From the beginning, I knew it was going to be different.
The 2014 Winter Olympics have long carried a different air about them than the 2010 Games. I covered those Olympics in Vancouver, and I remember my anticipation for how they would unfold. I expected a madcap, dizzying three weeks in Canada, featuring daily discoveries and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Here is what I wrote back then:
This is one of those assignments where you know exactly what you are signing up for when you accept it. You know the days are going to be long, the free time is going to be short, and the days off are going to be none. But you also know you are going to have an amazing, unique experience and receive access most would crave.
If those Olympics were wild and free, these Olympics appear to be anything but.
This time, I thought I knew exactly what I was signing up to do, especially since I had already done it once before. But this time, the Olympics are in Russia, not Canada. This time, the Games were preceded months in advance by controversy surrounding the Russian government, from its policies on gay rights to its behind-the-scenes machinations involving the Games.
And this time, most disturbingly, the Olympics have been besieged by threats of terrorism.
A quick Google search shows how serious these Games have become.
I already know my role for the 2014 Olympics has changed dramatically. I will face far greater restrictions in terms of where I can go, what I can do, and how I can do it. I will likely see uniformed officers everywhere, far more prevalent in Sochi than they were in Vancouver.
I also will face extreme limitations in terms of my ability to communicate; my Internet access will be sporadic at best.
As such, I likely will not update this blog much, if at all, during the next month. I will have to make that determination once I arrive in Russia, but given the long hours and limited access, I doubt I will have much time to write. In the meantime, you can follow my exploits on my Twitter page and on 11alive.com.
I sincerely hope my Olympic journey ends with similar sentiments to how I felt in 2010:
On some nights the exhaustion sets in. And when it does, I simply turn around as I’m heading out the International Broadcast Center, look behind, and see the Olympic Cauldron lit up on the platform over my shoulder.
And then somehow my energy just comes back.
FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Preparing for Sochi, remembering Vancouver
FOR MORE ON THE ATHLETES: A tale of two Atlanta bobsledders
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Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at email@example.com.