Get in the Sochi Spirit Like an Olympian

| February 15, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Get in the spirit of the Olympics with five ring-themes snacks. (LenDog64/Flickr)

Get in the spirit of the Olympics with five ring-themes snacks. (LenDog64/Flickr)

You might not ever be an Olympian, but why not get in the spirit by eating like one?

Elite athletes eat a lot and they eat well — while they’re training and competing. Some will carbo-load and stock up on 5,000 calories a day, while others stick to simply salad to stay lean, according to NPR. What Olympians eat is a huge point of fascination for us normal people.

At Sochi, the athlete village has to meet those demands, providing meals for the athletes, while the media center typically serves another 14,000 journalists.

Shaun Walker, the Moscow correspondent, tweeted a picture of the cafeteria food:

Food at the media center. (Shaun Walker/Twitter)

Food at the media center. (Shaun Walker/Twitter)

Plenty of other journalists have tweeted pictures of breakfast in Russia — which is very different from what Americans might expect. It involves a whole lot of fish and meat.

The breakfast buffet at journalists' hotel. (Jaye Watson/Twitter)

The breakfast buffet at journalists’ hotel. (Jaye Watson/Twitter)

Feeding all those athletes and coaches is an overwhelming logistical challenge. Some athletes have been raving about the food, but others can find the unfamiliarity overwhelming, particularly during the biggest event of their career. Snowboarding slopestyle champ Jamie Anderson, from South Lake Tahoe, said on NBC that the food the night before her finals didn’t look great. So, she simply had a protein shake instead. When a shipment of 5,000 cups of Chobani yogurt was held at customs it left some athletes eating rice pudding for breakfast instead. (Oatmeal was already missing from the cafeteria.) The cafeteria — also known as a great place to meet other athletes and mingle — typically serves variations on local food, as well as favorites from around the world and, always, McDonald’s.

The Moscow Times, though, noted that many of the local foods in Sochi are actually being pushed out by a prevalence of pizza and hot dogs around the Olympic area. While the number of restaurants in Sochi has sky-rocketed since the announcement of the games, there’s actually been a shortage of things like oysters and cha-cha (a grape-flavored vodka that’s a specialty of the region).

Problems with ensuring that athletes get exactly what they need — if that means gluten-free or carb-heavy — prompted the U.S. Ski team to hire its own chef after the Turin games. According to The New York Times, multiple Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso was forced to rummage in her car the night before her gold medal run in 2006 and ended up eating granola bars. Now, the ski team’s chef has to battle other team chefs for ingredients. Making nutritious, tasty and familiar meals for high-performing athletes is no easy task. There’s another kind of Olympics going on in the grocery stores between the team cooks.

But, make no mistake: after the competition is over, the Olympians celebrate like, well, Olympians.

The Canadians have become the talk of the town with their beer fridge. The catch? It only opens by using your Canadian passport. Set up as a marketing gimmick by Molson Coors Canada at Canada House (each country typically has a house to host sponsors, celebrate victories and attract tourists), athletes and visitors need only to swipe their Canadian passport in the machine. Similar fridges were set up last summer across Europe at places like northern France and the White Cliffs of Dover.

A video promoting the fridge shows someone desperately yelling, “Is there anybody Canadian?”

Everybody else will have to make do with Coke. U.S. speedskater Brian Hansen tweeted: “Put this key chain in any coke machine in the #olympicvillage and you get a free coke.”

This key opens any Coca-Cola machine in the Olympic Village. (Brian Hansen/Twitter)

This key opens any Coca-Cola machine in the Olympic Village. (Brian Hansen/Twitter)

And, plenty of athletes are taking advantage of the brand new temporary McDonalds as soon as they’re done with their competitions. Shaun White might not have been happy about how his Olympics turned out, but that didn’t stop him from chowing down, according to his Twitter.

So, if you want to get in the Olympic spirit, maybe try some borscht or khatchapuri. Or, just eat a whole bunch of hamburgers and fries.

Or, if you’re particularly artistic and motivated, there’s more than a few ideas out there for creating five ring themed cupcakes, bagels, pancakes, cookies or even torch ice cream pops.

An Olympic-themed cupcake. (CleverCupcakes/Flickr)

An Olympic-themed cupcake. (CleverCupcakes/Flickr)

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About the Author ()

Kelly O'Mara is a writer and reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about food, health, sports, travel, business and California news. Her work has appeared on KQED, online for Outside Magazine and in Competitor Magazine, among others.