Gregorian Chants

Bill Hancock’s Olympic update: Singing in the rain at the medals ceremony

Updated: 2014-02-19T17:04:44Z

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 his latest update, Tuesday, Feb. 17:

• “More bloody porridge?” said a growly Brit at breakfast. I LIKE the bloody porridge. …

• Uh-oh. An American reporter was on a bus that collided with a car today. Nobody was hurt, but traffic was tied up for a few hours. The reporters got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to the Main Press Center. The driver was in a panic …

• Doubleheader in ticketing today: ladies figure skating and men’s ice hockey quarterfinals, The events are tomorrow, but we started distributing tickets today. Many visitors to the office. “I’m getting my second wind,” one writer said with a smile. “It’s amazing what six hours of sleep will do.” …

• I’ve become a fan of ice hockey because the players, men and women, are the most polite, pleasant young people you could imagine. They’re really cute and just nice! I’ve now met players from the Winnipeg Jets, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Anaheim Ducks. I didn’t tell them that I had never watched a couple of those teams! But now I will. Our women are in the gold medal game, too! I’m a fan. …

• Nicki and I took the bus to the Ice Cube and walked to Olympic Park tonight to watch the medals ceremony. I felt sorry for the Russians because of this silly rain. Maybe 1,000 people stood in the rain to watch the dignified ceremony. The podium is on a giant stage. Tonight it had been pushed back under a large canopy, so the athletes and their presenters could stay reasonably dry. …

• The medal winners were as excited as Christmas. They fist-bumped and did the Tiger Woods arm pump and grinned and hugged each other. The women were beautiful and the men, happy. … I stood there in the rain, alone among those 1,000 people and heard the Belarus National anthem twice and got to see Jean-Claude Killy present medals. What a hero he was! He’s now 70 but looks like he could still win gold. …

Then the announcers — one in Russian, one in French, one in English — said “and now the medal ceremony for the ice dance.”

And here came Charlie and Meryl and I got to hear the greatest National Anthem, officially completing my Olympic experience. (It ain’t the Olympics if you don’t hear The Banner at least once). I took off my hat under my umbrella. The emotion, the rain, the Russian fans also under their umbrellas, the Stars and Stripes rising slowly in the night … well, it was awesome. I think the drops of water running down my cheeks were from the rain. Or not. …

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

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