Olympic Highs & Lows (so far)

Highs (so far)

  1. Skeleton Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery and his coronation as King of Whistler Sliding Centre – actually, King of all of Whistler! I really admire all the athletes that are here, whether or not they are medalists. But, Jon is a different animal all together and he rocks as both an athlete and a person!!!
  2. Walking up and down the Village Stroll in Whistler – you never know who you’re going to run into, what band may strike up on a Whistler Live Stage, street performers that pop up, or whatever …
  3. My VANOC volunteer Blue Jacket and the rest of the uniform. As VANOC CEO John Furlong says, “It is a sign that you are part of the inner circle: you are Team 2010.” I feel priviledged to be a part of the team, and am often stopped and asked questions in the Village as people just assume you are knowledgeable when you’re wearing that jacket 🙂
  4. The Accreditation Team that I’m on has a mix of volunteers and VANOC employees from many different parts of the country and the world. It’s been a lot of fun meeting and working with a variety of interesting characters that makes the time pass so quickly. We also get exposed to all sorts of people coming in for accreditation, and their excitement rubs off on you.
  5. Attending 3 events in person this past week:
    – Women’s Luge on Feb. 16, with George
    – Women’s Biathlon on Feb. 18, with Dave
    – Men’s Long Hill Ski Jumping on Feb. 19, with Wes
    The venues are all just wonderful, but my favourites are those up in the Callaghan Valley. So close to Whistler (20 minutes), but completely away from the hustle and bustle. This is one of the greatest legacies of the Games, in my humble opinion.
  6. Not having to drive my car this month. I’m saving lots of money by using the extended BC Transit service and the special VANOC workforce buses between Squamish and Whistler.
  7. My brisk half-hour walks to/from the transit hub next to WalMart – excellent daily aerobic exercise.
  8. The Belgian waffles next to the Longhorn.
  9. The nightly medals ceremonies and concerts that follow in Whistler Celebration Plaza. Even when it was raining on the first night, it was quite the festive atmosphere and a great way to celebrate the day’s achievements.
  10. The amazing efforts of the course crews at Cypress Mountain. Mother Nature threw one curve ball after another at them the past couple of months, and they seem to have an answer for just about anything. They have managed to produce race courses that are very good and fair, and have produced some exciting competitions.

Lows (so far)

No list here, as most of my low moments are pretty minor. Sure, there have been a few glitches at venues and postponement of some events. But, those have been documented elsewhere (especially the British press). For me personally, I’ve been quite fortunate as my lowest low so far was at Canada House yesterday. They have a free pancake breakfast every Saturday morning from 9:00 to 11:30 am, and when I got there at 10:30 am they had already run out of pancakes and bacon 🙁

On a much more serious note, I do not want to downplay the very unfortunate death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili on Opening Day. Please check my earlier posts and photos for more details. This was quite a low point to start the Games, and really makes all the other glitches and inconveniences appear to be relatively minor and insignificant. Whistler has made a good effort to remember young Nodar as part of the 2010 Olympic Games – in spirit, if not in body.

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The Mid-Way Point is Here Today

Today is Day 9 of our 17-day Winter Olympic Games, marking the mid-way point of the Games. Eight days are already in the books, and 8 more remain after today.

How are you all holding up? I’ve had an amazing 8 days, with a mix of volunteering and spectating. But, I’m pretty beat with lots of long (and fun) days up here in Whistler. Yes, I know I live in Squamish, but have not spent much time there since the start of the Games. That will all change tomorrow with my first full day off – no volunteer shift and no event to attend.

My intention is to first of all catch up on some extra sleep, before catching up on my blog updates. I have not had a chance to write much about my experiences at the luge,biathlon and ski jumping events I attended over the past week. I have uploaded some pictures for all 3 events:

Today, I’m nearing the end of my volunteer shift up in Whistler, and looking forward to the medals ceremony tonight. This will be the first Gold Medal presented to a Canadian in Whistler, and the whole village will be rocking when skeleton race Jon Montgomery steps up (or jumps up) to the podium tonight!

Update from later Saturday night:

Whistler Village was packed for the Medals Ceremony, and I managed to get a standing spot just outside the plaza as no extra tickets were available for tonight’s ceremony. Here’s a shot of the flags raised while the Canadian anthem was being played for our Gold Medal (notice the flag pole in the way of Jon Montgomery on the podium):

Raising of flags at Men's Skeleton Gold Medal Ceremony

Raising of flags at Men's Skeleton Gold Medal Ceremony

It was quite moving while singing along to Oh Canada with the many thousands of fans gathered both inside and outside the gates to the Celebration Plaza in Whistler. Here are some more of my pictures from today, as well as some from earlier in the week:

As proud as I was to be a Canadian and a very small part of Jon’s Gold Medal achievement, I also was reminded of how precious life itself is as I walked by this more permanent tribute to fallen Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili – just ouside Whistler Town Plaza:

Tribute to fallen Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili

Tribute to fallen Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili

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A Day at the (Luge) Races

Luge racer coming down straightaway

Luge racer coming down straightaway

Just a quick summary from my first day as an Olympic spectator, watching the final 2 rounds of the women’s luge race at the Whistler Sliding Centre. First thing to note is that the Sliding Centre is actually on Blackcomb Mountain and not Whistler! Not to worry, as the bus drivers and volunteers made sure we got to our correct destination.

