Thursday, March 8, 2018

The routine returns

It was a quick jump back to reality after a two-week hiatus. It was really like I never left.
I got back on Sunday night and drove straight from the airport to the office and finished up all of my Sunday night normal work. By the time I got home it was after 1 a.m. and I got up at my normal 5:30 a.m. alarm and went to the gym, which may have been my first mistake. After not working out for more than two weeks, my muscles were so sore when I got up on Tuesday morning.
Luckily I didn’t have a game on Monday but I had to work at the other job and again got home well after 1 a.m. before getting up and going on Tuesday morning. Tuesday brought the first game in my return to the high school sports scene, as I headed to North Conway to see the Kennett hoop girls in the opening round of the Division II playoffs. The Eagles put on a good show and walked off the court with a win, meaning there would be at least one more game that week.
Wednesday night I headed to Wolfeboro for the Kingswood hockey boys in the quarterfinals of the Division II tournament. The Knights went to overtime, which made me a bit late for the second job, but it was worth it when they put the winning goal in the net in the extra session, meaning yet another game on the docket in the coming weeks.
Thursday I made the trip north to Cannon Mountain for the alpine Meet of Champions. The conditions were a bit icy, which can be good for racers but weren’t so great for my skiing purposes, though I did get a few runs in and it was good to get back on the skis and get my alpine pictures back in the swing of things. From Cannon, I traveled south on 93 to Plymouth, where I caught the Kennett and Plymouth hoop boys in the final regular season game.
The next night was another playoff hoop game, as the Kennett girls played in the Division II quarterfinals after their first round win earlier in the week. This time the result was not quite as good, but it was still a solid game to close out the season.
Saturday brought my final game of the week, as I headed to Conway to see the Kennett hockey team in the Division III quarterfinals. The Eagles rolled to the win and moved on to the semifinals.
Of course, this set up a bit of a predicament, as both the Kingswood and Kennett hockey teams are playing at the same time on the same day at arenas far away from each other (one in Exeter, one in Plymouth). OF course that’s just the way things goes.

It’s good to be back to normal.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Back at it

Wow, that was a long day.
Those are the first things that cross my mind as I climb into bed at 2 a.m. on Monday, about 3.5 hours before I have to be out of bed again to get back to the gym and back to work.
The day was Sunday and it essentially lasted 38 hours. In South Korea on Sunday morning, I slept in a little bit and was off to breakfast before finishing up packing up all of my clothes and other belongings in preparation for leaving the place that I've called home for the last few weeks.
At 10:40 a.m. I was on the bus to the train station in Gangneung, where we were greeted by volunteers who helped get us to the proper train platform. The train took off for the Incheon Airport and a few hours later, I was stepping off the train and into the airport. After a quick lunch, I was able to find my way to the departure area and then a very nice young woman directed me to the Air Canada desks, where I checked my bag and headed to the right gate. My Olympic credentials got me in a shorter line through security and once through, it was easy enough to find the gate and eventually, board the flight.
The 12-plus-hour flight from Incheon to Toronto was much more successful than the flight from Toronto to Incheon, which was delayed by two hours on the tarmac. We landed in Toronto on time, weirdly enough not too long on the clock after we took off. After grabbing a little dinner, the next flight heads to Boston and home. But not before a moment of panic when I realized I didn't have my backpack on. I was able to track it down before someone reported it to airport security as an abandoned suspicious bag, which is good, since it contained pretty much everything I needed to get home.
We landed in Boston just after 8 p.m. and after I got my bags (which all arrived as well) and got to my car, it was after 9 p.m. and I was heading north toward Meredith and the office. To my pleasant surprise, the code on the door still worked and I walked into the office to find one of the packages I had sent from Korea already awaiting me.
But, that will have to wait to be opened until the next day. I got the work done and headed home after what surely was the longest day I've ever had.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

On the way home

We’re climbing past 7,000 meters, I have my headphones in listening to Rob Has a Podcast as we head out of South Korea toward Toronto.
Looking at the map on the screen in front of me, it makes me realize I am a long way from home and I have been a long way from home for a long time. This is obviously the second time I’ve been away for that long, coming after Sochi four years ago.
So, officially, as this gets posted, South Korea is in the rearview mirror and I’m either on my way home or already home when I post this.
There were a lot of things in PyeongChang that were different than Sochi four years ago, many of them good. As I fly away, I wanted to reflect on a few of those things.
One of the biggest differences was in my accommodations. In Sochi, I stayed in what was essentially a hotel, with a bed and a bathroom to myself. This time around, the accommodations were a bit different and it wasn’t really a bad thing.
Looking to make the trip as least expensive as possible, I booked a room in a three-bedroom apartment in the Gangneung Media Village. This meant that I was sharing an apartment with two other guys and was sharing a bathroom with one of them. I was a little concerned about this, because not knowing who I was rooming with made me nervous. When I checked in the first Friday night, there was nobody else there. I headed out to find the media work room and when I returned, I met one of my roommates. His name is Jeff Cable and he is a photographer from California who works for USA Hockey, taking pictures of the men’s and women’s hockey team.
It took me a while to meet the other guy in the apartment. His name is Ken and he worked at the sliding center mostly, running a blog on the sliding sports. However, back in the United States, he is also the track photographer for Martinsville Speedway.
They were both nice guys and made the accommodation situation easy. Like me, they were both pretty busy so there were very few times when we were all in the apartment at the same time.
Another good difference in South Korea had to be the distances to the venues, which was significantly shorter than in Sochi. While there were a few long bus rides, getting to and from locations took a lot less time, which meant that I actually wrote less on the bus than I did four years ago.
Perhaps the best different was the internet situation. I was able to do work from pretty much anywhere in PyeongChang, be it on the bus, in the Main Press Center or outdoors at the venues. I think my Instagram photos from all over the Olympics probably showed that, as I was able to post photos from pretty much everywhere. In Russia, it was pretty tough to get access to the internet, even sitting in the media center with the Ethernet cable plugged in.
Korea is officially in the rearview mirror and leaving is disappointing, but all good things must come to an end.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

What an ending....

Saturday was my last full day at the PyeongChang Olympics. My last blog post was written on Saturday shortly after I left the Big Air competition at Alpensia Ski Jumping Center. I am writing this one about seven hours later as I sit in my apartment waiting for the laundry to finish up.
When I left the Big Air competition, my plan was to come back to the apartment, do the laundry, finish packing and then go to a curling match tonight. However, not long after I threw my laundry into the machine, I realized that the US men’s curling team was playing for the gold medal in just a few minutes and why would I not go to that?
So I left straight from the laundry room, bringing only my phone and my credentials and hopped on the bus to the curling center. I got there in the second end and was able to watch an incredible match and got to see the US win its first ever gold medal in curling. It was a great atmosphere and I thought it was a pretty fitting way to end my Olympic experience this time around.
I should note that today I seemed to have a stalker. When I arrived at the jumping center for the Big Air competition this morning, Matt Pepin from the Boston Globe told me that he heard Ivanka Trump was going to be at the event. I’d seen her all over the Korean news when I was riding the bus, so I knew she was around. Sure enough, shortly before the competition started, she emerged from near the top of the bleachers and took a seat along with a few other dignitaries and what looked like US Olympic Team members (though I can’t be sure of that). While she stepped out for a brief moment, she remained for the entire event and got to see American Kyle Mack win the silver medal.
Of course, her presence made getting out of the jumping center a bit of a pain, as security cars were parked everywhere and our bus could do nothing but sit for a few minutes before finally the cars were moved and we got through.
As I was arriving at the curling venue, I noticed a big security presence around one of the doors and as I was walking in, a motorcade pulled up, so I guessed that there would be a dignitary in the house at curling as well. Not long after I walked into the press area, Ivanka came out and sat in the seats above the center of the rink. Again, though she stepped out for a few minutes, she remained for the entire match and got to see the historic gold medal win for the John Shuster rink.
Tomorrow morning, I head for the train station, which takes me to the airport and then eventually to my car at Logan Airport and home. It’s been a good ride.