A job of Olympic proportions

by Page Forrest
Junior Editor

Virag Turcsán (C’17) is arguably one of the most impressive students at Sewanee. In addition to a full course load and multiple extra-curriculars, she manages a full time job. She doesn’t work at Julia’s or Stirlings. Instead, Turcsán, known to many as Flower, works on the Global Organizing Committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She’s on call 24 hours a day, taking Skype calls at 4 in the morning because of the time difference. Her job includes everything from helping to decide where the Olympics will be located next, working with legal issues, and aiding a local organizing committee in her native Hungary as an advisor.

Virag initially became involved with the world of international sports in high school. When asked how she got started, Turcsán replied, “I didn’t want to go to school, so I found volunteer work with the president of the European swimming organization while the championships were going on.” This led to interpreting for the Hungarian president at meetings during the championships, given her fluency in Hungarian, French, English, Lithuanian, and Latvian. From there,Virag was able to use her connections to find work with the London Olympics in 2012.

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Virag worked in the main Olympic village, where 90% of the athletes lived. She was on the logistics team, which equated to her being an all-around problem solver both for other staff members and for athletes. Virag’s duties included “providing translations, tracking down athletes who got lost in London, transporting drunken athletes to the village, and finding a cheesecake for Usain Bolt when he decided he wanted one.” After the formal Olympics ended, Turcsán stayed on to work at the Paralympics for another month. Having spent four months in London already, she was ready to move on. However, Virag was promoted to the global organizing committee, where she works now.

With the massive workload and the late nights, one has to wonder whether it’s even worth it. However, Turcsán insists that the job is definitely worthwhile. “But I don’t want to work with the Winter Olympics ever again. It’s not as exciting to me. And it’s cold. I don’t like cold. But Summer Olympics all the way.” When asked about her thoughts on Sochi, Turcsán commented on the political tension between the US and Russia right now, and how she is partially responsible for working with the media in the Olympics committee on that issue. However, she’s confident that the Sochi Olympics will go well, even if she does have to deal with multiple days of figure skating. “I really don’t like figure skating,” Virag has bluntly stated more than a few times since the beginning of the year.  It seems bizarre to have someone on campus so involved with the Olympics when Sewanee is so far from Russia. But Virag makes it work, no matter how much effort she has to put in, and how much sleep she has to sacrifice. She won’t be able to rest until February 23, but until then, maybe we should consider giving Turcsán a gold medal.