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  • Sochi Pin Trading Falls Short of Other Games


    02/21/14

    Pin trader Doug Todd makes a new friend (ATR)
    (ATR) Sochi delivers great Games for the athletes, but lags far behind other Olympics when it comes to the biggest spectator sport: pin trading.

    Official Sochi pins did not appear for sale in the Super Store in the Olympic Park or in the Main Press Center until halfway through the Games.

    The lack of pins kept people unaffiliated with NOCs, media or sponsors from building stock to trade. Once pins arrived in the stores, there was not much variety, especially compared to London, which had thousands of designs. While Sochi has been embarrassed by its stray dogs, London put dogs on pins.

    “I don’t want to be negative,” said Roy Durbin of Colorado, who has been trading pins since the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. “We certainly enjoyed the events, the athletes are great and everybody’s really friendly. But pin trading is going to be mediocre at best because of the availability.”

    He said people have offered to buy pins, but that is against the rules. He did trade an American flag pin for some Russian chocolate, but turned down a request to trade for condoms.

    These matryoshkas are only the tip of the iceberg (ATR)
    “It’s not like it was London or in Japan or even some of the other places going back to Salt Lake and Atlanta,” Durbin said.

    Pin trading among athletes was hampered by delivery problems. Pins from 15 countries did not arrive until late in the second week because Sochi 2014 failed to list Nepal and Tonga as competing nations and they were hung up in customs alongside 13 other countries.

    However, Sage Kotsenburg of the U.S., who won the first gold medal of the Games in slopestyle snowboard, said he found out that “the pin trading game is real; it’s really intense. People are really avid about it. I wish I got some more actually.”

    As the Games went on, more volunteers were adding pins to their lanyards, though many received them as gifts and not through trades.

    Catherine Salaun of France, who specializes in Albertville 1992 pins, said some people buy Coca-Cola pins and then see what they can swap for in then pin trading center.

    “In Vancouver, it was better because I think Russian people don’t know pins very well,” she said. “But they are discovering it. Day after day, they start and the fever rises.”

    Besides collecting pins, traders also collect memories of the people they meet.

    Salaun has traded near the entrance to the Main Media Center or at Coca-Cola. Doug Todd of California also set up where buses dropped off journalists or in the Park.

    “I’ve heard they shoo you away from the entrance to the Village,” Todd said. “You just kind of walk around (thinking) ‘Where is everybody?’ You know they’re
    Around the Rings' Vladimir Putin pin set has proven to be very collectable (ATR)
    somewhere.”

    Both Salaun and Todd believe NBC has some of the hot pins. These include a Faberge egg that opens, a bobble-head matryoshka and a snowglobe with small flakes that move when you shake the pin. The NBC-owned television stations have a glittery spinner pin.

    The Putin pin set made by Around the Rings is also popular. Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured as a skier, snowboarder, hockey player, luger, and speedskater on the five pins.

    “They are the talk of the town,” said Ann Wool of Ketchum Sports & Entertainment.

    Todd says he is often asked for BBC and Japanese media pins.

    Many media outlets and sponsors made pins shaped like nesting dolls and some people are trying to collect them all.

    Samsung has given away free pins shaped like nesting dolls with sports on them.

    Some people brought their collection of 1980 Moscow pins for display or to trade for newer ones.

    “Some of the people want older pins,” Durbin said. “Most of the people want the newer pins. Some people, especially the public, they just don’t care -- they want something.”

    Written by Karen Rosen

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