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TEAM CELSKI BLOG: Is this Las Vegas or the 2014 Winter Olympics?

The Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia. - Courtesy Celski family
The Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia.
— image credit: Courtesy Celski family

This blog, which can also be read here, is written to keep the proud people of Federal Way informed about one of the city’s sons, short track speedskater J.R. Celski and the experience of his parents, Bob and Sue, during the Olympics.

Thursday 2/13/14

Sue, Chris, Andrea and I went to the figure skating event on Tuesday and had close-up seats. I have never seen live figure skating before. What a place to see it first-time.

The Russian team that was in first place after the night was flawless — they were in harmony and near perfect. Clearly ahead of second place. The place was packed and as in every event, the Russian-dominated crowd was loud and proud.

This was a fun night.

We left the arena around 10:30 p.m. and then walked the park for the first time at night. This place really comes alive after dark. I would compare it to the lights and glitter of Las Vegas. Every building is lit up.

But what stands out are the four main venues — short-track and figure skating, long track, and the two hockey venues all are covered in a massive, live video display. Words can’t describe how amazing this sight is, with the venues surrounding the enormous Olympic Torch plaza.

We could spend a full night at each building just watching the beautiful display. Speaking of Olympic Park – it is vast. It’s about a 15-minute brisk walk from the park entrance – where there about 50 secured entry stalls side-by-side – to the Opening Ceremonies venue. And three of the competition venues are on the far side of it.

The park is so big that J.R. bought a bike to get to the venues from the Athletes Village, or to meet with us at the P&G Home etc. – all in an effort to save his legs for competition. J.R. is donating the bike to a local Russian charity after Olympics are done.

An important aspect for the families and athletes is to have a place to meet and congregate. Luckily, we have such a place. Procter & Gamble, one of J.R.’s sponsors (you may have seen the commercial with J.R. and Sue) spends a fortune to support the USOC, and the athletes and parents through what’s called the P&G Family Home.

It is a large building with big meeting rooms where families can just hang out, eat lunch or dinner, meet with the athletes, and meet new friends. It’s where Sue and I met yesterday (Wednesday) with Chris Daniels of King 5 NBC to do an interview for the Olympic Zone coverage.

Meals, snacks and drinks are provided by P&G to help the families out. It is expensive enough to travel to and stay at an Olympic site, so the P&G Family Home is a very welcome gesture to the families. They did this same thing in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics. Lucky for us because we had over 50 family members and friends spend time with us in the P&G Family Home there.

We went to the long track competition Wednesday night. Similar to all ice arena events, this is very popular. It is a 400-meter track surrounded by a massive building. I heard yesterday that there are only about 30 indoor long tracks in the world, and 14 of them are in the Netherlands (it is their national sport).

Anyway, this is known to be a fun event, filled with rowdy, but fun-loving fans, particularly the Dutch. The reputation lived up to its expectation. It was indeed fun and exciting.

During the ice cleaning halfway through the event, there was a marching band entertaining everyone, similar to a half-time show at a football game. What fun. Luckily J.R. was able to break away and be with us for this because the event ended early enough for him to get back to his room and rest up for his short track event later on today.

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