Closing Ceremonies!

So going to the closing ceremonies was not on the original plan, but when the opportunity for tickets at face value came up (still enough $$) how could I resist!  It had been a great time in Vancouver at the Games and this seemed like the only way to cap it off properly.  It would be a once in a lifetime experience and who better to go with than my good buddy Duncan who was coming to Vancouver for the weekend to check out a snowboard event.  I bought the tickets Friday afternoon as Mom and I were on the way back from Whistler.  As Duncan was not aware of the tickets I promptly called him just as he had landed to say, “Sunday we’re going to the closing ceremonies!!”

The Sunday afternoon first began with Canada winning gold in men’s hockey (and Paul trying beer)!  I then took the sky train with a lot of rowdy people into the city where the party was just getting started.  The scene outside BC Place was crazy with flags, screaming and hockey games starting in the street.

It was time to leave the streets for a bit and enter the stadium.  Our seats were quite high, but they allowed for a full view of the show.  On each seat was a case that contained coloured placard cards, moose antlers, a flashing light as well as a flashing globe.  These were for crowd participation during the ceremony. When motioned by one of the volunteers we would have to hold up cards, put on antlers etc.  Mostly everyone got into this and taking part was pretty cool!

Making light (no pun intended) of the one arm of the cauldron not raising in the opening ceremonies and having to raise it manually was a good little laugh and very Canadian!  The athletes then entered and their smiles and flags emitted such good energy and an overall feeling of pride!  I was happy we were there.

I was impressed with the graphics and reflective imaging that was done during the show, as well as the ‘I am Canadian’ speeches and Russia’s presentation.

Now prior to the musical acts they started bringing out large inflatable moose, mounties, beavers etc; I thought this was a bit of a lark and lasted too long.  Interesting concept but for international viewers I’m not sure if they got it, instead it probably just reiterated that the stereotypes of our country are true.  Then the musical selections are another story and won’t get into a rant here, lets simply say that they could have been much better and representative of the talent Canada has.

All said this was an excellent way to round off a great trip!

Bobsleigh!!

The day of the 4 person bobsleigh qualifying runs (#1 and #2) started very overcast and with light rain in North Vancouver.  This was an unfortunate change to the fantastic spring conditions we had been experiencing; yet Mom and I were not discouraged and headed for the bus to Whistler in hopes that the rain would be snow in the mountains!

Once we got up to the village, the rain had stopped and it was simply overcast, a positive sign!  We stopped at a little cafe for a hot drink and AMAZING cinnamon buns (umm I wish the internet could share taste and smell) before taking the gondola up to the Sliding Centre.

The conditions were wet up there, so the warming tents were a nice plus to get a bit of warmth and the cold out of our bones.  For this event we had bleacher seats at the final turns.  The weather it seemed had deterred a number of people, but the show went on and those that were there cheered the athletes on.  Including a Swiss (I believe) man whom came up into the bleachers with a huge instrument case, I thought maybe he was playing a show later in town and didn’t feel comfortable letting it out of his sight.  Not the case though, inside was a huge horn like used in the alps (think Ricola commercial).  I was stoked by this, but became disappointed as he began to put it together and was told for whatever reason he was not allowed to play it from there and forced to go now to the general viewing area.  As the afternoon progressed a cross of rain/snow began coming down, huge flakes fell that turned to water once landing.  Much more fitting for a winter event!

Wow were these guys and ladies moving fast and it was unbelievable how many sleds we saw crashing coming off turn 16 and 17 and finishing the course with their heads smacking against the ice.  I think it may  now be clear to me why these athletes continue to do the crazy sport they do, you smack your head enough times at those high speeds and you’re sure to loose some brain cells and venture back to the top for more!

All and all a great day!

Gold Medal Hockey Day!

Entering the final day of competition at the 21st Winter Olympics, Canada had 13 Gold medals, a tie for the most by not only the host nation, but by a country ever at a Winter Olympics. Canada would surpass this mark and set records this day, and do it in style!

This day was like many others when Team Canada played hockey, we settled into our spot at the local watering hole in Coquitlam, the John B Neighbourhood Pub. Joining me for this exciting and memorable day was my dad, my brother, my cousin Ken, my cousin Monique and her boyfriend Jeff, her dad Albert, and her grandpa (my grand uncle Johnny). A good crowd if I do say so myself! The pub was packed with everyone in their Canada gear.

Once the game started at just after noon, everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see if our boys in red and white could bring it home (I guess technically it was “keep it here”). Boy, those guys sure made us tense! As millions across Canada watched, we all had a united “ohhhhh…” as those pesky Americans scored to tie the game at 2 with 24 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime. The 20 minute wait between the 3rd and Overtime was very stressful. Overtime begins, here we go, all on the line now boys. Here’s the setup: Canada comes out guns a blazin’, about 7 minutes into Overtime Canada makes a rush into the Americans’ end, they get it deep and start to cycle the puck, Iginla gets the puck, feeds it to the golden boy Sidney Crosby who fires a shot immediately through Ryan Miller into the net. CANADA WINS, CANADA WINS, CANADA WINS!

Could there really be a better ending to this, almost scripted?

The pub erupted and went absolutely nuts! High fives all around, spontaneous singing of O’ Canada, beer being chugged in true Canadian fashion!

Now back when we got the tickets, I made a promise. The promise was: if Canada wins the Gold medal in Men’s Hockey, I will drink beer. Well, Canada won, so here’s the moment many of you have waited to see for years…

That’s all I drank. Was kind of disgusting. However, it was a free pint of Canadian courtesy of the pub because Canada won Gold. I’ll try beer again, just not Canadian draught.

We then awaited the Closing Ceremonies that evening to conclude the past 17 days.

Speed Skating (Feb 27) – GOLD!

Let me start off by saying WOW!

I went to this event with Chris and it was so awesome to experience it with him. We had fantastic seats once again, mere feet from the track. This venue, the Richmond Olympic Oval, is truly a beautiful structure!

This day was the Finals for the Team Pursuit in both Men’s and Women’s. First off were the ladies.  Unfortunately, the Canadians weren’t in contention for a medal, but raced their hearts out to place 5th out of 8 teams. The Germans won gold over the Japanese by 2/100ths of a second!

The Canadian men had the crowd on their feet this day! The men were favoured to win this event, and that’s just what they did! As the men got ready and began to warmup for the race of their lives, the energy from the spectators grew, you could feel it. As they took to the starting line for the final race of the day against the Americans to determine who would emerge victorious, the crowd went crazy. From start to finish, chants of “Canada!” and “Let’s Go Canada!” could be heard to give our boys the strength and energy to bring home the gold!

To see our flag raised above the rest, with O’ Canada playing, brought this great feeling of national pride over me (along with chills, and I’ll admit it, a tear or two). At this exact moment, I think I found the feeling I’d been searching for for the entire Games, that feeling that words won’t do justice too, a feeling where inside you’re so overwhelmed with pride and happiness that you feel you’ll explode. I found it. What I didn’t know was that I’d have the same feeling the very next day.