It was just one year ago that we were right in the midst of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It seems longer to me, but I think that’s only because I’ve had such an action packed year. I”m sitting watching CTV’s 2010 Olympics Anniversary special, and I have to admit that even me, someone who has their personal doubts about the money spent, the corporatization of the event and exactly what it is that is being celebrated, I’ve spent most of the last couple of hours with tears in my eyes watching and reliving the memories of those magical days in February 2010.
What do I remember? I remember how crazy it was in the 18 months or more in the lead up to the Games.
The ticket lottery and the bus transportation . . . I had to try to get not only my own tickets but all the tickets the bankers I worked for wanted to entertain their clients. Some tickets were surprisingly easy to come by (Closing Ceremony) and some could not be bought for love nor money (Gold Medal Hockey). Opening Ceremony tickets were ridiculously expensive and maybe because of that there were lots being bought, sold and traded. Although we all learned pretty quickly that VANOC had come up with a pretty much bulletproof system for outwitting ticket scalpers. That was impressive. I managed to get tickets for myself for Cypress Mountain women’s ski cross, only to have them cancelled the day before because of the unseasonably warm weather. Ashleigh McIver from Whistler went on to win Gold in that event, it was right when the Gold Rush started . . . I wish I’d been there to see that.
And what do I remember during the Games? In the end I didn’t see a single athletic event, but I have lots of fantastic memories and maybe that’s what I’ve taken away from it, that even if you didn’t get to see any of the athletic competition there was still so much to see, to participate in and celebrate.
The Opening Ceremonies: I was lucky enough to be invited to a VANOC reception just prior to the Opening Ceremonies. It was at the Shark Club, right next to BC Place. Once the lucky ticket holders left for the ceremonies, I started walking up Georgia Street to meet a friend and head out to the Surrey LiveCity site to see Blue Rodeo play as part of the city-wide celebration. The party I had left was so over the top celebratory, it came as a bit of a surprise to walk right into the one and only protest march I saw in Vancouver during the Olympics. We were all so excited for the Opening, the whole city seemed to be in a party mood, it just seemed incongruous to walk into the inevitable protest march with a bunch of people having a decidedly not good time. Maybe in the end that was why the protest movement was completely extinguished during the Games – not the ever-present security, but the fact that the protests were just no fun at all, at a time when Vancouver was having more fun that it had ever had before. The good times started rolling and they never stopped, and somehow those protests just never really got off the ground.
LiveCity: What a brilliant idea. Whoever put those together was a genius. Even for the sports-watching challenged (me) it made me a part of the Games and made them relevant to me. We saw some amazing entertainment and a stunning number of free concerts – just fantastic. The day after the Opening Ceremony was a Saturday and we decided that who we really wanted to see was Ashley MacIssac – the insanely talented punk fiddler from Cape Breton. He was playing at the tiny Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. We knew it would be crazy, but we didn’t really know how crazy. Four hours – yes FOUR HOURS – we stood in line to get in. It was cold, it was raining, there was no food, bathrooms, nothing. But you know, once we got in, it was stupendous. What a party. Every East Coaster in Vancouver was trying to get in there that night and the ones that did came to party. It was totally worth every minute we waited. Here is Ashley just killing it during the Opening Ceremonies.
Medal Presentation Ceremonies. I was given, long before we knew what was being presented that night, tickets to the Medal Ceremony where Alex Bilodeau officially received his Gold medal, the first ever won on Canadian soil. It was fantastic, truly a night to remember. Alex will always be, for me, a symbol of all this is good, inspirational and quintessentially Canadian about the Olympics.
Holland Heineken House. If you went there, you know how ridiculously much fun it was. If you didn’t go . . oh well, you really missed out on a good time!
The All Day – All Night Line Up at the Bay. Remember when we all dressed in red and white, all day, every day? When every single person simply lived in Olympic logo’d gear? Is anyone still wearing it – I am, I still love my red mittens. We tried to get into the Bay to buy more stuff – we tried in the morning, we tried at midnight, we tried all day, but no matter when we went it was lined up around the block with security. Sheer marketing genius.
Taking Transit Everywhere, Night and Day. The Olympics changed forever my party going transportation habits. It was during the Olympics that we started riding the bus to go downtown at night and you know, we just never stopped. It’s still the usual way we head out for a night of dancing on Saturdays (or any other night come to think of it). And one of the most ridiculously fun memories I have is riding the very late (3:30am) Night Bus home from Granville Island to the North Shore. The bus was absolutely packed – every time they stopped to let someone else on everyone had to squeeze a bit more – sardine city. But it was so funny; the bus was half full of international students and half full of very celebratory Canadians. Everyone was drinking and smoking (in public, on the bus) and no-one cared. We alternated singing the World Cup soccer song and Oh Canada all the way home and thought it was the most fun ever. Brilliant memory.
Closing Ceremonies. Watched these at the LiveCity site in Yaletown. By now the weather had (finally) turned cold again – cold and rainy. We watched on the big screens and then stayed to see Blue Rodeo close it down. What a great bookend.
These truly were Canada’s winning Games – our athletes won 14 Gold medals, more than any other country has ever won at the Winter Games. And as Canadians, we showed that we could be both proudly patriotic and welcoming and generous to the other competitors. As one American broadcaster put it, Canadians reminded him of what his country used to be like, when it was a more civil society. Now that’s a compliment we can cherish.
Oh, and where was I when Sidney scored the Golden Goal – well I had the game on, but I was also doing laundry and I went downstairs to put a load in the dryer – and missed the goal. I think that’s a national crime!!