Instructor blogs Olympic experience, buildup to Opening Ceremony

(Photo by Minh Mac | Collegian) Dr. Bryan Pinkall, Administrative Director for the K-state Summer Choral Institute, was chosen to help stage the opening ceremony of the XXII 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi, Russia.

For weeks, Bryan Pinkall has been counting down the days to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and, more specifically, his big moment in Friday’s opening ceremony. Pinkall, instructor of music and administrative director for the K-state Summer Choral Institute, is a producer of the opening ceremony and has been chronicling his journey on his personal blog at

Unfortunately, many of Pinkall’s blog entries vanished Thursday, including all of his most recent ones from Sochi. An entry from that day said, “I am having difficulties with my blog due to web traffic and my situation.” Fortunately, before the error occurred, The Collegian was able to copy many of Pinkall’s blog posts and received permission by email to use them. The Collegian plans to follow up on his experiences upon his return to Kansas.

While Pinkall’s blog reveals struggles with technical difficulties, among other issues, the vast majority of his blog is spent marveling over the landscape, giving humorous observations and sharing his lifelong love for the Olympic Games with like-minded people.

I love working around people who are similarly passionate as I am,” Pinkall said in an email interview. “Sometimes people look at you funny for loving something as strange as the Olympic ceremonies so much, but it is my dream and I am not ashamed to be passionate about it. Everyone I work with genuinely loves what they do, and that makes for a fantastic time.”

Pinkall’s blog provides an insider’s account into how the Olympic ceremonies are put together, but he also provides a unique perspective as a passionate historian, discussing favorite moments, ceremonies and famous firsts. Perhaps it is appropriate that Pinkall is involved in the first opening ceremony in Olympic history to be held after the games have already begun.

“There is a lot of risk involved with this ceremony,” he said on Tuesday’s post. “The actual cost for this ceremony is somewhere between $1.1 billion and $1.25 billion if you include the specially made venue. To put that into perspective, the most expensive film ever made was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ which had a budget of $300 million and was filmed over 18 months. The production of this ceremony likely exceeds the Disney movie’s budget four times over and must be filmed in four hours.”

Pinkall shares his love for all things Olympics, as well as other passions. He said he also discovered that, no matter how unique your passions are, there comes a time when it will serve a useful purpose.

Of my many odd fascinations, as a boy I memorized all the flags of the world,” Pinkall noted in his Jan. 31 blog entry. “Finally, I found it worthwhile. Bermuda … you’re welcome. Your flag is now right-side up.”

Members of the media who have recently arrived to cover the games have reported problems with their hotel rooms, including incomplete construction, plumbing malfunctions, bad water and more.

Unfortunately, what you read is largely true,” Pinkall said in an email interview. “Sochi is quite modern, but the games are in Adler, 10 kilometers and 30 years away.”

Pinkall arrived on Jan. 16 – long before the media – to prepare and rehearse for the opening ceremony. Because of this, he is staying at a resort that was already constructed and said he found nothing objectionable, other than the, “diet of processed meat, borscht and porridge.” He admitted on his blog that the resort was not as “resort-like” as American expectations, but he still found the city and climate to be “beautiful.”

Essentially, most of Russia here hasn’t recovered from the Soviet era, so everything from the economy to architecture still reminds me of the social realism art of that time,” Pinkall said in his Jan. 16 post. “Sochi has the glamour of Hollywood, with the urban decay of Detroit.”

Pinkall said that being in Russia for nearly a month has allowed him to learn more about Russian culture.

“One apparent difference between Americans and Russians is that Russians seem unequivocally ok with the trial and error method,” he noted on his Jan. 16 entry. “A common saying that I have been told at least five times today is, ‘What else do you expect in Russia?’ They are proud of it too, but I shouldn’t be surprised. Many highly gifted and intelligent people are unafraid of failure, because they want no boundary between effort and the goal. This actually accomplishes a lot.”

The food has also provided some surprises. Pinkall explored the local farmer’s market, sampling food and comparing his adventures to food critic Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show “No Reservations.” Among some of the more exotic things he said he discovered were a wine called “Milk of a Loved Woman” and an entree called “She-Prisoner of
Caucasus Trout.”

Pinkall said he has high hopes for the Olympics and for his part in bringing Russia and the rest of the world together in the opening ceremony.

I think it will exemplify everything that is Russia,” he said in his Jan. 21 entry. “They love their country very much, but they need a reawakening to a spirit that can unite them all once again. I think that Olympics will do that.”