Author Topic: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi  (Read 3007 times)

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Offline owdlvr

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Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« on: January 22, 2014, 12:47:44 PM »
So, given our experience with the Olympics (where everyone outside of Canada tries to make it seem as though we have no idea what we're doing or were going to be prepared) I've largely ignored the whole Sochi doom and gloom...

BUT, when someone you know posts first-hand accounts of the situation, it's impossible to ignore. I gather from his tumblr that Johnnie is having a great time :P


No hot water, no WiFi, contract issues, I think the list goes on. His "update number 1" is worth a read over a coffee break:

http://johnniebalfour.tumblr.com/?og=1

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Offline bwaz

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 07:29:57 AM »
I read his update, so far it doesn't sound like he's having a very good time.... ;(
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Offline owdlvr

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 10:01:14 AM »
Don't you head over there soon?

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Offline Alp

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 10:06:22 AM »
don't know why he shouldn't be?  screw the Olympics, the Russsian women are crazy hot and love foreigners....rich ones but still.....

Offline bwaz

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 10:22:13 AM »
Don't you head over there soon?

-Dave

Yep. My setup is a little more organized as we've already got people on the ground doing rehearsals etc.
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Offline buggy1

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2014, 06:22:00 PM »
Good luck over there Bryan, hope it goes better than what Johnny's dealt with.
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Offline gsun

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2014, 08:39:30 PM »
What do you do there Brian?
9 years and counting....

Offline Jerome

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2014, 10:23:12 PM »
So some of you know Johnnie.... What happened to the blog? All the posts and videos are gone... Last one was something about being told to shut up , and now there is nothing left. What gives?
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Offline Geoff

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2014, 10:37:58 PM »
KGB/FSB has relocated Johnnie to a new fancy one person room, I hear it's near Siberia?

Offline Jerome

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2014, 11:19:47 PM »
And I was starting to like this guy... Was talking to a friend in China once over Skype,  he started to get a little critical about stuff like johnnie here and the all seeing eyes cut out the video of the dump he was hating on, then after a couple minutes of just audio hating, audio disappeared, then once moved over to text chatting, they cut his connection for the night. Nice people. I'd have stayed at home. Ignorance is bliss
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Offline buddy boy

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 11:28:39 PM »
Hope hes ok !.. I read his message on FB

"only dead fish swim with the stream"

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2014, 09:54:48 AM »
From my understsnding, He is heading home now.
Lets get Johnnie home safely.

Offline 52 split

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2014, 02:12:53 PM »
i wonder did he get paid and or build the snowboard course?

Offline bwaz

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 03:59:27 PM »
One would guess no in either case. ;(
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Offline Jerome

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 05:09:46 PM »
A paper in Australia picked up his story and published it. I think he made a few people mad ...
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Offline 52 split

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Offline Cameron

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2014, 08:35:01 AM »
The story made The Province newspaper!

Vancouver man appalled at Sochi conditions after working on ski, snowboarding courses
http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Vancouver+appalled+Sochi+conditions+after+working/9432123/story.html


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Offline Jeremy

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2014, 09:30:15 AM »
....and CBC radio news this morning. He's famous.
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Offline Darren

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Re: Whoa. Johnnie in Sochi
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2014, 07:52:55 AM »
Sochi Update Number 1

Sochi Update. January 21, 2014

I arrived in Frankfurt feeling like I had been hit by a bus. I had an old lady sitting behind me who used my seat as a handle to get up out of her seat, and she got up A LOT.

No sleep for me on that leg of the trip.

I headed to the gate for my flight with Aeroflot to Moscow then on to Sochi. No boarding pass for me. I wasn’t even listed as a passenger. So while they sorted that out, I logged into the wifi and checked my emails to see what the plan was for when I arrived at Sochi. I needed to know how I was getting to my hotel. At this point, I didn’t even know the name or address of the hotel. This is pretty important information when you are travelling alone in a foreign country.

The email I received, just added to the confusion. I was told that there would be nobody to meet me and there was a bus schedule attached with some very poor instructions.

At the last minute, the girl at the counter just hand wrote me boarding pass, I chugged some water and she shoved me through the door. I guess that’s how Aeroflot works. This would be last fluids I would get for the next 24 hours.

You know when you see the truck on the highway full of cows all just shoved in there, piled up on each other? Well that is how Aeroflot works, I’ve never been so squashed and uncomfortable on a flight before. There was no safety demostration, no food or drink service, nothing!

I somehow arrived at Moscow in one piece and was met by an army of volunteers in Sochi 2014 uniforms, they checked my accreditation and I was swept through the airport like a rockstar. From the moment I exited the aircraft to the moment I boarded the next one, I had a volunteer with me. I was escorted though all check points, customs, bagagge claim, baggage check for my next flight by an attractive Russian girl who pushed me to the front of every line, all the while talking to me in Russian. I have absolutely no idea what she said the whole time but the whole process only took about 20 minutes from plane to plane. This has been the only efficient thing I have seen so far.

I boarded another Aeroflot flight and was squashed next to two huge Russian guys who looked exactly like the Russian gangster stereotype that you see in movies. Six foot tall and six foot wide with leather jackets that are way to tight. Hooray, another comfortable flight.

Once I land in Sochi, everything becomes a mystery. I still have no idea where I am staying or how I am getting there.

Sochi airport just a small domestic terminal and doesn’t look finished. It was pretty simple to get through the place and grab my bags. I spotted a Sochi 2014 desk surrounded by volunteers and attempted to ask what the hell I do now. I got blank stares. One girl finally stepped up with her hand out and said “Accreditaion”. She checked my accreditation and said, “No this is wrong, you must get it fixed”. I finally worked out that she was telling me to go to the main office at the resort of Rosa Kutor and work it out. She then turned her back and walked off leaving me standing there completely lost. Well, I guess I should try this bus schedule.

Just before I walked out of the main doors and into the rain, I was grabbed by yet another volunteer. “Name! you tell me name now!” I complied and was told to wait. A couple of minutes later I was met by Oleg, the sport manager for snowboard and skicross. I was then piled into a car and we were off and a ridiculous speed in the pouring rain and fog and on the wrong side of the road for most of the time. There were police everywhere who didn’t even give us a sideways glance as we ripped past them at light speed on the wrong side of the road.

We pull into a driveway of a block of buildings that look like a council housing estate in England. It looks like it was built 50 years ago, not 2. The road is half built and there is mud and water pouring down the street off the mountain. This place is a dump and looks like it could fall down at any moment. I am pulled from the car and shoved in front of a pimply kid seated behind a plastic table. He is surrounded by boxes of building supplies and broken tiles, the place smells of concrete dust. Pimple kid hands me a key and points at the next building, “Top floor, room 10”. I turn to leave, “No, you come”. He drags me to another room full of folded laundry, he hands me a two sheets, a pillow case and a roll of toilet paper. As I am signing for my issued bedding and toilet paper, I feel like I am back in the army, this is exactly like basic training. I didn’t sign up to go through that again!

I enter my room and my heart sinks, this is no hotel. There are two small metal framed beds in the centre of the room with thin mattresses leaning against the wall. I turn to ask for some directions about tomorrow and find myself standing on my own.
My “room” consists of two small rooms and a bathroom. Before I get a chance to explore, Nick turns up, soaking wet with a “Fuck this” look in his face. Turns out he got onto a bus from Sochi airport and was told to get off in the middle of nowhere. He stood in the pouring rain for almost an hour before another bus showed up. The second bus dumped him at a bus depot. While standing there lost, he heard a familiar voice “Nick!” It was our friend from home who had arrived a few days earlier. Somehow, Steve and Nick just bumped into each other. Luck was on Nick’s side. Nick and I are sharing this little room and Steve is living next door with the other three guys. The six of us are finally together at least.

Check out the video I posted yesterday to see what our place looks like. We did a little rearranging of the bed situation before I made the video which really doesn’t show how bad this place is. The toilet flushes muddy water, there is no hot water, the shower floor is covered in dirt and mud, there was piss all over the toilet, the water is undrinkable (it’s brown) it’s even sketchy to brush your teeth with it and the idea of having internet in this place is a joke. If we want internet, we have to wait till we get to the mountain which is a two hour commute via bus and by foot. I guess I won’t be talking to Willa and Toby for the next month. I’m ready to just grab my bags and head back to the airport. We all eventually get to bed at 0300. I have still not eaten or had any fluids since I left Frankfurt over twelve hours ago.

