Thank You Russia – Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics bids Farewell

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I wrote at the beginning of the 2014 Olympics that I did not think I could do it. I did not think I could enjoy the 2014 games particularly because of its location, Russia. I was wrong.

I stand corrected.

Excusing the hotel conditions, as well as some Olympic practicing areas, it is very clear that Russia truly took the responsibility of hosting these winter games seriously. I had to remind myself, they are not American and I am not Russian. So to expect things to be done in a particularly certain way, was ignorant on my part.

I was very nervous for the USA Olympians especially, given the USA’s history with Russia. I needn’t have worried. Truthfully, I did not worry for long. Sochi, Russia went out of it’s way…in a BIG WAY to make all countries participants feel welcomed. And ended it with a sense of humor that made me inexplicably happy.

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And now, as I watch the closing ceremony (while I write this to you), I see such heart in the Russian Olympians and spectators alike. I am moved to tears in a way that I think only people of around my age and older would be. I remember the old USSR. I remember being a teen and terrified Russia was going to obliterate our country. I remember having a hard time falling asleep some nights. Fast forward 20 years and while we may not be all warm and fuzzy politically, we have come together for these Olympic games as one human spirit.

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The Olympics are a world-wide competition; a finale of sorts, proving each country’s best.  I also see people, from all walks of life…coming together. They smile and laugh together, even if they are unsure of what is being said. It has been a wonderful sight to see.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed it all. And I hope you have too. I watched far more of this years Olympics than ever before because it was truly engaging. It was amazing to see our countrymen in a part of the world that, at one time, it was impossible to believe we would ever be welcomed in. I almost feel as though I know the athletes. So much was shared about their stories. It made winning (and losing) that much more personal.

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I am so glad I gave these Olympics a chance. I hope and pray that as these Olympics come to a close, leaders around the world have taken notice as to just how affective we can be if we just work together.

Thank you Russia, for a fantastic 2 weeks. I have enjoyed every minute of it…even if it was only from my sofa in sunny Miami.

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I’m SO Jacked! Sochi 2014 Quarter Finals Hockey Game Tomorrow – USA vs. Czech Repubic

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Meet the newest ice hockey fan….ME! Now, don’t cringe to much, fellas but outside the Olympics, I’m backing whatever team TJ Oshie plays on. #eyecandy

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All kidding aside, the game between the Czech Republic and Slovakia captured my interest today. For much of the game, the Czech Republic dominated. Then, almost unbelievably, Slovakia scored 2 goals, one right after the other. In the end, the Czech Republic was victorious. This was an important game because the winner plays the USA tomorrow.

12:00pm EST – I’m soooo in!

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I hope the game is exciting, but I could do without the nail biter of their last game against Russia. Time will tell.

I originally said that I could not get into the Olympics because of its location. However, I am completely over that. I have thoroughly  enjoyed watching the winter games and pulling for TeamUSA!

Tomorrow will be no different. I look forward to hanging out with you guys on twitter. You can find me here: @kazroxx But, for now, my cushy bed is calling my name. See you tomorrow.

GO TEAM USA!

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Oshie Rules at Sochi. (I couldn’t resist!) An overnight sensation!

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TJ Oshie has become a household name within 24 hours! Don’t get me wrong, it is WELL deserved! This guy epitomizes the Olympic spirit with his talent, his attitude, and his character. No matter what happens from here, TJ Oshie will be darling of the Sochi 2014 Olympics. He is rightly credited with winning today’s hockey game: USA vs. Russia. A tied up match went into overtime then to a shoot out. Anyone who watched it will never forget it! (Thank GOD my blood pressure finally lowered to where Oshie’s seemed to be.)

This guy, incredibly stays cool, almost jovial, under MAJOR pressure. While both countries were collectively freaking out, he hit shot after shot with a SMILE on his face…just amazing. He is one of those instantly likable people. Someone you want to know more about and hear more from. Oshie, while being interviewed was referred to as a “hero”. He was quick to respond, “Heroes wear camouflage. I’m not a hero.” And in our minds, we cannot help but go, “Awwwwe”!

As soon as Oshie scored the winning goal, he turned to his teammate, goalie, Jonathan Quick, giving him the congratulatory nod before celebrating (yes, another “awwwwe” move).

