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Sochi 2014: Expe rience the World by AmberLee Hansen

word count: 900-1100 (ta rget), 1274 (a ctual)

Dear Editors, My a rticle went from barely long enough to way over the word count. I’ve tried to cut it down, but need some outside feedback as to what needs to stay and what reall y can go. Like ma ybe delete the History of Sochi sidebar and make the Culture at Home a sidebar instead? Any thoughts you have will be great! Thanks! -AmberLee

On February 7, the chilled air in Sochi, Russia, will crackle with exci tement as thousands of people cram into the Fisht Ol ympic Stadium, came ras glinting like a school of fish in an ocean of bodies. Tweets and te xts in myriad languages will fl y to destinations across the globe to share the memory of the moment. And with music and dancing, a rt and narra tion, marvels and mi racles, the 2014 Winte r Ol ympic Games will begin. Whether you’re in the stadium or watching from home, the opening ceremonies will open your mind to the Sochi way of seeing the world. In fact, the actual athleti c e vents are just a small pa rt of the complete Sochi e xperience. Cultural Olympiad For the past four years, performe rs from 53 provinces in Russia and from 20 additional countries in the world ha ve traveled throughout Russia competing in an e vent known as the Cultural Ol ympiad for a chance to pe rform during the Winter Games. Most Ol ympic Committees have incorporated culture into their city’s Games through performances surrounding the running of the torch, during the Opening and Closing Ce remonies, or as part of the presentation of medals. But “the Sochi 2014 Cul tural Ol ympiad is a unique project by the organize rs of the Games, offe ring the best cultural e vents in the country. In 2014,” the offi cial website reports, “visi tors to the Ol ympic host ci ty will not onl y be able to e valuate the sporting competitions, but also Russia's cultural di versity at dozens of performance venues located in Sochi and Krasna ya Polyana.” The re will be presentations for e veryone; events range from cinematic viewings to acrobatic pe rformances and from museum e xhibits to music and dance . The sharing of cultures has alwa ys been part of the Ol ympi c Games. Ed Austin, dire ctor of the Brigham Young Uni versity Inte rnational Folk Dance Ensemble, has taken his group to perform in conjunction with two Ol ympics: the 1988 Summe r Games in Seoul, Korea, and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake Ci ty. For him, cultural sharing is what the Ol ympics are all about. : “The Ol ympic Games promote uniting countries that ove r the years ha ve had a hard time being united,” Austin sa ys in an inte rview, . “It pushes peace. That sounds a little bit tri vial, but reall y that’s what the spiri t of the Ol ympics has alwa ys been: to bring us together.” And that can happen whethe r you’re in Sochi, at home, or gathered with friends or strange rs anywhere a cross the globe. Cultural Sochi

Comment [Debbie1]: I love this analogy!

Comment [Debbie2]: I also love the introduction because you use so many captivating and dramatic active verbs. As readers we feel very involved in the action from the start. Comment [Debbie3]: Is this an addition since your first draft? I seem to remember thinking that I didn’t know if the lead would appeal to those who aren’t going to the Games in person, but I like the way you tie it into the cultural experience here. That helps us feel like we’re learning from your article regardless of if we’re traveling or not. Comment [Debbie4]: News article from 2009 announces the launch of the Cultural Olympiad in 2010: / Comment [Debbie5]: These are impressive statistics. I can’t find the source for them though— do you mind adding one here? Comment [Debbie6]: Quote found on /

Comment [Debbie7]: A colon is standard usage after a complete sentence that introduces a quote without a speech tag.

Comment [Debbie8]: This is a great way to bring your quotation back to your introductory point and make all of us readers feel included.

If you are headed to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games, the re are some things you won’t want to miss. Food. “Russian food is great,” says Olga Ookhara, a nati ve Russian currentl y studying in the United Sta tes. “The onl y thing is that we ha ve bizarre types of food. In Russia, people would eat li ver or a cow tongue or raw pig fat―those kinds of things.” But Ookhara also thinks that food is one of the best wa ys to unde rstand a culture. The Ame rican obsession with eating at restaurants reflects the culture’s busy lifestyle while Russia’s family centeredness is reflected in their emphasis on meals at home. To get a taste of any cul ture, you need to try their food. “Lots of people who tra vel to Russian speaking countries enjoy trying the different foods,” Ookhara concludes, “And and if the y don’t like it the y just don’t try it again.” So before you lea ve Sochi, be sure your plate has been filled wi th an arra y of new choices and old favorites. Art. “I believe when you look at a culture’s art, when you look at their music, their dance, their theatre presentations, i t refle cts the well from where the water comes,” Austin says. “It reall y reflects those people; i t reflects their history and where the y lived because of things like dress and materials―those are part of their traditions. You’re not just looking at a series of steps danced to music; you’re looking at something that goes much deeper.” So take a di ve into that well with the best the Cultural Ol ympiad has to offer! Pe rformances will be going on around Sochi throughout the games. Check online for more details regarding specifi c times and places at Places. Russia has a ri ch history of tsars, dictators, and federalist leadership—a history that is reflected in the architecture of the city. Most notable is the Sochi Railwa y Station whose majesti c white arches running the length of the building and the statel y clock tower that stands by the building’s side will transport you ba ck to the Stalin era in Russia’s history. But Sochi is about more than just its rulers. Sochi is also known for friendship. A living representation of that worldwide friendship can be found at the Friendship Tree Garden Museum. There visitors will find a tree grown from 167 buds planted by notable guests from across the globe, a true embodiment of transcending differences to create beauty. Culture at Home Even if you aren’t in Sochi, you can still use these Winter Games to jumpsta rt your cultural awareness. Try visiting a restaurant wi th authentic food from the country whose athletes medaled in your fa vorite e vent. Even if you decide you don’t like the food, you will ha ve a fuller view of the country and its traditions, associated with smells and tastes unique to your e xperience. If you want to sample multiple cultures, find an art or dance festi val being held near you. Folk dance festi vals are held across the globe and can teach unique lessons about a country’s culture. “The best wa y to e xperience a culture is to just let go and enjoy i t,” Ookhara sa ys, . “Try to understand why instead of looking at what they’re doing. I think it’s reall y good to ask the question why.” Where ve r you end up enjoying the Ol ympics this winter—at home or in Sochi—find a way to round out your athletic experience with some culture. “I think part of the goal of ha ving an Ol ympi cs is reall y letting us ge t to know one another,” Austin observes, . “We dance in other people’s shoes when we watch them on stage.” So whether it is food or music, dance or museums, your Ol ympic experience won’t be complete wi thout a dash of culture. Amidst your wild cheers for fellow countrymen and your tears of pride as you listen to your anthem laud your nation’s athleti c achie vement, take a moment to look at the stranger standing next to you; take a moment to dance in his shoes.

Comment [Debbie9]: I like this addition as well because it articulates your audience. It helps to make clear that this is a travel magazine, but even if we are not traveling to the Games, we are still interested in this information. Comment [Debbie10]: For readers who live outside of the United States and especially for readers who live in Russia, it might be interesting to know where in Russia Ookhara is from. With this detail it might not be necessary to explain that she is currently studying in the United States. Comment [Debbie11]: Fascinating point! Comment [Debbie12]: Does Ookhara have any suggestions for favorites? Now that we know what to avoid (cow tongue, raw pig fat), what should we seek out once we’re there? Comment [Debbie13]: Is this the standard usage for theatre with an re? Comment [Debbie14]: I love the way you extend the analogies in your writing, even if it begins in someone else’s quote. Comment [Debbie15]: Nice web callout! Do you think it should come at the end of the article instead of the end of this section only? It seems to apply to many of the sections altogether, not just this one. Comment [Debbie16]: According to, the Sochi Railway Station was built in 1952, but Stalin died in 1953. Is it accurate to say that this station is representative of the Stalin era? Comment [Debbie17]: According to, it looks like the ingrafting count is up to above 170. Where did you get your facts from here to count 167 buds?

Comment [Debbie18]: I really enjoy the balance of facts, commentary, and quotes you use throughout the article. The quotes you choose add a lot to the article. However , if you are trying to cut down on words, you might consider removing this one because I think the point that Ookhara is making is effectively discussed elsewhere. In fact, you might consider removing the paragraph before this one as well; do you think that just the last conclusion paragraph would still get across the same message? Comment [Debbie19]: Great quote! And great setup for your conclusion. Comment [Debbie20]: Thanks for your great work! Your voice is captivating and your language is very descriptive.

History of Sochi sidebar When the Ol ympic Commi ttee announced its decision to let Sochi host the 2014 Winte r Games, the world rejoiced, e xcited to let Russia host its fi rst games as a country. But Russians just scratched their heads. Sochi? While anywhe re Russian mi ght e voke images of snow and ice and cold for most of the world, to nati ves Sochi has alwa ys been considered a warm resort town complete with palm trees and beaches. Located in the Southern southe rn Russia on the shores of the Black Sea, Sochi has a conflicted politi cal history. Be cause of its beautiful climate and advantageous location as a shipping port, empire afte r empire took control of the region during the Middle Ages only to lose it again to the next invade rs. Eventuall y, Sochi became part of what is now Russia and the town was gi ven its current name. Sochi is not located near any of Russia’s large, inte rnationall y re cognized cities like Moscow or St. Pe tersburg. Instead it lies south of Ukraine in the more temperate climates of the re gion. Howe ver, as host ci ty to the XXII Ol ympi c Winte r Games, Sochi may see the economi c and population growth needed to add its name to the list of notable and known Russian cities.

Comment [Debbie21]: I loved reading this background and cultural context for Sochi. However, if you are interested in cutting words, I think that you mention the most important and most compelling ideas first, so you might consider starting from the end in deciding what to cut.

Olympics editing sample  
Olympics editing sample