Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympics Recap

For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying to get a blog update posted, but I kept getting sidetracked by that which I was trying to blog about:  The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games!

OPENING CEREMONY

About 2 weeks go, I went up to Vancouver the day before the Opening Ceremony.  We had rented a condo for two nights just a couple of blocks from BC Place where the Opening Ceremony was being held.  Little did we know this would be right in the center of the action.  The day before the event, we went downtown were all of the excitement was just getting fired up.  We visited the downtown Olympics Superstore at The Bay, and I swear this is the only time I've ever waited in line to get into a store.  It was fantastic!  At that point, they had tons of cool stuff, where I also got my own pair of the coveted red mittens that everyone wanted later.

Fast forward to the day of the ceremony.  We're taking a leisurely morning before heading over to the OC, and what did we find looking out the window?  The Olympic Torch coming across the water and into the Vancouver downtown, right before our eyes.  Way cool.  Around 2pm (4 hours before the ceremony started), we made it over to BC Place right when the gates opened.  At that point, security lines weren't so bad, but it was much like going through airport security getting in.  Metal detectors and x-ray machines or full bag searches.  Nothing slipped in undetected.  We made it into our seats, right in the second row of the upper deck with a clear view of pretty much everything, by about 2:30pm.

In each seat was a specific "audience participation kit" containing a bunch of goodies for use during various portions of the ceremony.  One of the more interesting items was a drumstick, which we quickly determined was for use with the kit box itself, which was a cardboard drum.  Countless hours of entertainment ensued.  But as for the ceremony itself, I can't begin to describe how incredibly awesome it was seeing it live.  Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, though if I had another reasonable opportunity to attend one, I'd absolutely do it.  What a production!

We came home Saturday morning after the ceremony.  Border crossing was fortunately not bad at all, and we made it home in time to enjoy the rest of the leisurely 3-day weekend, and watch plenty of the Olympics.

CURLING

A week later on Tuesday, I drove back up for the day to see one of the curling events at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.  The venue is in the middle of a residential area, south of downtown Vancouver.  We parked in Richmond and took the fabulous Canada Line train, after which we walked about 10 minutes through the neighborhood to reach the centre.  The organizers did a good job of building a new venue that would meet the needs of the Olympic event, but then could be turned into something more usable after the Olympics were done.  But as a result, much of the facility was nothing more than a giant tent wrapped around the side of the actual building, with the primary restrooms being a tent filled with portapotties, and much bleachers fit into the actual arena.  But it should turn into a great little community facility when it's all dismantled.

We watched 4 matchups, Canada-China, Sweden-Denmark, Norway-Great Britain, and France-Switzerland.  Of course, by my calculations, 85% of those attending were there cheering for the home team of Canada, 5% for some other country, and the other 10% had absolutely no clue what was going on.  That last figure may be a bit higher, actually.  But regardless, it was amazingly cool.  With the USA done and not playing in the draw we attended, we just took to cheering for whichever teams were doing good at any particular moment.  We like excitement.

After the curling was over, we dropped downtown and visited the Olympic Superstore, which was vastly picked through and much of the cool stuff we saw a week and a half earlier was nowhere to be found.  I bought a poster I didn't see the first time, but besides that, there wasn't much need for buying anything great.  We then went down to visit the Olympic Cauldron ablaze, which will be pretty neat to see up close once all of the drama and heightened security of the games is finally over.

OLYMPICS CONCLUSION

I have to admit, as usual I was captivated for 2 weeks watching Olympics television coverage without fail.  Yesterday's Gold Medal Hockey match between USA and Canada was enough to turn even a rare ice hockey follower such as myself into a die-hard hockey fan, for a day at least.

The closing ceremony left something to be desired, mainly with NBC's coverage.  The ceremony itself was entertaining, and at least they didn't remix O Canada to an absurd degree like they did during the opening ceremony.  It's nice that Canadians can make fun of themselves.  I actually find most Canadian humo(u)r funny, unlike British humo(u)r which I abhor.  Good times.

Now I begin my 879 days of Olympics withdrawal, until the opening of the 2012 summer games in London on July 27th, 2012.  I can only hope in the meantime that NBC comes to their collective senses, and decides to actually give me some live coverage, even if it's just the ability to stream it over the internet.  Hey, I can hope, can't I?

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