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Notes from the air
February 6, 2014 - Chris Knight
We touched down in Sochi Tuesday night, ending a more than 24-hour journey to Russia.
The trip was relatively smooth, although we were exhausted by the end of it.
Of course, getting to our hotel here in Krasnaya Polyana, and what we found when we finally arrived at the Gorki Panorama, was another story. In case you missed it, I wrote about it in this Enterprise column Wednesday.
What follows next are few notes I jotted down during our flights.
10:45 p.m. Monday night. AirCanada flight from Montreal to Frankfurt. Lou and I have been tracking our flight across the Atlantic using a program on the small TV screen on the back of the chair in front of us.
"We're celebrating Carnival flying over the Celtic sea," Lou said as we crossed the channel between Ireland and England. The theme of this year's Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, the rest of which we'll miss while we're in Sochi, is Celtic Carnival.
Just saw the lights of Dublin out the window. Watched "Gravity" on the small screen in my seat. It was a pretty cool movie, and took my mind off the travel. Wrote a story about Lake Placid officials not traveling to the winter games for the first time in years.
Flight has been smooth so far. There's a cute toddler here, probably a year and a half old. At one point, he crawled under a seat in the row next to us, popped out and looked up at us before his mother came to grab him. It was pretty funny. We're looking forward to flying over London in a few minutes.
Got into Moscow around 3:00. Had to go through customs, pick up our bags, check in to S7 airlines, then go through a security checkpoint. Finally got on the plane to Sochi around 5 p.m.
The one thing I noticed about the airport here in Moscow is, despite all the security issues, there seemed less personnel at the passenger screening area than in either Frankfurt or Montreal. They all must be in Sochi.
Talked with a pair of German reporters who are members of the Foreign Press Association. They were just as concerned as we are about whether their hotels will be ready. We started talking about the athletes and events we'll be covering. I asked if they are covering (German biathlete) Andrea Henkel, then referenced that she and Tim Burke (of Paul Smiths) have been dating for a while, which they didn't know about. One of the Germans described them as some kind of "biathlon super couple."
Met a nice French Canadian television reporter named Karen (she pronounced it KAH-rin) from Montreal, while waiting for our flight to Sochi. She had been on the same flights as us from Montreal, carrying an Ironman backpack, which is how we struck up a conversation. She hadn't competed in the Lake Placid Ironman, but has visited the two-time Olympic village. Just nice to connect with folks that we have something in common with. She only got the assignment to come to Sochi two weeks ago and is unaccredited, which means she'll be low on the pecking order when it comes to press opportunities and positions in the venues. We talked about the three Canadian sisters – Maxime, Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe – who will compete in Sochi in freestyle moguls. Justine won gold at a World Cup at Whiteface Mountain in January that both Lou and I covered.
A relatively uneventful flight to Sochi. Meals have been decent for all our flights. Had an "omelet" on this one which wasn't too bad. It was more like an egg square with spinach in a tomato sauce. The big score in our little meal packs was the Choco Pie. Lou tried to swipe mine but I wouldn't let him.
It's weird sitting on this plane among so many people whose language I don't speak, although I've been trying to learn some basic Russian phrases using an iPhone app I downloaded a couple weeks ago. I'd like to strike up a conversation but people seem to be keeping to themselves.
As we came out of the clouds and approached the Sochi airport in the dark there was a stir of excitement in the cabin. While we couldn't see much because we were on the other side of the plane, the lit-up venues of the Sochi "Coastal Cluster" came into view and people were snapping pictures and talking excitedly. When the plane touched down, everyone clapped and cheered.
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