LA Kings season seat holder, Brett Ellen, became a Kings fan when he moved to Los Angeles in 1981. For the past two weeks Brett, his wife Mandy and son Tristen were in Russia to experience the Winter Olympic Games.
Having already experienced a Summer Games, this was Brett’s first look at Olympic hockey, and a chance for the family to watch their favorite Kings players represent their countries on sports’ biggest stage.
On the eve of their return to the States, Brett took some time to share his Sochi Winter Olympics stories.
How long is your Sochi trip?
BE: 12 days in Russia, five days in Sochi.
Which sports are you taking in?
BE: We came for the hockey games that featured our Kings players. We watched Russia vs. Slovenia, USA vs. Russia, Canada vs. Austria and USA vs. Slovenia . When we got here we purchased some speed skating tickets to experience an event besides hockey.
Which sport is your favorite?
BE: In the Olympics, as far as I am concerned, there is hockey and then a whole lot of other sports. We were told by some Russian hockey fans that they could win every event and lose hockey and they would consider the Olympics a failure. Since they lost again tonight, I am sure there are a lot of disappointed fans.
How would you compare Sochi to what you expected it to be?
BE: From a geographical perspective it is beautiful and much warmer than I expected. The facilities are incredible and there is a tremendous amount of volunteers. It was challenging to find a good meal and the hotels were not great.
Where are you staying in Sochi and how is it?
BE: Passionat Yuzny, it was about a 30-minute bus ride from the Olympics. It was a brand new facility but lacking in all areas. It looked and felt like a college dorm and service was horrendous. The prices were escalated 400 percent and every detail was lacking.
Have you run into any Kings players or fans in Sochi?
BE: Yes, at the USA vs. Slovenia game. Getting a well-deserved rest, the greatest goaltender in the world was sitting right above us. Jonathan Quick was sitting in the stands. We had met him at the Kings Care charity event at Flemings Restaurant a year ago and he was gracious and remembered our son and took photos with us. We also saw two Kings fans getting interviewed by CBS on our way out, of course we bonded instantly.
Have you met any interesting people on your trip?
BE: Yes definitely! In Sochi we met a couple of men on the bus who helped us get to our first game. Running late and without spectator passes; this gentleman named Serge took us through lines, leading us to bus and train transports and waiting with us to get our passes to enter the stadium. We arrived in Sochi at our hotel at 3:00 and the game was at 4:30, so we would have never made it through the hours of lines had Serge not pushed us through the front of the line in his strong Russian happy way. We thought he was definitely a Kings angel assisting us. We gave him a ticket to the USA vs. Russia game, which he was excited and appreciative of.
Have you had anything extraordinary to eat?
BE: We loved the food in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. The food and service at the hospitality suite was good but we were disappointed in the food at the games.
What part of your trip has been most memorable so far?
BE: The USA vs. Russia game was one of the greatest games I have ever seen in person, but my memories will be of the Russian fans shaking our hands as we left the game, taking photos with us and being such great sports after all we had heard and feared before arriving in Russia. It was also incredible to see Jeff Carter score a hat trick and Phil Kessel score a hat trick for team USA, two days later.
What is something you'd like to do before coming home?
BE: I would have loved to have hung out with our six Kings players and celebrated getting a gold medal with our two American Olympians. Hopefully we will watch them bring home the gold from L.A.
Have you learned any Russian during your trip?
BE: Da...Yes. Thank you and good bye. We would have loved to learn more but many of the Russians wanted to speak English.
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