EDITOR’S NOTE: We are very excited to share the travels of Simi Hamilton’s family to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing dispatches from Ruthie Brown and family as they give you a first-hand, “behind-the-scenes” look at the Olympics.
There is one thing that the Russians are definitely good at - security. With all the hype, we definitely came into The Games on alert. Once we had been here for a few days, we were astounded by the ability of the Russians to secure such an enormous event. Sochi is a city of 200,000 people. There are over a 100,000 guards posted here. The transportation corridors are lined with a sentry every 100 yards (standing there all day and night!) for miles on end. Bridges get extra double duty with a herd of sentinels. Every bus is run through a check point and scanned, dog sniffed, under carriage mirrored and then each window, door baggage compartment taped FBI style. Upon arriving at a destination, if any of the tape has been broken, the bus would be confiscated. Four or five helicopters can be found scanning the area. In the harbor, small vessels are constantly running maneuvers. There are the endless camouflaged sniper lean two stations placed strategically, everywhere! For the first two days of travel I had totally missed them. And then there are the trees we think are trees. Wrong. These guys are good! Not to mention the Where’s Waldo crew wandering incognito in every public place. We’ve made a game of trying to find them. It’s like having our own personal body guards. They have soften the overwhelming numbers of military by donning a segment of security guards in lovely flowered purple jackets, sure they’re asking themselves...how are we to be taken seriously in this? We pass through at least 4 check points traveling anywhere and one includes a full strip down to shirt and pants pat down. They do it quickly, efficiently and take their job VERY seriously. We’ve rarely waited in line for more than 5 minutes. Amazing really. We’re grateful.
We were able to go to the Olympic Village and visit Sim today. It took major clearance 2 days in advance and what felt like a 100 security check points (all of which we were happy to do, keeping our athletes safe!). The village is up at the venue- a bus, train, two gondolas to an exquisite mountain cluster perched on the steep hillside. The accommodation are in a 5 star hotel (sweet!) with beautiful outdoor killer view swimming pool, huge gym/ workout room, restaurants, shops, etc... and a small double suit for their room with a big bathroom. Sim is sharing with 3 other team mates (one is Noah). Very nice.