When I moved to Salt Lake City in 1996 I had one thing in mind: Be part of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Look, I’m not a skier. In fact, I kind of hate winter, but when I watched on TV the Olympics in Albertville, France and then Lillehammer, Norway I fell in love with the Winter Games, even more so than the Summer Games. Perhaps it’s the cozy scenes they show with the snow flakes falling as if choreographed, or the layers of furry clothes everyone is wearing. Might even be the nordic sweaters, because I think they’re kind of cool. Or maybe it’s because I love what I can’t do. It’s rather dreamy to watch people do something you can’t possibly do yourself, like ice dancing swizzles, or zig zagging down a mountain on skis, or sporting a speed skating unitard. Nope, can’t do that one at all.
But I can write. So when a friend told me about a job opening for the Main Operations Center as a writer I couldn’t pass it up. It was a part-time contract position and something I could do just during the few weeks of the Olympics. That meant I still had my day job, which required leaving the office around 4:00, catching the light rail to the Olympics Headquarters and working a night shift. (Two shifts were actually all-night shifts.)
Skier, I am not. Writer, yes.
But I wasn’t going to limit myself to just working behind the scenes. I already had purchased tickets a year in advance, so I needed to squeeze in being a spectator as well as meet up with out-of-town friends. It’s no surprise that I got very little sleep for the two weeks I was working.
Like any writer, I kept a journal during my two weeks and as the Sochi Olympics are just getting started, I’ve been going down memory lane. Here are excerpts from my experience:
February 10, 2002
I’m really enjoying my gig with Olympic Radio. I’m working in what’s called the MOC (Main Operations Center) in the headquarters downtown and it is definitely the nerve center of everything that’s going on. Of course, you know I’m eating that up, as I like to know EVERYthing that’s going on and always want to be one of the first to know.
Also eating up all the Krispy Kreme donuts they keep bringing in for us. Someone please put a stop to that. Please
February 10, 2002
Oh, my favorite thing to do is to talk to people who are visiting. This is very exciting for a lot of people. They’ve been saving their money a long time to come and visit. For some reason, wearing the uniform makes me more gregarious and makes me want to talk to our guests. I truly feel like I’m a hostess and this is my dinner party and I want to make sure everyone has a great time.
Okay, the hot thing in town is the USA Team’s blue beret. I have been on a mad search for it and people are cleaning it off the shelves. Went to the SLOS (Salt Lake Olympic Square) Superstore on my lunch today and the berets were nowhere to be found. Then I found the store, Roots (the Canadian manufacturer of the USA Team uniforms), and there was a run on them there too. They said they can’t keep them on their shelves.
Not yet giving up.
I finished my first all-night shift. Not too bad. I came home from work yesterday and took a 2-hr. nap. Was hoping it would end up longer, but that didn’t happen. But I felt refreshed nonetheless. I then went to work at the MOC at 11pm and finished 5 a.m. this morning. I then went straight to the gym and made the 6 a.m. yoga class after about 10 mins. on the treadmill. Now I’m ready to eat a little breakfast and then go to bed. I have the day off.
It’s odd that it’s all over now. I mean, I’ve been waiting for the Olympics to happen before I even moved here. I think SLC really surprised itself that it could be pulled off. And I think people on the outside were really surprised too. Hopefully a lot of people’s misconceptions have been corrected. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the party we put on. Sure there were judging scandals, and countries getting their feelings hurt, and people having medals yanked for doping, but I think we can all feel a little relieved that the guests enjoyed themselves in SLC.
So I proved that I can still write with only 3 hours of sleep a night. Would I do it again? Even with the lack of sleep? Yes, without hesitation. I may not be athletic but I can spit out words for spectators like no one’s business. And hey, maybe I will have another chance at it, as I believe Salt Lake is bidding again.