Susan Izzo’s Sochi Wrap-Up

1992 Staples grad Susan Izzo just returned from the Sochi Olympics, where 4 snowboarders — all represented by her Mosaic Sports Management firm — competed.

Here’s her behind-the-scenes report, and photos:

After 4 flights and spending Valentine’s Day in 3 different countries, I made it back from Russia to my home in California. What an experience!

February 11th was our big day. Three of our athletes competed in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe event. Unfortunately, like the Vancouver games, they were not able to showcase their best abilities due to a subpar halfpipe.

Two of Susan Izzo's athletes relax between events.

Two of Susan Izzo’s US snowboarding halfpipe riders — Greg Bretz (left) and Danny Davis — relax between events.

In Vancouver on the day of finals, the halfpipe shapers worked miracles and pulled it together. Unfortunately in Russia, this was not the case. The best riders on that particular day were from Switzerland and Japan. They deserved their medals, for navigating through the less-than-desirable terrain. Kudos to each of them for being able to land their runs and come out on top.

Every 4 years the world gets excited about the Olympics, and they should. It is an amazing experience watching all of these countries come to one place to compete in so many sports. The fans, families, athletes, media, event organizers and sponsors all unite for the sake of sport. It is special.

The eyes of the world were on Sochi -- and spectators there had a great time.

The eyes of the world were on Sochi — and spectators there had a great time.

The security was blended among the Olympic-goers and in camouflaged tents along the mountainside, but I never felt as though it was unsafe to be there. It saddens me how many people did not attend because of the bad press and scare tactics of the media. I do not doubt there were terrorist threats; there typically are at any major event that brings that number of people to one place. But it was a shame, because Russia did its best to create a beautiful and safe environment.

ID tags were required everywhere.

ID tags were required everywhere.

Walking through the Mountain Cluster, it was evident that the Russians ran out of time to get everything ready. The buildings were built, but only the lower levels were occupied. You could see that so many of these places were meant to be hotels or restaurants, but time and perhaps resources were not on their side.

The Coastal Cluster and Olympic Park, which was 1 1/2 hours south of the Mountain Cluster down by the Black Sea, was a very scaled-back version of what we experienced in Vancouver. Sochi did not have buildings in place to host large activities by corporate sponsors.

However, the Olympic torch still shined brightly. Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Natalie Morales (my new favorite TV host) and the “Today” show crew were all smiles. And plenty of Olympic enthusiasts from the around world continued to exchange pins and take photos with one another.

The athletes — the reason we come together — wore their countries’ uniforms proudly, and did their best to showcase their exceptional abilities and talents in sport.

And by the way, Bob Costas’ pinkeye was brought on by him calling the slopestyle discipline “jackass stuff.” Karma gets ya every time, Bob.

Nighttime in the Olympic Village.

Nighttime in the Olympic Village.

3 responses to “Susan Izzo’s Sochi Wrap-Up

  1. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Thank you so much, Susan, for your excellent and insightful coverage.
    It’s always good to get honest feedback! Also, I would like to send a shout out and kudos to the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team for their tremendous, hard fought battle against Team Canada yesterday, and look forward to an equally tough match between the two Men’s teams!

  2. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Just watched another intense (and crucial) game played by hockey’s two most talented teams. A never-ending rivalry!

    Cheers, from Vancouver

  3. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Last day and I’m wondering why the US media refuses to understand the IOC medal count: quality outweighs quantity. The US finished fourth, not second.