SOCHI, Russia – The Holland Heineken House has always been one of the top party spots at the Olympic Games, with Dutch fans, athletes and sponsors getting together for raucous celebrations night after night.
It's back for the Sochi Games, with one big difference — the party house has become the house of champions.
With Dutch speedskaters dominating in Sochi like never before, it's been a non-stop celebration since the games began. Each time a Dutch athlete medals, he or she makes an appearance that night at the Heineken House for a medal ceremony. The athlete is introduced as a stirring theme song from Dinand Woesthoff whips the crowd into a frenzy, and enters the building on an orange walkway dubbed "Legendary Lane." A plaque commemorating the athlete's achievement is then placed on to the walkway, Holland's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As the deluge of medals started coming — 20 after 67 events, tied with the United States for the most in Sochi — the lane had to be expanded to accommodate the haul. There have only been two nights since the games started without a medal ceremony for the house, which welcomed Jorrit Bergsma, Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong Tuesday night after they swept the podium in the 10,000 meters.
They were introduced individually to loud cheers from hundreds of fans that line the lane. They do an interview and pose for photos before partying with fans and family.
"Every athlete comes here," said Hans Erik Tujti, Heineken's global activation director, who oversees the house. "If he wins a medal, he goes to the Heineken House. So as a fan, you know, 'I will see my hero,' which people appreciate enormously."
— By Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu