Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 17 - Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony

February 28, 2010

Before Closing Ceremony

I knew this day would come at some point but I feel like I was only at the Opening Ceremony a week ago. It went by so fast and now we are getting ready to head out to the Closing Ceremony. The instructions changed and we are now supposed to be in our seats at 3:30 pm and at 1:30 pm they are going to be showing the hockey game so we need to get there much earlier than we thought.  We'll be able to watch the end with tons of others inside BC Place!
From our condo we can see the people making their way into Canada Hockey Place for the Gold Medal Hockey game.  There has been a steady streams of people since about 10am.  There has also been a road hockey game going on for the last hour.  Road closures gives them more opportunity to play.  It has been a lot of fun looking out the window and watching them play.

After Closing Ceremony

Today was a bittersweet day for me. I was thrilled to be going to the Closing Ceremony but sad because this meant the end of my great Olympic adventure.  We arrived at BC Place around 2pm and they already had the Gold medal hockey game on the big screens.  Everyone was looking at that screen.  The mood was pretty jovial until USA tied the game near the end of the 3rd period. When Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal, everyone in BC Place went nuts.  We sang the nation anthem along with everyone else and people were taking photos of images on the big screen.  It was a great ending to an already great Olympics.  At times it felt like the whole game had been scripted to end well for Canada. It was an exciting end to our Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

As for the Closing Ceremony, I thought the beginning was hilarious, genius actually.  When we arrived at the stadium and saw only 3 arms up again on the Olympic Cauldron, we wondered what was going on. I thought they were going for consistency and soon found out I was wrong. I'm sure many people didn't like it, I thought it was clever.  Something did go wrong in the Opening and rather than pretend it didn't, it was made into a parody for our Closing Ceremony.  I was so happy that Catriona Le May Doan finally got her turn to light the cauldron. 

Flagbearers enter the stadium first.

As for the rest of the Closing Ceremony, what can I say other than another great job.  John Furlong made a great speech and was halted by the crowd with their cheers when he mentioned our fabulous hockey team.  As always, fine words about the 2010 volunteers (who were outstanding) got lots of cheers.  The flame was extinguished and I wasn't as emotional as I thought I would be.  I have a feeling if my family hadn't been there with me, I might have been more of a mess.  It is sad to see this great event end, but I have such wonderful memories from it.

Trying on our moose ears during the audience participation rehearsal.

Before the Ceremony began, we had another audience participation rehearsal.  One of our props was to be used during a segment called "Made in Canada". I remember thinking, "I wonder what that is going to be".  After the handover to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics, we found out.  This segment poked fun at some of our Canadian stereotypes yet also showed some of the things Canada is most known for like our Royal Canadian Mounted Police, hockey, moose and beavers.  Personally, I liked it.  It was as Canadian as our Native origins and maple syrup.  If you don't have much of a sense of humour, you probably didn't care for it.  I bet you never thought seeing giant moose and beavers would be so much fun. I hope you got a good sense of how huge they were on TV. 

The athletes enter the stadium together during the Closing Ceremony.

After that, the musical talent performed.  I felt that it was geared towards a much younger audience.  Given all of the musical talent in Canada, I think they could have had a bit more variety.  This part we couldn't see very well. We were seated right behind the large stage and the other stage was at the other end of the stadium, very far away. The good thing is you really only had to be able to hear them. One of my favourite sections were the hip hop dancers when k-os was performing.  That part was also a bit difficult for us to see because they were so far away. I'm looking forward to seeing that part on TV.

As we headed out of BC Place onto the streets of Vancouver, we heard people cheering and car horns blowing. The hockey game had been over for hours and the party was still going on.  We can home, dumped out stuff and went out for a walk. I wanted to see what was going on.  It was pretty wild. There were more people on the streets than I had ever seen during the Olympics, everyone was in a great mood and people were high fiving anyone including police officers, hugging people and even dancing around.  It was great.

On Granville Street celebrating our hockey gold medal win.

This whole Olympics Canadians had been showing a never before seen level of Canadian pride, winning the gold medal kicked that up a notch and was displayed all through the streets of Vancouver and from what I understand all across our country.  Way to go Canada, I knew you had it in you to win gold after gold and to show the world we are as proud as anyone else is of their country.
What an amazing end to a completely amazing Olympic Winter games. Way to go Vancouver, way to go Canada, way to go World!
Uh oh, I think the tears may start soon!

For today's photos, click here.

The family at BC Place before the start of the Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony.

Day 16 - I Don't Want Vancouver 2010 Olympics to End

February 27, 2010

It was another early morning as we made our way back to Vancouver Olympic Centre once more for Curling, this time for the Bronze medal match between Sweden and Switzerland. I wasn't sure who to root for since Canada wasn't playing. I decided to go with a majority rules scenario. If we were sitting with lots of Swedes in our section, root for them, and vice versa. Turns out Canadians in the crowd still outnumbered any other nationality and in the end we cheered for any good play by either team.

Despite not having a vested interest in the outcome of the game, it was a great curling match. At one point the skip from the Sweden team had a 4 rock take out. It was so amazing! No matter how much I watch curling, I'm in awe of some of the plays teams at this level can do. On my curling team, I'm happy to be able to throw up a decent guard that is sort of close to where my skip wanted it to be.

This game was much quieter than the ones we saw on Thursday. I guess that shouldn't be surprising. If Canada had been playing this morning the crowd would have been raring to go. In the end, Switzerland won the game and again it had come down to the very last rock that was thrown which seemed to happen a lot in the matches that I saw. You had to feel sorry for Sweden. They played so well.

One of the great things about Vancouver 2010 is that you are likely to start talking to anyone at anytime anywhere you are. On the Skytrain home from the Curling venue, it was crowded so my Mom and I stood most of the way. When the train started to clear out, some young boys took the empty seats. The Mom teaching her boys manners and how to be a gentleman, asked the boys what they would should do. It seems they have been through this before because they both knew they should offer their seats to someone. When the Mom inquired who they would ask, the boys came right over to my Mom and I and asked if we would like to sit down. We both declined and thanked the boys for asking us. I started talking to the Mom because I've never seen anyone teaching their children that. We talked for a bit and I gave her a Canada Loot Bag for the kids. They had visited the Ontario pavilion here so they had heard of Ontario and were so happy to have the pins. Then I thought it would be wise for the boys to each have their own Loot Bag. Turns out this was a good idea because they had already had fights about pins! They were very grateful and pulled the pins out of the bags right away. It has been nice to have my Canada Loot Bags to give out to people and provide them with some memories of Vancouver 2010.

We headed home in a hurry to make sure we saw the start of the Men's Gold Medal game. I was so nervous for Kevin Martin and team! That was a close game as well and eventually Canada won which was a great moment. We all laughed when we heard John Morris say to his teammates, "We did it boys"! That statement pretty much sums it up. It was another great moment for Canada athletes and Canadian history.

In the evening we headed out to Molson Canadian Hockey House. Someone had given me tickets for tonight and on the schedule was the Bronze medal hockey game and Colin James performing afterwards. It was a really fun place to hang out. I can only imagine what it is like in there when Canada is playing a game! I'm sure it is completely nuts! I started talking to two girls who were cheering on Slovakia. From them I learned this would be the best finish in an Olympics for the Slovakia hockey team. Even if they didn't win the bronze medal, that is quite an accomplishment.  I gave them Canada Loot Bags and they took out all the pins and put them on their Molson Canada scarfs they had won.  Looks like Olympic people love pins of any kind!

After the game Colin James came on stage. That was a great performance. In my younger years I was a big fan of Colin James but had never seen him live. I rarely see anyone live anymore and this was a nice treat. The hockey house is a small venue compared to a stadium which also makes it more interesting to watch. I can't believe how close we could get to the stage! My brother doesn't dance at all so we found him a place to sit down and I danced!

The emcee announced that some special guests would be showing up soon. I danced some more while we waiting for these "special guests" to show up. Time passed and we eventually decided to call it a night. As we were about to get our coats, the emcee came on stage and on the screens they were replaying the end of the Men's Curling Gold Medal game. Did this mean the special guests were our Men's Curling team? No way! Indeed it was Canada's Gold Medal champs in Curling, all onstage except for Kevin Martin who was supposed to show up later. The medal ceremony was replayed and everyone in the Hockey House sang O Canada at the top of their lungs. It was amazing. I never thought so many beer drinking hockey fans would be so excited about a Curling medal but they were! I can't believe we almost missed that, I would have been so mad at myself. When that was over we did leave but not before I accosted “Mo's Bro's” over by the drink ticket kiosks. John Morris is a member of Kevin Martin's team and I have read that his nickname is "Johnny Mo". I guess Mo's Bro's were big fans of his. I had seen these guys at the semi final match and thought their T-shirts were hilarious. I'm still not sure if they are related to John Morris, friends of John Morris or groupies of John Morris. If anyone knows their story can you email me and let me know? I will include it in this post if I get an update.

Singing O Canada with the Canada Men's Curling team.

Loved the all white suits on these guys. They high fived everyone walking by them.

The infamous Mo's Bros at Molson Hockey House. All I have to say is why don't guys in Toronto look like this, and why don't more guys who look like this follow curling? 

Click here to see the  photos of the day.

Thanks for reading everyone. I can't believe it is the second last day and this amazing time is almost over!

Canada Medal Results

Jasey Jay Anderson - Gold in Snowboarding Giant Slalom
Men's Speed Skating Team - Gold in Team Pursuit
Men's 4 Bobsled - Bronze in Bobsleigh
Kevin Martin's Team - Gold in Curling

Day 15 - Hockey Gold Medal Game Decided

February 26, 2010

There are two Men’s Hockey Semi Finals today and I have tickets for one of the games. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Canada game, we saw USA vs Finland. You would think that at a semi final level, the teams would be pretty evenly matched. This didn’t seem to be the case in this game. USA came out in the first period and got 6 goals, some within mere minutes of each other. To my amateur eye, it seemed like Finland wasn’t prepared to put up a good fight against the powerhouse USA team. I was hoping for a good game, close score and evenly matched to keep the game interesting. It was kind of boring though. After the first 4 goals, people weren’t even getting up to cheer anymore.

The crowd rallied behind Finland, giving them encouragement and chanting “Go Finland Go” but it didn’t seem to do much good. They were able to score 1 goal in the last period which wasn’t going to do them much good at that point.

So USA moved on to the Gold medal game and later in the day we found out that Canada will be their opponent. I think there are a lot of people who wanted the Gold medal hockey game to be a USA/Canada showdown.

At night we attended our first Victory Medal Ceremony, the last of these Olympic games to be held at BC Place. In Vancouver they awarded medals for the Men’s Aerials and a cross country event. As we were heading into BC Place for the medal ceremony, hockey spectators were heading into Canada Hockey Place for the Canada vs. Russia semi final. There were a lot of people going through security and it is probably the longest I’ve had to wait in a security checkpoint here.

There weren’t any announcements made on the Canada game for awhile. We were lucky that a guy in the row in front of us was regularly checking the score and shouting it out to the people around him. If people didn’t hear it, we passed on the message.

After the medal presentations, Great Big Sea took the stage. It is the first time I have seen them perform and they were awesome as people told me they would be. I moved my brother over to my seat so that i could dance in aisle. We were sitting in almost the last row of our section so there weren’t too many people behind me so I could dance the night away without blocking anyone’s view. I don’t know if it was because we were so high up or because the stadium is like that, but it was really hard to make out what was being said when people were talking on the microphone. I was at BC Place for the Opening Ceremony and didn’t notice a problem. This was set up a bit differently and that may have been why. The concert was over around 8:30 pm and was way to short! If Great Big Sea comes to Toronto again this year I’m going to go even if it means going by myself.

I wanted to see the Olympic Cauldron and the Olympic rings in the water at Coal Harbour at night all lit up so we headed there after the Victory Ceremony was done. I’m glad we went. The Cauldron is impressive during the day and it is even more stunning at night all lit up. It looked like it was glowing. Night was also a good time to go because it wasn’t as crowded. I was able to get some really good pictures. It was harder to get good pictures of the Olympics rings because they are out so far but I think I managed to get a few good ones. My brother and I were recruited to take some photos of groups of people and in return they took some of us. My favourite was a girl who pulled a Quatchi out of her bag to hold in the picture. I could have stayed there all night looking at the Olympic Cauldron and rings. Call me a sap but I took video of the burning Cauldron to watch later on after the flame has been extinguished. I’ll loaded the video onto YouTube and inserted it below. I have a feeling I won’t be the only who wants to see it.

By this time it was known that Canada had beat Russia and were moving on to the Gold medal game against the US. To say people were in a good mood is an understatement. People were shouting out “Go Canada” and “We want Gold” or they were high fiving strangers in the street, on the Skytrain, basically anywhere you went. When we were at the Olympic Cauldron we could hear people yelling in the streets. It is amazing to see the pride of Canadians during these Olympics. I wasn’t sure we were capable of such grand displays of patriotism and now I know we are! I’ve never seen so many Canada flags in my life or sung our national anthem this many times in one week.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics are winding down. I’m sad that it is coming to a close and happy that I was able to be here to be a part of it. Tomorrow my Mom and I are going to the Men’s Curling Bronze Medal game. Our Canada Curling team goes for gold tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be glued to the TV for that one.

You can find pictures from today by clicking here.

Canada Medal Results

Women's Curling - Silver medal
Charles Hamelin - Gold in Short Track 500 m
Francois Louis-Tremblay - Bronze in Short Track 500 m
Men's Short Track Team - Gold in 5,000 m relay

What a day Canada!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 14 - Hurry Hard to the Curling Semi Finals

February 25, 2010

It was an early morning as we had to get to Vancouver Olympic Centre for the Women's Curling Semi Final at 9am. I have to say out of all the venues that we have been to, this one was the most disappointing. I had taken my eye contacts with me to put in at the Centre when I got there, it was too early to put them in when we left. I didn't think it would be a big deal, find a washroom when we got there, wash my hands and put in my contacts. Guess what, there are no real washrooms here. There is a room with portapotties and on the way out a machine that dispenses hand sanitizer. To say I was grossed out was a understatement. I can't believe they don't have proper washroom facilities, something as basic as soap and water is pretty standard. Washing your hands is good hygeine. It also seems like this is a temporary structure. It was basically curling rinks that had been created under a tent. There is no choice but to grin and bear it, but really as far as making an impression goes, this one does not. If I never had to go there again I would be happy. Unfortunately I do have to go there again.
Despite these initial problems, the Women's Curling team did not disappoint. It was a great game and it came down to the last rock to determine the winner. Cheryl Bernard and her team moved on to the Gold Medal game. I had heard a lot about the level of noise at the curling rink and people making noise during curlers getting ready to throw their rocks. There was a bit of that but for the most part the crowd was respectful and kept quiet during the rock delivery. After that though, there was no stopping the noise. All kinds of cheers from "hurry hard, go Barnard", Canada cheers in response to the Swiss cheers (they were our opponents) and stomping feet on the bleachers.

I spent a good part of the game explaining how it was played and scored to a young man sitting beside my Mom. I didn't really think anyone else was paying attention until the game ended and a woman in front of me thanked me for my details. She said she understood so much more now! Happy I could help. I told her I had only been playing curling for 2 years and I didn't really know a whole lot. It's nice to know what little I can explain was useful to others.

The Canada Men played in the afternoon. Our seats for this game were horrible. The men were playing the sheet right in front of where we were sitting. Trying to see what was going on over everyone's heads was impossible. I had to stand up most of the time to see what was going on. One of the middle sheets of ice was not being used, most of us were wondering why they didn't put them on there. Martin's team gave us a bit of a scare in the beginning, after a few ends they got back on track and there was no stopping them. They moved on to the Gold Medal game very easily. On the sheet of ice that we could see very well, Norway was playing so we got to see those pants up close and in person. After the game, I saw someone wearing a whole suite in that pattern! The Norwegians are leaving a fashion fad behind in Canada. I love it!

In the evening, my brother and I headed over to LiveCity Yaletown with Tomarra. There was a bit of a line up and it moved quickly. We were inside the site within 10 minutes. Johnny Reid was performing. I had never heard of him and I don't consider myself a country music fan but I really enjoyed listening to him and seeing him perform. It is great to expand your musical horizons. I never would have come across this singer if it wasn't for LiveCity Yaletown. We stayed until the end of his show. We watched the fireworks which were fantastic. I especially liked the video they showed with the fireworks display. It consisted of Olympic memories from Vancouver 2010 and it wasn't only Canadians featured. I love how we do things like that. It was a really nice night. I couldn't believe I was outside at night in February listening to a concert outdoors and I wasn't freezing. That is Vancouver for you.

From LiveCity Yaletown, we ventured over to English Bay to see if we could find Vectoral Elevation. Vectoral Elevation is part of the Cultural Olympiad and involves searchlights making designs and patterns over the water. It was really cool to see. It is one of those things that I could have watched for hours. We stayed for awhile, tried to get pictures of it-Tomarra was more successful at this than I was, and then it was time to head home. It was a pretty full day and I was ready to get to bed for some much needed rest.

Happy Birthday Allan! Sorry we had to miss it. We're celebrating when we get home.

The photos for the day are availabe through this link. Enjoy!

Canada Medal Results

Womens Ice Hockey, Gold Medal

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 13 - Short Track Speed Skating Rocks!

February 24, 2010

Sorry folks, yet again I am doing a half post because it is late and I need to go to bed early tonight.  We have to be up early tomorrow to go see the Curling Semi Finals.  Women's is in the morning at 9am and Men's is in the afternoon and I have tickets for both! Team Canada is in both matches so it should be a great day. I believe the winner of each will play for the Gold Medal on the weekend!

Today was amazing! I finally got to see Short Track Speed Skating in person and it was so cool! I want to go see more of this sport! It is exciting on TV but even better in person.  I was there to see our Canadian women win a Silver medal in the 3000 m relay, the second time I've been present when Canada has won a medal. It really is such a great feeling and wonderful to be a part of.  I don't know that I will ever make it to another Olympics but if I do, I know it won't be as special as this one. Seeing Canada win at home with these huge crowds is unbelievable!  I will cherish these moments forever.

And it has been a busy day for Canada.  Miss Clara Hughes won a Bronze medal for the 5000 m in Speed Skating, and I found out a few minutes ago our female bobsledders took Gold and Silver.  What? I love bobsled and I don't think it is usually an event that we medal in.  Canadian women were on fire today!

I owe you a few blog posts and will try to update the details for you soon.  I'm thinking I'll bring my notebook with me tomorrow and write out my posts during the spare minutes in curling.  I don't want to get too far behind because I'm worried I'll forget stuff!  Just so you know, I am now starting to lose my voice. this is actually pretty good. I made it through 3 events with voice intact. I thought I would loose it a lot sooner!  Have a great night. I'll be back soon.

Here are the photos for today.

Canada Medal Results

Clara Hughes - Bronze in Speed Skating 5,000 m
Humphries/Moyse - Gold in Bobsled
Upperton/Brown - Silver in Bobsled
Womens Relay Team - Silver in 3000 Short Track Relay

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 12 - LiveCity Yaletown and Men's Team Canada Hockey

February 23, 2010

Today we headed over to LiveCity Yaletown. I had been to the Downtown one and wasn't that impressed. I was hoping for bigger and better things in Yaletown. The line up was not to bad, we were inside within 20 minutes. As soon as we got in we joined the line up to enter the Coke pavillion. We waited close to 45 minutes to get in here and I have to say I don't think it was worth it. The best parts of the pavillion are on your way in, once inside you can't really get back to that area.  They had a display of past Coke bottles and it was cool to see all the designs and how they had changed over the years.  There was also a display of past Olympic torches. 

Once inside we watched a short movie that showed clips from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.  And then it was into the pavillion.  Coke teamed up with Aboriginal artists and they each designed a Coke bottle.  Those were really cool to look at. They are being auctioned off during the Olympics.  I believed there were 12 bottles in total and there were 6 on display at this location.
Because it took so long to get into here, we didn't have time to go to any of the other sponsor tents; Panasonic, Samsung or Acer.  We will try to go back but I'm not sure we'll get there.  Our schedule is pretty full for the weekend.

We had tickets for the 4:30pm hockey game, Team Canada against Germany. I was looking forward to this one.  We walked to Canada Hockey Place in the pouring rain. There was a huge crowd of people waiting to get in. The previous game went into overtime so I think they were a bit late getting people in for the 4:30 game.  Eventually we got to our seats, we had row 15 in one of the 300 sections. I thought this sounded good until the volunteer told us to go straight to the top.  Turns out row 15 is the last row! They were still pretty good and we could see everything.  We had a great view of all the red hockey jerseys everyone was wearing. I've never been one to really like hockey jerseys, but after seeing to so many here, it kind of makes me want one!  I gave out a few Canada Loot Bags to some kids that were in my section, including the family sitting beside us.  They were very excited to add more pins to their collections and the stickers are a big hit.
When Team Canada took the ice for their warm up, I couldn't figure out why everyone was booing the goalie.  Later in the game someone explained to me that his nickname is "lou" and that is what everyone was saying.  If you didn't know that, you would swear they were booing him. I was relieved to find out this wasn't the case.

Canada started to scored early on and there were huge cheers from the crowd everytime.  It was complete luck that we got to see them play.  Out of all the games that were on the schedule, I couldn't believe we were fortunate enough to see Team Canada.  The final score was 8-2 for Canada.  Close to the end of the third period, people were chanting "we want Russia".  I'm telling you there are some real characters at these games. I wish I could get good photos of all the costumes, wigs, and face painting that I've seen.  Great to see everyone so into the Olympics and our Canada team.
Tomorrow I'm off to Short Track Speed Skating, an event that Canada usually does well in.  The relay will be really exciting to watch.

