News / USA

Americans at Sochi - Few and Happy

FILE - Fans celebrate with a U.S. flag after Jamie Anderson of the United States won the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 9, 2014
FILE - Fans celebrate with a U.S. flag after Jamie Anderson of the United States won the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 9, 2014
James Brooke
President Barack Obama is skipping the Sochi Winter Olympics, American security officials have warned about toothpaste bombs on flights to Russia, and journalists have written about falling curtain rods in showers. So what do American visitors think about the Sochi Olympics? 
 
Leslie Carol Escobar closed up her massage studio in Washington, D.C. and flew to Sochi to experience an Olympics. Outside the Men’s Alpine race, Escobar was easy to spot: she was wrapped in an American flag.
 
“The Russians, they love us," she said. "Yesterday, they were taking so many pictures of us and a bunch of other Americans. My cheeks are hurting because we were smiling and just taking thousands of pictures."
 
The downside: her hotel reservation in the mountains was canceled and she had to take a room two hours away, on the Black Sea Coast.
 
“Everything has been great, but to be honest I expected it to be more organized,” Escobar confided.
 
Tyler Yarnell, an accountant from North Carolina, was cheering in the stands, also draped in a big American flag.  He said he has seen very few Americans:
 
“Handful. Sometimes you hear someone speaking in English and you will perk up your ears. Handful. Five or so,” estimated Yarnell.
 
Asked why there were so few Americans present, he answered, “it is a long way from home."
 
“The route was Charlotte to Atlanta to JFK to Moscow to Sochi; it took about 30 hours,” explained Yarnell.

He also thought the fear of terrorism kept some of his countrymen away, but personally felt safe.
 
“The safety concerns, I feel they are really overblown,” Yarnell said.
 
This is the third Olympics for Michael Vigil, a carpet restorer from New Smyrna, Florida.  Vigil recalled seeing more Americans at other Games he had attended.
 
“[The number of Americans is] down. It is down. Probably because of the threats, the security threats,” said Vigil.
 
However, even with fewer Americans around, Vigil was in good spirits.
 
“I am having a great time. Really enjoying myself,” he said.
 
Benny Ryerson, from Lake Tahoe, California, was not wearing the American flag because he coaches the national slopestyle ski team of Chile.
 
After skiing the Rockies, the Alps and the Andes, Ryerson said the Caucasus offered some of the world’s best slopes.
 
“This mountain, Rosa Khutor, rates among the best mountains I have ever seen, if not the best,” Ryerson said.
 
“As far as mountain terrain goes, this has as good terrain as anywhere you can find in the Alps, better terrain than anywhere I have ever seen in the United States," he explained. "The Chilean mountains are great, but this mountain, I was extremely surprised. I had no idea. This is one of the best mountains I have ever seen."

For the pioneering Americans who made it all the way to Sochi, a big reward is the thrill of discovery.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid