Gregorian Chants

Bill Hancock on the Olympic press center, food and vodka

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, Friday Feb. 20:

Our Canadian friends were happy and respectful this morning. That hockey game meant more to them than it did to America.

And everyone enjoys defeating the USA. At the Olympics, we’re the Yankees. We’re Alabama and Michigan and Oklahoma. Defeating us makes the Olympics complete for some other country.

Daily reminder: it’s 10 hours different from Central time. So when it’s 10 a.m. in Abilene, it’s 8 p.m. in Sochi.

The Main Press Center is a little village all its own. It includes a large common media workroom lovingly known as the bullpen. The MPC also many private offices for media agencies such as Agence France-Presse, Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times, Corriere della Sera, Getty Images, Jiji Press, Kyodo News, La Gazzetta del Sport, Nikkei, Nordic News Agencies, PyeongChang 2018, Russian Olympic Committee, Sports Illustrated, Asahi Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Hocki Shimbun, Hokkaido Shimbun Press, Mainichi Shimbun, Sports Nippon, Yomiuri Shimbun, USA Today, Xinhua News Agency and Yahoo Sports.

The massive Main Press Center has a bank, beauty salon, general store, gym, Internet café, laundry and dry cleaners, massage chairs, bar, medical center, souvenir shop with very few souvenirs, pharmacy and parcel post center.

The food court has basic hot, healthy food and almost no customers. The McDonald’s next door has stuff just like home and is almost always packed.

The MPC is one-half of the huge Main Media Center. The building feels like a convention center that, according to rumor, may become a shopping mall some day. It’s really beautiful. The other half of the building is devoted to the International Broadcast Center (IBC). The IBC is a mystery Never-Never Land to all print journalists and still photographers. Our credentials — which are valid almost everywhere in Olympic Park — do not allow access into the IBC.

NBC’s mammoth studios are in the IBC. NBC also operates a commissary where its massive number of employees can get more massive by enjoying food just like back home. There’s also a Starbucks. People with IBC credentials can visit the MPC. For a while, we’d see folks with Starbucks cups in our area and know that the person had come from the NBC compound. Later we heard that someone got nervous about the perceived elitism and instructed people not to carry those Starbucks cups out of the restaurant.

The news conference rooms in the MPC are named Dostoyevsky, Pushkin and Tolstoy.

We have enjoyed the Russians’ attempts at English SO much. They have tried very hard, and no doubt have done better than we would have, had the tables been turned.

One cute saying is “Something is Done” to mean “there’s no more.” Like “porridge is done” or “cheese is done” or “media guides are done.” I wanted to put out a sign today saying “tickets are done” when we ran out.

A reporter offered to share a sip of vodka in his office in the MPC between the second and third periods of the hockey game tonight. So we each poured one finger into a mouthwash cups and drank the motor oil. I was dizzy after two sips. He was, too. “You’re the only person in the MPC more goodie two-shoes than I am,” he said. I was too dizzy after my two sips to respond. I took the rest to Nicki, who took a half-sip and got similarly wobbly.

Now we have had our vodka. One finger is plenty.

The night was gorgeous and almost foggy. The brilliant lights of the Olympic Park and surrounding buildings turned air pink, blue and green.