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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid