Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women's Ski Cross

Well, it kind of feels like my volunteer experience is over. I have two more events to do (women's and men's Snowboard PGS), but I really don't care at all about those events and have no interest in being involved.

The women's event was quite different than the mens. Mostly, just due to the weather, I guess. The day started out and it seemed like things would be perfect. It was cloudy and cold. But the course didn't really set up top to bottom. Many of the landings were very sugary and we battled all day to keep it in decent shape. Then the snow started. It was kind of embarrassing to see the ladies poling across the flats like, to steal a joke from Brian Stemmle, Bjorn Dahle.

The good thing about the women's event was that I had a smaller crew for the heats so we were able to slowly make our way down the course, helping out where we were needed. I saw the course from some different vantage points.

The best was just below the large wooden jump in the middle of the course. We'd watched a lot of racers go by from just above it, but the view from below was crazy. One of the heats we saw was the semi-final where the French girl over-jumped trying to make a pass and blew out of the course. Oh my god. It looked like she was a good 10 feet higher than the other girls. It was crazy. She pulled off the course about 10 feet above us and the medic came down to see if she was alright. It was an odd conversation that ended with her saying (in her thick french accent) "You can have no possible idea on how I am feeling right now." She looked over at us with sad eyes and skied down the course.

From there, we worked on a few more corners and ended up in the finish for the final. Once again, me being in the finish corral seemed to be very important and Canada won a gold. The crowd went crazy. Flags were waved. Etc.

Which brings me to...something. I realize that my thought process is different from many. There's been a lot of comments over the past week about "being around all these Olympians". Nobody has really been all that star struck (as nobody that's been working around me seems to have any idea what the sports have been about) but there's still this strange reverance for any athlete remotely attached to the Olympics. I've seen it at work where an Olympian shows up and people just lose their minds. I understand this reaction (I myself get a bit giddy when I see a World Cup ski racer) but I don't really understand how it can be present when you:

A) Don't know anything about the sport the person is participating in.

B) Have no idea who they are, have never heard their name and know nothing about them other than that they are an "Olympian".

So. With that in ski cross experience ended late in the day. We were walking from the bottom of the course and as we got to the lodge, Ashleigh McIvor came out from someplace, most likely after peeing in a cup. There were 2 other volunteers with me. They hooted and hollered, I raised my poles in my patented victory salute. She looked over and smiled. Then thanked us all for our hard work. It was a nice moment and I kind of felt that "Olympic presence".
PS - These long days are really getting to me. I just spelled "know" as "no", not once but twice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Men's Ski Cross

Men's ski cross is done. Women's goes tomorrow. I couldn't face the day up there today. I was tired. I had the sniffles. I came in to work.

Yesterday was a crazy day. I woke up at 2:50 in order to make it to my 3:24 bus on time. It didn't show up. I took a cab downtown and things were crazy. Drunks all over the place. Hookers trying to flag down the cab. Drunks trying to take pictures of all us volunteers. Crazy.

When we finally got up to Cypress, my whole day was out of whack. I ate lunch at 8:30 in the morning. I kept thinking there was something wrong as the light was so low in the sky. It was still a bit dark when the athletes began their inspection. I was in a terrible, horrible foul mood.

Finally, the sun came out and the race was ready to go. Note form:
- I had no idea Dave Barr was a last minute replacement. What a crazy story. I used to race against Dave Barr. He was a tiny little guy that hauled ass. Now he's kind of a chunky little guy that hauls ass

- The speed of the ski cross over the boarder cross is crazy

- I popped my head into the Salomon wax cabin and this is what it looked like. Note the rows of skis down the left side wall as well

- The crowd for the ski cross was the best that I had seen. There seemed to be gaps in all the other crowds, but not this one
- I thought this shot right after the flower ceremony was kind of neat
- I had to pee in the woods at one point
- Watched much of the race from a spot just above the 2nd to last turn. We could see about half the course and lost the racers just as they hit the lip of the 2nd to last jump. It was a heartbreaker to see Del Bosco go out like that. But he's barely Canadian. I shot this from a well-timed trip up the chair
- I saw Rhalves a few times as well
- The Canadian team suits really did look like pyjamas. They are sort of camouflage too

- Willy Raine is one of the coaches. Here he is with two of the ladies, in his pyjamas on training day
- This camera guy was surly-hilarious

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Molson Hockey House

Molson Hockey House is a bit of a farce. It's like a giant UBC Beer Garden with older people and expensive beer. Large TV's. Etc.

Honestly though. It's just a big tent with a bunch of people dressed in red. It's a giant Canada propaganda machine

However...I was in attendance in official Molson capacity. On the way home, at the Skytrain Station...we bumped into Stockwell Day. I interviewed him. It was bizarre.

Czechs and Slovaks

Went to the Czechs vs. Slovaks hockey game last night. Of all the "B" hockey games, I thought this would be the best. I was right.

The crowd was crazy. I would say 1/3 Slovaks, 1/3 Czechs, 1/3 random hockey tourists. With the mixed crowd, there was pretty much a cheer for everything. The atmosphere was so positive and loud. So full of flags and body paint and weird costumes. It was amazing.

Almost everybody in the crowd that wasn't Czech seemed to be cheering for the Slovaks. They played a good game. Lots of shots. But couldn't score. Regardless, it was a great experience.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Boardercross is finished


Finally some time to relax. Boardercross finished yesterday, so I'm back at work for a few days. It's been a crazy time. I've lost track of what day it is. I've slept less than I think I ever have. I've eaten so many bad sandwiches.

I left Cypress on Friday with a terrible taste in my mouth. It had been a great day of training (you will remember my last post saying there is no way training would happen) as the weather had turned around leaving a perfectly frozen course. It was great to be around actual athletes doing their actual sport on a course that nobody actually expected to work. Then we stood in the pouring rain for an hour-and-fifteen-minutes while the bus that was supposed to come didn't. Other buses came and went. Or came and stopped. But they weren't meant for us so we couldn't use them. It was crazy Olympic compartmentalization at it's worst. And it made me sad. Then I got home and heard that the luger had died. Then watched the abomination of an opening ceremony (the anthem! the flame screw-up! the Nancy Greene!). I wanted to just stay in bed for many days. Then I read this article and decided I needed to be less of a baby.

I had Saturday off and arrived back at Cypress for a beautiful day of training on Sunday. The course was really coming together and everybody was excited for race day on Monday.

Monday finally rolled around and I was out of bed by 3:50AM and on my way to the mountain by 4:30AM. There were just so many weird behind the scenes sites:

- 20 athletes huddled around the only live feed monitor at the start...all 20 inches of it.

- Nate Holland watching and rubbing his hip with some sort of weird gizmo. Ultrasound? Heat Gun? I have no idea.

- Shawn White!
- Cops everywhere
- The grandstands are impressive, but I'm not sure where they were going to put people into standing room. Check out the brown in the back as well.

The race itself was a bit of a disappointment. I watched from the 3rd jump as Drew Neilson went by in last place...passed two dudes in the air....then fell on the next berm (I didn't see that part but we heard the crowd noise die and knew something happened). Got to watch the final from the berm where Seth Wescott made up all his speed and watched him surge into the 3rd last jump and emerge out the last berm with the lead. Anyhow, everybody was happy with a silver, but you could feel it wasn't quite enough. Tuesday would prove that people had been holding back.
Tuesday morning was dreadful.. Up again at 3:50AM. On the road again by 4:30AM. Raining. Foggy. Ugly. We did a few slips first thing and you could barely see what you were skiing down. There was a few inches of sludgey slush covering everything. And then we sat. For hours it seemed. It felt like there was no possible way that this race would go off.

Finally, they slowly started running qualifiers. There were huge delays every few racers as the fog rolled in and out. The intervals were too inconsistent to slip the course so we just stood around waiting. And then the heats started. The sun came out and we had lots to do.

We managed to slip down to the midpoint of the course and watch the two semi-final heats. Once they were done, I took the team down the second half of the course, working on a few parts getting them ready for the final. We made it to the finish and were standing pretty much right in front of the big screen, just to the left of the finish when the final started.

Holy shit. It was crazy. That was the first heat I had watched from the finish and the first time I'd heard the crowd noise that close by. It wasn't much of a race but it was pretty cool to be 30 feet from the finish with a Canadian winning a gold.

The celebration over the next hour was pretty cool. Some of the Canadian coaches were skiing down the course thanking volunteers. The three dudes responsible for building the course looked like they had been crying. All the mens team was running around high fiving everybody. It was crazy. I'm glad I was there and I guess that's kind of why I decided to do this volunteering thing in the first place.

Other Olympic experiences?

Tried to go to Sochi house on Saturday but the lines were huge. Went to the Wilco show at LiveCity Yaletown and it was absolutely amazing. Great sound. Tonnes of people. Long show with a great set list. I never, ever expected it and it blew my mind. When the fireworks came on at the end, even the hardened hipsters looked like they had caught the whole feeling of what was going on. If you decide to go, there's huge lines to get in, but they move quickly. Definitely worth it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Oh my gosh. How to sum up my last two days of Olympics? What a crazy cluster. In point form:

- Cypress is in trouble. I was amazed from afar at how much they'd done, but after sliding down the boardercross/skiercross course today...egads! It's slush. It's not finished. Training starts tomorrow. Trouble.
- There are some neat things wooden jumps. And apparently the pipe is in good shape. The grandstands are crazy. And it's so wet.
- These buses will kill me. I rode a bus today that was fully loaded with people ready to go to Cypress. And we drove 30 seconds and had to unload and get on another bus because the first was just a shuttle. A 30 second shuttle.
- The opening ceremony was crazy. Crazy line-ups. Crazy questionable pieces of Canada. Crazy hard to hear. Crazy. We were at the dress rehearsal down on the floor behind the giant...oops....that would be a spoiler. We almost had Andre the Giant sit in front of us but then he went away and we were happy. Oh, somebody stole Andrea's ticket at the security check! Crazy.

It's all crazy. What is exploding right now?

Oh, you may remember this....

From such photos as this...
It's just sitting there. Rotting. About 25 feet from the main grandstands. Very weird. More explosions.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cypress + Other Shots

So, last Thursday I went up to Cypress for my final Olympic training. It was interesting to see what was going on. The bleachers and whatnot are pretty mind boggling. There's more snow than I expected, but still a lot of brown spots. This is a shot from the bleachers looking up at the moguls/aerials course. They seem good to go.

Other than that, I went out the other night and took some time lapse photos of the light display in Vanier Park. It's oddly fascinating to watch and photograph.

And. Finally. A photo from Manning Park a few weeks ago.