Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Olympic Recap Part 1 - Once in a Lifetime?

The thing about once in a lifetime experiences, is that, once you’ve had one, you wanna do it all over again. I know I do.
(The Olympic Rings in Whistler Village)

From the moment I found out the Winter Olympics were going to be in Vancouver when I was doing my working holiday there, it was my goal to get there and be part of it – and if possible, make some money while there.

Well, I did, and now it’s all over, and all I want to do is do it again.

Sure, Winter Olympic sports haven’t been my favourites in the past, but I always figured that being around a bunch of people who do care about sports like curling and Ice Dancing would make the whole experience worth it and I was right.

While I was pretty keen to stay in Vancouver during the games, I was sent up to the host mountain site, Whistler. At first I was a little annoyed, but I soon found out this was a pretty good stroke of luck, as I fail to see how I coulda had a better time if I had stayed in Vancouver.

While I was working pretty hard during the games (hard may not be the right word – long hours is probably more appropriate) and our living quarters may have been less than ideal, the three weeks we spent up at Whistler was just as good as I was hoping it was gonna be – something that’s pretty hard with the weight of expectations.

Like any good travelling experience, much of positives came from meeting people from all over. With 50,000 workers and volunteers needed to make the event work, some reinforcements were needed from outside of the local area. Along with plenty of folks from Vancouver and the rest of BC, an army of students were brought in from Ontario – many of whom were French Canadian, who always provide a lot of fun – along with plenty of Germans, Swedes, French, English, Italians and of course your usual compliment of Aussies.

Speaking of Australians, it has to be said, Whistler Village could easily be renamed “Little Australia”. Virtually every retail, dining and drinking establishment in town employs one of my countrymen. I’d heard the stories before, but I didn’t realise that people were not only not embellishing, they were very possibly understating how many Antipodeans are filling jobs they would never take back home – who goes on a working holiday to work in a McDonalds or a Subway? – just to be close to one of the best skiing and boarding mountains in the world.

(Whistler wouldn't run without Aussies)

It wasn’t just other workers from around the world that we were able to meet, it was the athletes and their families, friends and supporters that we got to meet that made the experience pretty memorable. Meeting the extremely excited mother of US skier Lindsay Vonn as she was on her way to watch her daughter win the gold, as well as a member of the Iranian ski team, are things you’re gonna remember. We also managed to meet the very proud sister of two members of the Peruvian Ski team – the first time Peru had ever had a team at the Winter Olympics.

(Team Peru logo)

Along with some great sporting action – which I’ll get to next week – there was some great musical performances. Usher, K’Naan, Feist and a bunch of supposedly famous Canadian bands rocked the medals plaza in Whistler on a nightly basis, but – for mine – the big one was The Roots. I’ve been wanting to see them play for years, so the opportunity to see them live, for free at the Olympic Games? Too good to pass up! Like the Games as a whole, they lived up to my huge expectations and rocked the house. When they pulled up the four Canadian girls who took Gold and Silver in the women’s pairs bobsleigh they managed to combined the celebration of Olympic champions with one heck of a party, which for mine, pretty much sums up the whole event.

(Me at the Roots concert at the Medals Plaza)

Next week I’ll sum up some more of the events – including the big one (hint, not the Curling) – but for mine, the event was about so much more than the sport. It really was like being at one great big party with thousands of people having the time of their lives.

Once in a lifetime? I hope not. I’m already making plans for London 2012….

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