**Saturday March 9, 2013
I can’t believe we’re through day 10 of the competition right now. Only one more draw to go tonight, and it’s a big one. Team Canada is in the semi-final against Russia. It’s now at the point where everything is do or die. But after watching these guys play all week long, I know they have it in them to take this thing. The only question will be, how bad will the other teams want it? Obviously a lot.
The Russian men’s team has been quite the surprise. Russia has always had success in junior women’s curling, but for some reason never the same in junior men’s. Their curling federation has put a lot of time, money and effort to bring in some of the best coaches from around the world to train these guys. I imagine it’s because they want to make a good impression at the Olympics next year. Now we’re looking at (what is in my opinion) the hottest team going into the play-offs. Russia has won eight straight games and they’re hungry for winning the championship in their home nation.
The crowd is small, but they’re passionate about their teams. Both of the Russian teams are in the semi-finals and i expect them to be pretty loud.
I don’t really have a lot new to say. I think most people understand that it’s been a great opportunity for me, I’ve met some amazing people and I’m so incredibly grateful to be here. I can’t believe there’s only one more day of competition left.
Alina, the trainee photographer, and I were interviewed today for a story that the WCF will write to push their Trainee Journalist/Photographer Progamme for next year. I learned that I hate being on the other side of the microphone. I’d much rather be the one asking the questions haha.
This very well might be my last post for a few days. Tomorrow will be a busy day for me with the finals and then we head out on a plane at 6:10 a.m. on Monday morning. I’m set to return in Winnipeg at around 8:30 p.m. Monday night and then it’s back to the old grind. There’s a lot to do this week because I still need to prepare a 10 minute presentation with a slideshow and some audio clips for this upcoming Friday.
I will most definitely update this one final time. Perhaps from the airport during a layover so I’m able to write about the final experiences.
Here’s some photos to hold you over until then:
The view from my “office.”
The Bolshoy Ice Dome at night.
A low quality picture of the podium. I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious right now.
**Friday March 8, 2013
** A dip in the sea and up on the mountains
We had part of the day off today and it was the perfect day for it. We had a beautiful 15 degrees. Sara and I started the morning off with a quick swim in the Black Sea.
The water was incredibly cold and the waves were crashing into the shore hard. They wiped Sara right off her feet while we were in there, but she won’t admit it haha. People watched us like we were a little crazy, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to take a dip in the Black Sea again.
We only stuck around for a couple of minutes before we went in to warm up, get breakfast and start the rest of the day.
Sara, Richard and I went on a tour up the Caucasus Mountains. It was the three of us and our Russian bus driver. He didn’t know any English and so he was very animated when talking to us to try and show us what he was talking about. Sara compared him to Mr. Bean and I definitely see the similarities. He’s hilarious.
He asked where I’m from. I told him Canada.
I have no idea how he knows about Ottawa, but that seemed to be the only thing he could say about Canada.
We visited the little village where a lot of the skiing events will be for next year’s games. It’s stunning and they’ve built a lot of new, swanky hotels there to accommodate next year’s crowds.
We tried to explain to our driver that we wanted to go up the mountains. He thought we just wanted to eat. Thankfully, after we ate, we got the message through and we went to this ski resort to ride up the “carousel” as they call it and for the first time in my life, I saw the Mountains up close. I was so taken aback.
This wasn’t the first time Richard and Sara had been on the top of any mountains before. But this was my first time, and it really made me think about how infinitely small we are. Everything below us was just a spec. In that moment, it didn’t matter. I was so thrilled to be up there.
The mountains were very decent size, we figured them to be around 12 000 feet.
The way up was a lot of fun too. About halfway up, you switch lifts and they have this whole area set up with a DJ blaring music, women dancing and a place to buy tea and coffee and food. It was such a cool atmosphere to see everyone dancing on the side of this mountain.
Driving is ridiculous here. It’s common to see an accident every time we go out. Everyone parks wherever they please, including trying to park perpendicularly in a parallel spot.
The cars range from old 80’s beaters to brand new BMW’s.
All I can say is Russia is a very, very interesting place, but I’m loving every minute of it because I don’t know if I’ll ever be back.
I also think I’m picking up a bit of a Scottish accent. I blame it on hanging out with these Scots on the media bench all week long. I just catch myself saying the odd word a little differently. It could all be in my head though.
Right now the guys are on the ice. They’re tied at four in the eighth end against Scotland. The winner will go directly to the final and it has been intense. So far rock placement has been the issue for both teams. Just over curling a couple of inches or sliding too far back and produced some mistakes and the other team is usually capitalizing on it.
Things have really slowed down now in the grand scheme of things. We’re not doing three draws a day, four games a draw for the round robin any more. It’s kind of nice, but I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.
Sleep. That might be good.
**Thursday March 7, 2013
** Grilled cheese, please
I’m watching the final draw of the round robin right now. The women are on the last draw and depending on the results we could be looking at some tie breakers tomorrow.
HOWEVER, Joanna has been incredibly kind to all of us and she said she’ll cover whatever kind of tiebreaker work there is tomorrow and the media crew can have the day off tomorrow. Until 7 p.m. at least when we come back to cover the start of the playoffs. I’m not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It will depend on the weather. There’s the possibility of exploring the city, or going out to the mountains. I also hear there’s a pool somewhere around the hotel and I wouldn’t mind going for a swim at some point. Even if it’s a rainy day, I’d be perfectly content staying in the hotel room and relaxing all day. It’s been a very steady, but very worthwhile week of competition.
The Canadian guys have made the 1 vs. 2 game against Scotland. That’s huge. They lost to the Scots 7-6 in the round robin on the last rock. I can’t wait for that game. The guys have been curling amazing. Colton Lott is curling the best among all thirds with 84 per cent.
The pressure is on and I can tell things are getting tense though. And that’s natural. These young guys are playing the most important games of their lives. But I think as long as they go out there, try and keep things as clean as possible so they can play their game, and most importantly have fun (cliche, I know) they should do great.
I spoke with Bob Irving earlier today and we talked about the Dunstone rink’s latest win. I expect that you can hear me on the CJOB Sports show later tonight! Have a listen if you’d like. I haven’t listened to the audio vault for my previous one yet. Or the Game Changer one yet. Maybe I’ll get on that soon.
I feel like I’m always repeating myself on here. “I’m so thankful to be here.” “I love this.” “This is amazing.”
But it really is. It’s given me such a great look at what goes on behind the scenes. Better yet, it’s shown me that I really enjoy doing this and it’s given me something to go for in my future career now. The more time I can spend up in the media bench at a curling event, the better. Although don’t get me wrong, I’d still like some time off from it too. Over a week and a half in and I’m exhausted, just like every one else here.
I can’t wait to get home and have a grilled cheese. That is the first thing I am making. Today’s lunch was this cabbage roll filled with minced meat. It was border line disgusting but I got through as much of it as I could. Yesterday we have chicken and…get this…FRIES! Well they were more like potato wedges, but that was probably one of the best meals we’ve had. But I can’t wait to get home and make myself a grilled cheese with real cheese (no cheese slices), maybe some bacon, and I’ve always wanted to fry some onions and put it in a grilled cheese. I think that might be my next endeavor. Wow, I can’t stop thinking about that grilled cheese now.
That’s about all for tonight. I’ll take some pictures of the inside of my hotel room tomorrow so you can see what it looks like (it’s rather elegant), and I’ll fill you in on whatever I did with my day off tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it!
Oh! And be sure to check out the sports section of the Winnipeg Free Press tomorrow. I THINK (aka I’m not positive) there might be a familiar byline in there for you to read.
**Wednesday March 6, 2013
** Live hits, Olympic Village tour and the Canadian Boys on a roll
I used to be updating my blogs in the evening and it seemed to work fine for the most part. I don’t know if Danny is just working me harder these days or what, but it seems like I don’t have as much time in the evenings now! haha
It’s noon aka lunch time (mmm, I wonder what today’s culinary feast will be), and I figured this would be a good time to write about what’s happened over the last few days.
I’ll start with the curling. Matt Dunstone, Colton Lott, Dan Grant and Brendan MacCuish have been curling amazing. Last night they were ranked all in the top three of their positions. Matt’s even curling the best among all of the skips here. They had a great game against the USA yesterday afternoon and it was all about the pressure. Things really changed in the fifth end when they had a couple of rocks lined up perfectly behind a centre guard. It was near impossible for the USA’s Korey Dropkin to count, so all he could do was make a double and leave Matt with a draw (with backing) to the button for three.
The guys have been curling great, but they have pressure on them. Sweden and Scotland just finished an intense game where both teams were curling at 87 and 86 per cent respectively. Scotland came out with the 6-5 victory after a steal of one in the tenth. Swedish fourth Partic Mabergs had a tough hack weight hit and the rock (or stone as my European counterparts want me to use when writing for them), sailed wide.
And we can’t forget about those Russians. They just defeated the Czechs 10-3. The team curled 91 per cent.
Competition is still and all of these teams seem to be peaking at the appropriate time. Canada is in for a tough couple of days. They have a game against Norway (who they’re tied with in the standings) and then China. They need two wins just to safely secure a sport in a tiebreaker or play-offs. It’s a big mess of teams at the top of the standings and there will more than likely be some tie-breakers.
The Canadian junior women are just out there having fun. They’re unfortunately out, and I think the pressure of being only 17 years old and having the Maple Leaf on your back (hate to say it, but it’s an added pressure), and it was perhaps just a bit much. They defeated the USA last night and their team seemed to be in good spirits. They’re a great young team and should be proud to represent our country. It’s not an easy road.
I’ve done a couple of radio hits over the past two days. Most notably the one on the CJOB Sports Show with Kelly Moore. It’s always a pleasure to talk to him. He’s very supportive and you can tell he really cares about what he does. I have so much respect for him. It was a lot of fun talking to him on the show, and I hope that we’ll get another opportunity to later on in the week when play-offs are starting.
I did a live hit/interview for The Game Changer, Red River Radio’s sports talks radio program. That was a blast. I don’t know why, but that felt really good. I didn’t really prepare too much, I made a few notes on percentages, but I was amazed at how much I could just talk about the event off the top of my head without even second guessing myself. Sometimes I was talking so much that I forgot to breathe!
It looks like I’ll be having something put in the Free Press in the coming days. Make sure you check the sports section this week. The next Dunstone piece might have my byline in it!
Here’s some pictures from the past few days:
This is the inside of the Bolshoy Ice Dome (I showed a picture of the dome in an earlier post) Outside it’s very impressive, inside is very fancy, but it’s actually smaller than the MTS Centre by about 3,000 seats. As you can tell the seats have different shades of colours on them. Mike was telling me that’s because it’s keeps your eye busy during televised games and makes it look like the arena is indeed full, rather than empty. That shouldn’t be an issue at the Olympics though. You see the same thing used at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.
These three pictures were taken at the Adler Ice Skating Arena where all of the speed skating events will take place. The venue is stunning. It had a massive press conference room. And I was able to stand on the Olympic podium! Most likely the only time I’ll ever get to do something like that. Just when I thought that was amazing, we were given slippers to go out onto the ice. I almost forgot how flat and smooth that kind of ice is compared to curling ice.
This is the view from the balcony of my hotel room. It’s absolutely stunning. I never associated palm trees with curling, but now I’ll be able to make that link forever. My favourite part of the day is getting home to the hotel, going out onto the balcony with a beer and listening to the waves of the Black Sea. It’s incredibly peaceful.
But then there’s this security officer for the hotel who literally marches back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the hotel all night. It reminds me of Splinter Cell for the original Xbox where you have to sneak past all of these Russian guards without getting caught. Not that I’m doing anything that I shouldn’t be!
Russia. Let’s just say it’s a very different place.
That’s all for today, I’ll fill you in on all of the happenings in my next post.
**Sunday March 3, 2013
** Fine Russian cuisine, stray pups, and a look at Olympic Village
Another day in the books at the World Junior Curling Championships in Sochi! I am becoming more increasingly tired each and every night. But today was the most fulfilling day of them all.
I’ve been stopped by many people on the media team here letting me know they’re checking out my blog, which I really appreciate. I love the team here, Joanna has done a great job putting it together. I’m learning so much from my fellow journalists Terry and Mike, as well as people like photographer Richard and of course Danny too. I’m living in a world that revolves around curling right now. Whether it’s when we’re covering it, or we’re just sitting around having a cup of tea and talking about it. I’m sure at some point it could get tiring, but not for a long, long time.
I received some new Twitter followers today (mostly thanks to Terry from USA Curling getting my name out there. Al Cameron, communications for the Canadian Curling Association, started following me today. We also exchanged a few emails. I’m supplying all of the Team Canada quotes coming out of this tournament and they go to his office so they can write releases.
About half an hour ago I also found out these quotes are being used for stories on TSN.ca and in The Globe and Mail. That’s humbling, and I get all giddy thinking about it. I knew this opportunity would be amazing, but I never imagined this kind of exposure. Thank you everyone, I’m so grateful.
For a quick summary of how Team Canada did today…well not the best. There were two games (one women’s and one men’s) and both were losses. However, I know they’re going to regroup and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The ladies will play their first game on the live Internet broadcast.
I’m very excited for tomorrow because I’ve arranged to speak with our team from Winnipeg. When covering curling, generally the media just talks to the skip. When you’re in a rush to meet deadline, it’s usually the best route to go. But I’ve been wanting to tell the story of not just Matt Dunstone, but of Colton Lott, Dan Grant, Brendan MacCuish, Scott Grant and Josh Barry. Tomorrow I’ll get the chance to do that. Curling is a team game, and it’s not fair to the other players that the skip is the one who always gets exposure.
I’m not sure whether the stories that I gather tomorrow will be used for the World Curling Federation, or if I’ll pitch them to the papers back in Winnipeg. All I know is that once I get them, I’m going to get the stories out there and to the best possible audience. These guys deserve it.
Here’s some pictures that I took today:
We receive two mystery brown bags a day for lunch and dinner. The meals have always been some kind of bland rice or noodle, a meat, a side dish (usually cabbage or some kind of vegetable), bread (with no butter), some kind of dessert bread, and a piece of fruit.
The running joke has been that we receive only a napkin, salt, pepper and a fork. But no knife! And it’s made eating some of this stuff quite hard. Today Mike found some knives at the canteen and passed them around to the crew. Of course the one day we have knives ready to go, we receive the meal you see above that doesn’t need a knife!
It’s some kind of crab leg roll, and a potato cake with meat with sour cream. I don’t really know. The meals have been bland, but at least they’re food. I’m not complaining, but the whole food situation is definitely humorous.
I was asked what my first meal would be when I get home. I wasn’t sure, but then my mom reminded me of grilled cheeses. Maaan, I could sure use a grilled cheese right now. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be going for one of those afterwards.
There are stray dogs all over the Olympic Village. This one was just laying down right beside the wall of The Ice Cube. He was quite dirty and I felt really bad for him (I’m just assuming it was a him). I would love to take him home with me, but I have a feeling getting just myself past the Russian border will be difficult enough. Never mind trying to smuggle a dog out with me.
Here’s coach Scott Grant giving his boys a pep talk at the fifth-end break. They were down two against Sweden.
And for those of you sick of me talking about curling, this is the Bolshoy Ice Dome (Bolshoy meaning “major”). This will be the main hockey arena for the 2014 Winter Olympics. It will seat 12,000 people and cost about $180 million. Afterwards it will be a multi-purpose arena and will be able to host concerts and the like.
It’s a spectacular sight in the evening, the top of the dome glitters and sparkles in the night. I’ll take a photo of it when I leave The Ice Cube tonight so I can show you tomorrow.
The other hockey arena is called the “Shayba” Arena. It will seat 7,000 people.
Both hockey venues will be tested this April with the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championships.
The two arenas (and The Ice Cube for that matter), are all in very close proximity to each other. I’d say around 300 meters.
That’s all for tonight. I’ll be sure to update you on the latest tomorrow!
**Saturday March 2, 2013
** The days blend together, but that’s okay
It’s now Saturday evening, I’m watching the final draw of the evening wrap up. Matt Dunstone and Team Canada have a good control of their game right now. They’re up 5-3 on the Czech Repbulic. Last end, with hammer.
I called part of the game for the live Internet broadcast. That was a lot of fun. I’m used to broadcasting on the radio and being on TV so I wasn’t quite out of my comfort zone. The only difference was, I’m used to be the one asking the questions. When I was on with Sara I was being asked the questions. It was fun to get out of my comfort zone and be the one answering them. Sara and I talked about the Canadian men’s team.
The coolest part about this experience is that I’ve had the chance to cover this team all the way from the start of the season when they were just competing for the provincial title. When I received this internship, I honestly thought I’d be going at it alone. It’s so awesome to be able to walk through the venue and run into them from time to time.
The guys had a very tough extra end loss to Scotland. They scored three early on and tried to keep things as open as possible, but the Scots squeezed back into it. They’re a very talented team that includes Thomas Muirhead (Eve Muirhead’s brother) at third. It was the strongest game I’ve seen all week and I think our Canadian guys learned a lot from it. I hope to see that match up again in the future.
We normally only grab quotes from the winning skips, but since the Canadian Curling Association is interested in how our teams are doing, it’s been my job to grab quotes from the skips win or lose.
I was heartbroken today while interviewing Canadian skip Corryn Brown. Those girls are very talented and I believe can be a big force in the junior curling scene in the future. They’re all only 17 years old. However, they’ve been slow out of the gate and they’re sitting at 0-3. I don’t think this is the record they (or many people for that matter) expected to start with.
I’ve interviewed her after two of her losses and I can sense the frustration. It’s hard considering they have the weight of a nation on them to perform well. But the most important thing is that they have fun and I know they are. They’re just about to get on the ice from for the evening practice and they’re full of laughs and smiles. Hopefully they can take that kind of energy into their game tomorrow against the undefeated Japan team and just enjoy themselves. I guarantee you they’ll curl better if they go out there to just have fun. They’ll be in the win column soon, and that will be very exciting.
Getting around The Ice Cube has been interesting. We must pass through security every morning (pat downs, metal detectors, the whole she-bang). And I made the mistake of taking off my accreditation badge once while I was inside. You literally can not turn a corner in this place without finding a security guard who is looking for your badge. If you don’t have it, tough luck getting anywhere!
I leave for the rink before the sun rises and get back after the sun sets. It hasn’t allowed me much time to go out and take pictures or anything. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance in about a week from now once the playoffs start. We’ll be spending less time at the arena and probably have more time to look around. Once I do that, I’ll be sure to take some pictures that I can share on the website here.
That’s all for now. I’ll have more for you tomorrow.
**Friday March 1, 2013
Arriving at the Ice Cube and learning from the best**
We’re about halfway through the final draw of the day. It’s almost 9 p.m. and I’m feeling exhausted. This jet lag is pretty serious business. But I’m still enjoying myself.
To backtrack just a little bit, I arrived in Sochi after the whole airport debacle and went straight to my bed. I slept from noon until 10 p.m. and didn’t go to any of the competition on the first day. Joanna told me to get as much rest as I needed, and well, I guess I did. I honestly didn’t think I’d sleep that much.
There was a knock on my door at around 11:30 p.m. It was former world champion Sara Carlsson. She played second for Anette Norberg that year. We talked for a bit about curling, the championships, the travel time and then headed to bed. She’s one half of the live broadcasting crew here at the World Curling Federation.
Today, I started work. WCF media relations officer, Daniel Parker and I went over a list of potential feature stories I will be writing. Since most of the game action is being covered by another journalist, they wanted me to cover the softer side of the sport. I’m really excited, we came up with a great list of stories together. I’m aiming for one a day.
I also go and gather post-game quotes from a game after every draw. Today I interviewed the skip of the women’s Czech Republic team, the men’s Russian team (using a translator) and I believe I’ll be interviewing the women’s Canada team after their game is done.
I ran into our very own Scott Grant today (Team Canada coach). He’s doing well. He has a lot on his plate, as do all of the guys here today, and I can only imagine they’re feeling some stress.
Scott’s an amazing guy though. We had a great talk and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the guys do this week. When it comes to coaching, he seems like one of the best.
The guys didn’t have a game today. But they did have a practice in between draw two and three. Here’s a picture of that:
It’s nothing special. I’m no Braiden Watling when it comes to pictures.
I’m going to try my best to get some more pictures of the venue, the hotel I’m saying at and more. It’s going to be hard to get outdoor photos because we leave in the morning before sunrise and get back to the hotel after sunset.
I met some amazing people on the media bench. Terry Kolesar and Mike Haggerty are the other journalists working the event. We sat down for a coffee break and I was mesmerized by their stories.
They start talking about something that happened at one of the events they were covering.
“Wasn’t that the one where you got sick? Where was that again?” Mike would ask.
“That was Swift Current,” Terry would reply.
As if these two have so many memories covering ALL sorts of curling events that they’re able to just pinpoint where they were.
Danny Parker also told me about all of his travels since he started his job with the WCF just over a year ago. He’s travelled the world already…and all for curling. China, New Zeland, Canada, Russia, all over Europe.
I might have had the worst time ever at the Moscow airport. But I want to do what these guys do for a living.
More on Matt Dunstone’s games tomorrow, and more!
**Thursday February 28, 2013
Tears and a flight delay, not necessarily in that order**
I was only one flight away from the final destination. I couldn’t wait. I was breezing through all of this International flying rather decently considering I had never done it before. However, I landed in Moscow and had about two hours to catch the connecting flight to Sochi.
I didn’t make it.
The line ups to get your visas looked over was long. I waited close to an hour there. The trip from Terminal F to Terminal D was long and confusing. And when I finally got to the terminal to check in, well the line up was overflowing past their zig zagged ropes.
I was halfway through the line when the flight left.
I didn’t know what to do. The first thing was to let the World Curling Federation’s media co-ordinator Joanna Kelly know. However, every pay phone required a pay phone card. And I don’t know whether it was a language barrier or if people just didn’t know, but every person I asked would give me a different answer on where to find one and I just gave up.
A HUGE thank you to Jen and Conny for calling Joanna up to let her know what was going on. And another huge thank you to Lauren who called the emergency travel line for the company my flight was booked with to help me out.
I learned from the travel agent that two hours is apparently enough to get off your flight and board a new one. I don’t doubt that it’s possible, but the line up to check in and go through security was insane. I was considered a “no-show” for that flight and they weren’t going to change my flight for me.
To make matters worse, I was also responsible for paying my way BACK to Canada since the rest of my return flights were cancelled.
A flight from Moscow to Sochi alone was just over 700 dollars.
Naturally, I was freaking out.
I had been at the airport since seven p.m. (It’s 6 a.m. right now for context) and I didn’t get any sleep.
I had to at least get a ticket to Sochi, the rest could work itself out later, right?
I decided I’d talk to the ticket counter for the airline and give it one last go. I had tried MANY different approaches throughout the night. I went about normally. Rejected. I also tried my best to play the tough guy (I’m not very good at it) and demand that their paying customer receive his flight. I tried a variations of those too.
There was an older woman working the desk when I was up there. I was SHAKING. I couldn’t control my nerves.
I politely told her my issue and asked if there was anything that could be done. I offered to pay for the flight from Moscow to Sochi if she would be gracious enough to reinstate my return flights.
“Why would I do that?” she asked in her Russian accent (with quite good English, might I add).
I paused and didn’t know what to say.
“Was it your fault you missed the flight?” she asked.
No, it wasn’t. I maybe could have made up time on my prolonged journey to the terminal, but about 90 per cent of that two hours was spent standing in lines.
She simply agreed with me and told me it wasn’t my fault. That was such a relief to hear after being told earlier that I had plenty of time to make my flight.
She’s scheduled me for a flight to Sochi in just over two hours. And she reinstated all of my return flights back to Winnipeg.
I cried. I bawled. I thanked her profusely. She smiled.
I never got her name. I imagine it was Olga or something.
Olga. Thank you. You saved me from the worst possible situation. Just when I was getting so frustrated with the Russian people, you instilled a whole new way I view not only Russians. But people in general. I’m so thankful for people who have hearts like that. She made me the happiest I had been in a long time.
Yes, I’m late for arriving to Sochi. But I will be there so soon now. And I can’t wait. I was at the point where I just wanted to go home and not even go. I was that frustrated.
I’ve been talking to Team Canada skip, Matt Dunstone today and he’s told me the venue is absolutely unreal. I’m so excited to see this work of art today. And of course the curling that will happen in it.
I’m seated in a restaurant right next to my gate. There’s no way I’m missing this flight.
Finally, after two days of travel, I’ll be there, I’ll be hard at work, and I can’t wait for that. I’m so excited to know that I’m going to be involved in two amazing weeks of this.
Even if I am a little bit late to the party. Hopefully I don’t get an auto-fail 🙂