Archive for category Vancouver 2010 Olympics

Last Chance for Romance

There was an interesting timing coincidence on the Ski to Sea road trip that began about 2.5 years ago on Match.com.  That’s an internet dating site, for those of you who have been married so long that it wouldn’t be on your radar.  But I guess you do read the news…

Anyways, I met John online 2.5 years ago, and we started writing and talking on the phone for about 6 months.  We never did manage to meet in person. He’s a tall, sporty 40-something retail entrepreneur who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho.  As soon as I had formally decided the route for the road trip, I checked in with John for recommendations on places to stay, etc.  He said he wasn’t going to be in town (he would actually be in Seattle), but provided some suggestions nonetheless.  On my last morning in Vancouver, post-Olympic volunteering, I emailed him to see if he was still in Seattle, as I was on my way there for one night en route to Sun Valley.  He replied immediately saying “I’m in Vancouver!!!”  So I finally met John in the Whole Foods on Cambie Street.  He’s mighty handsomeJ

As it turned out, he would also be in Denver, Southern California, and again in Seattle at the same times I would be.  We met up for a cold drink in a mall in south Denver, and had a phone call on my last night in Seattle (he got back to me too late to get together before my return bus ride to Vancouver). I will be in Maui just a week or two after he’s going to be there in May.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is to tell of that tale.  Who knows – we may connect again.  But it did lend an air of romantic excitement to the background atmosphere of the trip.

And finally, after my disappointment of not finding a great romance during my trip, particularly my time at the Olympics (where there were THOUSANDS of men), I had one bright light happen when I picked up my snowboard bag at Toronto Pearson Airport late on Saturday night, my last phase of the 10 week journey.  This very cute guy was sitting on his backpack, awaiting his special baggage to be disgorged from the mysterious machine called Airline Luggage Handling.  He looked up and said hi when I walked in.  A friendly conversation ensued, and in typical fashion of my conversations, much information and a business card were exchanged.  His name is Craig.  Australian.  Cute (did I say that already?). Been travelling for 7 years!  Finally I mentioned I had volunteered at the Games…”I worked there too!” he said.  And then he burst out with “I’ve met you!” and it dawned on me that we had met sharing a table and wi-fi connection at Blenz Coffee in Whistler, one of the few places with free wi-fi.  I had even given him my card then (which he claims he still has somewhere, though he never used it). So playfully I said “It must be fate!!!”

Haven’t heard from him yet.  Despite the fact that he has 2 of my business cards.

Olympic Wrap-Up

Every aspect of my experience of the games has been nothing short of magical and miraculous. Yesterday was my final volunteer shift. 

  • We had the Women’s Giant Slalom on, and the few technical issues that came up for my media customers were solved very quickly.
  • Simon Langford, the Press Manager, had the Photo Manager give me an upgrade accreditation pass and take me up to the top of the grandstand where all the international broadcaster cameras are.  It’s the best view of the Alpine finish line – amazing!
  • Recognized & chatted with Phil Liggett, of Tour de France commentating fame!
  • Received my final “shift gift” – a 2010 games commemorative Swatch watch!!! I now officially have a collection of Olympic Swatch watches, the first having come from the Sydney games 10 years ago.

Michelle Mackenzie (MicMac) drove up from Seattle today to join me at tonight’s Victory Ceremony, along with my Vancouver hosts Zan Romeder & Patrick Wadge.  I bought the tickets ages ago when they announced who the headline entertainers would be.  I was so psyched to hear Burton Cummings, but who could have planned to attend a medal ceremony where Canada would receive a gold and 20,000 fans could sing Oh Canada together?

Burton was awesome – grateful to be there and to be Canadian, as I was. He sang lots of the old classics, and I was just so happy to be there.  What a way to end my Olympic journey! 

And to cap it off beautifully…amid all the distractions of a huge concert in BC Place, I happened to glance down at the very moment Shayne Roberts and Hugh Smythe were leaving the concert in the exit just below our seats.  I immediately texted her, and ran out to give them a hug when she replied moments later.  THAT was such a bonus!  Exactly the kind of coincidences I’ve been having all through the games.

