For figure skating fans, and in-arena florist, flowers are part of the fun

A volunteer gathers flowers from the Olympic ice.
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In the concourse of the Iceberg Skating Palace, a semi-circle of bouquets rose out of vases in front of a small alcove in the arena. A couple walked over and plucked a cellophane-wrapped arrangement of orange Gerbera daisies.

Jizayz Emyon, who was managing the pop-up florist, walked over and collected 500 rubles (about $15) from them. Then he turned around and began placing more bouquets on a white folding table.

“We were very busy today because it’s Valentine’s Day,” Emyon said. “Today are more flowers we sell.”

The Iceberg Skating Palace is a rarity in sports. At a time when NFL stadiums are looking to add WiFi and serve sushi, it’s opted for a different amenity to enhance the fan experience — a pop-up florist that sells bouquets to men who need a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift and figure skating fans who toss flowers on the ice following performances by skaters like China’s Yan Han and Team USA’s Jeremy Abbott.

The pop-up florist sells about 50 bouquets a day. Bouquets cost 500 rubles and a single rose costs 200 rubles ($6). The shop usually makes $700 a day.

Tossing flowers onto the ice after a figure skating performance has a long history. Red roses were the gift of choice in the 1980s and ’90s. Bouquets that are tossed today have to be wrapped in cellophane to prevent petals from falling off and damaging the ice.

Watching figure skating on TV, it’s easy to think that fans come prepared, bringing flowers to the event the same way Detroit Red Wings fans bring squid to Joe Louis Arena. But in Sochi, they have the option to buy flowers from Emyon between sessions.

Emyon didn’t know how his boss, who doesn’t own a floral shop, won a contract to sell flowers at the arena. He and three other employees were just there to sell as many flowers as possible.

“We’ll be here every day figure skating is open,” he said.

Sales are usually dictated by the popularity of a skater. They were particularly busy during the first weekend of the Games when Russia’s figure skating team wowed the crowd and won a gold medal in the team event.

But Emyon said that was nothing compared to Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day, he could pitch flowers not only to figure skating fans but any man who happened to walk by his booth.

 “Don’t you like anyone?” he asks, looking out over the concourse and trying to find a way to score one more sale. He grins. “You sure?”

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Related Topics:

Figure Skating, Olympics

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