Archive for January, 2010

Made it to Callaghan Lodge & free BBQ

Enzo made it to Callaghan Lodge!

Enzo made it to Callaghan Lodge!

Today was the big test for me – skiing up to Callaghan Lodge. The distance is about 14.5 km., and the vertical elevation gained is close to 2,000 feet! (Yes, I know I’m mixing my metric and imperial units – it’s a thing I do). The incentive was a free BBQ at the backcountry lodge, which is all I needed for motivation :).

This is also the last weekend of public skiing at Callaghan Country, which will reopen on March 1 once the Olympics are done. It was a mild day, with light showers on the lower parts of the trail and wet snow up higher. Thankfully the early season snowfall was enough to build up a solid base for the Olympic events in a couple of weeks time. In fact, they told us that the snow base at the lodge is at about 14 feet right now!

Back to the big test. I wasn’t alone in my attempt, as 94 people registered for this non-competitive event. I ran into a number of familiar faces – Willy, Pat, Peter and Peter from the Lower Mainland, and Roger, Heather, Sarah and Louie from Squamish. It was supposed to be a group start at 9:00 am, but most people left on their own time. The organizer gave us a semi-formal send-off at about 9:20 am, but many had already started by then.

My original plan for this ski season was to work my way to skiing up to the lodge by the end of the season, but then I heard about this event with a free BBQ. So, I quickly picked up my training the past couple of weeks. I made it up to Callaghan Lake last week (a distance of 9 km.), so that gave me the confidence to try the full 14.5 km. up to the Lodge today. I’m glad I decided to try it, as I felt pretty strong on the way up. The BBQ at the Lodge was awesome, and it was nice to have a break. I paid the price a bit on the 14.5 km. back down to the parking lot. There were still a number of small uphill sections, and that’s where it was obvious my endurance was just not there yet. Oh well, I will try it again on May 1 when they will do a repeat event to close the season.

I’ve put a bunch more pictures here. And, Willy shot the following video of me getting a flying start uphill from the parking lot:

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Mona Lisa Arrives in Squamish

The Mona Lisa in Squamish

The Mona Lisa in Squamish

No, not the famous portrait by Da Vinci! It’s the cruise ship currently owned by Leonardo Shipping, that arrived in Squamish 2 days ago. It’s all set to house about 1,100 VANOC employees and volunteers for up to 56 days.

The Squamish Chief covered the ship’s arrival at the Squamish Terminals dock on Jan. 26. I made it over to Nexen Beach, next to the dock, just before sunset this evening to snap a few pictures. The starboard side cabins have nice views of the Squamish Chief and Shannon Falls, while the port side cabins will have views of the Tantalus when the clouds lift.

And of course, there is also the classic song Mona Lisa. Hope you enjoy the YouTube video with Nat King Cole’s original version played against Mona Lisa related images.

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In Full Uniform Today

My second volunteer shift at the Whistler Accreditation Centre today, but first time in full uniform! I picked it up towards the end of my shift last Sunday, so did not put it on till today. Another step closer to the day the Games start on February 12. Are we ready?

Volunteer Uniform

Enzo In VANOC Uniform

I’m pretty sure I’m ready, how about you? I’m also pretty sure VANOC is ready, but there still appear to be a number of details left to take care especially with regards to transportation.

Living in Squamish, there have been a number of questions and concerns about transportation. One of those was how we would be able to get directly from Squamish to Whistler Olympic Park for nordic events. According to this article in last week’s Squamish Chief, VANOC has just announced a free bus service for event ticket holders on this route. But, there are still no details of this announcement on VANOC’s Travel Smart 2010 site.

More last-minute good news came last week on the transportation front, this time for volunteers like myself who will need to get from Squamish to Whistler. VANOC will run regular service for workforce and volunteers only, which is in addition to the expanded 24×7 service from BC Transit.

Enzo in all red "uniform"

Enzo Painting the Town Red

Thanks to both VANOC and BC Transit for these service announcements. It is something that is much needed in the Sea To Sky corridor. My commute home from Whistler earlier this evening really reinforced this point to me. My shift ended a little early, as it was a slow day of Accreditation. So, our supervisor let me and my car-pool partner head home at 4:00 pm. Unfortunately, this put us smack dab in the middle of Sunday rush hour as all the day/weekend skiers were also heading out at that time. After an hour in the car, we had traveled only about 4 km – from Upper Whistler Village parking lots to Whistler Creekside. This would normally only take 10 minutes at most. The pace picked up a bit from there, but it was still almost a 2-hour journey till I was home in downtown Squamish. Be warned if you are driving to/from Whistler in the next couple of weeks!

