Winter Olympic competition begins Thursday in Sochi

SOCHI, Russia – With stories of unfinished construction, star athletes dropping events, and toilets that don't accept toilet paper, it's been a rather eventful Olympics, and we're still two days away from the opening ceremony.

NewsChannel 5's Casey Nolen is in Sochi, and we're happy to report he does have access to what we would call "normal" restroom facilities. A lot of people have asked after word got out about some of the local customs concerning toilet paper.

Also unexpected for a winter Olympics is the weather. The grass is green and palm trees are blowing in the breeze inside the Olympic Park. Sochi is actually farther south than the 2012 summer Olympics in London.

Crews are still doing some last minute work at the facility where the opening ceremonies and indoor competitions will take place.

The mounts are about 30 miles away, and there's plenty of snow, but no Shaun White. The American snowboarder hurt his wrist on a practice run and has dropped out of the slopestyle event that was supposed to kick off the games. He does plan to compete in his signature event, the halfpipe.

Also in the mountains, Nolen found some volunteers from the U.S. and Canada who gave us a sense of what it's like trying to communicate across language barriers and cultural differences.

"Body language. It's a huge challenge. And they give you snacks. Yesterday it was a tomato, and today it was a cucumber," said Olympic volunteer Brian Nason.


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