Olympic Post a Day: Canada for Gold at Men’s Aerials

26 02 2010

My final live event to attend was the Men’s Aerials – Medal event. This is held at Cypress, and is the only Cypress event where the standing room tickets (which I had) weren’t cancelled, as it’s on a different part of the mountain.

I wanted to do a mountain event as part of the Olympics, but I didn’t want to go all the way to Whistler. Even the trip to Cypress is a long one:
• > 30 min skytrain
• > 15 min seabus (plus the wait for it)
• > 30 min bus ride up to Cypress (plus the wait for it)
• > 30 min walk from bus drop, through security, and into venue.

The waits weren’t long anywhere, but it’s a good two hours in, and two hours out. Because it was a medal event, there were only twelve jumpers, and they each jump twice, so the whole event takes under an hour.

While waiting for the event, we watched Canada Women’s hockey win Gold on the big screen. That ties us for #1 in Gold Medals.

It seemed like a great chance to see Canada win a medal live with 3 of the 12 jumpers being Canadian. And when I found out one of the jumper’s name is Kyle from Calgary, and I was attending the event with my cousin Kyle from Calgary, it seemed like destiny. And after the first set of jumpers, Kyle Nissen was in first, meaning he would be the final jumper.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. He went for a much simpler jump than the others, broke form, and had a rough landing, scoring low in his final jump. Obviously, everyone wanted to see a Gold and we left disappointed. When I got home, I saw interviews with the jumpers, and you could see how heartbroken all three Canadian jumpers were that they didn’t win the Gold at home. Tough for all involved, but congratulations to all the jumpers – it was a great experience. The fact that we didn’t freeze, worked our way into the grandstand, and could check “mountain event” off the “to-do” list, it all worked out quite nicely.

Olympic Post a Day #15: Officially a Blue Jacket

25 02 2010

Yesterday I headed to the volunteer accreditation center, and picked up my blue jacket, outfit, and also some swag it came with. I’m technical support for the Paralympics in Vancouver, and quite excited that I have an opportunity to help make the Games happen.

Volunteer Uniform

• Blue Jacket
• Blue Vest
• 2 x Blue shirts
• Waterproof pants
• Blue Toque
• Stainless steel coffee mug
• Commemorative coin
• Paralympics adaptation kit
• Accreditation badge

My badge is pretty sweet, it’s all access to everywhere – all events, athlete’s village, media centers, etc. This likely as I’m technical support, and who knows where I’ll end up fixing something.

Also in the bag of goodies (it’s gotta be near $500 worth of clothing and gear) was a pass to get a free journal. You have to pay shipping still ($12), but you can customize the cover, including the picture and title. Go to this website, (https://memories.vancouver2010.com/cart/Category/61-journals.aspx), and then use the coupon code “JOURNAL2010”.

Olympic Post a Day 14: Going to 3 Hockey Games in 1 Day

24 02 2010

On Tuesday the 23rd, I went to three hockey games. This makes six Olympic hockey games in total. And the middle one was Team Canada, which for me, is something I can cross off my life-to-do list. I’ve taken buddies, brothers and sisters, and of course, my wife.

Instead of blog each game, outcome, etc etc, here are some Olympic hockey tips.

• Come in your country colors. The bigger, brighter, and crazier your get up, the better. Costumes are encouraged!

Swedish Helmets

Swedish Twins

• You can get cheap hockey tickets from scalpers, especially in a game after Team Canada plays. I had my brother-in-law join me last minute for a game, and bought a single seat three rows from the ice for $40 (where as my ticket 3 rows from the back of arena cost $80 + fees). We all went down and sat together.

• The food in GM place is brutal. I’ve done the nachos, hot dog, foot long hot dog, $4 snickers bar, cinnamon stick, pretty much everything they are selling. The only hope is the $5 bag of mini donots – they are quite good – but you certainly can’t eat them all. I recommend heading to the Beijing / Plaza of Nations area for pregame grub.

• You are best to head out with a minute left in a period for the bathroom or beer. You can do both in seconds, instead of 15 minutes.

• Have a buddy grab a table close to stadium to greet you after the game. Having 20,000 people leaving Canada Hockey Place at once looking for food and beer, it’s your only chance to get a table. We had a good setup for my triple header, where friends that weren’t coming to that specific game had the table and we looped back in-between games. Different people met us there during the day, and Dix became our official party site.

• If you have back-to-back games, leave the stadium. Security hasn’t taken me more than 15 minutes, even for the Canada game, and that way you can get real food, cheaper food, cheaper drinks, and just stretch your legs.

From here forward, I’ll be watching games on big screens, pubs and at home – but to be in the stadium, even for smaller countries, is an awesome experience. Go Canada!

