Monday, March 1, 2010
The day after the Olympics found me back at work. The last seventeen days have been a bit of a blur. The buildup to the Olympics was a long seven years, and the games themselves seemed to go by very quickly. It was fantastic to experience it first-hand and while I know I'll never experience anything like it again I hope to catch a little of the spirit at some point in the future. I won't miss all the line-ups and the security screenings, but all-in-all there was very little to complain about. I took buses and the Skytrain around Vancouver, and took buses (for the first time) at Whistler. I gained a new appreciation for my city and even felt like I was seeing it for the first time on some occasions. I loved hearing the tourists speaking in the own language and seeing everyone decked out in the colours of their home country (or perhaps they were just wearing that Russian gear because they thought it looked cool!). I still want to get my hands on an orange Nederland toque. I hope you've enjoyed reading my posts. I'll put a few more pictures up, but this'll probably be my last post. Adios!
Sunday, February 28, 2010
It took a long time for the crowd to escape Canada Hockey Place and everyone downtown was already partying. The police were having a hard time keeping traffic flowing on the roads that weren't already closed for pedestrians. They gave up in a couple of places. With my entire head painted red with white maple leafs and the number "1" I was getting stopped for photos every ten feet and getting high fives from passersby. The noise was deafening as everyone was honking horns and whooping. This party was going to last a long time!
Yes, that's me on the left, with my brother Robin. Without Robin I don't know if I would have seen a single Olympic event, but thanks to his generosity and enthusiasm I had a fantastic Olympic experience and the culmination was being able to watch the Gold Medal Match in Men's Hockey from amazing seats. The game started out well with a goal for Team Canada in the first by Jonathan Toews. Canada increased its lead in the second with a coal by Corey Perry. Throughout this tournament I got the feeling that Canada knew how to play with the "pedal to the metal", but weren't very good at protecting a lead. Five minutes after Perry's goal Ryan Kesler (a Vancouver Canuck, ironically) cut the lead in half. In third the play was much tighter than in the second and with the seconds counting down the Americans pulled their goalie. A scramble left two Americans alone in front of Luongo and Zach Parise scored with 25 seconds left. The crowd was extremely tense during the fifteen minute intermission. I felt pretty good about Team Canada's chances as I thought they played much better when they were trying to score than trying to hold a lead. Sure enough, 7:40 into overtime Sidney Crosby took a pass from Jerome Iginla and scored the winner. The crowd went berserk. Nobody left before the medal presentations, and the party started!
Vancouver was awake early this Sunday and the energy in the city was palpable. Taking the bus downtown everyone was wearing Canada gear and waving flags. Entering Canada Hockey Place there were a few US jerseys in the crowd, including Vince Vaughn, in the shot above. The mood inside the building was full of anticipation. Nobody was thinking this was going to be easy.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Nothing to see or do today. It was a bit rainy in Vancouver and the Olympics were wrapping up. I pretty much had a normal Saturday and heard on the radio that Canada had picked up three more gold medals. The city will certainly have a different feel after the Olympics, but I'll be interested to see how quickly everything reverts to normal. Will there be a permanent change in the city's psyche? Or in the rest of the world's perception of Vancouver? I think not, but we'll see.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Robin and I ventured out to the Olympic Oval in Richmond on the hopes of finding someone selling tickets at face value, or close to it. There were not many sellers but we did manage to get a couple of tickets at a reasonable price. The oval is big, but the seating is actually not as extensive as I'd imagined. There were a good number of orange-clad Dutch supporters in the crowd. The specific event we were watching was team pursuit. Three skaters from each country race against three skaters from another country. They start on opposite sides of the oval. It's tournament style so we watched the men's quarter-finals, the women's quarter-finals and then the men's semi-finals. In the men's quarter-finals Canada beat Italy, setting an Olympic record in the process. The women did not fare as well, losing to the US by four one-hundredths of a second. In the men's semi-finals the Canadian men beat Norway, again setting an Olympic record. They'll face the US for the gold tomorrow. Afterwards we walked to the "O-Zone" and tried to look at Heineken House, but the lineup was too big. We're off to Sue & Tim's tonight to watch Canada vs. Slovakia in men's hockey on the tv.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The atmosphere at Canada Hockey Place was definitely different from the previous games. The crowd was pumped and ready for a gold medal. The first period was tight. Canada was penalized a lot, but the Americans failed to capitalize. In the second period the Canadians again ran into penalty trouble and after surviving a five-on-three they came right back to score. A second goal followed quite quickly and that was all the Canadians needed. We stayed for the medal presentations and heard the national anthem for the first time live at the Olympics!
Our cousin Tim joined Robin and Maria and me at the Sweden vs. Slovakia game. We were all in a good mood after having watched Canada demolish Russia on tv earlier in the afternoon. The game was a pretty quiet affair until Slovakia scored two quick goals in the second. The Swedes came alive then and replied with two of their own. Slovakia got one more before the end of the period. In the third period Slovakia looked content to set the trap and try to frustrate Sweden. They scored a goal on a rush and Sweden again quickly replied. With the minutes counting down Sweden really picked it up but couldn't score again and left the tournament early.
It was always a bit of a longshot for Switzerland to beat the USA, but they came very close to a shootout at least, which they might well have won. The USA fired about 50 shots at Jonas Hiller and only one fluky goal was scored early in the third. The crowd was rooting for the Swiss, but there was a pretty strong US contingent, too.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The rain has returned -- I can't remember a February in Vancouver with such a long period of sunny warm weather! No events or games to watch live today. I took it easy and was able to catch a bit of the Canada vs. Germany men's hockey game on tv. I heard that Canada won another gold in ski cross, but haven't read anything about it yet. Tomorrow we're off to see two men's hockey quarterfinal games. Unfortunately, even though Robin bought tickets to three out of the four quarterfinals Canada is in the fourth of those quarterfinal games! Rotten luck. Instead we'll see USA vs. Switzerland (go Suisse!) and Sweden vs. Slovakia, although as I write this Norway is giving Slovakia a run for their money.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Between the first and second semi-finals Robin and I walked along False Creek. The shot above is of the Athletes Village on the south side of False Creek. The sun was shining and the crowds were great. After the second game we walked down Robson, enjoying the sights and sounds and ended up at Japadog on Burrard!
Maria joined Robin and I for a 5 p.m. start in the second Women's Semi-final game. Team Canada looked very good, but the Finnish goaltender was quite good -- much better than the Swedish goaltender. The game stayed close, but the Canadian attack was relentless. They outshot the Finns 50-11 and won the game 5-0. It was a much more entertaining game than the earlier semi-final, but I anticipate the final will be even better.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
We got up a bit earlier today to go to the Men's Super Combined (one run of downhill and one run of slalom). The event had originally been scheduled for Tuesday. Again, it was brilliant sunshine and quite cold -- perfect conditions for the race. This turned out to be a much more exciting race than the other ski races we attended since there were two parts. Bode Miller had a good, but not exceptional run on the downhill. However, he followed it up with an excellent run on the slalom and captured gold. There was about a 90 minute break between the two races during which Maria and a I took the chair down to the Whistler Creek base and hiked back up to the finish area -- twice!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
After the the bobsleigh we walked through the village. The Swiss were celebrating the gold medal of Simon Ammann in the Men's Long Hill Ski Jump. The Swiss certainly know how to party! They were awaiting the arrival of Ammann, but we weren't sure how long he was going to be so we headed home to eat Indian food.
Wally arrived in Whistler this afternoon and joined us at the Two-man Bobsleigh. We arrived a bit late because of an enormous line up to go through security. Just as we arrived one of the bobsleighs crashed. Two of the next three sleighs crashed after that, which made for a bit of an alarming start to the event. We watched the full second run from various points on the track, but the crowd was much bigger than at any of the other sliding events that we've attended so far. Tomorrow we're going to see the Men's Combined at Whistler and then head back to Vancouver.
Maria was enjoying the sunshine standing next to this fan with a Mexican wrestling mask! It was another brilliantly sunny day at Whistler Creekside for the Women's Super G. The course seemed pretty difficult as one third of the first fifteen skiers didn't finish. Everyone was waiting for Lindsday Vonn who had a late start. She delivered a great run and was in first, but surprisingly two later skiers finished ahead of her. The Austrian Andrea Fischbacher won the event.
Friday, February 19, 2010
We took the bus to the Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley for the Ski Jump this morning. The event was the first in which we could see the entire event from start to finish (with the exception of a tiny portion when the skiers were at the bottom of the in-run). It was a brilliant sunny day with almost no wind -- perfect for the ski jump. We were able to see all 61 of the skiers jump and the top ones were going so far that they had to lowere the start. The top-50 will have two jumps tomorrow to decide the medal. The only downer was the 90 minute wait for the return bus.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
We had the morning off in Whistler so I went to the community centre to do some biking, running and swimming. The weather up here is glorious. We went to the Sliding Centre this afternoon and arrived just in time to watch the beginning of the first run for the women. The men's and women's skeleton start is right at the top of the sliding centre so it was a bit of a hike to get up to the top, but well worth it to watch the start. We could then watch the rest of their run on the big video screen. It was pretty cold and after the women's runs we went into a warming hut to wait for the men's runs. We watched the men's first run from the start as well and then headed back to the Village as it was getting pretty cold. Tomorrow we have to get up very early to catch the bus to the Olympic Park for the ski jump.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Double's Luge was a bit more fun to watch because there are only two runs so we got to see the gold medal run. On the second run the lugers start in reverse order of their finish in the first run so each run is likely to yield a new first place finisher. As expected the Austrians with the best time in the first run were able to hold on to their lead and won the gold medal with the final run of the competition. The weather was perfect -- clear and cold. Tomorrow we go back to the Sliding Centre for the Skeleton.
Robin and his friend (and wedding planner) Tanum are enjoying the sunshine in this shot. We were in the standing room area at the bottom of the Ladies Downhill. We saw Lindsay Vonn ski to a gold medal. It was great weather, but nevertheless a bit cold standing around for so long. We're off to doubles luge tonight.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
After finding out that the Men's Super Combined (one run of downhill and one run of slalom, winner with best combined time) was postponed because of 10cm fresh snow overnight, I checked my e-mail to find out that YouTube had removed two of my three women's luge videos because the IOC claims my videos infringe their copyright. This is the IOC run amok. I don't know why the third luge video was not removed, nor why my video of the men's downhill was not removed. In any case, with no events to attend Robin and I decided to go up the mountain and enjoy the fresh snow. Unfortunately most of the day we battled near white-out conditions, but we did get some sunshine in the afternoon.
Monday, February 15, 2010
This evening Robin and I went to the Women's Luge at the Whistler Sliding Centre. We watched the first two runs. The final two runs take place tomorrow. The Sliding Centre is large and winds back and forth. You can watch the sliding from lots of different points. At some points you can only see the lugers slide by for a brief instant, but at others you can follow them for a couple of seconds. We watched at various points from the finish up to the start. One thing that is surprising and not evident on tv is that the finish area is quite a steep uphill stretch; another is simply the incredible speed at which they are traveling by the end of the run. It was quite cold watching, but at least it was not raining or snowing. We'll be back to the Sliding Centre to watch bobsled later this week.
Robin and I made it up Whistler before the Downhill started. We found a spot close to the start and watched the forerunners and the first few skiers. Then we moved down a bit and watched Bode Miller ski by -- see below. Then we moved to the Weasel and watched the rest of the top seed. The speed they are going is quite incredible. The sun came out for the later racers. We skied a few runs and had lunch in the Round House. A large group of Swiss were celebrating the gold medal run of Didier Defago. We skied down at 2 and now we're heading off to the Women's Luge.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I dropped Maria off at LiveCity Yaletown in the afternoon. She was there when they sang the national anthem to celebrate the first ever gold medal by a Canadian on Canadian soil. Yay! Robin and I drove up to Whistler this afternoon. The road had fairly light traffic. The bottom of the downhill course looked pretty neat. We drove into the village to see what the crowd was like. It was pretty busy, but no worse than what you would encounter at Christmas. I noticed that a big maple leaf was being projected onto the bottom of Blackcomb. It was visible as we drove into Blueberry Hill. We'll probably go skiing in the morning, but we'll have to take transit as no parking lots are open. In the evening we'll go to see women's luge. It should be fun.
I picked up Robin at the airport at 2 this afternoon. We went downtown so he could pick up the tickets that he bought through CoSports (the American ticket distributor). I got a first-hand look at the festival atmosphere downtown. Mainland Street and Robson Street were closed to cars and were pretty crowded even though it was raining. Robin was happy to see that the tickets he bought for the women's hockey semi finals were excellent -- second row on the blue line! A group of us went for dinner in West Van and Robin and I will head up to Whistler tomorrow.
Friday, February 12, 2010
It was a bit of a shock that the first story I read on the NY Times this afternoon was about the death of the Georgian luger during a training run at Whistler. What a horrible way for the Olympics to start, and the opening ceremonies haven't even been held yet. This evening I went to the pool to swim laps instead of watching the ceremonies. I caught the first few minutes on a tv when I was shopping. I'm sure it was quite entertaining, if you're into that sort of thing. I've never been a fan of opening and closing ceremonies and found even the few minutes that I saw quite tedious. Maria went over to a neighbour's house and watched the whole thing, though. She thought it was outstanding.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Well, I finally feel like the Olympics have started. We walked up to 10th and Sasamat to watch the Olympic Torch relay on its penultimate day. Tomorrow it will go around Vancouver and then enter the stadium during the opening ceremonies. The crowd was pretty good and everyone was decked out in their Canada gear. It was quite the festival feeling. Even the light drizzle didn't put a damper on the festivities.