Gregorian Chants

Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City

From Prairie Village to Sochi: Bill Hancock’s Olympic update from Feb. 9

02/10/2014 11:38 AM

02/10/2014 11:53 AM

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’s are excerpts from Hancock’s latest email, from Sunday, Feb. 9:

• The grocery store has everything we need. It’s just a matter of identifying it since I can’t read most of the labels. If you want honey, for example, you look the bottle with the bee on the front. It’s a great fun puzzle.

• Women’s curling news news conference today. More bright, happy people. Curling is the only sport where all players wear microphones during competition. So fans get into the sport and get to know the players. “What is it like to be a glamour sport?” a reporter asks.

Curling players wear numbers on their jerseys. Also their names. The players had fun and decided to name each other after the periodic table of elements. They all picked their own. … One chose Americium — for America. Another chose gold. Another chose oxygen “because I like to remind my teammates to breathe.” They’re not allowed to wear the periodic-table symbols on their Olympic uniforms, so you won’t see them on television. …

• Winston Churchill once said this of Russian people: They are “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

• At the Olympics, you could walk the same path for 10 days, only to have it shut off on Day 11, which would make it necessary to walk 14 miles around the back way to cross the street. Well, today it happened: we couldn’t bring bulk food items into the (Main Press Center). So we will have to do it pebble by pebble. Like Shawshank.

Security people roam the MPC. They are from central casting — stern, square, unsmiling. Dark suits. Seems like they could break my legs with a flick of the wrist. They are exactly what we need. I am in love with them. I do not want Ricky Ricardo responsible for my life.

• Volunteer du jour: Harry, working on the tech office. I said, “that’s not a Russian name.” He examined my badge and said, “neither is William.” Harry is from Armenia and smiles …

• Two reporters reminded me today that their newspaper chain had sent them to an eight-hour terrorism training session before they went to Athens to cover the 2004 Olympics. Folks were darn sure evil would strike. They were issued gas masks and taught what to do if their arm was blown off in an explosion. …

• There’s an Olympic bubble, like Pleasantville. You could spend the whole Olympics in the bubble — eating, sleeping, working and shopping. Many people do it. But it’s important to break out. That’s why I love walking around the area of the Main Press Center. Inside the bubble is a great, enchanting magic world. Mostly the bubble was picked up by giant cranes and carried here from London. And London had hauled the bubble the same way from Vancouver. I love it inside.

But outside is a place not to be missed. Real people are there. Real places to be smelled and tasted and seen. Real wide-eyed children. Real chances to show that Americans are not ugly…

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