Notes from Sochi Olympics: Making it through security
February 20, 2014
Editor’s note: In Notes from Sochi, Ed Stoner documents some of the behind-the-scenes adventures, mundaneness and miscellany of his Olympics assignment.
Security is pretty stringent, as you might imagine. When you enter the media center or any venue, you have to scan your pass (you also have to scan when you leave) and then go through airport-style metal conveyor-belt detectors. The X-ray guy usually sees the Vail Daily pins inside my bag and asks me to take them out. They clear me, but they generally ask for a pin of their own as well.
I usually also get a pat down. Sometimes they make me empty my pockets as well, down to my chapstick, coins and keys.
The workers will also often scan your pass when you get on or off a bus. At certain checkpoints the buses are checked by guys with mirrors that allow them to check underneath the bus.
There are police stationed at just about every street corner. Some of them have dogs with them. There are also quite a few private security guys here and there.
I don’t think the security is too intrusive. You generally deal with it once in the morning, and then forget about it, despite the presence of foot patrols here and there.
At each venue, there’s a media center with long tables where the press works. It’s usually divided into a photo work room, with lockers to store equipment, and a regular press work room.
There’s also a “media lounge,” which includes the cafeteria. They generally have some free hot tea and cookies as well
The setup has been pretty much the same for the Alpine Park, Freestyle Center, Ski Jump Center, Sliding Center, and Cross Country Center.
The makeup of the media changes pretty significantly, depending on where you are. The Freestyle Center is definitely American-heavy. All of the heavy hitters are here — New York Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, etc. There’s also some local Colorado media. I’ve seen the Denver Post, the Steamboat Pilot, the Colorado Springs Gazette and 9 News.
The Alpine Center press area is quite big — twice the size of freestyle — and has lots of the same faces as at the Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek. Lots of journalists from Europe — Germany, Austria, Switzerland.
The press center at the Laura Cross Country Center has a very international feel. It is actually part of the biathlon stadium, and you have to take a shuttle to get to the cross-country area. Not too many American press or fans here.
The mountain cluster is divided into some different areas. I am staying in Rosa Khutor, which is basically a ski village somewhat similar to Beaver Creek Village, Vail Village or the village at Copper Mountain.
All of the buildings are new or near new, with tons of hotels. The first floor of the buildings generally has retail — souvenir shops, clothing boutiques, restaurants. Everything faces the river, with shops and hotels on both sides, and lots of bridges between sides. There’s a plaza with a stage for performances.
In the lower part of the valley, there’s the Gorki Media Center, which is a big building with a big press room, information desks, the broadcast center, vending machines with sandwiches and coffee, and private offices for larger news organizations. Here, you can catch buses to just about any venue in the mountains, as well as to the coastal cluster. There are some older neighborhoods around this area, but I haven’t explored them yet.
The Alpine Center, Sliding Center, and Extreme Park are all pretty close to one another, in or near the ski resort of Rosa Khutor. The ski jumping facility is also on the same side of the valley.
The cross-country center is on the opposite side of the valley, up on the plateau high above the valley floor.
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