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Oshie has much to smile about. That said, it must be shockingly overwhelming for him. He gained 50,000 new followers on twitter today and yes, I am proudly one of those 50,000! I am in good company. Check out who else is in that number:

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A message from the big guy (and no, I do not follow him). Still, how must Oshie feel? His life has literally changed in a snap. There is not much time for him to absorb it all though because the USA team plays again tomorrow:

Feb 16 7:30 AM EST. – SLO vs. USA
It’s an early game, but I, and I am sure many others, will rise early, American Flag in hand to cheer on Team USA to another victory! Please add a comment if you are watching with me! xoxo

“Two Olympics then get lost.” The blazing difference between Russia and the USA.

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Check out this quote from the article written by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports:

“SOCHI, Russia – The backlash against Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko dropping out of the men’s individual event because of injury has caused a firestorm of criticism here. That included a national politician on Friday calling for a law to be passed banning any Russian from competing in more than two Olympics.

“Two Olympics and get lost. Let the youngsters have a go,” LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, according to Russian media. “Plushenko is an invalid.”

Speechless. Which is not good when writing a blog. Gob-smacked…

Say what you want to about our government (and I have lots to say, another day, another blog), but can you imagine any U. S. Politician making comments about our Olympians such as, “two olympics then get lost”, or (please don’t insert name here) is an invalid.”

Let’s forget for a moment that Mr. Plushenko qualified to be in the 2014 Olympics, I don’t care if he didn’t win a damn thing! Russia should support it’s Olympians…all of them. Not just the medalists.

This backlash against Olympic Champion, Evgeni Plushenko is not only coming from Russian politicians, but the Russian media is clearly stirring the pot as well.

Congratulations Russia, for sending a clear message to your people and future Olympic hopefuls: You are not important, you are expendable and if you mess up, your country will turn it’s back on you.

To Mr. Zhirinovsky, if Olympic Champions are that easy to replace, how about you head over to the ice rink and suit up.

To Olympic Officials, do your homework. Make sure the country chosen to host the Olympics actually supports it’s own athletes.

And finally to Mr. Plushenko, thank you for giving us years of watching amazing ice skating. It must be personally devastating to end your career this way. But many of us are thankful you skated for us for as long as you did.

Sochi 2014 Olympics New Observations of Weirdness

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We have all heard the stories coming from Sochi, Russia, regarding the disarray of an unprepared Olympic host country. I will not bore you with the same stories (i.e. yellow tap water, unfinished hotels, etc., etc.,) Rather, my intent is to discuss my observations of the 2014 Olympics so far, from the comfort of my own sofa.

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Did anyone see this? Russian President Vladimir Putin appears in this photo to almost be smiling. Almost. As far as I have seen, this is as close to a smile as we have seen from the Russian President. Even at the end of the opening ceremony when each country’s team was introduced and it was finally Russia’s turn, still nothing. The cameras panned to him often and captured Putin, stone-faced and lightly clapping his hands. It was eery. It made me feel nervous.

I am having a hard time enjoying this year’s winter Olympics. To me, the Olympics represents sports men and women who are not only at the top of their game, but who are also dreamers. For years, they have dreamed BIG; the ultimate prize being able to represent their country and hopefully even medal in their sport in the Olympics. It’s difficult to see past the fact that the games are  taking place in a country where, for so long, dreams were repressed. .As I watch the events, I do not get that feeling of dreams being realized even now. Perhaps the competitors are a bit anxious about the venue chosen to host this year’s games. With so much that has gone wrong, I know I would be.

The events have been lack-luster at best. Seeing empty seats in the ice rinks is so disappointing. The bottom line for me, is that in order for the USA, or any country for that matter, to experience success, the competitors and the spectators need to feel comfortable at the venue. Hopefully, as the days progress, comfort will come.

I truly hope I am incorrect in my assessment. I hope everyone there is relaxed, happy and are focused with their eye on the prize. Certainly, the USA team were radiant as they entered the opening ceremony.

Please leave your comments on this one. I am interested to know your take on the winter Olympics so far. Do you feel the same as I do? Do you see it a different way? I would like to hear from those of you who are from different countries, Russia included. I suppose, on some level, I am looking for someone to put my mind at ease.

With only 70% of tickets being sold, you still have time to pack up and go. Just follow the signs…

As for me, I’m quite comfortable on my sofa, under my blanket in the USA. There is no place I would rather be.