Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Olympics: Day 4

February 15, 2010. Technically day 5, since I got there on day 0, but still, this trip was way too short. Sadly, that's what happens with a student budget!

The night before, I had to go back to the Olympic Superstore at The Bay. It was late at night, making it the only store still open. I needed to buy a new duffel bag. I had too much stuff to bring home with me, especially with the drum from the opening ceremony. While buying my new Vancouver 2010 bag, I naturally had to spend even MORE money on other souvenirs. It just never ended!

So its my last morning. I let myself sleep a little longer, took my time eating the Dutch girl's breakfast, said goodbye to Brian (who I met the night before on the bus, and we chatted for like an hour... he was from the states somewhere, and was there with some Serbian woman who now lives in Ottawa, who was a little odd) and checked out as late as possible. I had a couple hours to kill before my flight, so I reluctantly dragged all my heavy crap, including that new extra piece of luggage, around downtown for a little while. I had pretty much seen everything I wanted to already, and I wouldn't have gotten in anywhere with so much stuff, so I just stuck to the streets and had a nice long lunch. Finally it was very reluctantly time to go to the airport. While waiting in the, er, waiting area, I was watching Olympics coverage on TV along with everyone else. We watched Mike Robertson win silver in snowboard cross, which was freaking cool to watch. I almost cried sitting there, knowing I had to leave. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was truly the time of my life!

So, a big thanks to everyone who helped me make it happen! Especially to Darryl, and also thanks to Justin for urging me to get a great camera (again, thanks to Darryl). I'm so happy with my pictures, and I never would have been if I didn't get this camera.

Thanks Vancouver! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Olympics: Day 3.3

February 14, 2010. Victory Ceremony.

I entered BC Place, on the opposite corner from my seat at the Opening Ceremony. Hoping to see the Olympic cauldron burning brightly as a backdrop for the ceremony. Sadly, it turned out that on 1/3 of the stadium was being used for the show (I guess to avoid a logistical nightmare every single day). Again, I had a pretty good seat, although since this was more intimate, I wish I'd been lower, and as close as possible to see the medals being awarded. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, everyone's favourite pre-show host Ben Mulroney came out and announced that Alexandre Bilodeau had just won Canada's first gold medal on home soil. The crowd, again, was nuts. Completely insane. High-fiving and hugging strangers style.

Before the ceremony, the province of BC (a different province each night) put on a show. There was native music and dancing.

There was fiddling.

There was bizarre fashion.

There was even a STOMP-like segment. Apparently BC is eclectic.

Crazy randomness alert! I didn't know until I came home and posted my pictures on Facebook, but the girl on the left in this picture, holding the gold medal, is a girl named Katelyn who I knew as a child. She grew up just a few blocks away from me! What a small world! She even used one of my pictures of her in the local newspaper, which Rebecca is going to be sending. Yay!

Jennifer Heil was awarded her silver medal from the previous day, and it was fantastic!

Look at all those flags!

Champions!

Seung-Hoon Lee of Korea won silver, Sven Kramer of Netherlands won gold, and Ivan Skobrev of Russia won bronze in the Men's 5000m Speed Skating.

Finally, Kristina Groves got the bronze medal I watched her win. It was a very happy day!

The ladies had a blast up there!

After the medals, Nelly Furtado took the stage. It wasn't the most riveting concert ever, since people were there more for the medals and less for the concert (normally people go to a concert because they're a fan). But it was nice, and it was done by 9pm, so I stayed for the whole thing before venturing back into the city for one last night.

I strolled by Alberta House, which was finally in full swing. Live music, food and drinks... nothing cool to see. I just stuck to the streets... that's where all the best fun was!

I did get lured in by the Four Host Nations pavilion though, now they they were officially open. I went inside and they had a TV screen airing the repeat of Alexandre Bilodeau winning gold. There was quite a crowd watching. An interview with him and his family followed, and it brought a lot of people to tears. What an amazing guy... absolutely deserving of the honour!

Sadly, I couldn't stay downtown forever, so I grabbed one last look at the massive flag, and I headed to the hostel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Olympics: Day 3.2

February 14, 2010. Ladies' 3000m Speed Skating.

The competition began! It was exciting! And I loved listening to the guy saying RRRRRRRRRRREEEEADYYYYYY? every time a pair was set to begin. Great voice!

Cindy Klassen was the first Canadian up. Love!

The crowds were so loud. Louder than at the Opening Ceremony. Louder than at the luge. By the end of it, I lost my voice. It was wild!

And I had a perfect view of the finish line. Go Cindy!

Clara Hughes came out to get ready for her race.

After her run, Martina Shablikova of Czech Republic waved to the crowd with her coach. She would go on to win!

Clara!

Clara!

Clara!

Kristina Groves was in pair 13 of 14. Such good chances to land Canada on the podium!

Her race put her in 3rd place with just 2 skaters left! Unfortunately, those skaters were giving it everything they had, and were well ahead of her time. Then less far ahead. Then just barely ahead.

