Sam Sanders ’07 BA, National Public Radio (NPR) producer, spent three weeks in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics held from Feb. 7-23. Sanders was among five NPR journalists covering the games.
“It was a blast,” said Sanders. “I covered mainly freestyle events such as snowboarding and skiing.” Though access to the (Olympic) Village was restricted, he had the opportunity to interview many of the athletes including some from the Ukraine, ostensibly an important topic at the moment.
Located on the coast of the Black Sea and near the Caucus Mountains, Sanders said he found the two very diverse climates and terrain to be unique.
“Because of its location, the Sochi games had a mountain cluster and a coastal cluster,” Sanders explained. “The games would take place at venues on the coast and then of course at locations in the mountains. I enjoy running and would run in 60 degree weather on the coast and then travel by bus or train to cover events in the mountains.”
Due to the nine hour time difference between the U.S. and Sochi, most of his coverage was pre-produced and aired later. He did, however, conduct a number of live broadcasts with a typical workday starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until midnight.
While covering the games, he had the opportunity to attend some of both the opening and closing ceremonies.
“I kept thinking how amazing this must look on television because it was so spectacular and I could only see things from my particular viewpoint,” said Sanders.
Despite some of the negative press surrounding the games, Sanders said he was very impressed with Russia and its people while in Sochi.
“I was very surprised at how well the Russians hosted the games,” said Sanders. “It was well managed. The venues looked great. And the people were very hospitable.”
Sanders said his experience in Sochi was inspiring, so much so that he has placed himself on the list to potentially cover the summer games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in 2016, but with one caveat.
“My goal would be to work the games, but then take an extra week to really soak up the culture of the country,” shared Sanders. “I spent 36 hours in Istanbul during my coverage of the winter Olympics, but definitely needed more time to truly take it in.”