Through the generosity of a benefactor from church, I was able to attend the Closing Ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics with another one of the priests that served as a volunteer during the Games. It was truly an unforgettable performance!
This morning dawn was as beautiful as all the rest. I had early morning mass in the Coastal Olympic Village. On the way "home" I saw how much energy was in the air as people made their last minute pin trades and acquisitions. Spring is already in bloom in Sochi; and hopefully for all of Russia. We pray in confidence that these Games will be a new beginning for all of Russia!
Tonight I have a ticket to the closing ceremonies! I'll have those images posted
It came as a surprise to me that medals are not awarded right away after the race if finished. The athletes stand on the podium and get bouquets. Then, that evening or the next, at 20:14hrs (8:14 pm), they are given the medal in a special ceremony at Olympic Park at Medals Plaza. It is a beautiful and moving ceremony.
Tina Maze's Second Gold
Another surprise visit yesterday was a Mass celebrated by three Polish Catholic chaplains for Polish athletes. Bishop Marian Florczyki is the bishop appointed by the Polish Bishops Conference to take care of athletes. He has been to five Olympics and when he is around athletes and in his Olympic garb, he looks like an authentic sport's coach... The other two priests concelebrating at the mass were Polish Olympic chaplain, Fr. Edward Plen SDB and Fr. Ireneus Izdebski, one of the Sochi Olympic chaplains.
I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with a very interesting chaplain yesterday. He is Jorg Walcher an Austrian from Switzerland and former Olympic snowboarder. He is now a mentor and Evangelical Pastor. He has been a chaplain with the Austrian athletes for over ten years and has named his effort as a professional athletic chaplain as "Beyond-Gold.org".
Last night I was invited to visit and enjoy the Italian House of Hospitality. There I enjoyed meeting new friends, watching the dramatic hockey game between Russia and the USA and enjoy a wonderful supper - a la italiana! I also got to see my very first Olympic medal up close...
Temperatures here are not just warm, but even hot! It was 20C (68F) at the coast and about 10 degrees less in the mountains. It was so warm that skiers in the race competed in short sleeves, no hats and gloves and some even in shorts!
The single most important building, and the biggest, at the Olympics is the huge Media Center. Without media, the Olympics would not happen.... So what does it take to bring you great close up video and images?
Today was yet another incredible day with temperatures at the Coastal cluster in the 60's (17C). It is hard to believe that this is winter! Today was our Multi-Faith Center's day off. We went to the Austria vs. Finland Hockey game.
Yesterday, I was at my first alpine skiing event - the Women's Super Combined - where competitors were tested first on the downhill slope followed by a slalom course. The women had a tough battle for the top three places. Especially the Austrians experienced some dramatic twists...
The venue was the newly-constructed Rosa Khutar ski complex.
I was able to go to the first event for men's ski jumping on the "normal" hill. Poland took the gold and Slovenia its first silver medal. Norway came in with the bronze. The night's event was exciting, going into the wee hours of the next morning.
It has really got exciting around here! The crowds are big, very enthusiastic and in a great spirit. The biggest problem for all of us athis point is sleep! How can one sleep with so much energy all around...