Olympic Post a Day: Bad news Team Canada, Good news Canucks fans

22 02 2010

Yesterday’s Team Canada / USA hockey game was a bit of an emotional conflict for me.

Of course, Go Canada and all that jazz. I’m quite crazy about national hockey tournaments, and have watched the World Junior hockey tournament over the Christmas Break ever since I was too young to play in it. I find it to be a faster and more passionate level of hockey.

Ever since being young, I dreamed of seeing Team Canada Men’s Hockey play live. So when the tickets for the Olympics were released in auction style (without a public schedule) my plan of attack was to bid on every single Men’s hockey game, hoping one would be Team Canada. And despite winning 7 games (plus both Aerial events I bid on), none turned out to be Team Canada.

But three of those games were Qualifying Round (all this Tuesday). And because of Canada’s slow start, that’s the route they’ll be taking. Bad for the team, but great for me!

There were other benefits for Canucks fans. Seeing Brodeur’s shaky game vs. USA, and not overly impressive game against the Swiss, the entire town will riot if he starts again. It’s really, only the right thing to do – but Luongo in net. This is his home arena. And while no goalie is perfect, Luongo has provided the Canucks with something that Brodeur hasn’t in his two games: a big, timely save to bail out his team when the game is close. It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation, it is what has made USA and Russia so successful to date.

Finally, I’m sure many Canucks fans, while heart-broken by the loss, felt a small swell of pride on that crazy empty net Kesler goal, diving around the defense man to whack the puck with one hand on his stick into the open net. It was the most impressive empty net goal I’ve ever seen. He in that moment had more desire to win than Team Canada, which he’ll bring back to the Canucks. Moments like that forge leadership.

So in summary, this loss to the USA was good for Vancouver hockey fans for three reasons:
• They obviously need to get their game (especially in their own zone) together. Germany is a good team to do that against.
• Luongo should be in net, that will make an already electric building blow its lid.
• I get my Olympic wish: to see Team Canada on home ice.

**note: likely no post tomorrow, as I have 3 hockey games that day:

12 noon – Switzerland vs Belarus
4:30 – Canada vs Germany
9:00 – Slovakia vs Norway

Olympic Post a Day 12: Broken Social Scene

21 02 2010
Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

I’ve mapped out concerts for each day of the Olympics, but have taken each day as it comes, see who is available and what they wish to do, and how the mood strikes me to decide what I end up doing. But I had a star in my agenda for “Special Surprise show” at the Ontario House for a while.

When I saw on twitter that it was Broken Social Scene, I jumped out of the house and went straight there. To my shock, at 3:30 pm on the Saturday, there was NO LINE to get into the venue (instead, everyone was lined up for the 4D movie and every other pavilion). No line for the bar, reasonable priced food, $6 beer, free concert, and 5 huge screens to view all the sports? I was in heaven.

The Olympic experience for me has been very Broken Social Scene-ish. Every day, it’s a different assortment of friend’s, acquaintances, events and venues. It’s the joy of doing it that brings you together coming back day after day with a different cast of characters and acquaintances.

Waiting nearly 6 hours for a concert sounds terrible, but it’s not. You make a few new friends chewing the fat with complete strangers as you wait. Even Gordon Campbell walked through and met some folks. Plus, it’s a bar, not a line.

I txted everyone I knew to get down there, but they closed the doors at 5ish I believe, not letting anyone else in – weird, there was ton of space. But then it came clear to me, they still needed to do sound check. This certainly built anticipation for the people in the know about who was coming, as about a hundred of us waited in the back of the bar watching Olympic events.

As for the show, just to clear up a couple of rumours:
• The blonde girl was not Emily Haines from Metric, it’s their current (and cuter) female lead singer Lisa Lobsinger.
• The brunette girl was not Feist, it was Julie Doirin (former bassist from Eric’s Trip).
• For once, Broken Social Scene played a phenomenal show in Vancouver, its true!

I was right up against the stage until needing the bathroom right near the end of the set. I was so close I could lean over and take a picture of the crazy peddle setups. For a larger show in a larger venue, it felt more intimate than Sloan’s Atlantic House concert that housed maybe 250 people. The event didn’t have a mosh pit and people scrapping it out for space, which many of the free shows have turned into (including a mosh pit for Bedoiun Soundclash, who’d thunk that?) Just a great vibe, and great timing as I just finished reading “This Book is Broken” a few months ago.

While I have a tough time putting sound into words, I hope these pictures and video satisfy your curiosity.