Tomorrow, off to Seattle!

What I actually do here

My job as a volunteer in the Creekside Media Centre means I assist the members of the press with connecting their laptops to the internet.  Mostly.  If it comes up, I tell the catering staff we’re low on coffee.  But mostly it’s a technology job.  It’s not too technical, and I mostly watch the events on the 20 large screen TVs in the center and chat with the girls about how handsome and tall Aksel Lund Svindal is!

Aksel Lund Svindal: Bronze Medallist for Men's Giant Slalom

Alpenglow

Yesterday I was up at 4:00 am to catch the free workforce bus to Whistler over at BCIT. Only about 10 of us on the bus, so Iwas able to lie my long legs across the aisle and steal a few additional horizontal moments before a big day on the mountain.  It was the Ladies Super Combined Downhill & Slalom.  Not quite as many press or spectators as we had for the Men’s Downhill, but it was stunning sunny day.  Had a brief chat with Brian Stemmle.

But the highlight, as the sun went down behind the peaks, was dinner with Roxanne & Kim at Sushi Village.  When I think sushi, I think of the ahi poke specialty at Sushi Village in Whistler.  So the girls let me order all the dishes, and we tucked in to a glorious series of taste sensations.  The last time I ate there was easily 9 years ago, and it’s still equally divine.  I even recommended some dishes to the folks who sat down next to us, and they were suitably thankful for the suggestions.

The alpenglow on my face was more likely caused by the 2 pitchers of Strawberry Sake Margaritas that the 3 of us delighted in:)  They sure made the ride back to Vancouver much more enjoyable.  I was even loosened up sufficiently de parler en francais avec le conducteur d’autobus.

Canada’s First Gold on Home Territory!

While I’ve nothing specific to do during my last two shifts, it’s still TOTALLY COOL TO BE HERE! We get all 15 Olympic Broadcast Network feeds, so we get to watch anything and everything that’s happening. 

I wasn’t originally scheduled to work tomorrow, but it’s the Men’s Downhill plus 2 training runs, so the Creekside Media Centre is going to be INSANE.  The Venue Technology Manager and the Press Manager both asked if I would like to work – because they think I rock :)  I begged a couch to sleep on so I could.  This is really the kind of event I came to be part of.  Plus, they feed us.

Small World Stories

Two days ago I was sitting in the Games Workforce cafeteria (when I signed up I didn’t know they’d feed us so I consider the wilted sandwich lettuce a bonus), and Terry Sutton, former Skyloft ski patroller came up to me and said “Geez, Angela.  I have to come all the way to Whistler to see you???”

This morning at the bus stop on the way to my shift I almost walked right into Sarah Matthews from Havergal.

On my first volunteer shift I checked in at the Help Desk trailer and started chatting with one of the Help Desk Supervisors Suzanne.  She used to work for Intuit in San Francisco, so I asked if she happened to know Darcy Robson, which she thought she did.  We continued to chat, and she mentioned something about someone from Landmark, and I said I used to be a Landmark Seminar Leader, which led to me asking if she knew Zan (who has been my friend since a leadership course we did 16 years ago, and with whom I am staying while I’m in Vancouver).  She and Zan used to carpool to Vancouver from Squamish!

Feb 14 – Arrived at shift today and Suzanne says “Cathy Choinicki says hi!”  I’m like “How did that happen?”  I went to Capilano College (now Capilano University) with Cathy 14 years ago.  Cathy now lives in Squamish and mountain bikes with Suzanne.  Small world!  Again!

Feb 19 – my mom tells me that Barbara Muirhead, a friend of the family, called – she is 74 and also volunteering.  She had read my name in a “Top Volunteer” blurb in the daily volunteer mountain newsletter.  I ran into her on the bus on the 23rd on my way to yoga in Function Junction.  Like most of my coincidental meetings, I could not have orchestrated that if I’d tried.

