Gregorian Chants

Bill Hancock’s Olympic update: The Sochi soundtrack and fighting for 24th place

Updated: 2014-02-23T18:28:56Z

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, Saturday, Feb. 22:

I think we need a kiss-and-cry in college football.

A writer talked to me about the NCAA tournament today. Olympic jargon is “Person X got through,” meaning the athlete advanced to the next round of competition. I think we need to say “Kansas State got through.”

These Russian volunteers are just awesome. They have to be tired. But they’re gonna run through the tape.

Volunteer du jour: Nikita, young, dark and skinny. Usher at speedskating venue. Dancing in the aisle along with the loud rock music. From Moscow. Spoke excellent English. In the 1950s, “Nikita” was the only Russian name we knew And we didn’t think about dancing when we said it. “Of course I know about him,” said this Nikita, smiling. “Only Americans and British people ask me about my name.”

Nicki (his wife) made this list of some of the songs played over the PA in venues and MPC (collected with some help from the young people in the office) — not including music played during figure skating competition.

“In God’s Country” U2

“Don't Worry, Be Happy” Bob Marley

“Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke

"Bohemian Rhapsody"

“Let’s Dance”

Chicken Dance music played on the organ

“We will, we will rock you”

“I Love It” (I crashed my car into the bridge)

“Let’s Go”

Green Acres theme song, played on the organ

“Twilight Zone” (Roadkill Remix) at least that’s what Shazam said

“Back in Time” Pitbull

“Skyfall” and other Adele

“Hard Day’s Night”

“Sumertime Sadness”

Chant of clap clap clap-clap-clap-clap clap clap Let’s Go – fans from lots of countries were clapping in sequence but we weren't sure what they were saying at the Let’s Go part.

“So What” (I'm a rock star)

“Happy Together” (I can’t see me loving nobody but you) played by the band from the Netherlands at speed skating

“Y.M.C.A”

“Ticket to Ride”

“Shout” ...

Most of the athletes are pals. They compete against each other every year — every week in some cases. They know each other’s parents, siblings and dogs. Many train together, French skiers learning tricks from Belarus coaches. They battle like crazy for medals and then hug each other.

The Olympics is a big county fair, a celebration of humankind, a coming-together like nothing else in the world. People back home may be medals-hungry. Here the feeling is more like a festival.

There are almost always tears. There’s a fine line between tears of happiness and tears of grief.

“Lucy Finishes only Fourth” is a silly headline. “Only” fourth-best in the whole entire world? We’d all give anything to be the fourth-best in the world at whatever we do — welder, plumber, basketball referee.

We saw a longtrack speedskating battle between a Russian and American. The Russian had a huge lead, but the young American slowly began to gain ground. At the end, the Russian won by a step or two. They skated a lap and then the American stopped and threw up. He had given everything he had.

They were racing for 24th place.

THAT is sports.

Russia Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Population of major cities: Moscow, 11,514,300; Saint Petersburg, 5,227,567; 13 others of more than one million.

About midnight, a man began singing a Russian song outside the wine bar beneath our fourth-floor window. It was loud, like a rhinoceros at karaoke. I tried to make a recording but it didn’t take. We were tired enough not to worry.

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

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