From a dental emergency to a breakfast bounty, CP reporters share Olympic memories
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PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — The Canadian Press had a team of seven reporters covering the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
As the curtain falls on the 2018 Games, here are some of their most memorable moments away from the field of play:
Balancing a breakfast tray filled to the brim with an array of vastly diverse foods may not have been an Olympic sport but it was a regular sight in Pyeongchang, where the media morning dining had the feel of a Vegas buffet.
Breakfast was the only meal many media were guaranteed of eating each day. Food at the Olympic venues was limited and, frankly, questionable. Late nights cut down available dining options.
So reporters tucked into their morning meal as if it was their last. Or as if it was free, which it kind of was given it came with the accommodations rate.
The main dining room at the Gangneung media village was a sight to behold at breakfast. It was huge with a menu to match, ranging from bacon and eggs to seaweed and kimchi.
Some opted for a round-the-world smorgasbord. Others chose a simpler menu. I saw one man wielding a plate that had a pyramid-like array of mini-turnovers — and nothing else.
Oranges were so popular that the kitchen staff eventually cut them into pieces to avoid people filling every pocket with them on the way out. Still, reporters stocked up on extra yogurt and bananas like squirrels preparing for winter.
Others used their ingenuity to get a decent-sized cup of coffee, opting to drink it out of a cereal bowl rather than the thimble-like cups provided.
— Neil Davidson
A health emergency can completely derail an Olympic Games, particularly one so far from home.
A badly broken tooth isn't necessarily serious — unless you're not back on Canadian soil until late-March, after the Paralympics. So a trip to the health clinic at the main press centre was in order. The staff there hadn't had to deal with a dental issue until then, and were unsure how to proceed. But they sent me away with the orders: "Give us an hour."
An hour later, the staff was all smiles. The mother of a volunteer happened to be a dentist, and had procured an appointment for the very next day.
A 9:30 a.m. meeting followed with a lovely dentist, who drew pictures of the procedure when she couldn't find the English words to explain it. And 90 minutes later, the tooth was repaired. The cost: about C$117.
The volunteers in South Korea were fabulous.
— Lori Ewing
Mixed zones at the Olympics — the area where reporters get their only opportunity to speak with athletes after competition — can be chaotic places.
Many competitors stop to chat about what's just occurred, be it good or bad, but others don't.
A significant number of the Canadian men's hockey team blew through the mixed zone after their devastating semifinal loss to Germany without speaking to reporters. But there were also some cool moments.
Canadian-born South Korean goalie Matt Dalton shook the hand of one reporter he follows closely outside of hockey after his performance against Team Canada. German forward Brooks Macek, another Canadian, answered every single question following his team's stunning victory over the country of his birth, wide-eyed at the attention he was getting.
It was a reminder that while some of the athletes at the Games are indeed famous, most are not and are happy to share their stories with the rest of the world.
— Joshua Clipperton
Only a quick glance around the Backjung Haum Jea Yule restaurant was needed Friday to see just how popular Eun Jung Kim's South Korean curling team has become in host country.
The delectable Korean meats were put on the back burner for the end of a gripping game against Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa.
With no television available, a few diners in the Phoenix Park-area eatery accessed a feed of the game on their phones. Everyone huddled around two or three tables to watch the dramatic extra end.
Kim had hammer and needed a draw for the single and the win. The stone appeared a tad light and encouraging shouts quickly rose in the restaurant trying to will the rock into the rings.
After a furious sweep, a roar went up as the stone made it for an 8-7 South Korea win and unexpected berth in the gold-medal game.
The restaurant owners were over the moon at the Garlic Girls' success.
Large bottles of Cass beer soon arrived at every table. This round was on the house.
— Gregory Strong
Olympic competitors stay in the athletes' village, but most media members reside in a village of their own.
Picture a setup similar to a university campus. And like a student on their first day of school, it takes a while to find your way around.
There are cafeterias, laundry services, convenience stores and yes, the odd bar.
In Pyeongchang, each apartment tower had a giant number written on its side to help confused reporters find their way. As soon as you start to feel like you know the lay of the land, the Olympics are over and it's time to head home.
It was a good 45 minutes after Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold in ice dance before they arrived in the mixed zone to speak to the print media, but Moir greeted the waiting Canadian reporters with a yell of "Group hug!" and Virtue and Moir reached over the barrier and gave a few reporters a big squeeze.
Numerous questions later, an official barked "last question!"
Moir was having none of it, saying "Can I have more? Just one more?"
Virtue said in an interview the next day: "After all of that media, when we walked to you guys in the mixed zone, that was a special moment for me. Because you've lived all of those times leading into it. 'Oh, our people.' You were with us every step of the way. And you've done so much to share our story and help ice dance. That was a real highlight for me."
Added Moir: "We understand how much things are changing in your business, with social media. But true journalists, covering our sport? When we walk into the mixed zone is one of my favourite parts."
— Lori Ewing
You are always disoriented the first few days after you arrive in an Olympic host city. Trying to figure out where everything is and how to get there is something I've dubbed "The Great Olympic Time Suck."
I needed to get to Canada Olympic House for its opening on my fourth day in Gangneung. I assumed, wrongly of course, that I could take the bus to the Olympic park and it would be clear where I needed to go. I got off the bus at the speedskating oval only to realize I had no clue where to go or how to get there.
Armed with only an address, I approached one of the dozens of host Olympic workforce folks clad in grey and orange. I was quickly pulled into a trailer full of them. There was mad googling going on while I was offered tea and water.
A map was printed. A grey van produced. Three workers got into the van with me. Between the four of us, we triangulated, pointed at maps, consulted the GPS on our phones, scratched our heads, made a U-turn and celebrated like a bobsled team winning gold when I was deposited in front of my destination.
I began searching my pockets for my gloves. My newfound friends didn't know what I was looking for. One of them helpfully held out a package of cigarettes. We all laughed.
— Donna Spencer