It seems like not long ago when I was making up figure skating and gymnastic routines imagining myself winning gold and waving the American flag. For some reason or another, I’ve always loved the Olympics; and as I grew older and realized that I wasn’t really coordinated or graceful enough to be an Olympian, my desire to be in the Olympics gave way to a strong desire to at least attend.
When Ryan and I moved out here there were two things I was adamant about. One, I would see an orca whale. Two, we would go to the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics. I didn’t care what it took–I just knew that we had to go. After constant internet monitoring and accepting that we needed to sleep in our vehicle, we drove off to Vancouver last weekend with two tickets to the qualifying round of men’s ski aerials.
The weather reflected the atmosphere–it was bright and sunny and alive. We wandered around Vancouver all morning seeing the pavilions (well actually, just seeing the lines to get into the pavilions), the venues and the different displays. We tried to wander through the Olympic village but discovered your have to actually be an Olympian to do that. Around noon, we staked ourselves outside of Canada Hockey Place and bickered with scalpers until we landed two tickets to the Switzerland vs. Norway game. Once inside, we found ourselves surrounded by people from Switzerland. The game itself was great–in overtime, Switzerland beat Norway. The atmosphere was even better–we couldn’t understand most of the people around us (they of course could understand us perfectly when they switched to English), and it truly felt like a multi-cultural experience.
After sleeping in our escape on a deflated air mattress, I couldn’t decide if my hips were sore from walking 10 miles the day before or from laying on a hard surface as I tossed and turned all night. I guess it could have been a combination. On Sunday, we saw more sights, watched the USA vs. Canada hockey game in a Starbucks right across from the torch. It felt both like a dream and like we were in a neighborhood we grew up in our whole lives. Canadian hospitality–it really always blows me away. Of course, after they lost, we noticed a slight decline in hospitality (particularly on the road with our Washington license plate). The torch was incredible. We tried to find Brian Williams taping the nightly news with no success.
On Monday we waited in line for an hour just to get into the Olympic store. Of course, we could have waited in line for 7 hours for the free zip line or 6 hours for the free tour to see how they make the medals. Eventually, we headed to Simon Frasier University where we would board a coach bus to go to Cypress Mountain to see the men’s aerials. The crossing guard seemed to be Tina Fey in the flesh- her voice, her demeanor and her appearance all appeared to be straight from NBC. The bus we finally boarded was filled with American skier, “Speedy’s” family. They appeared to be mostly intoxicated at noon. After three hours of flighting off people to remain in our front row standing room area, the skiers began to fly through the sky. I acted like the paparazzi when we spotted Johnny Mosley, and we ran all the way to the bus in hopes of making it home before the middle of the night.
Overall, it was a dream come true–a once in a lifetime opportunity. Of course, now I know all these great things to prepare me for another Olympics… it’s hard to do something so incredible and not want to do it again.