And with the very last seconds, those skaters lost it, and Kristina Groves won the bronze medal! The place went nuts!

Martina was pretty damn happy!

Kristina received her flowers.

Martina was a jumper.

Along with Stephanie Beckertt of Germany, the winners waved to the best crowd I've ever been in, with their flowers in hand.

To get back downtown, everyone had to walk about 20 minutes along the water, which was beautiful. Along the way, Ocean Spray handed everyone packets of Craisins, and bottles of cranberry juice. Richmond is of course the world's largest cranberry producer! Eventually we all got to the SkyTrain station, and stood in line for a good 30-40 minutes to then pack onto trains and get downtown.

I headed straight to BC Place for the Victory Ceremony! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Olympics: Day 3.1

February 14, 2010. Happy Valentine's Day! I had enough of those early mornings, so I let myself sleep a tiny bit later. And then I slept an extra bit later, without letting myself. Needless to say, by the time I'd showered, eaten the Dutch girl's breakfast, watched Olympic highlights on TV and chatted with someone in the hostel, I was late for the long bus ride. I grabbed a cab. The most expensive cab of my life. But it was the Olympics, and I'd already vowed to spend as much money as I needed to in order to have the best possible time. That vow was so worth it! [Especially since by now, the whole shindig is paid off :D].

Taking the bus, I would have had to walk for a while. The cab let me off 500 feet from the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Definitely the most wonderful Olympic venue. Its gigantic! So beautiful!

I took a stroll around the building. Sadly, the entire thing was fenced off and much of it surrounded by security and concession tents (the building itself contained no space for concessions, washrooms, etc. since it will be converted to a multi-use sports facility later, and wont need that sort of thing) so there wasn't a fantastic photo opportunity here.

While waiting in line for security, I took a picture of some pretty fish art. The guy beside me was wearing wooden clogs! The Dutch were definitely out in full force for their favourite sport!

Since we were somewhat near the airport, I decided to test my camera's limits. I was impressed.

I got inside and climbed to the top of the stands to get the full effect of the gorgeous oval. My seat was very close to the ice, just a few rows back, in the middle, across from the finish line.

The massive roof made of wood killed by pine beetles was so nice. Well done, whoever thought of using that wood!

I got another poor soul to figure out my camera (really she just had to push the button, but she couldn't even figure that out). I was a sucker for pictures of me under the rings.

Kristina Groves came out for a little practice skate.

A Dutch band called Kleintj Pils (which means Little Beer) came out to play several times. Apparently they travel the international speed skating circuit, playing at all the events. They were fun!

Here I am in front of the ice, and in front of that hot coach with the beard!

Out came the faulty Olympias! Interestingly, while one of them was broken and causing delays, I was too busy having fun to notice!

The band just kept playing all the classics.

The crowd was a sea of red and orange. I should have bought a pair of the orange gloves with the Netherlands flag on the cuffs, but I didn't want to clash! And its all about the red mittens.

Cindy Klassen came out for a practice.

How can you not love her?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Olympics: Day 2.2

February 13, 2010. Men's Singles Luge, Runs 1 and 2 (of 4).

Go Germany! Holy fast! Even though the men's start was moved down to the womens' start (in order to slow them down a bit) they were still reaching speeds up to 150km/h. The basic system for taking pictures was listen for them to approach your location (the sleds were roaring), then put the camera close to your face but not quite, so you could actually see the action and know where the lugers were. It worked.

Such a blurry crowd!

Canadian Samuel Edney!

And Canadian Jeff Christie! You can have a blurry crowd or a blurry luger, but you're not getting both!

You could go anywhere on the track, so I walked up toward the finish line for a while to grab some good shots of the lugers.

The sleds were going so fast that they climbed up a long steep ramp between the finish line and the exit platform. It was crazy. The real competition looks so much faster than on TV. This is Latvian Inars Kivlenieks (18th)

Some Latvian fans beside me called him over, and he was happy to pose for pictures :D

After run 1, everyone had to push a big black button once they stepped off the track. After run 2, their sleds were all tested for something. Keeping everything legal I guess!

Ian Cockerline of Canada! (20th)

Jeff Christie again! (14th)

And Samuel Edney! He was so fast, he came up the ramp and stopped right near me. No one else I saw came that far! He was 7th overall. I was so close, I could have touched him. I should have gone for a high five. But I was too busy ringing my cowbell!

Check this out... it was taken literally half a second before

this picture. So fast.

Luge was fantastic. Sadly, there was no winner crowned until Runs 3 and 4 the next day. Everyone was drenched on the long bus back to Vancouver. And they put me on the wrong bus, so I ended up in a strange location late at night, not at the Seabus stop like I should have. But I eventually made it to the celebrations downtown... the city going nuts after Jennifer Heil's silver medal in moguls. O Canada in full force.

And after I got back to Ottawa, I checked my recording... That's me on the right, cheering my face off for Samuel Edney. You can hear me. I was on TV! :D