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Trish Jordan (Monsanto Canada) Blog: Sochi 2014 – Full of Surprises on Day One

By Trish Jordan, Public & Industry Affairs Director, Monsanto Canada

The Black Sea near the Canadian group hotel

The Black Sea near the Canadian group hotel

This wasn’t what I was expecting.

Sure, I was somewhat prepared for the exhausting 26-hour travel time to get to Sochi, Russia from Winnipeg, Manitoba. And I was also prepared for a bit of jet lag and adjusting to some lack of sleep. But to see the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, I was ready to take whatever was thrown my way.  So far, just a day in, it has been nothing but a whole lot of good.

What I wasn’t expecting was Sochi.  And most certainly I had never envisioned palm trees. Yep, I said palm trees.

Trish Jordan, center, with Jane and Wayne Askins, parents of a curling team member

Trish Jordan, center, with Jane and Wayne Askins, parents of a curling team member

When I thought about attending the 2014 Olympic Winter Olympic Games in Russia, I thought snow, cold, winter. After all, it is the “winter” Olympic Games and the Twitter handle associated with Canada’s Olympic Team is #wearewinter! And to be honest, I was so busy leading up to my departure I hadn’t taken any time to find out anything about Sochi – where it was, what it’s history was, what to expect.  That is a sad reflection on me.  I should have embraced the opportunity to research, study and learn about all this city had to offer before I left.

The good news is I have the best experiential learning opportunity one could possibly have – the firsthand experience of taking it all in live and in person.

Our group of friends and family of Team Jenner Jones, the Canadian Olympic women’s curling team representative, arrived in Sochi late Sunday evening so it was dark and we were pretty much consumed with getting through the airport and on to our hotel. You would think there wasn’t much to see on the drive from the airport to the hotel, but as we were carried off in our VIP van and onto the roads of Sochi, I was struck by the “newness” of everything…. New roads (Winnipeg could learn a thing or two about traffic efficiency and overpasses), new buildings, new cars. Just new.

It was the morning that surprised me and opened my eyes to the real Sochi.  The sun was out as we strolled down the alley to a pathway that leads to a boardwalk along the Black Sea that rivals what you see in Long Beach or Atlantic City.  I needed to get to one of six registration centres to pick up the required Spectator Pass that must be presented at every event – part of the intense security precautions to protect all participants and visitors to the Games.

The temperature today was about 15 degrees Celsius and there wasn’t any snow to be seen, other than when I cast my gaze upwards to the beautiful snow-capped mountains in the distance that seem to frame the outskirts of the Olympic venue.

The warm weather, green vegetation, colourful flowers, and water (what we drink, shower in and see along the shore) are all a positive and welcome surprise to me, as are the preparations which are quite impressive and not at all as some of the media have described.

The greeter at Canada House in Sochi

Of course, the people are what make any experience. We have been welcomed and waited on, and feel safe and supported.  And that’s before we even stepped foot in the Olympic Park to watch the girl’s 2 pm game against China.

The Olympic Park is impressive.  You’ve likely heard the stories about the expense Russia, and President Vladimir Putin, has put into Sochi and the Games.  It shows.  And I, for one, am in awe.

Among the themes developed by Russia to welcome visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games is: Russia – Great. New. Open. Those who know me know I am not one to buy into marketing pitches but this one caught me and I see it as believable and genuine as I attend my first Winter Olympic Games on foreign soil.

So, just one day in, this visitor is impressed, happy, really pumped and feeling oooooh so fortunate for this opportunity. Oh yeah, and there was an opening curling game today, too, and Team Canada won 9-2 over Team China in 7 ends.

That was probably the only thing that didn’t surprise me in my first 24 hours in the seaside city of Sochi, Russia.

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Comment by OntAG Admin on February 12, 2014 at 4:57pm

Check out Trish Jordan's Third Blog on her amazing adventure: 

Sochi 2014 – The Adventure Continues

here: http://ontag.farms.com/profiles/blogs/trish-jordan-monsanto-canada-...

