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??

Tragic Death of Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili During Practice Run

The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in training at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games highlights the many dangers of a sport practised by only the most fearless competitors. Kumaritashvili flew off the track and smashed into a metal column, leaving him unconscious, bleeding from the face and needing on-site resuscitation that ultimately failed.

There have been several other casualties on the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre widely regarded as being one of the most difficult on the circuit.

There was a scare for men’s reigning double gold medallist Armin Zoeggler of Italy, who crashed and later described the course as having “character and very fast”.

On Wednesday, there were several crashes during women’s training runs, notably Romania’s Violeta Stramaturaru, who was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital.

Luge and skeleton competitors both lie on a rectangular fibreglass sled – supine (feet first) for luge and head first for skeleton. Skeleton involves one racer but luge, which made its Olympic debut at the Innsbruck Games in 1964, can be one or two.

With groomed runs, luge has become increasingly fast and the aerodynamic sleds themselves have no brakes as the course is supposed to guide the competitors down at speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour or more. Racers rock back and for in a bid to burst out of the start and on pulling away they use spiked gloves on the ice surface for extra acceleration before they lie down on their backs with their feet stretched out in front of them.

Luge racers steer using slight shifts of their legs and shoulders, and brake by putting their feet down and pulling up on the sled’s two runner blades. There are two individual or ‘singles’ luge events in the Olympic Games, one for men and one for women, and one two-person or ‘doubles’ event. Earlier in the week, other luge competitors admitted the course at the Whistler Sliding Centre was one of the most challenging.

US luger Tony Benshoof, who was fourth at the Torino 2006 Olympic Games, said lugers were close to reaching a speed ceiling. “The tracks are getting faster and faster. It’s getting pretty crazy. There’s that word (dangerous), it’s like that word ‘fear’,” said Benshoof. It’s getting down to that. 100mph is pretty quick. I don’t know how much faster we can go. Because of the physics of the curves….there’s a really small margin for error. The speeds are very high. (Whistler) is very challenging. From the top down, you have your hands full. There are a lot of tricky corners.”

And he also spoke of the dangers to less-experienced athletes in the sport. “They just don’t have the experience, they don’t have the coaching, sometimes they don’t have the sleds. But at the end of the day, we’re all going out there and doing it.” His teammate Chris Mazdzer said: “(The) big difference with this track (is that) you are travelling really fast from curve one. Around curve two you are going 60mph.”

Canadian luge coach Wolfgang Staudinger said: “Whistler is the fastest. It’s technical, but it is drivable. It is challenging, but that makes the sport more interesting.”

Event Tickets Finally Revealed!!


The plethora of loot continues. Here is what I was given:

13th of February – Figure Skating (training) for the Pairs and Men’s events

13th of February – Freestyle Skiing (women’s moguls) – medal event featuring Canada’s Jennifer Heil

14th of February – Evening Victory Ceremony featuring awarding of medals and concert by Nelly Furtado

15th of February – Women’s Ice Hockey, Sweden vs. Slovakia

16th of February – Men’s Ice Hockey, Russia vs. Latvia

16th of February – Victory Ceremony featuring awarding of medals and concert by Barenaked Ladies

17th of February – Men’s 1000M Speed Skating (medal event)

I was also given passes for Molson Canadian Hockey House for the 16th of February and VIP passes to The Globe and Mail special event night at Molson Canadian Hockey House for the 15th of February. These are very hot commodities and I feel lucky to have them.

11 February 2010 – One Day Left

Okay, this is going to look a little wonky, not sure what’s going on with the site, but I will post away and edit later.

This was a full day. Full of firsts, full of excitement and full of new people and new friends. I am meeting so many amazing individuals. I will take a break from the hour-by-hour moments for this post as so much has happened. I want to try and get caught up to the current moment so will use this post for a shorter briefer forum for the highlights of the day!

Highlight Number One:

Zip line over Robson Square. I don’t know what more to say about this, except it was thrilling. It wasn’t scary at all. I felt safe, secure and happy as people on the ground whooped and hollered, while snapping pictures.

Highlight Number Two:

While waiting to begin our editorial meeting we spot Sully Sullenberger in a food court. Yep, a food court. We approach him say hello and he kindly chats with me for a few minutes. He is humble and gracious and signs my notebook. Coolest dude ever!

Highlight Number Three:

No line up to get into The Bay’s Vancouver 2010 Super Store. We manages to purchase a Canada turtleneck sweater and baseball hat for me and a surprise for Joey for his arrival this Saturday!

Highlight Number Four:

Awesome Greek restaurant, Stefano’s, one block away from our hotel. We have a late dinner and glass of wine and relax after another incredible day.

Holy cow!! I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Feet on the ground, for awhile…10FEB10 part two

11:00 am – flying

11:30 am – flying…etc…you get it!

1:15 pm – we begin our descent to Vancouver. It is s bit of a grey day with a blush of fog everywhere. The mountains are obscured. The airport has a throng of 2010 volunteers, all extremely eager to be of help. We get our bags and head for the taxi stand. Impressed with all the taxicabs lined up – all hybrid vehicles. Nice!

2:00 pm – We arrive at the hotel – THE MET. It is a lovely boutique hotel in New Westminster. It is three doors down from the Columbia Station and only a 25 minute ride on the Skytrain to downtown Vancouver. The hotel houses a pub and a liquor store too. Make mental note!

2:10 pm – Unpack and relax for a few minutes then head next door to the pub for some food. We are really hungry. Not even a bag of pretzels on the plane. I overheard the flight attendant explain to another hungry passenger that they only serve snacks on flights shorter than an hour and a half. WHAT? That seems backwards to me. Anyway, I digress. The Met Pub was great. We get free breakfast every morning and food is 15% off all other times. Husband and I scout out the dishes we intend to sample.

3:00 pm – We hit the Skytrain to head downtown. The International Media Centre is located in Robson Square and I can’t wait to pick-up my accreditation. The Skytrain is a much more civilised way to travel than the Toronto subway. There may be some thought Toronto could give to converting the Gardner Expressway. We wind along the coast of the Fraser River and, at one point, travel (briefly) through a very treed area. Huh! Skytrain through the forest. Cool.

3:45 pm – Oh Ya! Official media accreditation picked-up and in my hot little hand. Happy to learn I am allowed to sign in a guest with me. Husband please, but wants a red one like mine (all access) rather than the blue one he is temporarily issued.

4:00 pm – After a walk about through the media centre, we are about to leave when I notice swag bags. All media are gifted with one. I excitedly receive mine and appreciate all of the stuff inside.

4:15 pm – We head back outside. It is pouring rain now. Across the way is the Vancouver Art Gallery. Starting on the 12th many attractions in Vancouver will be free or half price. The VAG is included in this. We have a short browse around the gift shop and make plans to return.

4:30 – We have walked to Granville Station which is conveniently located within the Pacific Centre. The Bay has their Vancouver flagship store located here and within they have set up the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Super Store. We have the notion of browsing and picking up a few items but, once we arrive at the barricaded department, we rethink this idea. The place is swarmed with mad-happy shoppers. You can only access the Olympic super store by the Seymour Street entrance. We head out and see a snaking line-up it grows down the street and disappears around a corner. Yikes! It is all very orderly and people seem to be mostly in good spirits but the line is very, very long. Hmm, maybe tomorrow?

5:30 – We arrive back at the hotel, tired and ready for a good rest.