Instead of settling down in front of the TV to catch this year’s Winter Olympics, Waterloo native Brad Siedle decided to travel nearly 6,000 miles to witness the international event firsthand.
Siedle, a 2004 Waterloo High School graduate, arrived in the Sochi area Sunday afternoon and is staying at a hostel in Adler, a micro-district of the four city districts of Sochi, Russia.
“I attended ski jumping in the mountain cluster Sunday night,” Siedle wrote during an online interview conducted via Facebook. “And I visited Olympic Park Monday and went to short track speed skating.”
Siedle said his experience at short speed skating on Monday was “crazy.”
“There were tons of Russian fans, and any time their player would race, the place would get extremely loud,” he said. “With short track, the players skate so close together that anything can happen. I saw a few wipeouts, and it makes the event much more exciting.”
Siedle also attended the Summer Olympics in London in 2012 and said it is entirely different from Russia.
“London is a much bigger city, and events were more spread out,” he said. “But it was easier to get around because everything was in English there.”
He said Russia built a brand new railway and highway to make it easier to get to and from events, but the Tube system is pretty easy to navigate in London.
Compared to London, he said Sochi has more volunteers to help and assist people spread throughout the city.
“Most of the younger volunteers know English well,” he said. “One of them even walked me to my hostel late (Monday) night.”
He also described Olympic Park, where all indoor events, the opening ceremony and other activities take place.
“It’s also where a lot of corporation and national houses have their buildings for parties, events and promotions,” he said. “For example, there is a USA house, but only special people like athletes and sponsors are allowed in. They do have a shop normal people can visit, and some houses are free for everyone.”
On Tuesday, Siedle had plans to go to the snowboard half-pipe event all day. He also plans to attend alpine skiing, skeleton and curling events as well.
He will stay in Sochi until Feb. 16, spend an additional night in Moscow, and return home on Feb. 17.
“I have a bunch of hockey tickets coming up,” he said. “I’m excited for the Russia-USA game and the USA-Slovakia game.”