San Diego to Beijing

A Day Off, Kind of, Sort of —and an Interview with Ramona Native, Snowboarder Seamus O'Connor

NBC 7's Steven Luke is in Beijing, China covering the 2022 Winter Olympics from Jan. 4th to the 20th.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke takes a selfie in front of a bullet train in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.
Steven Luke

Sunday, Feb. 6th:

🚊 This was a day unlike any other I’ve had here in Beijing, because I was OFF!!! I could’ve slept for 12 hours and spent the day watching Netflix in my hotel room, but that would be a really boring update. While I didn’t have any live shots and didn’t get anywhere near the Beijing Olympic Park, it was still an eventful day, albeit one without deadlines or freezing extremities.

NBC has an entire ground transportation unit devoted to getting people around the Olympic city. I arranged a pick up at my hotel this morning to take me directly to the bullet train for a trip into the mountains. I’m heading up to meet Snowboarder Seamus O’Connor who grew up in Ramona and is here competing in his third Olympics. Yes, it’s my day off, but it will feel good to get another story in the can and this was really the only day we could meet based on both of our schedules. I dressed warm with long underwear and several layers knowing the temps are much colder in the mountains, but I’m pretty sure the car was 95 degrees when I got in. The drivers (who don’t speak English) are instructed not to let passengers open the windows as part of the whole Olympic bubble thing, but I tried to convince him to crack it just about an inch. No luck. I started shedding layers as fast as I could while we waited in traffic behind an accident on the freeway. Thankfully these drivers have special passes on their dashboards allowing them to use “Olympic lanes” which make traffic jams a little better. These lanes are pretty standard at any Olympics and it will be interesting to see how they implement them in Los Angeles in 2028!

Steam fogs up a window on a bullet train at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.
Steven Luke
Steam fogs up a window in a hot car in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.

I boarded the bullet train like a champ having done it before and felt very comfortable in the process. The ride is really nice and I appreciated it as much this time as I did during my initial ride a few days ago. At one point I noticed the train clocking 215 miles per hour on the digital dashboard above the car. The train was also my first time to check out one of the “squat toilets” here in China, although I was thankful I didn’t have to squat to use it 😊.

A photo of a "squat toilet" on a bullet train in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.
Steven Luke
A photo of a "squat toilet" on a bullet train in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.

The weather today was pretty nice and there was a bright blue sky above the mountains. By the way, the air in Beijing has also been very clear as most of the factories in several regions around here have shut down in preparation for a clean looking games. TBD on whether this will have any impact on the supply chain issues around the world!

I arrived at the hotel where Seamus and I were supposed to meet, but we quickly figured out we were in different areas. He was in a different area where I couldn’t reach. Thankfully he was able to get on a bus fairly quickly and come to me. As an Olympic athlete he has more clearance. He arrived in his snow clothes fresh off his first practice session on the mountain carrying his three snowboards. We’ve now met up for stories at three different Winter Olympics spanning Russia, South Korea and China. We talked about his time here at these Olympics and walked around for a little video (what we call "b-roll"). It felt really good to do a story with an Olympian here in person as opposed to over Zoom. We reminisced about his first Olympics when he was just 16 (now he’s 24) and he talked about overcoming a nagging knee injury and the fake snow. He raved about the fake snow by the way saying it’s the best artificial powder he has ever experienced and we joked about it being the next thing China exports to the USA.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke poses for a photo with snowboarder Seamus O' Connor at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.
Steven Luke
NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke poses for a photo with snowboarder Seamus O' Connor at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.

I finished my day off back at the hotel with a 30 minute treadmill run and some time in the gym’s steam room. The amenities are quite nice compared to my previous Olympic hotels. Finally, I had dinner by myself in one of the hotel’s 2 restaurants. It’s the “Jun Chinese Restaurant” on the 4th floor. It will likely be the most authentic food I experience during my entire stay here in Bejing. That said, maybe I should’ve branched out a little further than Kung Pao Chicken.

An array of Chinese food is displayed on a wooden tray in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.
Steven Luke
An array of Chinese food is displayed on a wooden tray in Beijing, Feb. 5, 2022.

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