Just for fun, the picture on the right is from a work event we had on Friday when we decided to “Paint the Town Red”. Contrast that to the blue VANOC uniform above :).

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X-Country Skiing to Callaghan Lake

Just over a week before the cross-country trails in the Callaghan Valley are closed to the public for the month of February. I managed to get in a few hours this afternoon at Callaghan Country, which is right next door to Whistler Olympic Park.

I made it up to Callaghan Lake, which is about 9 km. from the parking area and a vertical climb of 520 metres! Needless to say, it was a fast, fun ride back down :). Next Saturday, I am planning to go a further 5 km. up to Callaghan Backcountry Lodge. They are hosting a group ski to the lodge with a free BBQ for all who go the distance.

Some pictures of my day, including shots of Black Tusk and Callaghan Lake, can be found here.

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2010 Olympic Torch returns to BC

I stole the headline for this post from the Vancouver Sun article, as I could not come up with a better one :).

Today is Day 84 of the 106-day journey across Canada, and marks the home stretch for the Olympic Torch. I’ll have more of my observations and pictures when the torch arrives in Squamish on Day 98 (Feb. 4, 2010), for an overnight stay before making it’s way through town the next morning on it’s way up to Whistler.

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My First Day of Olympic Work

Today was my first volunteer shift at the Whistler Volunteer Centre, as an Accreditation Operator. What is an Accreditation Operator, you say? More on that later.

I was a little nervous, like the first day at a new job. Especially since I had forgotten how to use the Accreditation System on which I was trained over 2 months ago! Not to worry, as everyone was in the same boat. Fortunately, it was also a slow day as the Whistler office had just opened this past week.

Portion of Accreditation Card

So, back to the Accreditation question. Accreditation is the process that identifies and registers all persons involved in the staging of the Games, e.g. athletes, officials, media, guests, staff and volunteers.An accreditation card is reserved for persons performing a role or function necessary in the staging of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The accreditation process establishes a person’s eligibility to perform a role at the Games and the access entitlements they need to fulfill their role. Once established, this information is displayed on an accreditation card (see sample at left), together with personal information, such as first and last name, function and organization, and access privileges.

Just to give you an idea of the numbers involved in this process, VANOC is expecting to accredit approximately 85,000 people for the Olympic Winter Games, and 20,000 for the Paralympic Winter Games!

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X-Country Skiing & My Accreditation

One of the legacies left by the Games will be the excellent cross-country ski facilities at Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley, just south of Whistler. In just a few weeks, it will be the site of the cross-country, biathlon, Nordic combined and ski jumping events for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In the meantime, the public is able to ski selected trails in the Park, as well as all of the trails next door at Callaghan Country.

Entrance to Whistler Olympic Park

Lots of fresh snow had been falling the past couple of days in Whistler and the Callaghan Valley. This continued for much of this morning in those areas, but in Squamish it was a few degrees warmer and raining heavily. Fortunately, the weather forecaster’s prediction came true and the precipitation ended by noon. Hints of blue sky peeked through the clouds as I loaded up my ski gear and headed up to Callaghan Country just after lunch.

The morning snow covered up much of the grooming and track setting done prior to opening earlier this morning. This made it for more of a back-country experience as I headed up the Mainline trail up to Callaghan Lake, 9 kilometres away. If you want to see what the area looks like on a clearer day, have a look at my pictures from before Christmas.

Whistler Accreditation Centre Entrance

I only made it a little more than halfway to the Lake before turning back and heading up to Whistler to complete my own accreditation for my volunteer role. I was able to meet some of my fellow volunteers and see how our work area is set up at the Whistler Accreditation Centre. I also had a chance to snap a few pictures of Whistler in the late afternoon sun, including some pictures of my co-workers.

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Less Than A Month To Go!

The 2010 Winter Olympics are soon upon us. The Olympic torch will be lit in BC Place Stadium on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 6:00 pm PST, after a 106-day journey across Canada.

The journey for the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) officially began on July 2, 2003, when Vancouver, BC was selected to be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. My own personal Olympic journey started in September, 2009, when I was offered a volunteer position with the 2010 Games.

I invite you to join me here over the next few weeks as I describe my journey on these pages through words, pictures and videos. A little more about my background is here. I’ve also got a page here, where you can let me know about your own Olympic story. Of course, that is an open forum. If you would like to just send me a private message, you can do that here.

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