Tristate College Student Recalls Trip to Sochi

Boonville High School graduate Rebekah Floyd is among 40 students from Ball State University traveling to Sochi, Russia to cover the Winter Olympics.

Rebekah shares here latest blog posting with Eyewitness News.

“One of the biggest problems I faced during our trip to Sochi was the fact that we were not allowed to go anywhere without a buddy. This would seem like a good thing to most, a means of keeping our group safe and accounted for. However, I was the only person who had purchased a ticket to women's ski jumping which was located in the mountain cluster (over an hours worth of train rides away from our cruise ship).

I asked a handful of people on our team to purchase a ticket and come with me. Sadly, the $125 fee far outweighed the fact that this was the first time women would be able to compete in ski jumping at the Olympics. One of our professors on the trip took me up on it, even though her schedule for the week was already full. She wound up purchasing the ticket, but then passed it on to a writer because of her schedule. That writer passed the ticket onto another writer, Hayli Goode, who was able to come with me. Third time really is the charm.

We left the cruise ship about two hours before women’s ski jumping started Tuesday night. We thought this would give us adequate time to get to the mountain cluster. We had gotten directions from another team member who had already been to the area, but directions tend to be more difficult on limited sleep. Hayli and I got lost and managed to travel about 30 minutes in the wrong direction before realizing our mistake. Granted it would have been an easier trip if the person we had gotten directions from knew our stop was called Krasnaya Polyana instead of telling us “the stop that starts with the letter K.”

Jumping off at the nearest train stop possible, we corrected our route but became worried we were not going to make it to the event on time. As we started our train ride back to our original starting place I started coming to terms with my loss of $125.

We arrived at Krasnaya Polyana about 40 minutes after women’s ski jumping had started. We emerged from the train station disoriented. It was dark, there were several bus options in front of us and most of the signs were in Russian. Thankfully we spotted a couple of Canadian men who seemed just as lost as we were and they were actually heading to the same event. It was comforting to know we were not the only people who had gotten lost on the way there. The four of us managed to find the gondola entrance together, scanned our tickets and went our separate ways.

Hayli and I approached the docking zone for the gondolas and leaped into one of the large, swinging boxes. We both breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we were going to get to women’s ski jumping before the event ended. That is when the gondola increased in speed and zoomed out of the docking zone over the mountain side. Hayli and I are a little afraid of heights so the first quarter of the gondola ride was filled with squealing. After the initial fear subsided we were able to take in the view. The mountain side was covered in tall trees and there was a light dusting of snow. The lights from the venue at the top came closer and closer into view until we could see a little speck of an athlete flying over the ski jump.

When we reached the top of the mountain and actually made it into the stands, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The huge, blindingly-white ski jump was on my left. As I stared at it, another athlete flew over the Olympic rings that were landscaped in grass on the ski jump. The crowd around us erupted with noise as the athlete touched down at the bottom of the hill. Horns blew, people screamed and cheered, noise-makers clanked. The feeling of unity surrounded me.

It did not matter which country placed bronze, silver or gold. When German ski jumper Carina Vogt was announced as the gold medalist, every country, every single person cheered for her and a large group of Russians chanted her name.

It was truly one of the most touching spectacles I have ever witnessed. All conflicts and differences were set aside during the sporting event. It was more of a celebrated moment of togetherness than a competition. Women’s ski jumping and the Olympics united the world in this singular instance and I was part of that experience. That feeling made $125 seem even more valuable.”

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