath after her women's quarterfinal heat of the cross-country sprint at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Erik Bjornsen is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Sadie Bjornsen skis in the women's 10 k classic individual start race at the Olympics on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Sophie Caldwell, left, and Sadie Bjornsen hang jokingly on the Olympic rings during a cross country training session prior to the Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Kikkan Randall competes during the women's qualifications of the cross-country sprint at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Felipe Dana
Holly Brooks is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Sadie Bjornsen skis in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Kikkan Randall catches her breath after her women's quarterfinal heat of the cross-country sprint at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Erik Bjornsen is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall walks from the venue back towards the athlete's village after skiing in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz of the United States sweep the ice during the women's curling competition against Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E
Jessica Schultz is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
Nathaniel Herz / Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com Kikkan Randall walks from the venue back towards the athlete's village after skiing in the 4x5 relay Saturday, February 15, 2014.
Nathaniel Herz
United States' Kikkan Randall competes during the women's qualifications of the cross-country sprint at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Felipe Dana
Holly Brooks is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen competes during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong
Team USA's Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz, sweep ahead of the rock during women's curling competition against Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Robert F. Bukaty
Kikkan Randall is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen competes during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong
Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz of the United States sweep the ice during the women's curling competition against Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E
Jessica Schultz is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top as temperatures went well over the freezing point during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Team USA's Jessica Schultz, right, delivers the rock as Allison Pottinger sweeps during the first day of training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Robert F. Bukaty
Ryan Stassel is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top as temperatures went well over the freezing point during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader
Team USA's Ann Swisshelm, left, and Jessica Schultz, sweep ahead of the rock during women's curling competition against Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Robert F. Bukaty
Kikkan Randall is on the 2014 USA Olympic team.
Long Photography, Inc.
United States' Sadie Bjornsen skis with a sleeveless top during the women's 10K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader

For most of Alaska's Olympians, the reality of their trips to Russia likely set in at some point in the middle of winter, as they rose through the rankings to secure their spots on the U.S. team.

For me, that moment occurred at about 3:10 a.m. on Jan. 22, when my cellphone started ringing next to my bed with a call from an 11-digit number that I learned belonged to Anton Prokhorenko -- the friendly media credential manager for the Sochi games. He clearly had no idea he was calling someone who at that moment was blissfully sleeping, 13 time zones away.

Anton informed me that because of a mistake the Olympic organizers had made -- putting my date of birth on my credential as Aug. 30, 2013 -- I'd have to acquire a Russian entry visa at some point before I arrived in Sochi about two weeks later. Not to worry, he informed me warmly -- this could be done in-person (no, not over the Web), at any of Russia's embassies scattered throughout the United States. No matter that the nearest one was 1,500 miles away in Seattle, with my $2,500 plane ticket already purchased.

That phone call early on a Wednesday morning was the moment the romance of my impending Olympic Games met the logistical reality of a trip to Russia, which, as planned, included five flights and a likely diversion in a Moscow airport to sort out what I'll now euphemistically refer to as The Visa Issue.

That's just to get to Sochi, where, if early reports are to be trusted, my experience could include undrinkable water, an unfinished hotel room (or even an unfinished hotel) and food that would beat the gruel served in the Gulag.

None of which is to say I'm not excited. In fact, I'm thrilled to be going. But if there's one thing I've learned in the few years I've been reporting on ski races in strange places, it's that when things get strange and unpleasant, they make for great stories for my friends and readers later -- even if I'm miserable at the time.

For the next three weeks, I plan to use this space to give readers a flavor of what the Olympics is like for me -- a 26-year-old American male who normally covers Anchorage city government.

Of course, the games are really about the athletes and the competitions -- and I'll spend the bulk of my time in Sochi telling you about those. But given that so many of the Olympic story lines so far seem to revolve around non-sports related issues, like politics, corruption, and security, it seems like it could be useful to occasionally offer a perspective from outside the field of play.

My focus up to now has been getting here -- a flight from Anchorage to Seattle, followed by a flight to Newark, then Brussels, then Moscow, and finally to Sochi.

I have $200 cash in my pocket -- half of which, my friend Anton tells me, will get me a Russian entry visa at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. (The rest of the money is for emergencies -- I assume a bribe is out of my price range.)

I've purchased medical evacuation insurance, at my mother's behest. She also prevailed upon me to call the office of one of the senators from my former home state of Maine about the security threats to Sochi -- which I did. That was after the senator, Angus King, said during a CNN appearance that he wouldn't take his family to the Olympics because of the risks. Thanks, Angus -- that one really set off both my parents.

I have two jars of peanut butter -- a key part of my diet, and one that's also incredibly difficult to find in Europe. They're sealed in plastic bags, after I learned an unfortunate condiment-packing lesson involving some blackberry jam and a ski bag on a trip to Estonia a couple of years ago.

And, finally, I have a half-dozen notebooks and a set of pens -- the tools I plan to use to try capture the essence of the games to transmit back to readers in Anchorage. I hope you'll follow along.

Editor's note: Nat Herz did, in fact, arrive in Sochi on Thursday, Alaska time. Look for his reports in the Daily News and on adn.com.

Anchorage Daily News reporter Nathaniel Herz will be covering the Winter Olympics from Sochi for the ADN and fasterskier.com. Email nherz@adn.com. Follow him at twitter.com/nat_herz.

 


Nathaniel Herz
Anchorage Daily News / fasterskier.com