Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Olympics - Day 1: Bittersweet

Where was I yesterday (February 12th) 1 hour, 34 minutes and 29 seconds before the games started? At the countdown clock, of course. It was cool, as I remember being here when there was 1 year left- click here to see those pics.

Today was bittersweet, with the tragic death of Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run at the luge track in Whistler (click here for the story; note there is a video but I have not watched it, nor do I intend to, right now that feels like sensationalism, rather than respect, though I suppose I might feel differently later). Like most, I felt absolutely sickened by the news and so very, very sad. It was hard to get my spirits back up for the games, but that is nothing compared to what his fellow athletes must be going through. I had so much respect for the team as they marched into the opening ceremonies. They left afterwards, but they have chosen to stay and compete. Wow. So, what was to be a happy day wasn't so much. Really felt for John Furlong last night. But the games went on, as they should (sigh).

I must say, there was lots there to lift one's spirits watching the Opening Ceremonies. A big one for me was the cutaways to our Canadian troops in Afghanistan. At one point they showed a pic of the sky above the base where the pilots had shaped rings in the sky. Cool. It's so nice that the troops have something to look forward to that connects them to home.

OK, I cheated, and took a few pics of my friend's TV screen. CTV, I know you own these images. But as they are so poorly taken, I trust you will forgive me, as there is no way anyone is going to use them, and just maybe someone overseas will look up CTV online to see your coverage. Peace, ok?

Because, in the end, I couldn't resist this pic of Canada's awesome Clara Hughes carrying our flag. Clara the only Canadian and fourth ever athlete in history to win medals in both Winter and Summer Games (speedskating and cycling). You can visit her website and her blog here.

A couple of the Canadian athletes were carrying a flag of signatures. Makes me wonder what the story is....

OK, now some other moments from my day yesterday... I was watching the torch relay streamed live on my laptop (aka what a girl with no cable does!), and was delighted to see Sam Sullivan carrying the torch. Sam was one of three Vancouver mayors to play a role in our city's preparation for the games (the others were Larry Campbell, who was in office during the bid, and Gregor Robertson, our current mayor who saw the city through the final bumps to get us here). Regardless of what one thinks of Sam and his time as our Mayor, Sam did an awesome job as ambassador of the Vancouver Olympics. Click here to see a video of him accepting the flag in Torino, a moment that apparently stunned people in some parts of the world that could not imagine a quadraplegic holding such a prominent political office... and gave a new face to the Paralympic games. Anyways, I had been saddened to learn that he had no role in the games themselves, and had not even been given tickets. Geez. So, I was delighted to see him carrying the torch, how special for him! (Not in this pic, I also noticed that there was a disabled journalist travelling along with him, which I thought was a neat opportunity, as otherwise the relay would have been too fast for this kind of participation).

As I stopped to use the ATM at the Royal Bank on the corner of Georgia and Burrard Streets I noticed that they had a big screen set up and a bunch of easy chairs... Nifty. Tho now the secret is out...

A neat way to get around downtown these days...

Oops, a definite miss! Even I could have figured out we needed more garbage cans downtown. Doh. On a sidenote, interesting to see this crew of motorcycle cops at the ready - not a usual sight in Vancouver!

Encountered this guy was I was walking along Robson Street yesterday, all decked out with his cardboard/paper torch, gas mask and breathing tubes. He was all alone, but because he looked so hilarious, everyone looked and so he actually probably got his message out (oh, wait, what would that message have been?)... hmmmm...

This street band walking down Granville Street was featured on the news last night, apparently they were protesting all the protesters. Heh.

Oh, one more pic from the opening ceremony.... loved these fans!!!

A few pics from after the opening ceremonies now... This is the CTV news booth outside their studios on Robson Street. I don't think Pam is going to be all that happy, as the back of it is open and the wind was blowing her hair so that it was standing up on end during the broadcast.... I'm picturing a change by tonight. I doubt they'll cover the opening, so I'm guessing an Olympic toque, a hairnet or a pound of don't-touch-me-iron-hairspray.

The crowds on Robson behind the Art Gallery (between Hornby and Howe Streets) were insane. This was around 11, at least an hour and a half after the end of the opening ceremonies. Took about 10 minutes to walk a block, but the energy was very positive, so it was fun. I think there may have been a celebrity in this cluster, based on all the cameras clicking, people climbing fences and ledges to see, and the singing of the "Ole" hockey song (a Sidney spotting perhaps? naw, the crowd was too small, but something was going on!).

Howe Street, where I went to catch my bus. Hmmm.... There were busses sitting on the other side of those people, but the street was completely shut down. These friendly Sherrffs - who suggested I try Richards Street where the ones that didn't get stuci were apparently rerouted to - said they didn't know how long the street woud be shut. I gather it wasn't expected, but the crowd was just too big. But this is the very spot where the fireworks go off every night, so it's no surprise. Oh, on that note, about 15 minutes earlier, as I was approaching the area, those fireworks were just ending - with some huge round balls of fire that blasted up into the sky, like something I'd never seen before. Will have to go back to see the full show

I looked back again, and caught this great pic of Hotel Vancouver lightings up the sky behind the Robson Square area.

And this was the energy on Granville Street south of Smithe as I walked by. Nice vibe.

And I did another Olympic doodle: Olympic Doodle - Day 1, now posted.


Angela K. Nickerson said...

Fabulous! I can feel the spirit from here! We're watching the long track speedskating right now (tape delayed)... soooo wish I was there. Keep the updates coming! :)

Anonymous said...

M'Gem "so neat to be there thru you... photos are great and give a good sense of being there on the streets... luv the one with Hotel Vancouver. Keep up the GumShoeing"
~ xox