Despite the 65 degree weather... and the beachgoers... and the ice cream... and the t-shirts ... Saturday felt like the Winter Olympics.
Cold War or no Cold War, when Russia plays the United States in hockey, it's an event. When it's in the Olympics, it means more. When those Olympics are in Russia and the nation's president -- a pesky foil for America's leader to boot -- basically pins a nation's hopes on its hockey team, well, then it's intense.
And it was.
I could not get a ticket to the game (Brian Williams took my seat, I think!), so I decided to see the game in multiple places.
First, the hotel bar/restaurant. The big screen in the lounge was for guests, and it was in English. At the bar, with a smaller crowd, it was a Russian broadcast feed.
When the U.S. took a 2-1 lead, there were a lot of high fives. Somehow, it seemed a touch obnoxious.
Then, there was Olympic Park. The space around the Park is huge so even if there are a lot of people, it does not often feel that way. The crowd surrounding the jumbotron was huge, and decidedly pro-Russia. It felt like a nation's eyes were focused on this game, even if it wasn't the medal round.
Oooohs, Ahhhhs and cheers swayed through crowd like huge swells in the open ocean.
Then, there was the NBC compound inside the International Broadcast Center. It was on every monitor in every room. The Russian workers took over the commissary for the most part, and I watched it with my NBC Sports Desk colleagues.
I love these big newsroom atmospheres for a few reasons. First, invariably, one room has a different feed and sees stuff before everyone else. So, we are left for five seconds wondering exactly what the groan or cheer from the other room meant.
It's also lovely how all of us high-and-mighty journalists get into the action (I root internally but rarely show an outward response).
It's safe to say that absolutely no work was completed from the beginning of the third period until after TJ Oshie sealed the game for the U.S.
I get superstitious. I switched seats and monitors after every U.S. miss. I also like to change it up so no one gets too annoyed with my chatter.
It was awesome all around, and I honestly didn't need to be at the game to feel that way. Same with you, I bet.
So, welcome to the Olympic Games.
Before today, there had been tension, glory and epic failure. However, not on this scale with so much of the host nation fixated on this game... on a 65-degree Saturday right by the Black Sea.
Now, here's to hoping they bounce Canada and have a repeat for the gold medal game. That would be (as gold medal snowboarder Jamie Anderson put it when referencing Tindr in the Olympic Village) "next level."
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