Sochi 2014: From Russia, With Love

I’m feeling the love in Sochi on this Valentine’s Day. It’s not the heart-shaped balloons floating around, or the many


I’m feeling the love in Sochi on this Valentine’s Day. It’s not the heart-shaped balloons floating around, or the many women I see clutching flowers, or even the ‘free hugs’ being given out by volunteers at the athlete’s village. It’s what I’ve felt since the start of the Olympics: a huge outpouring of encouragement and admiration for our Canadian athletes, not just for those who win medals, but for all of them, and all their efforts and determination.

Take silver medalist in figure skating, Patrick Chan: Although he’s disappointed with his result in the free skate tonight, he’s received tons of support and heartfelt congratulations from his fans. He should be proud’we are!

Speaking of pride, I attended three hockey games this week’the Canadian women’s team versus the U.S., and two games played by our men’s team’and the enthusiasm of the Canadian fans was infectious. I’ve started to lose my voice from cheering so much’I can’t help it! I feel the same pride at Canada Olympic House, where Olympians and their families and friends hang out, watch live events, and celebrate after competitions. Russian president Vladimir Putin stopped by today (I missed it by an hour) and even he was feeling the love for Canada, wishing us lots of gold medals’just not in hockey!

(Courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee)

Speaking of love, I have to mention all the families I’ve spent time with during the past 10 days, especially two special moms: bobsledder Kaillie Humphries’ mom, Cheryl Simundson, and halfpipe skier Rosalind Groenewoud’s mom, Shanne Matthews.

(Shanne Matthews and Cheryl Simundson)

Both athletes are now in Sochi and getting ready for their respective events, and as competition day approaches (Feb.18 for Humphries; Feb. 20th for Groenewoud), I can feel the mothers’ excitement and anticipation growing and growing. When they talk about their kids, I can see the pride in their faces and hear it in their voices. What an honour to be with them during their Olympic experience, and what a thrill it’s been to be here in Sochi.

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending a few short-track speed skating events in the afternoon. Then, I say poka (bye!) to Russia and fly home, where I’ll be glued to my T.V. and Twitter feed for the latest updates. Have you caught Olympic fever, too?

‘Joana Lourenço