With the 2014 Winter Olympics kicking off today, let’s take a look at WordPress.com bloggers writing about — and from — Sochi. From competing athletes to dissenting voices, we have these games covered.
Blogging Sochi: An Olympics Roundup
While millions turn their eyes to the Russian resort town for today’s opening ceremony, the Sochi Olympics have been on the minds of many for months — especially those competing for a spot on a national team. We’re thrilled that so many participating athletes have chosen to share their stories — from the grueling to the inspiring — on their WordPress.com blogs.
Inside the Olympic Village
Sochi 2014 promises to be the most social-media friendly Olympics to date, with thousands of smartphone-wielding athletes tweeting and instagramming every triple-axle jump and half-pipe trick. Many have also been blogging about their experiences, charting their path from Olympic hopefuls to bonafide Olympians.
Our blog-keeping Olympians include biathletes like Australian Alex Almoukov and American Susan Dunklee — check out Susan’s behind-the-scenes post on getting processed by the American delegation upon arrival in Sochi.
“Just like so many athletes, I have dreamed about the Olympics for more years than I’d like to admit. [...] To finally have met the requirements and be given the opportunity which very few receive means so much.”
– Callum Watson, cross-country skier, Team Australia
Irish cross-country skier Jan Rossiter has also kept his fans up to date. He’ll soon be competing against fellow bloggers (and cross-country skiers) Callum Watson and Phillip Bellingham from Australia, and Callum Smith from Team Great Britain.
Other sports are also represented by athlete-bloggers — from Canadian speed skater Alec Janssens to New Zealand alpine skier Adam Barwood. In fact, entire teams have made their home here, including the US speed skating team, and the entire delegation of Team Canada, a WordPress.com VIP partner.
No Olympic Games are ever about sports alone — especially not this year, when the run-up to Sochi has been beset by controversy. Russia’s vehemently anti-LGBT legislation from last year has dominated the debate, with critical voices weighing the best ways to respond.
“I, for one, look forward to seeing the USA Hockey Team standing on the medal platform wearing both Olympic Gold and rainbow ribbons.”
– The Sports Ethicist, philosopher Shawn E. Klein
Others sought to explain the political calculations behind these laws, while one (anonymous) blogger, a gay member of the US Olympic Team, writes about his conflicted feelings now that he’s traveling in a country where his sexual orientation can put him at risk.
As a writer on the Caucasus region makes clear, last year’s discriminatory laws are but one of the issues that threaten to cast a shadow over the games. In an informative post, this blogger lists a number of human rights and environmental concerns that should also worry the international community.
Personal angles, near and far
As a media-dominating juggernaut, the Olympic Games attract commentary from a dizzying variety of perspectives. From a critique of Sochi-inspired advertising to breaking news on a mesmerizing, mariachi-style ski suit, bloggers are leaving no snowflake unturned. Just in the final days leading to the opening ceremony, many have chimed in on #SochiProblems — the half-bizarre, half-comic infrastructure issues encountered by visiting journalists — as well as on the brewing backlash against these complaints.
On the ground in Sochi, too, WordPress.com bloggers are reporting around the clock. Freelance journalist Nina Zietman sends regular dispatches accompanied by gorgeous photos of the various venues, while Rachel Oakes-Ash, the blogger behind Miss Snow It All, writes about topics as varied as the snowboard slopeside event and the Australian opening ceremony uniforms.
It’s going to be an eventful few weeks — winter-sports lovers will be glued to their screens (and their blogs) through March 16, when the Paralympics draw to a close. Be sure to follow the Sochi and Olympics topic pages for the latest posts (and don’t forget specific sports’ pages, too — luge, hockey, or figure skating, anyone?).
Citius, altius, fortius!
Feb 7th at 4:22 pm
My blog would be illegal in Russia under the anti-gay propaganda laws. To write openly and publish about being gay or lesbian (or in my case butch and transgender) where it can be read by people under the age of 18 is illegal.
I can not support the Olympics and support the LGBT community in Russia. I choose to support the community. Peace.
Feb 7th at 4:22 pm
I blogged about Sochi today :-), excited for the Games
Feb 7th at 4:27 pm
Thanks for posting! I wasn’t sure which tags to use, so I changed them to Sochi and Olympics to bring more readers to my article. I will check out the Olympians you mentioned!
I’ve been following some of the athletes on Twitter as well.
Feb 7th at 4:50 pm
Anyone interested in Sochi will also be interested in a series of articles which feature excerpts of the work of Arthur Edmund Spender, perhaps the first non-Scandinavian journalist to cover the Holmenkollen Ski Festival, forerunner to the Winter Olympics.
