Thursday, February 6, 2014

Right Place, Right Time

Sochi is buzzing now. Foot traffic is getting crowded with more international team jackets and fans with flags.

After putting in a few hours at Sochi Media Center, where attendees were treated to a visit by a historic Russian Folk Group (among them a designated octogenarian Olympic Torchbearer), on Thursday I trekked over to the Coastal Cluster of venues for my first look at the Olympic Stadium.


Another reason for the seaside train ride was to retrieve Day Passes to volunteer at the Coca-Cola Olympic Pin Trading Center inside the Team Russia House, a massive and very cool activity center for fans of all ages and nationalities. While inside, word spread that Olympic silver medalist Maria Sharapova would visit with a crew from NBC to film her experience at the venue. Hello!

Readers of this blog may recall the fortunate series of events leading to Sharapova's Olympic tennis final with Serena Williams at Wimbledon. And who could forget the flag ceremony video captured there?

Since capturing many action shots of both players that day in London, I've looked forward to another opportunity to speak with the Russian tennis star, icon and founder of the candy enterprise named Sugarpova.

How sweet it was to spot Maria flanked with a dozen NBC camera, sound, editing and production team members and a legion of fans with cameras like mine fixed on Sharapova, who professionally worked through her taped interviews (set to air during the Opening Ceremony tomorrow via NBC). She also graciously signed autographs for Olympic volunteers.

Then it happened -- a pin collector (not me, but Pete C., in the photo) shouted out to Sharapova those words only a pinhead can proudly exclaim ... "want to trade a pin?"

Apologetically, Sharapova declined with a smile, stating "Sorry, I don't have any pins to trade" over the heads of the entourage.

Enter Nick Wolaver, a.k.a. Johnny on the Spot, with a hot-off-the-press Olympic blog pin and business card.

Sharapova accepted my pin offer and others' then proceeded to complete the pin trade (for fun, note the person she traded with already is wearing one of my blog pins in the photo).

Sharapova, therefore, held on to the pin this blogger gave to her, and only time will tell whether it may lead her back to this site and/or post. As you may concur from the images below, the tennis great is holding an "Olympic Rings And Other Things" business card and pin during the post-trade NBC filming.

Moments later, at the conclusion of her official NBC taping duties, I showed Sharapova my camera and the action shot photographed in London (shown above, with this post).

She said, "O.K." to a 'selfie' pose beside me, and voila! the serendipitous Olympic Park experience du jour was over.

I'm so appreciative of Sharapova's kind response there is no time to frown that the 'selfie' only has my partial forehead, eyewear and cheek. Besides, I have that photo with the octogenarian Olympic Torchbearer to keep me company.

LOVING the Olympics!

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver are copyright Nicholas Wolaver not to be reproduced without written permission


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