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Not out of the woods

February 22, 2014 - Chris Knight
It's Saturday, the day before the Sochi games come to an end. It's glorious outside. Clear blue skies, warm temperatures and supreme mountain views all around.

The last event I will cover is tonight, the men's 4-by-7.5-kilometer biathlon relay. It will be the last race at these Olympics for Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid. His teammate Tim Burke is battling a cold, so he's decided to sit this one out.

There's a story I need to write about the high and low points of these games, but I can't get my mind around it right now. I'm too hung up on getting home safely.

We're set to fly from the Sochi airport early Sunday morning. The first leg of the trip takes us to Kiev, Ukraine. If you've been watching the news at all lately, you can understand why I'm a little unnerved.

Kiev has been the site of three months of political unrest, capped off this week by deadly rioting by anti-government protesters. This morning the opposition claimed to have taken control of the city's main government building. There has been talk of a truce, but some reports today seem to suggest it's flimsy. The subways have been shut down, but the city's airports are open.

We booked this flight months ago. I checked into changing it, but the next available flight out of Sochi isn't till Wednesday. We're ready to go home, and Lou and I have decided we're going to take our chances and stick with our flight plan.

The biggest question, of course, is what is the situation at Boryspil, the main airport in Kiev, where we fly into and we have an hour and 15 minute layover. I sent an email to the U.S. embassy in Kiev two days ago. This was the response.

"As of right now, the airports are open and functioning, and there are no issues for transiting passengers. However, the situation is fluid and it is impossible to predict further developments."

The Department of State is warning U.S. citizens to "defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine due to the ongoing political unrest and violent clashes between police and protestors," but that message hasn't been updated in two days. I programmed the embassy's main and emergency numbers into my phone, just in case.

A little while ago, I found this posted on a U.K. travel website.

"The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the city of Kyiv. If you’re currently visiting or living in Kyiv, you should stay inside. The FCO do not advise against the use of Kyiv Boryspil airport as a transit stop providing you do not leave the airport grounds."

After reading that I was a little more reassured that we'll be able to get in and out of the airport quickly and safely.

Of course, that's not our only hurdle. Two days ago, Lake Placid photographer Nancie Battaglia mentioned to me that baggage staff at the Frankfurt, Germany airport had planned to go on strike. Where do we fly to from Kiev? Frankfurt.

Actually, after reading about it online, it's the security staff that went on strike at the Frankfurt airport.

From the AP: "Frankfurt Airport, Europe's second busiest, shut down Friday afternoon for people whose flights originated from the hub after thousands of security personnel walked off the job to press demands for higher wages."

Then this more recent report from the German site Deutsche Welle: "Security staff members at Frankfurt Airport resumed work at 11 p.m. local time on Friday, ending a 21-hour strike that had caused the international airport to temporarily suspend operations.

"Delays were expected to continue into Saturday. However, it was not immediately how many airlines would be affected."

Let's just hope the delays don't continue into Sunday.

We're supposed to fly into Montreal Sunday evening. Hope all is well there. We've already got enough to worry about.


Article Comments



Feb-24-14 8:01 AM

Chris and Lou got home safe and sound last night. They won't be in the office today or tomorrow, although Lou will cover Lake Placid's section championship hockey game against Beekmantown Tuesday night.

-Peter Crowley, managing editor

Feb-24-14 6:06 AM

Chris, Expecting that you will be home safely by the time I'm posting. Thanks for all the terrific stories on Sochi! Hope you are ready for real winter weather back home! Mary Steuer, former SL resident.


Feb-22-14 12:03 PM

Chris, So many unwavering prayers from family, friends,and all of us, who love you - from Lockport, the Adirondacks and New Hampshire - as well as others across the counry, will continute to keep you safe all the way home. Love and blessings, Renee and Dad


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