Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vancouver Olympics Part 2 - The Whoa Factor

Steve here, continuing the Olympics saga. As I wrote about in an earlier post, I hopped out to Victoria for the Friday of Opening Ceremonies. When I got back, I met Sarah at our friends' house where people had gathered to watch the opening ceremonies. I was thinking about it kind of like the Oscars, neat to get together to watch, but ultimately not that engaging. And I felt that way, right up until k.d. lang sang Hallelujah - a tribute to the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvii, who had died practicing that afternoon. I was blown away. She was not corny, or hokey, or overblown (like everything up until that point), she just sang beautifully and most of the people in the room had tears in their eyes. I think it was then I realized it was going to be a pretty intense couple of weeks.

The next night Sarah and I headed out to check out what the town was like with the addition 100,000+ additional people. (I'm making O's in the picture with my hands) There were rumors and ominous news stories all week about how crazy public transit would be, but we were able to hop onto Skytrain near our house, and while busy, it only took us a few minutes to jump the two stops to Yaletown. But then, walking out of the station, we encountered THE CROWD. Canada sweaters (you know the ones with the moose antlers across the chest), gloves with maple leaves on the palms, flags worn as capes, etc. Everywhere. There were probably ten times as many people in the streets as was typical for a Saturday night and what struck me the most was that everyone was talking. Loudly. And smiling. The energy of the crowd was amazing. We grabbed some sushi with friends then headed out. The LiveCity stage, which was right down by the water and playing nightly free shows, was completed packed for Wilco, so we decided to just wander and see the sights.

The first big Canadian event - women's moguls - was going on and people were stopping in the street at cafe windows and wherever there was a television available. The tension built and built as the event drew to a close, with Canadian Jennifer Heil taking top marks in the second to last run. Having never won a gold medal on home soil, Canadian were very, very excited. As it turns out, American Hannah Kearney beat her out in the final run, which only mildly doused the spirit of the crowd.

We walked down Granville Street - one of the main thoroughfares through the city that was shut down to car traffic. It was absolutely packed. Among the crazy things we saw in the crowd: an impromptu hockey game, a traveling dance party, art exhibits, and four half-naked Canadians painted completely red. It was...intense.

Finally, we stumbled onto Robson Square moments before the lights and fireworks show began. Lasers cut through the sky, fireworks roared overhead, flames shot out of towers, and fully-geared snowboarders zoomed over the crowd on a zip line hung over the city. Sarah and I stood shoulder to shoulder with a massive crowd and were completely is shock at how the city had transformed itself into this pulsating, lively beast. Check the out a video of the walls of flame:

On the Skytrain ride home (on the Canada line, which is our route), I had perhaps my favorite Olympic moment. The doors of the train opened and two clearly inebriated Canadian gents in full Canada regalia lean out of the doors and bellow "THIS IS THE CAAAAAAANADA LINE! COME ON BOARD!!" They proceded to lead the crowd in a rousing version of O Canada with much arm flapping and flag waving. Wow. Go Canada Go.

1 comment:

  1. wow, what a great and crazy experience!