February 15, 2010

My Olympic Post (So Close and Yet, So Far)

One would think that because I live so close to Vancouver that I would be there, right now, cheering on my nation's sports heroes instead of spending the day cleaning the bathrooms, baking and blogging.
My absence it is not out of any kind of protest against the Olympics or the fact that, in my crabbier moments, I have likened the expense of our country hosting the snow-dependent event in a rainforest city like Vancouver to me spending a month, on my present budget, wining, dining and gambling high stakes in Las Vegas. In fact, we are Olympic enthusiasts in this house and I think the television must have been on for twelve hours yesterday. If my husband and I were twentysomethings and childless we would probably be in Vancouver as much as possible like my friend Emee's sons, who just had to experience the excitement in person. After all, there are great concerts every day at Robson Square and up at Whistler Mountain, and it's only $25.00 to get into BC Place to witness a medal ceremony each evening, which would be $150.00 if we took the kids who would certainly not want to be left behind.
I admit, it would have been wonderful to be at BC Place stadium to witness the opening ceremonies (which I thought were quite beautiful, and did an artful job of expressing the overall culture of our huge country - apart from the David Fosterized version of 'Oh Canada,' our national anthem), but since we were at the stadium in October for the U2 concert it was easy to imagine the scope of being there with 60,000 other people. We also couldn't afford the $800 + ticket price...each.

For years now we have heard nothing but warnings about the blocking off of the center of Vancouver (which is already a tricky city to navigate) during the Olympics, the lack of parking, the need to take the skytrain and busses instead (which sounds great, but authorities were also warning us of overcrowding and delays, and the nearest train station is an hour's drive from my home). It's enough to keep this crowd-fearing mortal at home. I have heard, however, from a friend that the new insfrastructure of walking trails along the shores and improvements in general to the downtown core really are beautiful and a lasting use of tax dollars. I am sure the new sports facilities and the improvements to existing ones will come in handy to the city, as well.

My Olympic participation has involved attending the torch relay with my family as it passed through our town, and enjoying the entertainment which included my son's high school jazz ensemble. I admit it was pretty exciting to be one of the last of 12,000 coast-to-coast stops for the Olympic torch. My daughters even got a free Coke and flags (emblazoned with Coke icons) to wave. And I found a coveted official red mitten on the ground which I will keep as a souvenir. On Saturday night I went to a concert of Prince Edward Island's 'Vishten', who play an earthy style of traditional, very danceable Acadian music (Acadians are Maritime French Canadians who were originally expulsed over 200 years ago from Nova Scotia - many landing in Louisiana). They were on their way to play several shows at the Olympics this week. They were fantastic, and so was the parking right in front of the village hall.
My husband considered taking a child or two to an Olympic event but the ones he was interested in seeing were far too expensive for us, and the hockey games we could afford promised to be, what he calls, 'blowouts', ie. Finland 15, Estonia 0, and no fun at all. He lived in Calgary during the '88 Olympics and said all the evening concerts were free, transportation well organized and accessible, and it cost $25.00 to watch downhill skiing. It was a different time, in a spacious city planned in a grid of roadways over a flat landscape, and the Calgary Olympics actually made money.

Last week at my younger daughter's school they held their own version of the Olympics. They held competitions in all sorts of adapted sports involving hockey sticks and scooter boards. They even had one competition called 'Find a Parking Spot'. My daughter was assigned to 'Team Switzerland,' so now she says, next to Canada, she's cheering for the Swiss. Her whole school has been invited to attend a Paralympic curling match, so she may go to that with her class. My other children certainly would not mind going to an event, but unlike in the city of Vancouver, their schools are not closed for two weeks.

We are going to go to Vancouver at some point to witness all the downtown improvements for ourselves, but I think we'll wait until the city calms down a bit. In the meantime, we'll keep the t.v. on in the evenings and cheer from our comfortable couch. It is very cool to watch an event at Cypress Mountain (where we have been nordic skiing many times) or Whistler or the Pacific Coliseum and say to each other, "We've been there!"


  1. Find a Parking Spot -- now there's a sport I could compete in! Stunning that the tickets cost $800 a piece. That's just crazy.

    Another thing that is crazy that now I follow 3 bloggers who saw the Olympic torch pass by their Canadian home. Before I started blogging this fall, I knew no one in Canada at all! I love that I get these first hand experiences from all over the world. Even if you are watching the Olympics on t.v. like the rest of us!

  2. I'm even nearer (Coquitlam) but unless I make the effort it might as well be far. We plan to take our two younger children out of school one day this week and head downtown to be part of the Olympic excitement and hopefully see one of those free concerts - maybe take in a medal ceremony!

  3. Thanks for this - we've been enjoying the coverage (and France's success so far) so it's fascinating to hear about what it's like for you!

  4. I had pictured you blogging from a nasty turn half way down a ski-run.
    I forget you could fit most of my Country between there and the Frazer Valley. And quite honestly I would need a dog in the game.
    Mind you it is very easy to get heartly sick of tunes like Born Free and Out of Africa.

  5. "And quite honestly I would need a dog in the game". Sorry, this missed a massive delete, there was a paragraph in above this.
    Which was along the lines, Ireland has so few players it is difficult to care overmuch. So, I root for China.

  6. We have friends (that are childless) that went to the Olympics and they have paid crazy amounts for tickets to the events. Just for the opening ceremonies alone, their tickets were $600 each. Crazy I say...I can find better things to spend my money on and besides, the view on my television was probably better.

  7. I love everyone's comments!

    Barbara: I was of facebook looking at a friend's photos of Whistler on the weekend. It was great to get her point of view, too, as a spectator.

    Diane: I am hoping to persuade my husband to do the same. In the meantime, my nephew is playing at a peaceful protest rally on Hastings to bring awareness to the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver.

    Floss: Ah oui, bien sur! C'est brilliant, n'est pas?

    Vince: The part about the dog made me wonder! China was brilliant in the pairs figure skating last night, I must say!

    Dive Girl: I know! I suppose if it were a priority for us we would have spent the past 7 years saving up for tickets. And that is just what my husband said: The view on tv is better than most people will see. But aren't you proud of Alex Bilodeau? It couldn't have happened to a sweeter human being.

  8. I can understand staying in the comfort of home and watching. Much less expensive and warmer.
    The Acadian music sounds fascinating!
    The Chinese pairs was a great story.
    Happy Olympic viewing : )

  9. Did ya see that chick on the downhill that fell between the gate and the first turn. I soooooo understood the bit of acting when she had the helpers remove her skis. The poor girl must have been heart-wrenched.

  10. Yes, I did, Vince. Poor thing! But I'm not sure if she would rather be the skier who got half way down and then crashed through the safety fencing with what looked like a broken pelvis. That looked so awful.

  11. Blast, I missed that.
    Still, No, my one is worse. The broken bone thing and even the deaths is always in the back of their minds, must be. But from now on that twenty excruciating seconds of embarrassment will be shown to all skiers forever.
    But what the heck is with that two man toboggan, that is just Wrong. It is like synchronized diving. Anyway I kept thinking of the DaVinci Code and the Signet of the Knights Templar.

  12. Even though you can't attend, the excitement of it being so close by will still have lasting memories for you and your family.

    A few years ago, my family and I went out to watch a torch bearer run through the city too. It was kinda fun. :)

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