Not so sleepless in Sochi

It’s been so exciting here, but I have a feeling I may need a hibernation day at the end of all of this.

CBC Montreal's Sonali Karnick on pushing through and the highs and lows of competition

The diagnosis? I'm tired. But I'm having the time of my life.

Me: So I’m having a difficult time waking up in the morning.

Doctor: Do you feel groggy or do you have a headache?

Me: No.

Doc: What kind of hours are you working?

Me: (I go through my last week. It takes a while.)

Doc: Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?

Me: Oh no. That is not the issue. I’m a bear.

Doc: You’re tired.

Me: Of what?

Doc: (Rolls eyes) You’re working a lot. You’re tired. At least you’re getting enough rest. It’s nothing to worry about.

Me: Tired? Who knew!

It seriously does not feel like I’m working exhaustive hours.  

I’m making sure to rest and eat properly.  

As much as I would love to visit the town and stay up with my colleagues at night to have a drink or two, I’m hitting the hay.  

It’s been so exciting here. All of that adrenaline is keeping me going. But, I have a feeling I may have a hibernation day at the end of all of this.

CBC Montreal's Sonali Karnick interviews short-track speed skater Charles Hamelin after his gold-medal performance in the men's 1,500 metres in Sochi. (CBC)

Lucky for me, Canada’s been doing very well at these Olympic Games, so I’ve had some pretty awesome mixed zone days.  

When I spoke with Charles Hamelin on live TV after he won gold in the men’s 1500 m, I thought my heart was going to jump right out of my chest!

The fear of asking the dumbest question possible is always in the back of my mind. Thanks goodness that didn’t happen (I think).

The excitement for me is bringing Canada those stories of victory and defeat.  

Even if someone wins a medal, I need to do a medal-worthy interview.

I feel I’ve already had a couple of duds. I could have done better.

Sometimes you do need to rethink your approach when something goes terribly wrong for an athlete.  

Case in point: Shani Davis.  

The American long tracker was expected to at least medal in the 1000 m.

He could have totally ignored me in the mixed zone after his race (he barely made the top 10, shocking for the two-time defending gold medallist in this distance).  

Instead, he showed grace and poise and answered my questions respectfully. It also helps that he trains in Calgary and is a friend of silver medallist Denny Morrison.

Reporter in mixed zone to me: First the cross-country coach helps the American skier and now this Denny Morrison/Gilmore Junio thing.  People are going to think Canadians are nice!

Me in the mixed zone speaking with Denny Morrison after he won a silver medal in the men's 1000-metres with his teammate Gilmore Junio, who gave up his spot in the race for Morrison. (CBC)

Me: Well, wait until you see more hockey games…

Some people may think it’s not that big a deal for Gilmore Junio to have given up his spot for Denny Morrison in the men’s 1000 m.

Junio gave up a chance to race on the biggest stage for his career.

The outcome, no matter the colour of the medal, was truly incredible. Junio didn’t even have to race to become one of Canada’s favourite athletes!

Emotional experience

I had a day where two athletes cried during interviews.

Marianne St-Gelais, who lost her semifinal in the 1000 m, and Christine Nesbitt who finished ninth in her long-track 1000 m (a distance that won her a gold medal in Vancouver).

Danielle Wotherspoon was also emotional when she confessed that she had a bad race day in her only event at her last Olympic Games.

Yes, these moments are heartbreaking, but that is part of competition.  

The one thing I have seen here that I will carry with me for the rest of my life is the ability to regroup, recover and move on.  

These athletes cannot dwell on the last race they lost or the last jump they fumbled or their last fall or slow finish time. 

Whether you messed up big time in your own life, or you’re trying to overcome some kind of personal obstacle, big or small, the ability to pick yourself up and continue doesn’t always come easily and I admire people who can just do that.

Sochi selfie: It's 17C here! (Sonali Karnick/CBC)

Top questions from family/friends:

  • Have you seen the town yet?
  • Have you been to Canada House?
  • Have you had some vodka?
  • What are you doing on your days off?

Not seen the town yet, couldn’t locate Canada House to save my life and I’ve had one shot of vodka.  

As for days off: bwahhahahahahahah!

This is the Olympics. I don’t want to miss ANYTHING.

Maybe I’m a little envious of people who get to explore the area, but I’m having some pretty exciting moments here. I may get a chance soon. We’ll see…

About the Author

Sonali Karnick

CBC Montreal's Sonali Karnick will be in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics as a bilingual reporter for CBC and Radio Canada.