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Nancie Battaglia stands in front of one of her most famous images, printed in publications across the world, showing a gathering of canoes, kayaks and paddle boats in Inlet. The veteran sports photographer will report from Sochi for NCPR.  Photo: Brian Mann
Nancie Battaglia stands in front of one of her most famous images, printed in publications across the world, showing a gathering of canoes, kayaks and paddle boats in Inlet. The veteran sports photographer will report from Sochi for NCPR. Photo: Brian Mann

North Country journalists journey to Sochi

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We're one week away from the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Thirteen athletes with close ties to the North Country will be competing for the US. That means a lot of family and friends will also be making the trip to Russia.

There will also be a small group of journalists from our region covering the games - two of them sending stories and photographs back to us here at North Country Public Radio.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Be sure to bookmark NCPR's Sochi page, which will include the latest coverage from Knight, Battaglia, Brian Mann and NPR correspondents in Russia.

One rookie—Adirondack Daily Enterprise senior staff writer Chris Knight—will be making the trip.  "This is my first," he said.

I'd say there's much more anxiety, a little bit of inner fear and a little bit of unsettling stomach and wondering what it's really going to be like, if it's going to be secure
And also one Olympic veteran, Lake Placid sports photographer Nancie Battaglia will be journeying to Sochi. “This will be my 9th Winter Olympics and my 11th total Olympics, I’ve done two summer.”

The last few weeks, we’ve been hearing from athletes and families that this Olympic games is more stressful, more nerve-wracking, with fears of corruption and terrorism.

Battaglia and Knight say gearing up for this reporting assignment has been complicated.

“It’s probably the same level of hassle and excitement, but there’s great anxiety,” Battaglia said.

“I’d say there’s much more anxiety, a little bit of inner fear and a little bit of unsettling stomach and wondering what it’s really going to be like, if it’s going to be secure.”

<em>Adirondack Daily Enterprise</em> senior staff writer Chris Knight will report from Sochi for his paper and send dispatches back to NCPR. Photo: Andy Flynn
Adirondack Daily Enterprise senior staff writer Chris Knight will report from Sochi for his paper and send dispatches back to NCPR. Photo: Andy Flynn
“I’m honestly pretty stressed right now,” Knight agreed.  “But I am really excited to see the locals from the Adirondacks, competing, and their families, and just to experience the Olympics is going to be special.”

Check out Chris Knight's blog about covering the Sochi Olympics.

Knight says he hopes he can pivot quickly from worries about logistics and security to focusing on the sport and the celebration.

“There’s no doubt there’s a reason to be cautious over there, and a reason to be concerned,” he said, noting that he’s taken the precautions advised by the US State Department.

Both journalists say the reason for going is simple – it’s a huge international event that’s also local news, with young people they’ve watched growing up competing now on a global stage.

“Some of the kids that were on the bubble survived the bubble and they’re in, so that’s good news.”

The Olympics are huge global news, but in the North Country it's also a local story.  Luger Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, in the red jacket, with hometown fans in Vancouver. His family will be traveling to Sochi. Photo by Nancie Battaglia.
The Olympics are huge global news, but in the North Country it's also a local story. Luger Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, in the red jacket, with hometown fans in Vancouver. His family will be traveling to Sochi. Photo by Nancie Battaglia.
North Country athletes will anchor the US biathlon and luge teams.  Our region will also lead the Nordic combined hopefuls, and will play for the hockey team.

Battaglia says this year, she’ll stay focused on the competition, and won’t try as she has in past Olympics to experience the local culture beyond the games.

Through the month, we'll be hearing stories of athletes and their families who make the pilgrimage to the Winter Olympics.  Helen Demong is gold medalist Bill Demong's mom.  Photo: Brian Mann
Through the month, we'll be hearing stories of athletes and their families who make the pilgrimage to the Winter Olympics. Helen Demong is gold medalist Bill Demong's mom. Photo: Brian Mann
“For most of them I get to experience a little bit of the culture, a little bit of the place,” she recalled.  “This Olympics, I’m not really intending to venture out much.  I’m going to stick with the venues.”

Nancie Battaglia will be sending her photographs to news organizations all over the world.  In the past she’s worked for everyone from ESPN to Sports Illustrated.

Chris Knight will be writing and reporting primarily for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, accompanied by Lou Reuter, one of the North Country’s veteran sports journalists.

One cool thing about the Enterprise coverage is that it’s being supported by the Adirondack Foundation, the Decker journalism fund, and Rotary who teamed up to help the small town paper cover the cost of reporting on this huge event. 

Knight says finding a way creative ways to get to Sochi was important. “We’re a community that has this rich tradition of Olympic history that continues to this day,” he said.

The opening ceremony for the Sochi games is on February 7 and the games run through Februuary 23.

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