Gregorian Chants

Bill Hancock’s Olympic update from Feb. 12: No beer at hockey games, wearing Team USA gear

Updated: 2014-02-13T18:01:33Z

By VAHE GREGORIAN

The Kansas City Star

Prairie Village’s Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, began volunteering with the USOC at the Olympics in 1984 and is in Sochi, sharing daily reports with friends and colleagues, including The Star.

Here are excerpts from Hancock’s latest email, from Wednesday, Feb. 12:

•  Note from Olathe: Reading about your ventures outside the Olympic bubble, we have heard in the States that it has been advised to the Americans not to wear clothing to identify you from the good old USA if you wish to leave the Olympic Village. Have you been told this?

•  Response from Nicki, Bill’s wife: Yes, we have heard that but we were also told to “wear the USA gear with pride” at least in the Olympic bubble. When we went to Sochi, we didn’t wear the biggest logos, but we did have on coats that said USA in small letters and an American flag. No one noticed. Here’s an interesting thing, even when I’m wearing clothes with large USA all over them, people ask where I’m from. I think the average Russian is not nearly as interested in the US as we tend to think. I do agree that people are over-reacting.  Bill says that we were the same way before the Olympics in Athens and, of course, things ended up great there. …

•  Russia Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Russia spans nine time zones. Russia has boundaries with 14 countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China and North Korea. …

• Went to the USA-Canada women’s hockey game in the beautiful small arena. When I walked into the media center, a USA reporter said, “there aren’t enough seats (for journalists). There are a bunch of angry Canadians here.” That’s an oxymoron. …

• I walked the tidy main concourse as fans streamed in from the spectacular afternoon outside. I did confirm one rumor: even at hockey, no beer is sold at the venues. As I was asking a volunteer about it, I turned and spotted (a) tall young man all dressed in Canada red clear down to his socks. He was swigging from a tall pretty can of beer. “Can’t go to a hockey game without beer,” he said earnestly. “I have two more in my pocket. The worst was curling. There is no way I was going to a curling game without beer.”

So … the Russians don’t sell beer in the venues, but you can bring your own from home. …

• The Russians have created a lively, fun, energetic Olympic Park. A water show played in the fountain surrounding the cauldron. There were jugglers and dancers and drummers and a string octet. And four slender young women on stilts. A friendly American walked up to me and chided the media for overblowing the security concerns. Netherlands fans stood out in their orange, as always. Children played, grandmothers sat on benches. It was a perfect Sunday in the park. (Well, it was Wednesday, but you get the idea.) 

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com. Follow at twitter.com/vgregorian.

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