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From Russia With Love, Part I

by Deborah Lew / Los Angeles Kings

The LA Kings are extremely well-represented at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia – six hockey players, an equipment manager, and a music director.

Dieter Ruehle, who has been the Kings’ music director and organist for 18 consecutive seasons (24 NHL seasons, total), has the honor of playing in his fifth Olympic Games and is currently the disc jockey and organist for men’s and women’s ice hockey at Shayba Arena.

Aside from his NHL credits, Ruehle also does the music for the LA Lakers, and has many other elite sporting events on his resume, including NBA All-Star games, NHL All-Star games, and the US Open Tennis Championships. Ruehle can also be heard on select EA Sports NHL games.

Ruehle departed for Sochi on February 1, after leaving his Kings and Lakers responsibilities to a stand-in, and took some time to share his experience from Sochi thus far.

How many Olympics have you done now, including this one?

DR: This is my fifth Olympics overall. It’s my fourth consecutive Winter Olympics. I worked the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. And I worked the 2002 Salt Lake Games, 2006 Torino Games, 2010 Vancouver Games and now in Sochi.

What has been the most notable thing about this Olympics thus far?

DR: For me, the most notable thing about these Olympics is that all of the non-mountain venues are together in one huge complex here in Sochi. Spectators can walk from Speed Skating to Ice Hockey to Figure Skating to Curling all within minutes.

How have the accommodations been in Russia?

DR: My accommodations are quaint. I’m in a 1960s Soviet-era nine-story hotel located on a hillside with a great view of Sochi and the Black Sea, very near an old summer home of Josef Stalin.

Have you been able to take in any events as a spectator?

DR: So far, I’ve only taken in a part of the opening hockey game next door at Bolshoy Arena between Sweden and Czech Republic.

What is the biggest challenge for you during the Olympics?

DR: Getting enough rest. The Olympics are a long haul with some early call times and long days/nights (today I worked two hockey games.) I’ve found that I need to be sure I get enough rest to be at my best.

Is it hard not speaking the language of the host country?

DR: Not speaking Russian has been a challenge when ordering food IF I’m alone. But usually I’m with co-workers who can order with me. But other than that, not speaking Russian has not been an issue.

Have you had any interesting new things to eat?

DR: Yes! I’ve tried Borscht! It’s a soup with beetroot and some other things. I’ve also had crab-flavored potato chips (not sure if we have that in the States). There have also been some interesting choices at breakfast at our hotel, some of which I’m not sure what they are. But overall, I’m being well fed. But I’m starting to miss some of my favorites back home, like Mexican food and even Tommy’s!

What is your favorite thing about the city of Sochi?

DR: The views! I think Sochi is very picturesque due to its location between the Black Sea and the snowcapped mountains. I really enjoy some of the views from all over Sochi.

How do the presentation teams, who have never worked together before, pull everything together for the Olympics?

DR: I think for each venue, there are different challenges. I feel really lucky that the crew I’m a part of at Shayba Arena, we get along great and have a really good chemistry together. When it’s time to execute our game presentation, after having rehearsals prior to the opening of the games, and now several games under our belts, it’s very smooth.

What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport to watch?

DR: Ice Hockey is my favorite Winter Olympic sport to watch. I love the wider ice surface. And I love that the emphasis is more on finesse, stickhandling and skating here at the Olympics. It amazes me how much skill is required to play this game at this very high level.

What interesting new people have you met?

DR: Here in Sochi I’ve met many new friends who are from other parts of Russia, Europe and North America. Our venue producer is from St Petersburg Russia, our Russian PA Announcers and in-arena host are from Moscow, and one of our English/French language PA Announcers is the PA Announcer for the Ottawa Senators.

What do you hope to do before returning home?

DR: I hope to just take in as much of the Olympic experience as possible. It’s very interesting to explore Sochi and to explore Olympic Park. And little by little, I’m understanding the Russian alphabet, enough to where I can slowly read it and I recognize some words. Overall, I just hope to take this all in. I know this is a very rare opportunity and I’m beyond fortunate and grateful to be here.

Check back to next week for Part II, which will feature Kings fans in Sochi.

Follow on Twitter: @by_DeborahLew

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The Kings Communications Department on Twitter: @LAKingsPR

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