The Niagara Falls Review
‘No special treatment’
SOCHI — Millionaire NHL players won’t exactly be living in the lap of luxury when they arrive in Sochi Sunday for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Canada’s players, i ncluding superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Toews, will stay in the athletes’ village with the other members of the Canadian contingent.
On a tour of the village Tuesday, media were shown a room with three single beds in it, which will be shared by three members of Team Canada.
Canada’s chef de mission for Sochi 2014, Steve Podborski, said this is the way the players wanted it.
“No special treatment,” Podborski said. “One of the things that we discovered in our exit interviews following Vancouver is that the athletes want to be part of a team. That includes the hockey players.
“They love it. It’s a unique experience and we talked about that. They found that to be of great value. They’re up in the athletes’
lounge playing foosball and table tennis and everything else like all the other athletes.”
The NHL players will be among 110 Canadians staying in the coastal athletes’ village, while another 110 will stay in the mountains.
The Canadians will take up three buildings in the coastal region and all are within about a five minute walk to the venues. Podborski said Canada got to choose buildings that were among the closest to the venues because they had the most gold medals (14) at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“Canada won the gold medal count last time and for every country in the world except for Canada and the USA, that means we were the Olympic winners,” Podborski said.
“That helped us a lot with the Russians in terms of where we got to live in the buildings. People love winners. That’s what we are. Everything matters. If you’re not doing well and you haven’t hosted the Olympics in 100 years, it’s not as easy.”
While the accommodations aren’t akin to the five-star palaces NHL players normally stay at during the season, they have plenty of amenities, including athlete lounges, a medical centre, a wellness centre, a gym and support staff offices.
Some even have a view of the Black Sea, but it’s still their location that pleases people the most.
“The accommodations are really quite nice, but I think the biggest thing is the proximity,” Podborski said. “You walk out a little walkway, hang a right and if you’ve got a good lacrosse stick you can bounce one off the men’s and women’s hockey gold medal game arena. How good is that?”
Podborski raved about the Olympic venues, which were all built specifically for these games and are all clustered together within a few minutes walking distance of one another.
“It’s farther to the dining hall than to the venues from here … it’s remarkable,” Podborski said.
“This is amazing. There’s nothing like it and it’s pretty phenome- nal. I would say this is really pretty stylin’ … You’ve got it all.”
Podborski said another thing that makes the athletes village great is the prevailing feeling of confidence among the Canadians, who are predicted to win a national record 30-plus medals at these Olympics.
“The best part of it is, when you walk in here, you’ve got a bit of a swagger going on because we are a good team,” he said. “We’ve invested in our athletes and Canadians are proud of us.”