Here is a link to the photos for today if you want to check those out.  Hope you are having a great Vancouver 2010.  It is so awesome to be here for this.

Canada Medal Results

Ashleigh McIvor - Gold in Ski Cross

Look At Me Featured in the Roots Canada Blog!

Check out me and my Roots threads featured in the Roots blog, The Buzz at Roots. My contact there has asked me to photograph people wearing Roots apparel at Vancouver 2010 and send the photos back to her in Toronto. I started last night by accosting two very nice girls who were sitting behind me at the Figure Skating Ice Dance finals. I forgot to get their names so if you know them or they are reading this, please send your names to me so I can pass them on.

Roots was kind enough to do a short post on me and my blog and use some of my photos. If I see you out on the street or at an event during Vancouver 2010, I may stop and ask you if I can snap a photo of you and your Roots gear to pass on. This means I must get over being shy very quickly!  If you have already have a photo of you in Roots wear, send it to me and I will pass it along for you.

Day 11 - Spent The Day in Gastown

February 22, 2010 - Day

We had some free time today before we had to head out to the Ice Dance finals at Pacific Coliseum.  I've explored a lot of the Olympic pavillions around me and wasn't sure where to go. I thought about Gastown as it didn't look to far from us on the map. Posing the question to my Twitter friends confirmed that Gastown was indeed within a reasonable walking distance.  I was looking forward to seeing a historic part of the city and doing something non Olympic. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally loving the Olympics but I'm also anxious to see Vancouver, the city.

My brother and I walked out to Gastown and the first thing we came across is the steam clock atWater Street.  I'm one of those annoying people who read those plaques that are on things.  The plaque on this clock explained the origin of Gastown, how the clock works and the dedication of the clock to the citizens of Vancouver.  I'm also one of those people who had to have their picture taken with these kinds of things and so I did that as were many others.  After the clock, I decided to try to find the folks who run the Gastown Blog (@gastownblog).  A co-worker had sent me their way in the hopes that they would have something to contribute to my Canada Loot Bag.  They offered up some of their Gastown pins and buttons and I left them a few Canada Loot Bags as souvenirs. One guy asked me who I was giving the Loot Bags to and I said "everyone". (People are loving them in case you were wondering.) It was really nice to have something from Vancouver to add to the bags.

The main reason for going to Gastown was to check out the shopping.  After picking up my Gastown pins, and getting a latte from Smart Mouth, I was off to peruse the streets for cool clothing to take home as souvenirs.  The first store I went it to was Obakki at 44 Water Street. The clothing was beautiful! I would have loved to be able to buy something but it was really out of my affordable price range.  I spoke to the person working in the store and the items are made in Canada, sold in the flagship store and wholesale, and I just found out sold online too! Maybe I can buy something from them at a later date.

From there I headed to the store next door, ishara. Again a lot of things out of my price range but very beautiful and some brands I have never heard of before which I loved. It is great to discover new brands!  The woman I spoke to in the store was the owner and told me they had recently located to Gastown from a mall location.  She noticed I was wearing pins and gave me some Visa mascot Olympic pins! Wasn't that nice? In return I gave her a Canada Loot Bag. I think that is a pretty fair exchange.  I did find a sweater that was on sale and in my size so I tried it on and bought it! My first non Olympic purchase in Vancouver! I hope that I will be back in Vancouver sometime soon so I can visit Gastown and the stores there again.  With all my new friends here maybe I can fly in for a weekend just to do some shopping! How is that for leaving an Olympic legacy?
If you get a chance I would highly recommend getting to Gastown for a visit. I was focused on shopping but there were also some great looking restaurants and pubs around as well. Another good reason for me to come back, sample some new food!

Soon after leaving ishara, it was time to head back to our condo for some lunch before heading out to Figure Skating Ice Dancing finals.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 11 - Canada Gold in Ice Dancing!

February 22, 2010 - Night

CANADA ROCKS! My first Olympic event was tonight and I got to see Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win an Olympic Gold Medal in Ice Dancing for Canada.  It was stunning, amazing, nerve wracking, and a moment I will never forget! It was so special to see this. Never in a million years did I think I would be seeing Canada win a Gold Medal when I bought the tickets for this event 9 months ago. If I'm as proud as I am of this couple, I can only imagine how their coaches, families and friends must feel.  What an honour to witness this tonight.  Congratulations to all involved in this Gold Medal. 

We tried to arrive as early as possible since we did not know how long it would take to get to the venue and through security. My Mom and I chatted with some nice ladies from Los Angeles, CA while we waited in line. One woman inquired about the Olympic pins I was wearing so I pulled out Canada Loot Bags to give to them. They loved them! One even went so far as to request a bag with a pin of Ontario's provincial flower.  I have to say it is pretty and would appeal to a lot of people.  They were rooting for an all North American podium that night. I would have liked that too.

Not only was this my first Olympic event, it was also my first Figure Skating event. The skaters are put into groups and each group comes out onto the ice for a 5 minute warm up before their group begins competing.  When Scott and Tessa took the ice it was pandemonium! They were real cool cats and focused on their warm up.  Even from way up high where I was sitting they looked relaxed and ready to go.  Scott and Tessa were in the last group of the night, 5 couples total in their group, and our Canadians skated third.  I was so nervous! My heart started beating faster and I felt like it was hard to breathe.  The American couple who skated before them did very well and Scott and Tessa had their work cut out for them.  No need to worry though as they threw down the skate of a lifetime and easily took first place. After two more pairs, it was final the Canadian team of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue had the gold.  The whole arena went completely nuts. You know its loud when the crowd is drowning out the voice of the announcer, I couldn't even hear them say that Canada had won gold.

This was one event where they do the medal presentation at the venue so not only did we see them do a gold medal performance, we were able to watch them get their medals.  I can't even begin to describe what it was like.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be seeing a gold medal presentation to Canada at my first Olympic event.  Scott was totally pumped up, shaking his arms in the air and letting out some hoots and hollers.  The smiles on their faces were a mile wide.  We sang O Canada as loud as we could, the skaters posed for photos and then the pairs did a lap around the ice.  When Scott and Tessa were leaving the ice area, Scott jumped up into the stands where his family was.  They caught him and held onto him for the best hug I've ever seen.  We saw the family afterwards when we were leaving the venue and they were just ecstatic, as they should be.  Gold medals or any medals at all are usually the culmination of years and years of hard work and support. It was so great to see the family enjoying this moment.  I would think there is something extra special about since it all happened on home territory.  What a way to start the week!

The second Canadian Ice Dance team Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier finished in 14th place for their first Olympic competition.

To view the photos for today you can click here.

I love this photo! That is Canada in top spot!

Our amazing Canadians on top of the podium. What a great night for all of us!

Happy my Mom was there to see this with me.

Canada Medal Results

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir - GOLD in Ice Dancing *I'm so happy about this :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 10 - Exploring Vancouver

February 21, 2010

Another beautiful day in Vancouver. I decided that maybe we should wait until after the weekend to attempt to go to LiveCity Yaletown. I’m hoping the line ups won’t be so bad during the week. Instead I took my Mom and brother down to the Olympic Cauldron on the waterfront. Personally I think it is a very impressive structure. I saw it last weekend when I was in Vancouver for the Opening Ceremony. Today I noticed that you are able to get much closer to it than last week and there were huge crowds down there taking it in. The line up for the viewing platform was about an hour. Given some of the line ups I’ve seen around Vancouver, that isn’t too bad. We skipped that part today but at some point I would like to get up on there and see it. Perhaps at night and then I can see the Olympic rings lit up as well.

From there we headed to Canada’s Northern House which so far is the best pavilion I’ve seen yet. It is exactly what I thought a pavilion should be. Exhibits showing the culture and lifestyle of our Northern territories, there were some beautiful works of art and clothing items that I assume were handmade. There is an area where you can record a video against a backdrop of different Northern attractions like dog sledding or a beautiful waterfall. All 3 of us jumped into the video and sent it to my Dad whose email address I hopefully remembered. The line up for this pavilion was measured in minutes, not hours. I highly recommend making the trip down there to see it. All those other pavilions could learn a lesson from this one. So enjoyable to see.

As we came out of Canada’s Northern House, I heard this little voice asking me if I wanted to trade pins. When I looked down, I saw the most adorable little girl with a whole lanyard full of Olympic pins. I wasn’t feeling very well at the time, I think I had gone too long without eating so I was anxious to get home and get some food. I felt so bad telling this girl that I couldn’t trade pins with her but I had to otherwise I might have been passed out on the sidewalk, that is how light headed I felt. I told her I could give her something and she wouldn’t even have to trade me anything for it. I gave her one of the Canada Loot Bags I always have with me and also gave one to her Mom and who I assume was her Grandmother. She seemed quite happy with that and even was mildly excited about the Toronto pin. I asked them to visit my blog and write a comment about their Vancouver Olympic experience. We’ll see if they do!

Walking down Robson Street before the Canada/USA game started was absolutely nuts! Honestly I have never seen anything like it. Tons of people with flags draped around them, wearing them cape style. Painted faces, wigs and costumes seemed to be the norm today. In front of one store a DJ was blaring music and some people were dancing, maybe even break dancing. Ten youngsters from Sweden were decked out in Sweden flags, yellow tights, wigs and whatever else they could find. They actually got the Canadian crowd to give up a few cheers for Sweden. As we made our way back to the condo, who do we see when we are crossing the street but Rick Hansen! My Mom started screaming, “Hey do you know who this is?” and I said yes of course I do, and then she proceeded to grab his hand and say “Nice to meet you”. Unfortunately we were crossing the street otherwise I would have stopped and taken his picture. I hope my Mom didn’t scare him, she was just excited. It’s not like seeing Canadian legends while you are crossing the street is an everyday occurrence. Going to have to add him to my famous celebrity citings. He is in good company with Dean and Dan Caten (Dsquared), Brian Williams from CTV, and Jenn Heil.

Obviously we watched the Canada/USA hockey game and were disappointed like everyone else. Then I heard Canada’s Kristina Groves won a silver medal in her 1500 m race and it was a happy day again. And then I saw Canada figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate their original program and they were stunning, amazing, unbelievable! And I will get to see them skate tomorrow night which is super cool!

Our night finished off at Robson Square and their “Ignite the Dream” light and pyrotechnic show. I would have loved to take video for you but my battery was dying. Maybe I’ll get to it again one night this week and get video for you then. Robson Street had tons of people on it as usual and despite our hockey loss everyone was still in a good mood and ready to party. Dancing in the street to drum beats, street performers and tons and tons of Canada flags. There didn’t seem to be any problems in the crowd as far as I could tell.

After the Ignite the Dream show was over we went to check out a group performing at one of the stages set up around Robson Square. I believe it was a group called SoJourners. They were fantastic. People were up and dancing in no time. We stayed for a few songs and then made our way back home. The days in Vancouver are long and busy and tend to go by very quickly which doesn’t surprise me, but does disappoint me. I want them to last for so long!

Tomorrow will be another exciting day as I finally get to see my first Olympic event. And with our Canadians currently sitting in first after compulsory and original dances, it is going to be a great competition.

For all of today's photos and a few from previous days, click here. I warn you, there are many!

Canada Medal Results

Kristina Groves – Silver in 1500 m speed skating

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 9 - Meeting Friends, Old and New

February 20, 2010

Obviously I’m still on Toronto time because I woke up at 4:30 am Vancouver time which is 7:30 in Toronto. After lying in bed for a few more hours it was time to get up and start the day. I am so happy to be back in Vancouver, I swear even walking the streets here is such a treat. Never in my life have I seen so many Canada flags, Canada apparel and tattoos of Canada flags and maple leafs on people's faces. It feels like I’m in another world here sometimes.
It was a stunning day in Vancouver. It was sunshine and blue sky, it felt like a Spring day in Toronto, like April or May. Really didn’t feel like February and winter. My brother and I walked my Mom up to the grocery store and then she headed back to the condo to cook which she insisted on doing, I tried to get her to come out with us. After we left my Mom, I took Mark up to Robson Square and we walked around for a bit. The crowds were insane, even more so on this particular day. I guess with it being the weekend, a lot of people came into the city to spend a few days in the Olympic fever. We caught a few glimpses of the Vancouver Mascots ice show at the rink at Robson Square. The little kids were going crazy for Sumi, Miga and Quatchi, chanting their names over and over. Every parent had a kid on their shoulders, so even though the crowd was about 3 or 4 deep we couldn’t see very much. It looked like a cute show. I’d like to see what other times it is playing and take my mom to see it. She would love it, and I wouldn’t mind getting to see it properly either.

We were supposed to meet one of my Twitter friends who is here from England covering the Olympics for a blog. She was going to give us a tour of the International Media Centre at UBC. Unfortunately she was running late and I couldn’t wait around because my good friend Jen from university was coming to meet me in the afternoon.

Jen, Mark and I headed to Yaletown to visit Tomarra at the Pink Million booth, a charity to help raise money for Breast Cancer. We walked around Yaletown, visited the Yahoo Fancouver site and had a photo taken, walked down to the Seawall, to the back of the LiveCity Yaletown site. As we walked up the street we saw a line up that was blocks and blocks long. It was people waiting to get into the LiveCity site. Honestly with the amount of people it had to be at least a 3 hour wait if not more. Like I said earlier there seemed to be an extraordinary amount of people in the city today so line ups would have seemed much longer than usual. I actually felt sorry for people in line. I’m hoping to check out that site on Monday morning, maybe some people will have gone home and it won’t be too bad, fingers crossed.

If you find yourself in Yaletown, go visit yahoo Fancouver and  have some fun. They even give out hot chocolate.

Mark headed back to the condo, Jen and I headed for dinner to a Greek place on Robson that she raved about. We were told there was about an hour wait but were seated within 15 minutes. That happened to us at Moxie’s the first night as well. Even weirder, it wasn’t even full at the Greek restaurant.  Food was mediocre which was disappointing. The restaurant did break out in cheers while watching the medal ceremony for our newest Gold Medallist Jon Montgomery.

For me the evening ended at the False Creek Yacht Club where fellow blogger, 2010VanFan, had a get together for all of her blogger friends and loyal readers. The club looks out over the Granville bridge and marina and has really beautiful views. Usually only open to members, it is open to the public during the duration of the Olympics and I encourage you to stop by if you are in the area. I would like to say that I’ll be back there but honestly I don’t think I will have time.

Tomorrow I think I’ll take my Mom and brother down to see the Olympic Cauldron and maybe try to get into another pavilion. Monday is our first event, Ice Dancing Finals, so I will need to spend some time watching the Original Dance tomorrow night to get some info on the competition.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 8 - I'm Back In Vancouver

February 19, 2010

It seems so odd that this day has finally arrived. Back in August of 2009, it seemed like a date that would never arrive. Even after my spur of the moment trip last weekend to come to Vancouver for the Opening Ceremony, I was aware that Vancouver 2010 had started but I'm not sure that it was really sinking in. As amazing as that trip was, Opening Ceremony was unbelievably amazing, this trip is going to be just as good, if not better. We have 9 events that we are going to over the next week and I will get to cheer for Canada as I see them compete in their events. I have posted my Olympic schedule so you can see if we will be at any of the same events.

Yesterday was a very long day. From getting up and to the Toronto airport to the flight, again West Jet TV's were not working, can you get your act together West Jet? Olympic fans are missing out on over 4 hours of action. Arriving in Vancouver and trying to get to our condo was a bit hairy, driving through downtown is not fun, especially coming into the area where we are right at the foot of BC Place and GM Place (Canada Hockey Place for the duration of the Olympics). Again some very friendly Vancouver people stopped to help us find our way. I'm telling you if you need help finding directions and there are no blue jacket volunteers around, stand on the street with a map and within 10 seconds a friendly Vancouverite will be at your side asking what you are looking for. This has happened to me twice now and I am very grateful for their assistance.

We eventually found the condo when Paula from Mode Suites came looking for us. We have beautiful views of Russia/Sochi House, the Olympic Village, the mountains and we can see those sail things too from where we are.

After watching Mellisa Hollingsworth do her final skeleton race, we headed out for dinner to Moxie's across the street. By this time we were starving, not having had a decent meal since breakfast which was on Toronto time. Then it was up to the grocery store for some basics to last us through breakfast and lunch for the next day. For my Mom and brother it was the first time they were really walking through the streets of Vancouver. My Mom thought it was hilarious. People were screaming and cheering, high fiving others in the street. I think she got a kick out of it. Mark as always was pretty subdued about it.

It was back to the condo and none of us lasted long beyond 9pm, that is midnight for us Toronto people. Hopefully we'll adjust to the time soon. I was up this morning at 4:30 am BC time and that is not something I want to continue doing!

Saturday and Sunday will be spent exploring more of the wonderful free events of Vancouver 2010, and meeting up with friends old and new. I'm back now so I'll try to keep my posts up to date. I can't even tell you how great it is to be back!

I would like to say that I don't think Mellisa Hollingsworth has anything to feel bad about. I saw an interview she did where she was crying and said she feels like she let down Canada. I realize maybe 5th place isn't where she wanted to finish but that is nothing to be ashamed about. She is representing our country fabulously, even if she didn't win a medal. Representing your country is about more than winning a medal, it is about grace, dignity and good sportsmanship. Melissa is all of that and more so chin up kiddo, no one in Canada thinks any less of you.

My Mom is American

Have I ever told you that my Mom is American? Born and raised in Detroit, MI, she moved to Canada when she married my Dad. She hasn’t lived in the United States since then but she is still very much an American even though she loves living in Canada. Sometimes I forget she is American until some Detroit team comes on TV or we start planning our annual shopping trip to Michigan. Even though she doesn’t have dual citizenship, we all treat her like she does. Her love of Canada is evident and she has always loved living in Canada. When it became known that she would be accompanying me to the Olympics, it raised the question of who would she cheer for? Like I said she is still very much devoted to her home country of USA yet also very loyal to Canada.
I jokingly asked her who she would cheer for if something came down to a USA vs. Canada final. She very diplomatically replied she would be cheering for Canada. I have told her several times that is ok for her to cheer for USA, many people will cheering for many countries other than Canada. I even asked her if she wanted to bring her USA flag. I have no problem sitting beside my mom and having her scream and clap for USA and me doing the same for Canada.

She has solved the problem by building a combination of USA and Canada paraphernalia into her wardrobe. She has her beaded USA flag purse, a USA bandana which she has Canada and American pins on and conveniently enough the red and white she will be wearing for Canada is also 2 out of the 3 USA colours. I am also on a mission to collect some USA pins for her to add to her outfit. I’ve already given her the USA Welcome to Vancouver pin, the USA Flag Walk button and the Canada/USA flag together. I saw a pin trader with a USA pin and the Olympic rings. Maybe I’ll run into one of those again so I can make a trade. In any event if my mom wants to stand up and cheer for USA, I’ll be right beside her. I did stand up and cheer for them at the Opening Ceremony, but tomorrow when Canada plays USA in Men’s Hockey, I will be cheering for Canada all the way. For any other event I have no problem cheering for both. And Mom can cheer her heart out for USA if that is what she wants to do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Thank You's

As I get ready to head out to Vancouver for my second trip, I want to list a bunch of people I need to thank. It is early, the Olympics are far from over but I would like to do it now before I start getting caught up in all the Olympic hoopla again.  This trip would not have been possible or gone as smoothly as it has without the help and patience of those listed below.  There are also several who have helped make this the most memorable experience and I am deeply grateful to them.  My thanks goes out to:

Inside Vancouver
Vancouver City Hall
West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
Hello BC
Tourism Vancouver
Craig Smeaton
Michael Allison
Office of Michael Ignatieff
Office of Laurel Broten
Toronto City Hall
Mode Suites
Molson Canada
Erin Stanford
Cindy-Torch Bearer from Oshawa, ON
My Family
Kate, Robert, Julie, Andrea-for the Kindness of Strangers

And a very special thank you to my hostess this past weekend, Tomarra. Without her extending her home to me so graciously, I never would have been able to make my Opening weekend trip and I would not have been able to see the Opening Ceremony.  I have amazing memories from that trip because of her kindness and generosity.  I can never thank you enough but I can try!

To all the people I have met so far, you are just as much a part of this expereince as any Opening Ceremony or Olympic event.  You are the people I will be in touch with long after the Olympics are over.  May Vancouver 2010 friendships last for a very, very, long time, dare I say a lifetime?
To all the people I am going to meet next week, I look forward to it. 
See you in Vancouver again really soon.

I will continue to add to this list as necessary.

My Olympic Event Schedule

The time has come to post my Olympic event schedule. I was going to do it closer to the 19th but I have so much to do before I leave, I thought I should get it up now. If you notice that we are going to be at any of the same events leave a comment to let me know. If we are sitting close to each other, we can meet up before or after the event. I'll even give you some Canada Loot Bags to give away (they are getting pretty full)!

So after a year and a half of waiting, here are the events I am going to next week with one of my lucky family members.

February 22
Figure Skating Ice Dance Final

February 23
4:30pm Men's Hockey - Canada Place

February 24
5pm Short Track Speed Skating

February 25
9am Womens Curling Semi Final
2pm Mens Curling Semi Final

February 26
12pm Men's Hockey - Canada Place
7:30 Victory Ceremony

February 27
9am Mens Curling - Bronze Medal match

February 28
Closing Ceremony

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 3 – Beautiful Weather and LiveCity Downtown

February 14, 2010

A beautiful day in Vancouver! I’ve always heard about them but personally have never experienced one. We started out with red mittens, toques and scarves and pretty soon were putting all that away. It was Spring in February! No wonder people go out there and never come back.

We made our way over to the LiveCity Downtown site located at Georgia and Cambie. At 10:30 am there was already a line up to get in. It was Chinese New Year and a parade that winds its way through Vancouver was going to end up at the LiveCity site. While we waited for it to arrive, we checked out the Canada and Manitoba pavilions. The Canada pavilion was a bit disappointing. With all of our history, culture and art I was expecting a lot more. There really wasn’t anything explaining Canada’s history or athletes’. It was a lot of TV screens, some displays of older sporting equipment, a hockey jersey from Wayne Gretzky and that was about it. I hate saying that I wasn’t impressed but I really wasn’t. If there is a line up for that pavilion I would advise you not to waste your time. It is a shame because there is so much more that could have been done with it. Anyway, on to Manitoba pavilion where they very proudly explained to us the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that is being built in Winnipeg and scheduled to open in 2012.

Mounties at the Canada Pavillion (left). Manitoba Pavillion on right.

From there I headed to Robson Square to check out what was happening. Tons of people were out on the street. People standing in line to wait for the zip line ride apparently were there for 5 hours before getting their turn. I’ve done zip lining before and it is great fun but it is not worth a 5 hour wait to me. There are so many other things I can do with that time! There was a performance by an Aboriginal group that actually got audience members up and dancing, surely not an easy thing to do! Close to there a large TV screen was set up and people were sitting on steps watching Olympic coverage. Behind that was a CBC telecast booth, where they were in the process of doing an interview with someone. When the person was done their interview they turned around to face the crowd. It was Jenn Heil, Silver medalist in the Freestyle event. People started standing and cheering and she very graciously thanked us for our support. She looked a bit embarrassed by the attention; we Canadians are always so modest. No doubt everyone in the crowd felt her performance the day before was worthy of a standing ovation. Another lesson to self to not ever put my camera away, by the time I dug it out she had turned away and was leaving! Dumb me. I have to find a way to attach that thing to my hand.

See the red jacket? That is Jenn Heil. I know, you'll have to trust me on this one.

After that I had to head back to Tomarra’s to get my stuff together to go home. I was excited to spend the flight watching the Olympics on those little TV’s West Jet has but they weren’t working! I’m trying to feel any animosity towards West Jet but seriously you are picking up people from the Olympic city! Some of them (me) obviously would be interested in keeping up with what was going on. It wasn’t to be. When my Dad picked me up in Toronto he gave me the news of our first Gold medal won on home soil. Congrats Alex!

You can see all the photos from Day 3 here.

I look forward to returning to Vancouver on February 19th.  It is going to be a great time.

Canada Medal Results:
Kristina Groves – Bronze in 3000 m Speed Skating
Alex Bilodeau – Gold in Freestyle Skiing

Day 2 – My Vision Is Coming True!

February 13, 2010

It was a cool, rainy day today in Vancouver. Still on a high from the Opening Ceremony last night I didn’t get much sleep. I saw some of the TV coverage of the ceremony and I have to say it looks quite different from that vantage point. I loved that I was there to see it and will probably talk about it for the rest of my life.

First stop was the Bay Olympic Superstore where I was meeting Ashley to be interviewed yet again! Her crew is putting together segments from Vancouver 2010 and being shown at the Toronto Auto Show going on right now. I spent a bit of time with them answering their questions, shooting some extra footage of shopping around the store and posed for some still photos. Ashley said I was a natural on camera and a ton of fun to interview. I felt like a complete dork through most of it. This isn’t something that I have experience doing so that was a very nice compliment. After that I did some shopping of my own picking up some Coca Cola pins that I wanted. Tomarra and I both stuck a pin on the map in the Coke Pin Trading centre and received one in return. Tomarra was the brave one and made some pin trades with the people there.

In Vancouver, you can’t let the rain stop you from your plans so Tomarra and I made our way down to the waterfront to check out the external Olympic Cauldron. I wasn’t prepared for the huge fence that blocked it off from us but I guess it makes sense. Usually the Olympic Cauldron is high atop the Olympic stadium, out of reach for any who would want to vandalize it. This one is on the ground where anyone could get to it if it wasn’t blocked off. There was a huge crowd of people checking it out and taking photos. It honestly doesn’t look that much different whether it has 3 arms or 4 burning.

Lunch was next and we hit Earl’s on Robson Street. When we came out from lunch a huge crowd had gathered in the street and police had it blocked off. This part of the street was open to traffic so it was pretty alarming to see the police there blocking the road. We tried to find out what had happened but no one would tell us. Eventually we figured out something was going to happen and it wasn’t anything bad. This was the first time I had been exposed to a “Flash Mob” but it seems they are quite common. It is a group of people who gather in a designated place to perform a dance they have all learned somehow. This one was performed to “Dancing in the Street”. There were thousands of people involved in this. I was so excited! Didn’t I tell you there would be spontaneous breakouts of dancing on Robson Street? My vision was coming true! I told you, I told you! So happy Vancouver people are proving me right!

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the image of Vancouver 2010 you should keep in your mind throughout these Olympics. It goes to show you that thousands of people can gather in the street having a good time with no issues.

At night we found ourselves at the Four Host First Nations pavilion and were entertained by some wonderful Aboriginal singers. The first performer, Inez who had won many awards has a pop/hip hop sound. Surprised? Yes me too. It was not what I was expecting but just because your Aboriginal doesn’t mean you can’t sing in any style you want. Her music and songs are a strong influence in her music and you can make out some of those traditional sounds while listening to her. The second group was a brother/sister duo called Sister Says. Again from an Aboriginal background, they had a kind of jazz sound to them I think? I’m not a music genius so I’m not sure how to describe it, I can only tell you that I really liked them. What a great way to end Day 2.

Canada Medal Results: Jenn Heil, Silver Medal in Freestyle. Congratulations Jenn!

Opening Ceremony Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

It was so exciting to leave and make my way to BC Place for the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony yesterday around 3:30 pm. Thousands of others were also making their way to BC Place. The wonderful Vancouver 2010 volunteers were plenty and along with the help of police were assisting people get to the stadium.

Lucky me I got to go through the express security line up. On my way in I happened to see Canadian design superstars Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared. Stupid me I had just put away my camera and wasn't able to fish it out in time to get a photo of them. So as I walked by I said how much I loved them and Dean or Dan said thank you.

BC Place before the Opening Ceremony began.

I made my way into the stadium and to my seat which was in what you might call the nosebleeds. It was fine though, I was happy to be there as were all the others around me. We shared with each other how and when we purchased our tickets to the Opening Ceremony. As I was in line for a hot dog, I was chatting with a Vancouver person behind me. I mentioned that one of the things I was loving about the Olympics was how everyone was talking to each other and then the guy in front of me turned around and said " I know it’s great" which it is. Talked to some more BC people while I waited for my water. Everyone was in good spirits and wishing each other well, everyone was decked out in their Canada gear.

The preshow started at 5pm with hosts Ben Mulroney and Tamara Taggart who is a much loved weather reporter in Vancouver. During the preshow the audience participation for the Opening Ceremony was explained. We had all received our Audience Kit on our seats and the props we needed were in there. We were counting down the start of the Opening Ceremony from 10 seconds, creating stars in the sky with different coloured flashlights and giving the athletes’ a thunderous welcome with our drum kit. There were pre show performances by Jully Black and the Canadian tenors. The preshow ended around 5:45. A 10 minute countdown to show time appeared on the screen, then 2 minutes and then we were on! It was the 10 second countdown and we were standing and shouting out our appropriate numbers. It was every emotional for me. I’ve watched so many of these Ceremonies on TV, I really could not believe I was witnessing one with my own eyes. I had a crying fit for about 30 seconds and then calmed myself down.

I didn’t realize that as the opening segment with the snowboarder was being shown, the TV audience could not hear the cheers of the live audience. When the Winter Olympic cities were being announced and they came to Calgary we were cheering loud and proud for our other Canadian Winter Olympic host city.

During the Parade of Nations I had to keep reminding myself I was seeing this live in person with my own eyes. It was unbelievable. The is always one of my favourite parts of the ceremony. I cheered for the countries of my heritage, Armenia for my grandparents, Belgium for my Dad, The United States of America for my Mom. And everyone was on their feet clapping and screaming when Georgia entered the stadium, a tribute to the athlete they lost earlier in the day Nodar Kumaritashvili.

For those of you who saw the Opening Ceremony on TV, I don’t know if you could tell that the screaming and cheering started for Canada even before they entered the stadium. Everyone was on their feet, clapping, pounding their drums, screaming and waving their flags. It was so loud I can’t even remember if I heard them announce Canada. The noise went on for so long. It is such a thrill to be cheering for them. And I don’t believe I cried during this part which you probably don’t believe but it’s true. I screamed until I thought I was going to lose my voice.

The Canadian Olympic team.

The rest of the ceremony was magical, beautiful, an artistic tribute to our wonderful country, celebrating our heritage and seasons. Even the mechanical glitch of the Olympic Cauldron didn’t take away from the beauty and significance of the Opening Ceremony. I can tell you that after seeing the outdoor Olympic Cauldron on Saturday, you can really only see three arms of it at a time anyway so what is the big deal? Everyone in that stadium was a witness to what was probably the largest Canadian theatrical production in our country’s history. We were part of a show that was watched by 3.5 billion people around the world. What a memory for us! I only hope that I am able to convey properly even just a little bit what it was like to be there. Canada was on stage to the world and it was wonderful to see!  As I was leaving BC Place I heard a familiar voice.  I looked to my right and Brian Williams was right there! I mentioned in an earlier post how much I love his Olympic hosting duties.  I kept wondering if I should say something to him. In the end I decided not to, I'm just not that kind of person. I was happy enough just to see him. 

To see all the photos I took during the Opening Ceremony please click here.

The Olympic Cauldron after it was lit.  Along the bottom of the photo you can see the Torch bearers.

Update: So sorry I forgot to mention the Vancouver 2010 volunteers.  They were out in droves helping direct people to the security checkpoints and into the stadium. Afterwards they were assisting with helping people get home.  They are truly wonderful, dedicated people and these Olympics could not be held without them. If you see them anywhere be sure to say hello and tell them what a great job they are doing. And smile at them because they will be smiling at you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coming Soon - Post for Opening Ceremony and Day 2

Hi Readers, I'm a bit behind on my posts.  I have one in the works for the Opening Ceremony and another for Day 2 at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.  I leave Vancouver today and return on the 19th.  On my flight home I will try to ignore the pull of those little TV's on West Jet and get my blog posts written so they can go up tomorrow.  I'll be back on my own computer and will be able to include photos and video of the Opening Ceremony and Day 2 which was yesterday.  It is so cool to be walking around the city and just stumble upon something going on.  Last night on our way to LiveCity Downtown we came across the Aboriginal pavillion.  A performance was starting at 9:30 so we got in line and ended up seeing two great artists perform.  I now have 2 new artists who are from Canada that I am going to look up when I go home.
In the afternoon we got to witness a Flash mob performing on Robson Street.  Don't know what a Flash mob is?  It is something good and I think you'll love it.
 Promise to post more details soon!
And congrats to Jenn Heil and her Silver medal she won yesterday.  Everyone in Canada knows there will be lots more of that going on!
Take care everyone and I will be back posting at full speed tomorrow (thank goodness it is a holiday in Ontario).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Opening Ceremony Day

Yesterday was an absolutely magical day. it started bright and early for me as I made my way to the CBC offices at Robson and Hamilton for my first ever radio interview. It was pretty quick but they said they are interested in following up with me and my adventures in Vancouver when I return with my family on the 19th. They have also dubbed me a "superfan" which personally I have no problem with! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to be here this weekend, that I made the decision to come despite the extra expense because it was worth every penny and more. More on that later.

After my first ever radio interview (which I hope someone can post online for me so I can link to it. Thanks.) I made my way up Robson Street to meet Tomarra and watch the Torch Relay go by. Walking up Robson Street I was getting teary eyed, tons of people have put Canada flags in their windows, every store window has some kind of reference to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, there are signs posted that I think are different languages saying "Welcome"-I am going to take photos of as many of those as I can, and everyone and I mean everyone is wearing Canada head to toe. I saw a family of four wearing Canada jackets and it looks great when you see that approaching you.

One of the things I wasn't expecting to see were all the different team uniforms. It does make sense that some of the coaching staff or other members of the team would be checking out Vancouver but it wasn't something I had thought of. Some of the team uniforms are pretty wild and you can spot them in a second. Some of the ones I saw yesterday were Russia, Czech Republic and Holland-they had the nicest in those bright orange coats. I gave the woman one of my Canada Loot Bags and asked her to leave a comment on my blog about what she thinks of Vancouver.

Member of Team Holland walking around Robson Street.

I saw the Torch go by on Robson and then we walked around for a bit. Tomarra is from Vancouver and she could not get over the number of people in the city. I keep asking ,is it not usually like this and she keeps saying no.

The Olympic Torch Relay on Robson Street
I had to pick up my ticket for the Opening Ceremony so I waited in line to do that and chatted with people around me in line. Everyone I've met so far is from BC! Its kind of funny because they assumed that I was from BC and more likely Vancouver. They find out pretty quickly that I'm not when I give them a blank look to all the places they are describing or referring. It's also funny because when they find out I'm from Toronto, they seem kind of surprised. Can you imagine if they saw this blog? They would be shocked! I did hand out a few business cards and asked people to go to my blog and leave their comments about the Olympics. It will be nice to have a permanent record of people's thoughts on the Vancouver Olympics.

It was mid afternoon that I heard the news of the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Luge althete from Georgia. I was in a restaurant when they played the crash on TV and everyone in the restuarant was horrified to see it. I'm sure many peoples thoughts and prayes, mine included, go out to Nodar's family, his teammates and fellow althetes.

There was also an impromtu concert by Barenaked Ladies in Robson Square which of course we heard about after we left that area.  Sounds like this might happen often throughout the Olympics, non scheduled performances by some of Canada's top artists.  Hope I can catch the next one.

In the afternoon we saw the Torch Relay come by again in Yaletown. I couldn't believe how many people they were. I could barely see it because I was so far back in the crowd! I stayed back though and let the Vancouver people see their Olympic flame come through their city. I have seen it many times and some of these people were seeing it for the first time.

After that is was take a short nap, return some emails and answer one more request for an interview which I think will be happening today and then it was time to leave for the Opening Ceremony-I can't believe I'm even writing that!!!!!!!

One lesson I learned yesterday is NEVER PUT YOUR CAMERA AWAY! At least it was a lesson for me.  No sooner than you turn your camera off and put it back in your bag there is something right in front of you that you want a  picture of.  I missed quite a few things yesterday that I would have liked to have captured.  Maybe I need to realize it will be impossible to capture it all!

For photos of the day, click here.