Sochi 2014 Look-Back: Cold War Renewed

Crowds gather in Rosa Khutor to watch the USA-Russia men's hockey game.
Crowds gather in Rosa Khutor to watch the USA-Russia men’s hockey game.

In a matter of hours from the time this post is published, the United States and Russia will once again take the ice, this time for Paralympic Gold. The host nation will try and do what her Olympic counterpart could not, win gold and beat the Americans.

Which brings me back to four weeks ago when the U.S. played Russia in one of the most highly anticipated events of the games. A contest that didn’t even have a medal on the line. Of course, these two countries have a bit of history, both on and off the ice, in both politics and sports. Most remember the Miracle on Ice in 1980. I also recall a famous basketball game in 1972 that ended in controversy (I obviously wasn’t alive then but I heard about it).

But back to hockey. There was obviously a lot of buzz surrounding the game. I remember watching some of it in the Mountain IBC and then noticing a big crowd watching it on a big screen set up in Olympic Park. Then I saw on Twitter that a large crowd had gathered up in Rosa Khutor, which was no more than 10 minutes away.

I decided to give a heads up to our supervisor, letting her know of the crowds that were watching here in the Mountains. It was a potential news story. What if they broke out in mass celebrations? Or worse, what if they ended up rioting depending on how the game ends?

Our supervising producer called me up and decided that I should head up there with a crew and field produce a live shot. At the very least, I’ll be out in the cold embedded with the crowd sharing the game experience. At best, I’ll be at the center of a major news story.

So we got a crew together and set up a live shot by the start of the third period. In the back of my mind, I was also aware that this could be the target that terrorists were waiting for. A mass crowd in open space where anyone could just walk into.

Luckily nothing happened. Instead, I stood in relatively freezing temperatures with the pro-Russian crowd as the rest of the game unfolded. Here’s how the fans reacted as the night wore on. The first shot is the crowd cheering for the Russian goal that ended up being called back. The rest of this raw video is reaction to the shootout.

The most gratifying thing was hearing that our live shot was taken once, and just once, by NBCSN. And once was all I needed to know that it was worth it.

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