Proud to be Canadian

After 4 volunteer shifts, and now after the Opening Ceremonies, I realized that when this Olympics was granted to Vancouver/Whistler I said “I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to be a part of that.”  And here I am.

I can’t remember the actual date that I applied to volunteer, but I’m pretty sure it was at least 20 months ago.  So this has been my future for quite a while.

About yesterday, February 12, the first day of the Games

Being here, on shift, when the Georgian luge athlete went off the track and died, was very upsetting.  That was not supposed to happen – these are GAMES for goodness sake.  That incident made it all much more real, and personal. It’s hard enough for me to watch the Olympics without crying (actually, that will never happen).  I usually cringe when I watch figure skating jumps, balance beam flips, pole vaulting, and the like.  But now I can’t even watch the luge event without seeing that horrible scene in my mind. Poor, poor boy.  It’s just too sad.

I remember watching the Sydney Opening Ceremonies while in Australia, and of course Beijing.  Those events made me proud to be human.  All that creativity and expression and unity – a beautiful thing to behold.  But last night’s Ceremonies also made me proud to be Canadian, because we are truly world class.  Maybe it’s not as noble to be divisively nationalistic as it is to be proud of the best of humanity.  But we Canadians have long been shadowed by a louder, brighter southern neighbour, and our deep pride, immense talent, and generous inclusiveness  was available for the world to see last night.  If it was John Furlong’s dream to have the Games make us a better Canada, it is mine that all who participate take all that works about Canada back to places where things don’t work so well, and use what we have to offer to be a source of peace and workability around the world.

T minus 1

I’ve just finished my 2nd volunteer shift.  Frankly, arriving in Whistler via the free volunteer’s shuttle bus was daunting – SO MUCH has changed in the last 9 years.  But it’s been 15 years since I actually lived here.  I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of using this trip as a return down memory lane/reunion opportunity.  It’s been making me wonder who the heck I am.  I’m certainly not the person who lived and worked here one and a half decades ago.  So maybe that really does mean I get to reinvent myself – every day.

The volunteer shifts aren’t too difficult – the technical questions have mostly to do with internet connectivity via wired or wireless means for the press and photographers of the world’s media.  It’s pretty cool, actually.  Dave Perkins, the Toronto Star sports columnist was one of my customers today – he was appreciative.  And Dale from the Houston Spectator gave me one of his paper’s Olympic pins as a thanks.  But Saturday will be CRAZY with about 700 press members in the Creekside media centre to report on the Men’s Downhill.  There will even be a press conference right there!  I already saw Brian Stemmle, and recognized a few other media personalities.  But the broadcasters don’t really come to the press work area.

During my lunch break had two blasts from the past – saw Cliff Wood, former Electrical Manager when I worked for Whistler Mountain 15 years ago.  Also say Terry Sutton, patroller from Skyloft days.

Tonight I will get to dine with Roxanne, a friend from Seattle, who is in for the entire Games!  I’m trying to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with everyone I can.

Got my Volunteer Uniform today

I admit it…when I was at the checkout of the Accreditation and Uniform Pickup venue today, I started to cry.  I know that there are plenty of Olympics detractors about.  But I bet they never got to pick up a uniform like this – and be part of something that is international, celebrating something extraordinary about being human.  I felt so acknowledged to receive a uniform of such high design and quality.  Here’s what I got:

  • mountain pants (which are basically navy blue ski/board pants, and of course, in a men’s size to achieve a little more length for my crazy inseem)
  • ski jacket
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts, made of bamboo fabric.  So soft.
  • fleece vest
  • tuque (had to check the spelling on that)
  • thermal travel mug
  • bottle of Cold FX and commemorative pin
  • pack of commemorative post cards
  • discount card for Petro-Canada fuel

The jacket, vest, hat and shirts are in a gorgeous turquoise, which looks AWESOME on me, if I do say so myself.

I also got my Accreditation Pass – I’ll be voluteering on the technology team at the Media Centre in Whistler Creekside.  With the pass, I get free public transit from now until the end of the Games.