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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs