Sky Sports News' Geraint Hughes reports from Sochi where, despite the chilly temperatures, it can be difficult keeping your cool...
Covering an Olympics as a reporter rarely gives me the opportunity to watch much sport - there's too much other stuff going on.
One thing you have to do is be at any briefing given by organisers. They can be dull - but you often find the genesis of a good story there. It also brings together journalists from all over the world and highlights how different we all are and what constitutes a probing question... or not.
I'm reporting on my fifth Olympic Games and apart from the first when I was a bit wet behind the ears, I have become surprised by some of my international colleagues. How can asking a question become a laborious process?
My most basic training taught me to ask a question simply. Use 'how, when, what, why, where, who etc' in your question rather than make a statement that a person answering has the option of just replying with a 'yes or a no'. And 'KISS' - Keep It Simple Stupid.
So maybe you can sympathise with me here as I once again listen to a question that I am actually timing on my stopwatch as to how long it takes to effectively ask very little. Something along these lines:
"Hello, I'm blah blah, here in Sochi representing blah blah affiliate of blah blah company from blah blah.
"I remember from two years ago someone telling me a story..."
Argghh!!! Stop, please stop!
I do not want to know your life story!
The format in these sorts of briefing is say name and organisation you work for. Easy. Here goes, this is what I do; 'Geraint Hughes, Sky' or if I'm feeling really chatty 'Geraint Hughes, Sky Sports News'.
Back to my international colleague - who is still talking.
Not only have they given a great long introduction about themselves, but now they've said; "Ok, I have three questions for you here now..."
What! Three questions! There is a room full of journalists from all around the planet who all would like to ask just one question. Lia my producer is sitting next to me. She knows I'm becoming increasingly impatient, she sees the rage in my face. She attempts to calm me down - by laughing at me! It works for now...
It took one minute 40 seconds to ask the three questions in one. The replies? "No." "I'll get back to you." And "Yes, it was great wasn't it."
Brilliant. Two minutes of my life that I'll never get back. And it continues. There are so many issues at these Games that organisers need to be held to account to the public, but not before an esteemed member of the international media asks; "Are you selling any Sochi 2014 pin badges in the shops?"
My heart rate hits 200 beats per minute. I have more in common with John McEnroe than I ever thought possible... YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!! This is not news!!
At this point Lia produces a first aid kit. Point taken. I calm down.
A little later in the day, I'm interviewing a Russian local businessman and ask a fairly concise question - along the lines of "How have you been affected by the Olympics?" I receive a lengthy reply. I turn to a translator expecting a similarly lengthy answer in English and get: "He says no, not at all."
I'm back up to 200 beats per minute territory here. What is going on? The translator, seeing the rage bubbling up inside me explains that he just kept on repeating himself - "it's a trait of some Russians to keep talking around a subject during a formal discussion."
Every country has its own unique ways - I appreciate that and embrace it. I love learning about new cultures. But there's a need for rules - 'keep your question short and to the point' and 'if answering a question and you don't have that much information to impart, keep it brief!'
I've just been to another briefing and after asking a serious question about safety I toyed with the idea of asking a question about pin badges...
Somebody beat me to it.