(Sorry for some double pics here, still learning how the Gallery works in WordPress)

Set list (very much a Best of, with little new material):

• Superconnected
• 7/4
• Backed Out
• Churches Under the Stairs
• Love is New
• Stars and Sons
• Out on the Weekend
• Anthems For a 17 Year Old Girl
• Flives
• Sweetest
• (Some song by Julie Doirin)
• It’s All Gonna Break
• Encore: Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

Kevin James (and many Olympic performers) have been told, no encore. He came out to reiterate that point, and when the crowd still wouldn’t leave, he broke into a cappella version of U2’s Still Haven’t Found what I’m Looking For.

How perfect did the evening play out? Afterwards, it was drinks on the town with a couple of my best friends. As I walked out, I passed a tank at the Armoury with kids climbing all over it. And my beer night cap, I’m at the Irish Heather under a 20 foot wide U2 War poster.

Kids on tank singing Canadian National Anthem

Kids on tank singing Canadian National Anthem

Night cap beers under Giant U2 poster board

Night cap beers under Giant U2 poster board

The universe ties itself together and takes care of its young social scenes.

Olympic Post a Day 11: Hockey Game and Golden Moments

20 02 2010

Yesterday I took my wife’s sister Tara to a hockey game, Sweden vs. Belarus. Seeing Sweden is exciting, as some of the greatest Vancouver Canucks in the last decade are from Sweden, and in many ways, they are the other home team during the Olympics.

As has been the case with many of the men’s game, this ended up being much closer than one would have predicted if just looking at the line-ups on paper (see Canada / Swiss shoot-out, Russia-Latvia shoot-out). Sweden won 4-2, but when Belarus scored in the 3rd to make it 3-2, and were pressing hard, the stadium was swept into a frenzy. Many people, including me, switched loyalties and hoped for a full Belarus upset. But in the final seconds, the Sedin twins did what they do best – cycle the puck, create space, and setup the open man infront of the net. Great hockey game. Next one is Sweden – Finland on Sunday night.

Sweden - Belarus

From there, we did what many Vancouverites and tourists are doing – wander around everywhere, soaking it in. Saw new torch setup and an interview with Canadian Bronze Medalist. We didn’t head into anything as the lineups were crazy. Certainly, you can only really get into 1 – 2 events a day.

Chad and Tara at the Flame

Spring Cherry Blossoms in February!

Closer to the Flame (they moved the fence up)

Canada Medalist

A few of the hundreds of Inukshuks along False Creek

I think the Russian mascot?

Canada also won its fourth gold medal. Here is my summary of “where were you” when they one each of these.

1 – Alex Bilodeau (Moguls) – This was the most exciting, Canada’s first Gold ever won on home soil. This happened on Valentine’s Day, and I was walking with my wife from Waterfront to the Flame. While this sounds like a cliché, we literally found out by a guy screaming from a rooftop of a nearby building, “Canada wins Gold! Canada wins Gold!” The entire street erupted! We pasted our faces against the glass walls of a local café to watch the reply and his reaction.

2 – Maelle Ricker (Snowboard Cross) 3- Christine Nesbitt (Speed Skating) – These are grouped together because the story of me seeing these is the same. Both times, I was in a pub waiting the Canadian Men’s Hockey game to start, and Canada won Gold. I must say, every bar owner in town must love it when that happens, as everyone starts to celebrate even more, usually with shots or another jug of beer.

4 – Jon Montegomery (Skeleton) – This was a weird one. I was headed to my team’s hockey game on Friday night, wishing instead I was at the Deadmau5 concert. Walking into the arena, the TV was on and broadcasted, “Canada has another Golden moment.” Very inspiring way to lead into our hockey game… which we went on to lose 9 – 1.

Tonight: Broken Social Scene at Ontario House.

Olympic Post a Day 10: The Colbert Report

19 02 2010

I headed to the second taping of the Colbert Report in Vancouver today. It was madness on a very beautiful day.

The sound was pretty lousy, and hard to hear from any of the four vantage points I moved around. Also, his interview with Usal Dosanjh was pre-taped, which took away from the live feel. But he did have the USA Men’s Gold winner in Snowboard Cross live on stage.

As often is the case, the true entertainment isn’t what is on stage, but what is in the crowd.

Without a doubt, the best Olympic place to eat is the Beijing area at the Plaza of Nations, they have a great food court and market with cuisine from around the world – and because there are so many booths, it’s relatively cheap compared to some of the other gouging going on around town.

The rest of the day was good, I wandered around town, Gastown, and headed to the Cambie for the nail biter Team Canada Hockey game against the Swiss. And Canada wins it’s third Gold!

Today, I’m headed to the Men’s Hockey game – Sweden vs. Belarus. Go Canucks / Sweden!