Through my conversations with multiple frequent Olympic attendees, the word most often used to describe the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi has been... "interesting."
They are interesting because of the reportedly more than $51 billion Russia spent to transform a coastal summer destination into a winter wonderland with palm trees.
They are interesting because of the numerous stories regarding terror threats to the Games caused by unrest in Sochi’s surrounding areas.
They are interesting because the United States is sending 230 Olympians, the most ever by the U.S. for a Winter Olympic Games.
They are interesting because of an $8 billion train, BMW’s new bobsled, short-haired Shaun White, “don’t drink the tap water” signs, Lolo Jones, Lindsey Vonn, new construction, unfinished construction, etc., etc., etc.
But for me, these games are, in fact, beyond interesting, because they are my first, and not just as a reporter. Sochi 2014 is my first experience even attending an Olympics.
When I was told of my Sochi assignment last summer, my first reaction was to hug the manager giving me the news, (I didn’t, because that is frowned upon by human resources). My next reaction: a touch of anxiety. After all, I was being handed the baton (trying to work in Olympic references here) by NBC 5 anchor Brian Curtis, one of the most hard-working and respected anchors in the business.
But now, I just can't get the word "inspired" out of my head. There are so many incredibly inspirational stories to tell about these Olympic athletes. To steal a line from one of NBC's awesome Sochi commercials (think deep, powerful voice here): "Are you willing to put in thousands of hours for one-tenth of a second? These athletes are!" Meanwhile, the Olympic theme song is playing, and I'm ready to run through a brick wall with an American flag draped around me.
My hope is to provide – here it comes – "interesting" reports while I'm in Sochi on a nightly basis, but I also want to tell inspiring stories that will make you want to scream at your TV in support of an athlete with an awesome story.
I think the best piece of advice given to me was a simple strategy by NBC 5 producer Katie den Daas: "Don't overthink it. Just be the eyes of North Texas."
That's the goal. And I hope you'll join me on my journey. My NBC 5 reports from Sochi begin February 5th.
Follow Pat on Twitter @PatDoneyNBC5