Follow Hayley throughout her entire Sochi experience! Follow Hayley on Twitter and Facebook as she posts about her experience in Sochi! Also, make sure to check out the Sochi Videos section to hear more from Hayley as she prepared to leave.
We wanted to give all of you a window into life in Sochi over the next few weeks. If you are a fan of Hayley, you also have probably met/bumped into/talked to/heard of Ceilidh: Hayley’s personal life organizer/publicist/PR extraordinaire! Ceilidh wouldn't be anywhere else but in Sochi supporting Hayley and hanging out with the Wick family. Here are some of her stories from the last few days (as we get more stories, we'll post the most recent first) ...
Day 4: Today we decide to head back to Sochi to SHOP! We decide to try public transportation to help save our legs (we are walking an average of 15,000 steps a day). But, it’s a dismal fail and added a chunk of time to our trip (but we are not adverse to another adventure).
When we enter the train station, they flag my small bag because something inside resembles clay (an obviously bad substance when you consider it is an ingredient in things that blow up). Turns out it is my Clif Bar. Haha.
Off to Sochi and my credit card is just getting warmed up. I bought some souvenirs and a couple of items of clothing. The shoe stores here are incredible and plentiful! Speaks to the desire of the Russian women to look fabulous all the time. Prices are similar to home with the exchange rate. We find that there are often big store spaces that though they look like one store, they are actually several small vendors sharing space. Our restraint is amazing, though we did buy tea canisters from a cool little tea shop. The shop owner was perplexed by our desire to only buy the canister. We liked the Russian writing on the tins.
While shopping we discover we have to visit the facilities and access to one is a commodity. We pay for access to a public bathroom where the woman running it is so engrossed in playing Flappy Bird that she barely looks up to take our 10 roubles (30 cents) Clearly gadget addiction is universal. Lol. She even has a cash register in the bathroom. Funny.
We walk towards the sea to see a tall ship, and the cruise ships where many of our other Hockey Canada families are staying. We take the local bus back to Adler. Although there are Olympic buses all over the place (full of tourists) we try the local transportation which is a little more direct to our hotel. It was actually nice to go through the local neighborhoods. Some beautiful areas and some not-so. No different than home really, but loved the glimpse into real Russian life. It was cool to see kids in the street and some of the local architecture.
We were all so very tired by the time we got back to our neighborhood that we went directly to a pizzeria recommended by Hockey Canada. Good food, but the allowance of smoking inside was a bit tough to handle, especially since I was fighting a migraine. In fact, I was desperate for an "ice pack" to ease the pain, so I walked across the street to the supermarket, which is a very local place and found a bag of frozen veggies. It was cool to explore the grocery store, which is always a favorite thing to do when travelling. It gives such a neat perspective on local customs, foods, etc. When I went to pay, I wondered why they didn't try to speak Russian and only used hand motions. How did they know I spoke English? Walking back to the restaurant I realized that my jacket has an enormous CANADA emblazoned across it. Clearly it was time for bed.
Well-fed, we headed back to the hotel and hit the pillow pretty hard. Nighty night.
Day 3: Game Day!! Cannot wait to see the first hockey game and the inside of the Bolshoy Arena.
The Olympic facilities are really interesting and unusual, as Hayley’s parents point out (they’ve seen a few Olympic venues!). All the facilities are clustered together in one location—imagine the Saddledome, Rexall Place, and Rogers Centre, all grouped together. At the centre of the cluster is a food court kind of place and all of the various country "houses.” It is so cool to see all of the representations of the countries. USA is quite understated and we’ve noticed the Americans are staying very much below the radar. We learn they’ve been advised to stay understated because there is still friction between the Russia and the USA.
We are totally dressed up to represent our girls at the arena tonight—and the crowds appreciate our outfits! We are constantly stopped for photos. The volunteers love us! The fact we are armed with Hockey Canada pins makes us even more popular. Hahaha!
We practice our Russian greeting as we walk through a sea of color created by swarming volunteers. They smile at our pathetic attempts at a Russian accent, but a loving, not mocking smile.
We hit up COH again before the game. While we are there, McMorris wins Canada our first medal – a bronze in slope style. Then tension is thick as we await his score, and although there is some disappointment that the color of medal may not be what was anticipated, it is immediately followed by joy! An hour later, McMorris' dad enters the COH hooting, hollering and carrying the flowers his son was given. Pride washes over the room. As a parent, I can't imagine the elation.
The game! There is not a bad seat in the Bolshoy Arena. Highlight of the game was obviously Hayley's short-handed snipe. Highlight of the off-ice was Tanya Morgan's dancing skills with a mascot. The Canadian contingent in the stands was the minority, though we dominated on the ice! The crowds were exciting and such a good start for our Canadian women! During breaks in play, we notice that the rules of hockey are being displayed on the big screens. Kind of funny, but Hayley’s mom tells us that they do at every Olympics. Final score: Canada 5, Swiss 0.
Met Hayley post-game at COH. She scooted over on the scooter I brought her from Canada to navigate these huge parks. It was so good to finally see her, give our hugs, and for her to see how much fun we are all having!
On a side point, we are getting frustrated at all the negative media about Sochi. Are there glitches and problems... Sure. Any event of this scale would have those. Is it a terrifying place full of crazy construction and chaos. NO! Please don't believe bad press. This experience is amazing.
Day 2: Woke up feeling a lot more refreshed and surprisingly not jet-lagged. Turns out, forcing ourselves to stay up yesterday was the right thing to do!
