SOCHI, Russia -- Before I left for the Olympics, I told people that it would be nice to finally get away from a brutal Buffalo winter and escape to someplace warm and tropical -- you know, like Russia. I even joked that I should bring my golf clubs.
I had read that the average temperature in Sochi, which is located in the southermost part of the country on the Black Sea, was 43 degree Fahrenheit in the month of February. But that's an average February. It's actually quite warmer here. Sorry if this brings you to tears back in Western New York (this means you, Melinda), but it's 61 degrees here right now at 1 p.m.
It's true. I consulted a conversion scale on-line just to be sure. The temperature is 16 Celsius, which converts to 61. The weather report says it feels like 17 Celsius. It does. Walking over to Shayba Arena for the U.S. women's hockey game against Switzerland, I felt like dork in my sweater and winter coat. I didn't need either. In Buffalo, people would be wearing shorts. Heck, I know a lot of guys who break out the shorts when it gets over 40 back there.
I haven't seen a golf course. I don't know how much golf they play here. Have you ever heard of a major Russian golfer? I'm not the only one who has the itch. My old buddy Bob Kravitz from the Indianapolis paper (he replaced me as Bill Polian's chief tormenter when Polian got to Indy) said he was also wondering if he should have brought his clubs. He checked and February is generally the coldest month of the year in these parts.
Well, there's not a lot of time for play over here. It took me five hours in travel time alone to see Bode Miller flame out in the downhill last night. I felt like it was an easy day when I managed to get in my room by midnight and sleep eight full hours.
I'll be talking to U.S. women's goalie Molly Schaus today. She's technically the backup, but getting the start against the Swiss. It's not like there's much chance of the Americans not advancing to the medal round. Plus, she's very good.
Molly's parents -- Dave Schaus and the former Cathy Downing, are both from North Buffalo, just blocks from my house on Hertel. She grew up in Boston and went to Boston College. Dave Schaus died in September of 2012. He and Cathy traveled to Vancouver to watch Molly in the 2010 Games. Cathy is here in Sochi to root her on this time.
Paul Schaus, her cousin, is on the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team.