My Olympic weekend: races, retail and rip-roarin’ fun
With the Winter Olympic Games taking place in Vancouver this time around, watching the athletic events ended up being only one part of the whole Olympic experience, albeit, the main one. Marketwire’s Senior Vice President, Sales Canada Judy Hutchins, based out of the Vancouver office, was among them, along with her husband and friends. Below, she provides a first-hand account of the Olympics “in action,” not only as a spectator, but as a patriotic Canadian.
Watching the Olympic events was but one part of the whole Olympic experience, the main one being the actual athletic competitions. But, like any Canadian, I wanted to make sure that I had the “right” gear before heading up to Whistler for the women’s giant slalom and the men’s bobsleigh races that weekend – February 20-21, 2010. Mittens were de rigueur, as were scarves, pullovers, children’s clothes, men’s garb, red Canadian hoodies and T-shirts. It was estimated that C$1 million would be spent daily at Hudson’s Bay where official Olympic retail items were sold. Before the Olympic Games commenced, lines to enter the department store were non-existent. Once the Games were underway, it took a several-hour wait just to get in the door!
The Marketwire office in Vancouver is located in downtown – where all the Olympic action was taking place. What’s it like to be an Olympic city? Fun, exciting, mind-boggling, crowded. Regardless, we were all just plain proud to be Canadians, showing off our red toques, scarves, jackets, purses and sweaters that displayed our patriotism and Olympic spirit. Canadians are friendly if not overly polite and this came through in spades.
For the women’s giant slalom, we woke up early and took the bus to the bottom of Creekside. From our standing location, we watched the sun rise over the top of the mountains and the venue fill to capacity. We were wall-to-wall patriotic Canadians, receiving huge support from people all over the world. Camaraderie was the norm. Every spectator and every athlete was greeted to a huge outpouring of joyous laughs and screams, regardless of nationality. Every fall was felt by each person in the crowd and every successful run was met with more yells and screams from the audience. In that short time standing on that mountain, we got to know everyone around us as we shared similar experiences and the same energy. With the potential for negative vibes to spread at events like this one, we were engulfed in an aura of joy, friendship and peace.
After the event, the Whistler night brought out crowds of people listening to outdoor bands and watching boarders jumping through rings of fire. The village went to town on decorating every large tree with red and white lights and decorations, making the atmosphere festive and inviting.
The following day at the men’s bobsleigh event, we, again, met everyone around us, listened to their stories and shared our own. We soon realized that watching the bobsleigh live is very different than on TV. Spectators are “inside” the bobsleigh course and are scattered from the starting point to the finishing line. These athletes traveled at 140 kph (or 87 mph) and our only warning that the bobsleigh was near was a deep, heavy, loud rumble. And then, before you know it, you get a one- or two-second view of the sleigh. Before each team rounded the last corner of the course, you could see how fast they traveled. Everyone wanted pictures of the bobsleighs and those with the longest arms stuck out their cameras, hoping they caught the bobsleigh as it made its way past them. At the end of the run, how does one stop a sleigh traveling that fast? With an uphill climb, of course. The TV really distorts the finish line so that it looks flat. It’s not!
On Sunday night, we didn’t want to leave Whistler, but we felt fortunate that we had two full days of Olympic experience behind us, walking the streets of Vancouver and taking in all of the crowds, music and events around the city. The 2010 Winter Paralympic Games has yet to start and that brings with it more talented athletes ready to represent Canada and the world. So, with that, will we attend another Olympics? We’re thinking about it.
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