Today we must pick up our spectator passes. There is no shortage of paperwork required to get to these Olympics. They CERTAINLY know who is in the country! Hayley’s parents, Marlyin and Tom, along with her son Noah, Tanya and myself, all head to the first checkpoint where the guards are an odd mix of authoritative and welcoming. We must practically disrobe and put everything through the scanner, walk through a metal detector and get a full frisk once through. For some reason, we are escorted past the crowds to the front of the very long line. Didn't ask why just said "spasiba" (phonetic thank you) over and over. We were issued our passes then off we went the ticket office which is in Sochi proper and another full security check before boarding the train.
In fact, the Park and most of the activity is in the Adler, about 45 minutes from Sochi.
- The people here are beautiful! Not only are they fashionably dressed and always look like they are going on a fancy night out (even the children!) but they are also so helpful and kind and they love Canadians. There are swarms of volunteers everywhere sporting the very colorful volunteer garb.
- The feeling of nervousness is subsiding. We feel safe. Very safe.
Olympic Park is MASSIVE... Seriously massive! From the front gate it is about 2 kms to Canada Olympic House. There are enormous pavilions for sponsors along the route and we pass over several bridge, each one a color of the Olympic Rings. We finally arrive at our home away from home.
Inside COH there are couches, TVs everywhere, families and a palpable feeling of excitement. When will our first medal come? Who will rule these games? We grab some snacks and head to Fischt Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies.
The opening ceremonies were Grande and being there
Day 1: We arrived at the airport after an almost two-day journey across the world. We were full of anticipation—and I was also full of nerves! We picked up our bags and left the secure area of the airport—right at the same time as a huge Team Russia contingent so we experienced a bit of red carpet paparazzi – lol!! Beyond the cameras was our representative from the Canadian Olympic Committee who met us with a smile and Sochi handbooks to guide us through the first few days.
Olia met us at our hotel, who is our tour company's guide and has the most lovely British/Russian accent. Our room is a small Euro-style room with two twin beds. Beds are a bit stiff but it is otherwise quite comfortable, very clean and yes - flowing with clean and hot water! We were exhausted but knew the best thing would be to stay awake until night to combat the jet lag. We took a walk and discovered our hotel is only a block from the Black Sea. The shores of the sea are all rock with no sand, but it was a crazy experience to see palm trees, water and mountains all in the same line of sight! We found a gorgeous little restaurant and ate spaghetti - my sense of adventure for Russian food was offset by utter exhaustion. We crashed into bed by 5:45pm Sochi time and slept until 9:00 am the next day.
Feb.7, 2014: Today's the Day!!
Good luck Hayley! We are so excited to watch you represent Canada in the most amazing way. We love you and are so proud of you!!!! GO CANADA GO! Let the games begin! (mgmt)
Another article about her thoughts about the flag-bearer's curse.
I Get to Carry the Flag!
To be selected to carry the flag and represent all of Canada is such a huge honour. I imagine it is going to be an amazing experience to be on the world stage with everyone watching. I feel so fortunate to represent my country, my team and even my family in this way. And even though we are going to be in front of the whole world, instead of feeling extra pressure, I feel the wave of a nation pushing and supporting us from behind--and hopefully we can use that momentum as we go into our first tournament game the next day.
Security... am i worried?
I am getting a lot of questions lately from media and also concerned friends and family about the "risk" or safety concerns in Sochi. I can't honestly say that I'm not worried--of course we are concerned. But every Olympics I've gone to there's been some sort of drama or adversity that we've had to overcome as a team or as a country. The worst thing you can do is get uptight about it. There will probably be longer lines or waits because of security, but you know it is for the better so we'll just relax and take it in stride. I do have 11 friends and family coming so I am thankful for the heightened vigilance and awareness. But I am confident in the Russian government--after all, they don't want to get embarrassed. I know it's not Vancouver, but I do trust that the athletes and their families will be well protected.
New Coach for Team Canada!
Team Canada annouced this week that we have a new coach for the Women's Canadian Hockey Team: Kevin Dineen. Things are always changing on the way to the Olympics - but it keeps us on our toes! Welcome aboard Coach Dineen. We look forward to this adventure together! For more information, check out the FULL STORY.
The preparations are in high gear and all the members of team Canada are put through the tests as they prepare both physically, mentally and emotionally for what could be the most important tournament of their careers.
The countdown is on to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Hayley with Mel Davidson at the Closing Ceremonies in Vancouver, 2010.
In September, team Canada travelled to Sochi to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Not only did they get to check out the ice on which they’ll be competing, but they got a chance to sightsee and spend some time getting to know each other as a team. Here is a snapshot of Hayley's memories from their trip:
Here I am in front of the ice. Next time the team is here, the arena will be packed with fans (and I will be wearing some warmer clothes)!
Here is the Olympic Village under construction. It's amazing to think how many athletes, coaches, support personnel, etc., will be living here. I remember our arrival at the Vancouver Olympic Village—it is really meant to be a home and a haven away from the madness that ensues outside of the village. Not only are there sleeping quarters, but also various cafeteria and beverage stations inside the village. There was also a souvenir store (yes, even athletes want snow globes and memorabilia!), a confectionary for any essentials, a discotheque and a games room complete with Internet, pool tables, ping-pong, and live entertainment every night. I’m excited to see what the Sochi village has to offer!
Here is one of the training rooms and a picture of our sleeping quarters for this trip (hopefully we get a little more space in February). In the Olympic Village, pretty much every country has its own building, or section of a building marked by flags. Each building has training facilities (in Vancouver we even had a yoga/tai chi room), laundry facilities, food areas, and of course, bedrooms. Everything is designed to help you feel a part of the whole team—the Canadian Team.
To see the rest of the pictures from Sochi in September, visit the Photo Gallery page.