PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Olympic days start with excitement and end with exhaustion. Every day is long, every day is different, every day promises to offer something unique that will stick with you forever.
Nothing compares to chronicling an Olympic Games. It’s not just about investing in sports we only pay close attention to every four years. It’s also all the other stuff that makes this experience wonderfully intense and crazy.
It’s the anxiety you feel when you need to get to a venue quickly and then question whether you got on the right bus. It’s cramming into a mixed zone — the interview area that feels like a mosh pit — at 1 a.m. with 100 sweaty, smelly media members who are wearing the same jeans for the third day in the row.
One night you’re standing in subzero temperatures watching ski jumpers risk life and limb for glory and enjoyment. The next night you’re sitting maybe 100 feet from the president of South Korea, the sister of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and the president of the International Olympic Committee inside an intimate 5,000-seat hockey arena that is going absolutely bonkers.
The weather was a big story the first week. First, it felt colder than Minnesota, so frigid that they distributed hand and foot warmers at cross-country skiing. I grabbed a stash of extras. Then high winds forced events to be postponed and nearly blew me over as I tried to cross the street.
We have received five emergency alerts on our phones, which are in Korean. Apparently, one was notifying of an earthquake 100 miles away, three were wind warnings and the fifth, ah, who knows why?
Everybody always asks about food and how we’re eating. In Sochi, the answer was simple. Not well. Here in Pyeongchang, no complaints.
I’ve eaten pounds of beef bulgogi, tried kimchi twice (sorry, not a fan) and cooked my own Korean barbecue.
That last one came as a surprise to me. On the night of the Opening Ceremony, I decided to find a decent meal after eating chicken tenders the first few nights for dinner.
I wandered around a cool area near our media village. I spotted a restaurant with big pictures of steak on the window. I was so excited I nearly ran straight through the door to get inside.
They seated me and, perhaps sensing my cluelessness, my server pointed to an item on the menu that I should order. Perfect, I said.
They immediately started bringing bowls of sauces and lettuce and other food items that I couldn’t name if my life depended on it. The server placed a skillet over a burner in the table. I thought to myself, sweet, they cook it right here.
Um, no. They told me I had to cook. Ugh.
I hate to cook with every fiber of my being. I started nervous sweating. I didn’t know what I had ordered, how much it cost or what I needed to do with all this stuff on the table, which included a giant pair of scissors.
Guess what? I slayed that dinner. It was perfect. And inexpensive. I strutted out there with a full belly and head held high.