George had driven up from North Vancouver, and we then hopped the BC Transit bus up to Whistler. Before we ventured up to the venue, we needed to make a quick stop at Norway House for waffles. We really tested the hospitality of our Norwegian hosts as George was dressed in his Team Canada hockey jersey on the day that Canada would open the hockey tournament against Norway. On top of that, Canada had just defeated Norway in curling (in extra ends)! The Norwegians were cool with that, but did remind us of their successes at biathlon and cross-country skiing 🙂

For now, I will just point you to my pictures at SmugMug, and my videos on You Tube (3 videos from Feb. 16) as I’m getting ready to leave for the biathlon races today with Dave. Here’s a sample video:

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Sunny in Squamish, Foggy in Whistler

It was a brilliant sunny early morning in Squamish, as I boarded the volunteer bus to Whistler. When I woke up and got off at the other end in Whistler, it was pretty well fogged in on the lower mountain. Not a good sign for the women’s downhill race scheduled to start at 11:00 am. But, in the 20 minutes I’ve beenhere in a local coffee shop. the fog has started to roll out. Keep your fingers crossed!  

Tantalus Range behind Home Depot from Transit Exchange

Clear early morning in Squamish

Foggy early morning in Whistler

Foggy early morning in Whistler

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Transitioning from Volunteer to Spectator

Quatchi

Quatchi

What do you think of Quatchi – pretty cute, isn’t he? Should he start in net today for Canada, rather than Bobby-Lou 🙂

Quatchi was a volunteer gift we received once we recorded our sixth volunteer shift, part of a program to provide a gift to volunteers for every 3 shifts we work. One of many thoughtful ways in which VANOC recognizes the contribution of volunteers to the overall success of the Games.

Today marks a transition for me – from volunteer to spectator. My buddy George is coming up from North Vancouver, and we’ll be heading up to the Whistler Sliding Centre to catch the final 2 rounds of the Women’s Luge this afternoon. In fact, I will be attending events on 3 of the next 4 days, including Biathlon on Thursday with Dave, and Long Hill Ski Jumping on Friday with Wes. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the events live! And, after today it looks like the weather is going to clear up and getting colder – feeling more like winter all the time 🙂

I have a few more pictures of our Olympic mascots and the Accreditation Team up at Whistler, and you can find them here.

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The Gold Rush Begins

Alexandre Bilodeau:

Thank you very much for your inspirational mogul run, and for leading the way to many more gold medals for Canadians at the 2010 Winter Games.

Merci beaucoup!

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I love waffles

Enzo's Brunch Plate at Norway House

Enzo's Brunch Plate at Norway House

I finally made it into Norway House on my way into work this morning. It was packed with Norwegians watching their beloved biathletes in competition, live from Whistler Olympic Park on a television feed from their home country. They still welcomed us non-Norwegians with open arms.

The fresh aroma of the waffles hit you as soon as you entered the room. They aren’t as sweet or thick as we are accustomed to, but very tasty especially topped with either goat cheese or strawberry jam.

A few more pictures are here.

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Gung Hay Fat Choy

农 历 新 年

And Happy Valentine’s Day, of course!

Go, Canada, Go!!!

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First Full Day at Whistler – Whew!

What a day for the first full day of competition up at Whistler! Only Mother Nature was not cooperating, as rain fell off an on from about noon onwards. This forced postponement of the men’s downhill till Monday, one of many events in which Canada has a legitimate shot at Gold.

The day started out pretty clear as I got off my commuter bus from Squamish:

Blackcomb Mountain in early morning

Blackcomb Mountain in early morning

On the bus ride up to Whistler, one of my fellow commuters had a number of extra tickets for the Medals Ceremony later that night. The headline act was The All-American Rejects, so I snapped up a ticket and adjusted my plans for the day. But, first off to my shift at the Accreditation Centre – a small lineup to start an otherwise slow day:

Small lineup at opening of Accreditation - Feb 13

Small lineup at opening of Accreditation - Feb 13

Had some time to kill in the afternoon before the medal ceremony at 6:30. First stop was Whistler Live at Village Square where Toronto band Elliott BROOD was performing.

Elliott BROOD - Whistler Village Square

Elliott BROOD - Whistler Village Square

On the way to the medals ceremony, I also ran into street performers Duh Hockey Guys:

Duh Hockey Guys - Whistler Live street performers

Duh Hockey Guys - Whistler Live street performers

Whistler’s Rob Boyd carried in the Olympic Torch to light the cauldron in Whistler, with John Furlong and other officials greeting him.

Olympic Torch carried into Whistler by Rob Boyd

Olympic Torch carried into Whistler by Rob Boyd

My complete set of pictures from the day can be found here.

I’ll leave you with a video I shot of the first medals presented at Whistler, for the Men’s Normal Hill Ski Jumping:

First Medals Presentation @ Whistler – Feb 13, 2010 from Enzo Federico on Vimeo.

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With Glowing (and Heavy) Hearts

It was a day of very mixed emotions up at Whistler. Excitement definitely filled the air this morning, as we eagerly counted down the final few hours to the start of the Opening Ceremonies and unveiling of the final Torch Bearer.

The mood became quite sombre by mid-day with word of an accident at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Twenty-one year old Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, was fatally injured during the final training session in the last corner of the track. The images of Nodar’s accident were difficult to watch, but also necessary from my perspective. Necessary because the Games will continue, with many celebrations including the fabulous Opening Ceremonies this evening. Nodar’s memory was honoured by the IOC, VANOC, his Georgian teammates and the 60,000 spectators at the Ceremonies.

I just want to add my thoughts and prayers for this young man’s family and teammates, to the outpouring of emotion that his fatal accident has generated.

I added the following picture the next day – one of many tributes to a young life taken too soon:

Tribute to Nodar Kumaritashvili - Whistler Town Plaza

Tribute to Nodar Kumaritashvili - Whistler Town Plaza

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