Comment by OntAG Admin on February 10, 2014 at 8:55pm

Trish Jordon, Monsanto Canada, Blog: My Olympic Experience (First Post Feb 8th)

I am on the road to Sochi, Russia and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  As I sit in the Frankfurt airport waiting to board my flight, I am reflecting on how I came to be in this fortunate spot. Like most of the really great experiences I have had working in agriculture for 30 years, it all started with a farmer.

Team Canada

Team Canada

It was 2007 and Monsanto Canada had already begun building a connection to the sport of curling through a national sponsorship relationship with the Canadian Curling Association.  Curling – like hockey and all other sports on ice – is a sport embraced by rural residents in Canada of all ages, and that includes farmers.

It’s not that urban folks don’t curl as well. They do. The difference as I see it is that in many farming communities the curling club serves as something more than just a place to curl.  It also serves as the social gathering place for community residents of all ages.

As an agriculture company, Monsanto seeks to support those activities or programs that farmers are passionate about. In Canada, curling is definitely one of those passions. Consider that an average viewership for an NHL Hockey Game in Canada is 482,000. The average audience for a curling game is 516,000.  As I saw someone write recently, “deal with it!”

Lorne and Chris Hamblin, farmers who were leading the local organizing committee that would host the 2007 Manitoba provincial women’s curling championship in their community, approached me about the possibility of Monsanto becoming involved with curling at the local level. And with that small request, I was exposed to the importance of curling to farmers, rural residents and their communities.

Jones Team Oly Trials

Jones Team Oly Trials

It was also in 2007 that I first met Team Jennifer Jones, a team from the city of Winnipeg that went on to win the provincial championship that year.  I didn’t have much contact with the team at that event, other than to present the winners with their crests and trophy and say thanks to the volunteers and congratulate the community for staging such a terrific week-long event.  But later that summer, I got a call from members of Team Jennifer Jones who asked whether we would be interested in coming on board as a team sponsor.

We really hadn’t thought about sponsoring a curling team but thought “what can it hurt to have the girls in and hear about their goals, their dreams and what they were hoping to accomplish as amateur athletes?”  So we invited them to our office, they won us over and we became one of the first corporate sponsors of Team Jennifer Jones that summer of 2007.

Jones World Championsup

Jones World Championship

And what happened after that? Well, they went on to win the 2008 Manitoba provincial championship, the Canadian national championship and the 2008 world championship.  They won the Canadian national championship again in 2009 and 2010, as well as many World Curling Tour events and much more.  They fell short of their Olympic dream to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games but they regrouped, refocused and set their sights on Sochi in 2014, a full four years later.

And that is why I am sitting in the Frankfurt airport, waiting to board a flight to Sochi, Russia. I am following a dream that started back in 2007 for a group of incredible women, with impressive talent who needed a bit of help to pursue their dreams. And I want to see that dream come true for them with a spot on the Olympic podium.

Along the way, Monsanto has received more than it has given– particularly me, who has learned to love the sport of curling as much as farmers and other rural residents.   Who has been welcomed into the curling family in small town rinks across Canada and thanked endlessly for Monsanto’s support for their communities. I have met my best friends through curling and I have learned to love the sport and the people who are close to it.

Monsanto has also been welcomed into the inner circle of Team Jennifer Jones (Dawn Askin, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jennifer Jones and their coach Janet Arnott) – all of whom are now Canadian Olympians.  Over the course of the past six-year relationship with the team, their parents, their sisters and brothers, their husbands, and their kids have become family to me.  It has been their friendship, their gratitude and their willingness to share their passion for the sport, and include Monsanto, that has brought me here.

And so today, my Olympic journey begins too – not as an athlete but as a proud Canadian and a proud Monsanto sponsor who has, in some small way, helped the team on this journey to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

I thank the farmers who introduced me to curling and this incredible team. I can hardly wait for the games to begin.

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