This is the fourth article which highlights some of the pictures that he took, mainly of the ski-jump, which appeared in his 1902 book Two Winters in Norway
Feb 7th at 5:46 pm
Very nice looking there!
Feb 7th at 6:35 pm
What a wonderful photo! Thank you dear Ben
Feb 7th at 7:37 pm
Why are all these comments so negative toward Russia? Are you all disappointed the cold war and the Soviet Union is over and Russia has moved on to a new era and the Olympics is Russia’s investment to show the world they to are a member of the village of nations on planet Earth?
I am proud of Russia and its struggles to be a nation of people who to want a better life. If the world of miserable people would try to be positive this toxic atmosphere could not exist.
Feb 7th at 9:40 pm
I am watching the Olympics at Sochi with interest. I realize the games are being held in a politically charged atmosphere regarding human rights issues, but events like this offer an exchange of ideas and information. My husband’s ancestors migrated from Russia in the late 1800s so we feel a connection. We have visited Russia and love their people. We have high hopes that Russia will emerge as a democratic nation. Take heart, and may God bless Russia in their struggles for a better life for their people.
Feb 8th at 7:55 am
I have just finished watching the opening ceremony in Sochi and I must say that as a Russian American, I was extremely proud of the beautiful, warm and hospitable reception Russia had bestowed upon many countries. The presentation was breathtaking and the technology used was modern and new! I wish all of the athletes the best of luck and hope that they’ll be happy with their outcomes!
Feb 8th at 12:25 pm
This is an amazing article. I’m so excited about the winter Olympics!!!
Feb 8th at 12:31 pm
Sensational shots! I like the photo of the ski lift with violet light best.
Feb 8th at 4:05 pm
Maybe readers would like to see what Krasnayapolyana was like before it was developed for the Olympics. I visited many times and wrote a blog about it here wp.me/p2gGsd-13V.
Feb 8th at 5:13 pm
Nicely summed up. I’d be interested to hear some opinions on the boycott vs. protest on the ground arguments? Personally, I feel that in this kind of situation, a boycott is a lazy and ineffective form of protest, but I’m open to being persuaded otherwise.
Feb 8th at 8:56 pm
The picture looks good. Almost looks like Camp Fortune skiing!!!
Feb 8th at 10:28 pm
Whether or not is a monumental success is really dependent upon what the athletes will tell us as it relates to their personal experiences while there in Sochi . From my own personal standpoint , I believe the IOC to be just as disingenuous and as corrupt as the Russian government !
Feb 9th at 8:54 pm
Nice blog post, interesting subject
Feb 9th at 9:49 pm
The pictures in this post are incredibly impressive. I think an Olympic theme would be a great Weekly Photo Challenge! (Or a Russian theme, or a pro-gay theme, or something else topically related.)
Feb 10th at 1:49 am
The photos look amazing… players are very excited… I can’t wait for the games…
Feb 10th at 12:48 pm
You know, I was excited about the Winter Olympics at Sochi, but I am extremely disturbed by the mass culling of street dogs in order to ‘beautify’ Sochi for the Olympics However, some lovely pics you have here
Feb 10th at 2:54 pm
I am a bit surprised at the criticism of the Winter Olympics for reasons quite unconnected with the Games. I think the Games must be judged by the facilities available and comfort of the athletes, both of which seem to be good. Dragging politics into the Games would be a shame!
Feb 10th at 4:42 pm
Yes, the photos look amazing.
Feb 10th at 9:51 pm
Looking good on the pictures there!!
Feb 11th at 12:44 am
i should visit this place.
Feb 11th at 12:35 pm
Really nice, thanks for sharing
Feb 11th at 11:30 pm
The winter olympics just remind me of my falls while skiing in West Virginia. Ouch!!!
Feb 12th at 1:59 pm
Thanks for sharing. Really loved it
Feb 13th at 3:37 am
I think i’ve been on that lift… I was in Russia in october and while we were on the lift the locals told us about the Winter Olympics about to be hosted there and they showed us where some of the events were going to take place. Beautiful view!
Feb 14th at 2:38 am
Put away all the political garbage, for once as Global Family, enjoy the tremendous human power after years of drilling, presenting such magical performances with true Olympic spirit. If that does not give you the hope of world peace, nothing else will! 四海之內，皆兄弟
Feb 17th at 12:53 am
Ben, just saw you grabbed my photo for your header – looks great! glad you liked it.