I have a lot yet to write about and catch everyone up on all of the adventures we have been having out here in Vancouver. It has been fairly busy and I am sorry there are just not enough hours in a day to get everything done they way I had hoped.

I head home today. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again (although the beds in our hotel have been exceptionally comfortable; there’s just no bed like your own) but I am sad to have reached the end of my “Journalism Dream”. It truly has been a dream come true. I have enjoyed experiences I had previously only fantasized about and been thrilled beyond explanation for every moment in Vancouver. My excellent friend, Cathy, summed it up with the perfect word: abundance. I am filled with a sense of overflowing fullness and it is wonderful.

So far, 2010 has been an exceptional year! Cheers!

February 15th – Golden Boy & the VIP

I am way behind with my posting and I am sorry for that. I go back in time now, to a lovely day. The 15th of February which began leisurely enough but soon turned into the current best day ever (or at least the best day ever, until tomorrow!).

A press conference is being held at the Robson Media Centre featuring Alexandre Bilodeau. I do not want to miss this opportunity. I have seen his profile piece on CTV numerous times and talk in the media room is that young Mr.Bilodeau is exactly as nice and humble as you would hope him to be.

Joey, loving access to the media centre wants to come along so off we go. We arrive just as the press conference is getting underway. Bilodeau talks about the conditions at Cypress, the Own the Podium program, his brother and his musical preferences. For those who would like to know, here is what helps Bilodeau and what motivates his performance.

For starters Bilodeau called the conditions at Cypress “really good.” Given the slack Canada has been taking in the foreign media for a myriad of glitches, it is refreshing to have an athlete speak out favourably for a venue. Bilodeau did say that the APEX training camp, held this past November, had “perfect conditions” but that Cypress made a “great impression” on the competitors.

Own the Podium is a Canadian iniatiative I have written about previously. This program has been set up to support Canadian athletes in an unprecedented manner. Through OTP, Bilodeau talked about the increase in coaching (they had an air coach for the first time), training, physiotherapy, access to a sports psychologist and biomechanical assessment, feedback and support. Bilodeau also spoke fondly about “Data Boy.” Data Boy’s real name is Allan and he works as an analyst for the team, assessing every move of every run. Through his assessments and, with the support of coaching, athletes have been able to trim seconds off their runs.

Alexandre Bilodeau’s brother, Frederic, is becoming almost as famous Alexandre. Bilodeau spoke about the spirit and determination Frederic has shown throughout his lifetime, beating many predictions concerning his life with Cerebral Palsy. Alexandre and Frederic are as close as two brothers can be and, during the press conference, when Alexandre announce the gold medal he won was “really Frederic’s medal. This is all for Frederic.” well, I got very teary and respectful of the bond the brothers share.

Alexandre Bilodeau is not a fan of country music or classical. If you want to impress him, energize him or just make him happy, a little Offspring will do the trick!

It was a great press conference and Alexandre Bilodeau is a lovely and humble young man. BC Premier, Gordon Campbell thanks Bilodeau for his hard work and determination. Campbell’s voice, hoarse from the supportive screaming for Bilodeau the night before states “Canada could not have had a better first gold medallist.” I do believe Mr. Campbell!

I leave the press conference and settle in at a workspace in the media centre. Later on we will be heading to Molson Canadian Hockey House. We have been given VIP passes as it is The Globe and Mail Ladies’ Night. We are not sure what to expect but are greatly looking forward to the event.

6:00 pm – We have VIP tickets for Molson Canadian Hockey House. The Globe and Mail is hosting Ladies Night and we have been invited to enjoy the festivities. We are also told both the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief want to meet John Fearnall and I. Yikes!

We enter the venue to the dulcet tones of comedian Sean Cullen wailing out the Styx classic ‘Come Sail Away’. Sean Cullen wailing out the Styx classic ‘Come Sail Away’. He is being being backed by The Odds, a terrific band out of Vancouver who were off the radar for 8 years but made a return to the music scene last year. Cullen’s first guest is singer/songwriter Hawksley Workman. John, Stacey and I are all fans and excited to see Workman. He and Cullen settle themselves into to a couple of lounge chairs and begin a good nature banter. I am hoping for an acoustic song or two, but sadly, Workman leaves the stage without playing for the crowd. He leaves me with the impression of being a thoughtful, funny and intelligent man. I am glad to get to know just a bit of his personality.

Next up is Ed Robertson, lead singer for The Barenaked Ladies. Ed comes out with his guitar and he a Cullen launch into a hilarious improvised spoof of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown”.

Excellent Day!

Me and my new friend Mark. He won his jersey at Hockey House. He is a hockey trivia buff and it came in handy!

Yesterday, the 16th of February, was great. We had passes to Hockey House to watch the Canadian men’s hockey team play Norway. What a blowout that was! Then we went to the arena to watch a live hockey game – Russia versus Latvia. Hockey House was absolutely NUTS but a lot of fun. The Russian/Latvia game was really, really good. Our seats were excellent. The dude right in front of us caught a puck and was through the roof with excitement. The final score was 8 – 2 and but Latvia had a lot of love in the building and were strong opponents. The score doesn’t really reflect their effort, in my mind!

I wanted to post a quick update and will add more later.

February 14th – Victory Ceremonies – An Awesome Evening!

This event was incredible. In my mind I had anticipated lovely medal ceremonies for all of the events of the previous day. I did not anticipate a full-blown wicked-cool event. For the victory ceremonies, each evening has a designated province. BC Night was being celebrated on our evening in attendance.

While things were underway, we were told of the gold medal win by Alexandre Bilodeau and the entire crowd in BC Place went absolutely, frickin’ nuts. It was electrically charged and amazing.

There was a wonderful range of artists and performers from British Columbia who were able to showcase their incredible talents. It began with a moving performance of native singers and dancers. Next up were energetic Irish step-dancers and fiddlers. Then we were amazed by: sexy bollywood-type dance performance; a Canadian fashion runway show featuring unusual materials like birch bark and newspaper; business leaders were recorded commenting about the strength of BC’s economic future and played on a huge video screen. Next intense steel drummers accompanied a group called ‘Kung Fu-sion’. They were incredibly acrobatic and had some electric capoeira-like moments. We were then treated to a beautiful piece of choreography by the Goh Company. Former Nationall Ballet of Canada prima ballerina, Chan Goh, started her company once retired from the National Ballet. Up next was singer Dallas Smith, backed by the ‘Sarah McLachlan Outreach Choir’. They sang a great version of Bryan Adams’ “Never Be Another Tonight”. After all of this, it was time for the medals.

As expected the crowd went totally bonkers for both Jennifer Heil and Kristina Groves. It was fantastic and very moving. Of course I was crying a little bit when the flags went up; it really brought out sentimental patriotic pride in everyone. Two very fantastic and memorable moments.

Nelly Furtado performed after the medals were given out. She was sparkly, cute and perky but I have no idea how she managed to walk and dance in her teeny, tiny stiletto heels. They were about quarter inch wide and 6 inches high. Whacked!

Jennifer Heil came out onto the floor area and was immediately mobbed. My step-son Joey managed to get right beside her, find John (photography winner) and have a great photo opportunity. I think he was quietly thrilled.

For every moment that passes, this all gets better and better. Who thought this to be possible??

12th of February – Opening Day

Another day that you could only imagine. A very sad day as, mid-morning, Georgian luger Nordan Kumaritashvili dies from injuries sustained in an accident which occurred during one of his training runs. All are stunned into silence and many, although aware of the risks involved with many of the winter events, never anticipated such an thing happening.