Miscellaneous ramblings from the games
February 21, 2010
We’re just past the halfway mark in the 2010 Winter Games with a lot more action to come this week. Lots of random observations to share:
• A quarter inch shy of six feet, I’m not usually the shortest person in the room. But when I’m surrounded by Canadians, both the men and women aren’t just tall and thin – they’re noticeably tall and thin. It’s an anomaly: Every restaurant serves enormous portions of food and every Tim Horton’s (similar to Dunkin Donuts), which seem to be on every corner, are jam packed. I’ve heard the same about folks from Scandinavian countries. Maybe there’s a connection to living at a northern latitude?
• I don’t quite get Curling yet, it simply seems like an intense variation of shuffleboard. But get this – there are four sheets (rinks) two feet apart from one another and four games going on simultaneously. I know this because I am in the stadium right now; China v. Germany, Denmark v. Switzerland, U.S. v Great Britain. and Russia v. Sweden.
• The weather has been spectacular since Tuesday, Vancouver is a beautiful city. The waterfront and mountains are awesome. The distant mountains resemble the Matterhorn, while another looks like Mt. Fuji rising from the flatlands. The first hour’s drive towards Whistler feels like Europe; the Howe Sound adjacent to Highway 99 resembles a fjord with Alps-type mountains soaring in the distance.
• 1984 figure skating gold medalist, Scott Hamilton is really short and super interesting. His Olympic recollections and grasp of the sport today is tremendous.
• I came here with a pack of Olympic pins collected over the years. I don’t care to trade them. I like the pins I’ve acquired and I’d just as soon buy what I like, thanks anyway. (I brought them with the original intention of trading them for access to this, that or the other, but it turns out I’m able to talk my way in without having to give up the goods. Canadians are just that nice.)
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• Every night the streets of Vancouver are absolutely crushed with people walking around screaming and cheering everything. It’s like Bourbon Street on steroids. People aren’t just dressed in red and white, they are in full-on costume. I’ve hung out with Elvis, Batman, many a sasquatch, bears, and those Intel guys from years ago.
• The hunt for the elusive Red Mittens is challenging but doable. There are other mittens, easier to get a hold of and maybe cooler looking, but we all consider them knock offs. Even though they’re better made.
• Long track speedskating ovals are huge, way bigger than hockey stadiums. The skating oval is the size of an outdoor track – who knew?
• Canadians are a patient lot and they need to be as there are incredibly long lines everywhere. Free stuff requires a lot of wait time; wanna see a real Olympic medal at the Canadian Mint? Over an hour wait. Want to buy Olympic souvenirs at Hudson’s Bay Company flagship store? That’ll be 45 minutes or so. How about a free 30-second zipline 45 feet over Robson Square? Six hours, thanks. At the Burton Bud Light party, the line goes several blocks. The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the Art Museum has a few hours wait time.
• Never underestimate the importance of clean underwear. Miles from any Olympic venues and with no sign of this event anywhere, I folded my shirts and pants while an ESPN reporter hunched over his laptop, filed a story as his clothes dried in a dingy Laundromat.
• Being so close to Olympians a short time after they’ve medaled in their events has been the real highlight for me: Bryon Wilson bursting at the seams, Chad Hedrick humble and retrospective, Shani Davis incredibly proud and confident, Shaun White hilarious, Scotty Lago just happy to be here while he could, Hannah Teter super amped (and yes, she really did compliment my plaid Burton jacket), Bode Miller all business, Aksel Lund Svindal super content, Kelly Clark analytical, Torah Bright amazing and standing two feet from Evan Lysacek’s gold medal – priceless!