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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2014-02-11

Dispatches from Sochi: Leaving On A Jet Plane
By Robert Hanashiro, SportsShooter.com

Photo by

Robert Hanashiro's room at the Chistye Prudy media housing complex.
(The first in periodic reports from the Sochi Winter Olympics)

Whoever said, "Getting there is half the fun" never had to sit in an aging Aeroflot AirBus 330 for 13 hours.

The only saving grace to my bunched up knees and aching back was sitting next to my good friend Shawn Cullen who is working the Sochi Winter Olympics for Sports Illustrated.

The journey 3/4 around the world actually started off nicely- sipping soft drinks and munching on finger food courtesy of the Delta SkyClub in the Bradley International Terminal at LAX (Thank you again for the guest pass Shawn!)

But boarding near the final group, I was faced with the photographer’s dilemma: No space in the overhead bin. Shawn had held some space for me, but I could only get my Think Tank Photo ChangeUp fanny pack and North Face parka into the space. The TTP ShapeShifter went under the seat (something I’ve done dozens of times).

We had made a sort of pact: Stay awake for the entire trip to Sochi so upon our arrival at 9PM local time, we could try to get the body clock started in the right track. But Shawn gave in and dozed off for a couple of hours.

Me, I occupied my time (and my mind for part of the time) with several movies and TV shows. In order:

"Star Trek Into Darkness"
It’s funny I saw this remake of "Star Trek Wrath Of Kahn" when it hit the theaters and when I watched it on this flight- I didn’t remember any of it. I don’t care what anyone else says, Ricardo Montalbán is a helluva lot better Kahn and the Brit (sorry Emma).

"Jack Reacher"
(I am a big fan of the Reacher series of books by Lee Child and the casting of Tom Cruise in the lead had many scratching their heads. Reacher in the books is a former Army cop, 6-6 and 240-pounds- a good foot taller and 80-pounds lighter than Cruise. I thought my USA TODAY colleague Jack Gruber would have been a better choice! So I had never seen the film. But I was actually pleasantly surprised with "Reacher" and enjoyed it.)

The first three episodes of "Modern Family"
Never watched "Modern Family" until it hit the USA Network and now I'm a big fan. I hope when I turn 65 I'm as cool as "Jay" (Ed O’Neill”) or as rich.

"RoboCop" and "RoboCop II"
The current remake of "Robo" has been pretty much panned so I really wanted a reminder of the good things about the original. Peter Weller is great as Alex Murphy, the RoboCop and I was always a big fan of Nancy Allen – ever see the remake of "Dressed To Kill" and you’ll know why. "RoboCop II" - they should have left well enough alone, like the remake in the theaters now.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Bob Deutsch and the Olympic mascot at the Sochi Airport
And scrolling through the selections of films and TV shows several times - hmmm "Westside Story," or "Unforgiven," "My Fair Lady" or Russian game shows? Iit was time to switch on the e-reader and finish up "A Serpant’s Tooth" – A Walt Longmire mystery book by Craig Johnson. (Highly recommends series.)

Arriving at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport we got an unexpected, happy surprise: Several of our USA TODAY colleagues that were suppose to depart from NYC before us were booked on our flight after weather made them miss their original connection.

On any lengthy trip, especially one with a connection (Moscow), you wonder throughout the flight "Will my bags make it?" As I wrote previously, you plan, you pack, repack and repack --- the mission being: 1) making weight (50-pounds) and 2) it gets to there.

When we arrived at the Sochi Airport - fuzzy from hours on planes and airports - we were pleasantly surprised that all of our checked bags and cases (probably 16-18 total) were all accounted for by our boss Andy Scott! Mission accomplished!

When you’re covering an Olympics, you spend more time on a shuttle bus than you do in a venue - at least it seems that way. The bus ride from the airport to our home-away-home the "Chistye Prudy" media housing (known to us before getting there as Omega 12) was the easiest part of checking in. After nearly 16 hours in the air and in airports plus a 12-hour time shift, all you want to do is sleep and soon.

As widely reported, Olympic housing had its share of snafus and ours was a 2 hour wait for rooms to be readied- at 11:30PM. After being introduced to the cafeteria and hanging around for about 90-minutes who should come literally stumbling in but Shawn! Since leaving the airport on a media shuttle he had been on an hours-long Russia version of "Mr. Toad’s Wilde Ride" dropped off at a couple of wrong housing complexes and then literally walking the streets in search of "Omega 12."

Oppps. It’s known as "Chistye Prudy" by the locals and especially the bus drivers!

A couple of things we learned right away about the accommodations - besides all of the whining by sports writer/bloggers already in-country we read about- door locks are a nebulous concept, especially when it comes to keys.

Who needs a key when someone can get you into your room with a screwdriver and hammer?

Another concept lacking are ramps - on sidewalks and into buildings. Getting carts of gear to our apartments- Bob had 7 pieces on a four-wheeler and I had 5 on the Kart-A-Bag- where challenging to say the least.

But I guess it was a very small price to pay to finally get into a warm, clean room, with hot running water and a shower.

Shower curtains? That’s a whole another story…


(Robert Hanashiro is covering his 13th Olympic Games for USA TODAY. You can follow his (mis)advertures in Sochi, Russia via Instagram: instagram.com/kahunabert and on Twitter: @SptShtr_Bert)

Contents copyright 2017, SportsShooter.com. Do not republish without permission.
Coffee tables, libraries, bathrooms are not complete! ::..