Bill Hancock’s Olympic update: So long to Sochi

02/24/2014 12:28 PM

02/24/2014 12:28 PM

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 final update, Sunday, Feb. 23:

• Wonderful adventure after breakfast. Walked over to the Black Sea and along the beautiful pathway toward the sunrise. Three- or four-foot waves were crashing against the stone shelf. The spray glowed in the sun. More than a dozen fishermen cast on long poles for breakfast. No doubt they caught peace, as we did while watching them.

• Volunteer du jour: Marta, 19 … Lives in Moscow. The Olympics was a dream for her. “it is everything I wanted,” she said, smiling. What about after the Olympics? “I will think about that tomorrow.”

• The volunteers really did make the sun shine every day. Whoever trained them earned a gold medal. All the Russian people we met — both inside and outside the grid — were just like people at home.

• Last night Nicki (Bill’s wife) and I asked a Russian man to take our photo in front of the Iceberg. He had the hands of a plumber and the body of a fire plug. And he was delighted to do take the photo. Just then, his cell phone rang. We waved him off and started to walk away. But he would have nothing of it. He held up his hand, surely saying, “one minute.”

He WANTED to take our photo. It was his little connection with America. And his little connection with the Olympics. We wanted a while. When he finished the call and then posed us like Ansel Adams with the Iceberg as Halfdome.

• You saw the awesome closing ceremony. We arrived two hours early to get a good seat. It snowed inside again. The music and dancing were terrific. Everybody got a little three-inch flashlight/medallion. They had little computer chips that were controlled by God or someone, because they changed colors and we could watch waves of color go around the stadium. Amazing. …

• Oh, my goodness! The Russians did it! Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was the very last piece of music in the Olympics. Fireworks went off. Outside the stadium and inside me. It was an absolutely perfect moment. …

• I’ll be off the grid Monday. Intend to walk to the Georgia-Russia border in the morning, then help pack up the office and then ride the train to the city of Sochi for a nice meal and another look around. …

• What a privilege to have been here! Every day has been an adventure. We are extremely lucky. …

Spasibo for listening. Da Svidanya until Rio 2016. Can’t wait!

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