Dutch fan finds friends in Russia
For Olympic spectator Jan den Hoed of the Netherlands, the journey to Sochi began four years ago in Canada. He had so much fun at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games that he decided then to make the trip to Russia.
Sitting in the winter sun with friends in Sochi’s Olympic Park, it was obvious that Den Hoed felt he had made the right choice. The Dutch fans stood out from the crowd in their bright orange attire, and Den Hoed’s orange-and-blue Russian-style winter hat — a souvenir from the 2006 Turin Games — made him a particular favourite with Russian spectators.
A brief conversation about the Sochi Games was interrupted three times by friendly Russians asking for a photograph with Den Hoed and his friends.
“If I asked for 10 rubles for every picture, our trip would be paid for”, he joked after one of the impromptu photo shoots. “There’s a good atmosphere here. The volunteers are fantastic. They are very positive and helpful. And when you are leaving the venue, it’s ‘Bye…Until tomorrow!’”
Den Hoed, an avid speed skating fan, said he was also impressed with the quality of the Sochi 2014 venues.
“We just visited ice hockey in the Bolshoy Ice Dome. It’s a fantastic cathedral, an ice cathedral,” he said. “For Dutch people, the most time is spent in the Adler Arena. It’s our Dutch sport, speed skating.”
Although Den Hoed is partial to the traditional Olympic sports, he said he also welcomes the addition of new sports to the Olympic programme. The 2014 Games feature 12 new Olympic winter sports events, including ski halfpipe; ski and snowboard slopestyle; snowboard parallel slalom; and women’s ski jumping.
“We have seen slopestyle at home. It’s fantastic to see”, he said. “I think it’s good to introduce new sports, especially when a lot of people participate in that sport.”
Given his loyalty to home delegation and his passion for speed skating, Den Hoed’s personal highlights from Sochi came as no surprise.
“It was the gold medal for speed skating, men’s 1,000 metres. But also the bronze medal the day before for the women’s 500 metres”, he said.
And what about the next Olympic Winter Games, PyeongChang 2018?
“It’s in the plans”, he said, without hesitation.