Blogging Sochi: An Olympics Roundup

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.

Image by Joe Giordano (CC BY 2.0)

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.

U.S Paralympic Monoskier Andrew Kurka is among many Olympians blogging their way to the games on WordPress.com.

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.

In-depth analysis

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.

Bloggers have written reasoned pleas to boycott the games, as well as counterarguments calling for protests during the games themselves.

“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.

Photo-journalist Nina Zietman catches Olympians in action in Sochi.

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 Allwrites 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!


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Ben Huberman

35 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Sigrid Stuut

    Please don’t support Putin’s Olympics. Haven’t you heard what happens there with human rights, gay people and about the slaughter of stray animals on behalf of an ‘clean’ city? They even let the security guards sleep in containers. Thank you.

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Thanks for the comment, Sigrid. As the post shows, many WordPress.com bloggers are keenly aware of the issues you mention, and write about them critically and passionately.

      Like

  2. Jamie Ray

    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.

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Thank you for sharing this — you make an important point about the current Russian policy, as well as about the power of blogging to educate and enlighten.

      Like

  3. Deco Domino

    I blogged about Sochi today :-), excited for the Games

    Like

  4. susielindau

    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.

    Like

  5. barneyspender

    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

    http://barneyspender.com/2014/02/03/the-winter-games-through-a-victorian-lens/

    Like

  6. HipsterApproved.net

    Very nice looking there!

    Like

  7. Niko

    What a wonderful photo! Thank you dear Ben :-)

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Credit goes to the talented photographers who took these photos — we were just fortunate enough to find them on their blogs.

      Like

  8. captaindemocracy

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sfroese

    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.

    Like

  10. neemadesign

    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! :)

    Like

  11. catherinehughes888

    This is an amazing article. I’m so excited about the winter Olympics!!!

    Like

  12. Talking Trees Gallery

    Sensational shots! I like the photo of the ski lift with violet light best.

    Like

  13. heavenhappens

    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.

    Like

  14. judithfagelson

    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.

    Like

  15. osmovies

    The picture looks good. Almost looks like Camp Fortune skiing!!!

    Like

  16. Alan aka tophatal ....

    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 !

    Like

  17. smurfymansam

    Nice blog post, interesting subject :)

    Like

  18. Stef

    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.) :)

    Like

  19. ggusey1

    The photos look amazing… players are very excited… I can’t wait for the games…

    Like

  20. Supriya Mimani

    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 :)

    Like

  21. hemantcontractor

    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!

    Like

  22. aartsad

    Yes, the photos look amazing.

    Like

  23. osmovies

    Looking good on the pictures there!!

    Like

  24. daleadventure

    i should visit this place. :D

    Like

  25. El rincón de lo humano

    Really nice, thanks for sharing

    Like

  26. raraujo3353

    The winter olympics just remind me of my falls while skiing in West Virginia. Ouch!!!

    Like

  27. belieber18

    Thanks for sharing. Really loved it :)

    Like

  28. Diet Girl

    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!

    Like

  29. rkao456

    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

    Liked by 1 person

  30. jag75

    Ben, just saw you grabbed my photo for your header – looks great! glad you liked it.

    Like

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