I’m up at 0600 and we begin our commute at 0700. No buses run until 0800 so we stand in the dark getting rained on for almost an hour. I must also point out that we are just winging it at the moment, we have been given no directions for anything and my accreditation doesn’t work, Nick is in the same boat. After a short bus ride, we then have to walk to rest of the way. If it wasn’t for Steve who has been here for a few days already, we wouldn’t have found our way to the resort. Nothing is finished here and there is piles of garbage everywhere. Muddy water is pouring off the mountain and flowing through the streets and the coblestone pavers are all lifting up or disappearing into sink holes. This entire place was built in the last few years, it looks nice at first glance but look a little closer and you can see that it was just thrown together. Most of the buildings are not finished and with only two weeks to go before the games start, they never will be finished. It is pouring rain and close to 10 degrees above zero. The little snow they have is rapidly disappearing.

I still haven’t eaten or had fluids and it’s been almost 20 hours. I had one Tic Tac this morning, it was delicious. I also haven’t showered since leaving home three days ago. I smell amazingly bad. WE FOUND MCDONALDS!!!! I’ve never been so happy to find McDonalds and even happier to find that it has wifi. After a quick feed a lot of water and some messages sent home, we head off to find the accreditation office. Without valid accreditation, we can’t do anything.

The accreditation office doesn’t open till 10 so we lie in the hallway and wait. This is going to be the story of our day. Nick and I finally get into the office to be told that there is something wrong with our details on the computer system and we will have to wait. A few hours go by and we walk off to find some lunch. You guessed it, nothing is open because nothing is finished being built yet. We eventually find a coffee shop resturant type place and pick up a menu that is completely in Russian. They guy tells us in broken english that they make fantastic pizza so we order a couple of small pizzas and a small drink each. Food was pretty good, the bill was not. Total of the bill was 2450.00 rubles. That works out to $75. HOLY CRAP! I guess we will not be eating out anywhere over the next month.

Back to the accreditation office to continue waiting. After convincing them to give me the wifi code, I log in and find a bunch of travel warnings popping up with increased terrorist attack warnings for Sochi and Rosa Kutor. Being told to avoid public transport, awesome! This just keeps getting better. I fall alseep on the floor.

Finally at 1530 I am issued with my new accreditation, we can now get through security to the gondola and head up to the venue for a meeting at 1730 with the managers and to go over our contracts. What a waste of a day so far.

If you think everything so far sounds bad, wait for it, it’s going to get a lot worse!

We are seated around a big table in a boardroom. At the head of the table is the sport manager, his assistant and another big wig who we are never introduced to. At the other end of the table are the two head builders, Nicko and David. The rest of the table is surrounded by the six of us and we have big issues that need to be addressed. Hot water, accomodation, the commute, food etc are all briefly discussed before we get onto the biggest issue. How they propose to pay us.

In the six months leading up to this moment, we have been in constant contact with these people, sorting out contracts, methods of payment etc. So far nothing has gone as planned. They have wanted to pay us into Russian bank accounts for a few months now and we have fought them long and hard on this point. Yes, you read that correctly, they want us to open Russian bank accounts. How do we do this? Well, we don’t, apparently they have already opened accounts for us! How the hell they can open an account in my name without my details or signature is beyond me and sounds very dodgy!

Before we left home we didn’t win the fight about the bank accounts but we did win the fight for them to pay us within ten days of us signing the contract. Well, that has now changed too. They are now telling us that they will pay us ten days AFTER we have gone home. I have a very strong feeling that we are never going to get paid. During the meeting I told them on no uncertain terms that what they are trying to do is total bullshit and if they had disclosed this information earlier, I would not have agreed to come here.

The two hour commute home seemed to take even longer and the six of us finally sat down together at home to discuss our options. I can’t post what we discussed yet, but all I can say is I am not backing down.

That was the coldest shower I have ever had in my life.