Olympic Wrap-Up

March 4, 2010

By now everyone who reads this blog has probably stopped checking it to see if I’ve written an Olympic wrap-up post. For those who are still checking, I’m sorry this is so late, but thanks for sticking with me!

Last weekend was one of the most memorable of my life so I wanted to give it time to soak in. Here it goes:

Thursday night after I witnessed the Canadian women’s hockey team strike gold, my friend Brenna, having decided that morning to hop on a standby flight, arrived in Vancouver. She’s pretty spontaneous like that. I greeted her with a “welcome to the Olympics beer” and we headed to a place called the Sin Bin to join the photo supervisor I worked with.

The Sin Bin is definitely not how it sounds though; it’s a small bar that was just outside Athletes’ Village. Since there were no bars in the village, there were quite a few athlete sightings there over the weeks. That night was no exception as we saw Brodeur and Fleury exiting as we went in. We also managed to get our picture taken with figure skater, Patrick Chan, as Brenna had zero qualms about walking up to him and asking. (I wish I had done the same with Joe Sakic when I had the opportunity.)

Men’s semi-final action happened on Friday. The first game between the US and Finland was not what you hope for when you get down to four teams in the Olympic tournament. There was no excitement after the US led the game 6-0 twenty minutes in. I was perfectly happy working at the Photo Helpdesk during this game.

Canada versus Slovakia played out later that afternoon and Brenna and I were extremely lucky to be able to watch it. We got to sit in the photo position in the front row of the upper bowl and enjoy a couple of cold beverages. It was a perfectly stress-free game until we nearly blew a three-goal lead late in the third. I think the whole country let out a simultaneous sigh of relief.

As soon as the horn blared to end the game Brenna and I were whisked away to the improvised mixed-zone and were allowed to watch Team Canada get interviewed by the press.

I worked my last shift at Canada Hockey Place on Saturday for the bronze medal game. Although I was ready to be done with volunteering and enjoy my freedom for the rest of my time in Vancouver, it was a pretty good game to watch.

And now on to the big day…

Most of you will probably think I’m crazy for not working the gold medal game when I had the opportunity to do so, but I don’t regret my decision. Yes, it would have been cool to be at the game, but having been to every other Canadian game I was ready to experience the other side of things.

Had I worked the game I would have had to contend with zealous photographers, each trying to get a better shot than the next. I also would have had to deal with drunken fans who would climb over anything and anyone to get as close to the glass as possible. And again, the whole “impartiality” thing us volunteers were asked to maintain just would not have been physically possible.

Please don’t get the wrong idea; I’m definitely not complaining about my experiences. I simply wanted to enjoy the last game with friends, old and new, dressed in my Canada gear, jumping up at every almost-goal, and drinking a cold beer (or two, or three, or… you get the idea).

Wasn’t the game intense?! Miller was amazing in net once again for the US, but even with that two goal lead you knew it could all change in mere minutes, and it did. We were all already on our feet thinking we had that medal in the bag when Kesler tied the game with 23 seconds left. Our hearts sank. I think all Canucks fans would have had a tough time forgiving him had the overtime outcome been different.

Overtime started and I was stressed, but happy to see the Canadians playing a bit harder than they had earlier in the game. And then it happened – and it could not have been scripted any better. It’s as though all the stars aligned for that goal. Crosby to Iginla, then back to Crosby, he shoots, he scores!!! Sid the Kid finally stepped up and became the Canadian hockey hero everyone watching was hoping he would be.

After the medal ceremony and screaming the national anthem at the top of our lungs we ventured out to the crowded streets of downtown Vancouver. It was pure insanity! The weather was gorgeous and I didn’t hear of any major incidents involving the police. Even with the constant pushing and everyone being squished on all sides I saw nothing but smiles and I have never given more high fives in my life. No one could have been in a bad mood after that movie-worthy ending.

After we made our way back out of the throng, we went to the Irish House to watch the Closing Ceremonies. I had wanted to see this place for the entire two weeks, but it had always had two-hour wait. With people still pouring into the streets almost two hours after the game, we managed to get in, in about 25 minutes.

I thought the Closing Ceremonies were just ok. I thought the beginning was clever, and I even thought the giant moose and beavers were pretty funny, but we all know that minus Neil Young, Canada could have showcased some better musical talent than that. John Furlong butchered the French language, but he made up for it slightly with his message to the volunteers (even though I’m sure he didn’t personally write it).

With 26 medals, Canada may not have owned the entire podium, but we certainly owned the top of it! Six gold medals were won by our countrymen in the last three days of competition, and every single one helped us smash the previously held record for number of golds won by a host nation.

I will never forget my experience at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I am so proud to live in this country and be a Canadian!

I’m now writing this at home in Toronto and can’t believe that I have to go back to reality tomorrow. I’ve gone on about 500 words more than I thought I would for this post, so I’ll leave it at that.

Almost – I will be maintaining this blog, posting mostly about pop culture, current events, and just my opinions in general. Don’t feel the need to keep up with it, but you’re definitely welcome to keep reading.




4 Responses to “Olympic Wrap-Up”

  1. Sure sounds like you drank a lot of beer!

  2. Christine Says:

    I still think your nuts for missing this game!!! You so crazy!

  3. Parker Says:

    I’ll keep reading.

  4. Jane Says:

    Me too, me too! Great post, Jess. xox.

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