Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Road to Sochi..

"How do you get to Sochi?"

 "Practice, practice, practice.."

For the athletes who set their sights on the XXII Winter Olympiad, it's not a joke. Years of work; years of early mornings, hours of training, minutes of competing...many, many, many minutes...all for one chance to do the job they've been taught to do -  and for the chance to represent their country and see their flag raised above all others to the strains of their national anthem. 

But what does it really take to get to Sochi? For the families, that's a difficult question. Let's break this down.

Flights: Right now, "on the cheap" through Kayak about $1700 US each round trip with two stops taking 24 a total of hours.
Hotels (because that's your only choice) for 10 days: You can't even GET a price over the dates of the Olympics. Every hotel says "call." I am in the hotel business so I can tell you they are all holding rooms in a block and they will be full rate ++
Food: Plan on $75 to $100 US per person per day, unless you
live on nothing but peanut butter you bring over yourself.
Drink: Of course. It's a requirement.

Tickets to events: 

Opening ceremonies are anywhere from $1500 US per ticket to $200 per ticket for the "nosebleed" seats. Figure Skating Team Event tickets are roughly $500- $600 per ticket for good seats and $100 per ticket for the rafters.  Figure Skating medal events average $600+ per seat for a decent location. And to get into the Gala with a good seat will set you back about $ 700+ per person.

Knowing that hotel will be astronomically priced, low ball cost for just 10 days will be about the price of a new Mercedes C-Class Sedan...or a year at Harvard...or 6 months of training at the elite level to get to the Olympics in the first place. Your choice.

The point is, if you want to pack your bags and follow your athlete on the road to Sochi, there isn't much choice at all. 

This brilliant program will help subsidize some of the cost and probably cover one or two airline tickets. Bravo to U.S. Figure Skating for seeing the need and stepping up with a wonderful and effective campaign (and you can still make donations, by the way).

Enter Procter & Gamble with  "Thank You Mom"  and their support of Team USA through sponsorship of the incredible Family Home. If you're not familiar with this program, watch the video and look at some of my blogs from Vancouver. We wouldn't have survived without this safe Haven of love, pampering, food and friendship. 

Their support is not an empty gesture. Together, these programs can save literally thousands of dollars for a family and is a significant and much-appreciated foundation of financial and emotional support. 

That leaves the balance. After the generosity of our federation and our major sponsor, you can expect to be conservatively in the neighborhood of $10,000 per family member or $1,000 per day for 10 days. 

I've spent my life turning a blind eye to the cost of my kids' sports and schooling because they all excelled, and the experiences they gained along the way far outweighed the leaking pipeline of dollars it took to make it happen. I have one Olympian. I have one former X-Games competitor who now owns and operates her own business. I have one Mensa Society member who is a brilliant young general manager of a hotel. I have a house in need of serious repair; I have two mortgages and seemingly more debt than the federal government. I have a husband of 25 years who has stood by through all of this with (mostly) unquestioning support, taking the good with the bad and re-defining "for richer or for poorer." I am wealthy beyond my wildest imagination because of it.

Sochi is not a destination; it's another stop along the way. However, for so many athletes and their families, the road to Sochi is the ultimate journey. And for those families who looked at a life map all those years ago, purchased their E Ticket and charted a course, it is yet another highway with bumps, potholes and detours where the expense will be far outweighed by the experience-

which is nothing short of priceless...

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