Monday, February 15, 2010

Go Canada Go

Yesterday Canada won their first Olympic gold on home soil!!!!!  But I can't start at the end I have to start at the beginning.   So here it is.  

Valentine's Day dawned clear-ish and sunny-ish.   Cody-Anne dropped us at the bus stop after a little detour at Starbucks and once again we took the bus and the SkyTrain downtown. 
Inside the SkyTrain Waterfront Terminal

 This time we were headed to the Richmond Oval to watch the Ladies 3000 meter final.  After about a one mile hike (some would call it a walk but it was a hike for me) along the river we arrived at the beautiful new facility.  

But a bit of back story first.  Through Facebook, I have recently gotten in contact with a some old friends from my Rawhide days.  Vic and Jayne were/are some of my favorite people and it has been great to hear about their lives from afar.  Vic is a police officer in Ontario and Jayne mentioned on Facebook that she was missing him as he is in Vancouver providing security for the Olympics.  To make a long story short she said he is stationed at the Richmond Oval and of course I said I was going to be there so she gave me his phone number and while in the security line I texted  him (texted - is that a word?  Really?  Shouldn't I say, "I sent him a text message"? Well anyhow I did whatever it is it's called)   to see if he could take a few minutes away from his duties to say hi.  I told Mar to get her camera ready cause this would be photo- op I didn't want to miss.

He met me at the security gate and when we caught sight of each other we both broke into huge grins.  He swooped me up in his big arms and it was as though the years just vanished.  We figured we hadn't seen each other since 1988 at a Rawhide reunion! His Australian accent is still discernible and his graciousness has not dimmed.  He is still a kind, humble, caring family man albeit with a profession that tends to harden one.  Both of us are older, grayer, wider and, hopefully, wiser but the days of our youth seemed like yesterday.  I told Vic seeing him was almost eclipsing the event I was about to watch and a day later I can say it was the highlight of my Valentine's Day. 

After bidding Vic a reluctant goodbye we made a pee break and found our seat.  The Oval is beautiful.  It was very bright inside and the ice shone like glass.

  Like I do, I had to look around and try and take it all in before I could even watch the race already in progress.  The first thing I noticed, and anyone in my position would, I think, was the proliferation of orange.  Orange, orange everywhere I looked.  Those Dutch sure love their speed skating.  Crazy people I tell ya.  Just barking loony! The costumes were crazy and their enthusiasm infectious.

  Canada had 3 gals in the race with Cindy Klassen being the favorite but really not in medal contention.  That left Clara Hughes and Kristina Groves and I must say there were some close close heats.  

Kristina Groves warming up for her bronze medal win.
Cindy Klassen cooling down. She brought the house down with her effort.

Clara Holmes cooling down.  Pooped!

The US gave everyone a run for their money as well but it was a skinny little Czech gal that took the gold.  The inside of my cheek was practically a bloody pulp by the time the race was over.  Kristina took the bronze and it was a proud moment.  

The lady next to me was a friendly sort and mentioned that she was a volunteer for the Opening Ceremony.  She worked back stage with the dancers and met David Adkins the director and choreographers.  Of course I was all ears at that point and picked her brain for technical details.  Very interesting.  She said she was helping with the Closing ceremony, too.  How fun.  I know I would have wanted to participate in that area had I lived closer.  

After that event we made the one mile trek back to the Sky Train and then into downtown Vancouver and followed the crowds in search of the cauldron.  Poor Mar.  Her feet were really hurting and she was limping but she was a trooper and she kept on the trail like a hound dog.  It was fun to walk along the streets and sidewalks with so many from around the world.  All seemed to be heading somewhere specific as opposed to the more random wanderings at night on Robson St.  

When we finally got to the lighted cauldron it was a bit of a let down as it is surrounded by a chain link fence and really quite difficult to see or get to.  (We did hear on the TV today that that is a common complaint of the people and Vanoc is talking about perhaps loosening the security a bit and putting up a different type of fence.) 

 The cauldron is near Canada Place and those wonderful sails stirred memories of Expo '86 in my heart. 

A long trek up Hastings and over to Robson and down Robson back to BC Place didn't help Mar's feet - nor mine for that matter- but it got us to the Victory Ceremony with 30 minutes to spare.   As we approached the entrance they said we needed to walk to East entrance as their was no waiting there.  Well little did we know the East entrance was another 20 minute walk all. the. freaking. way. around. the. stadium!!!

Along the way we made these elaborate plans about where to meet after the ceremony as we had seats in different sections of the stadium.  We tried to exchange our tickets for adjoining ones with scalpers along the way but they wanted $40 each in addition to the tickets we had and so we said "forget it."  We made sure we had our phones, knew where one another was seating and figured out exactly where to stand to wait for the other.  I found my seat and settled in quickly as the ceremony had already started. Then Mar came tripping over the others in the row and plopped herself down right next to me.  It seemed we had adjoining seats after all.  It just didn't show that on our tickets.  

Each day at the Victory Ceremony was a celebration of a particular Canadian province and yesterday was BC day.  It began with First People's dancing, then many other dancers, drummers and singers from all cultures and from all over the province performed. About this time we broke out the Advil and took a couple to ease the aching in our feet and prepare us for the walk back up Robson to meet Kev and Cody-Anne.  

Then the big announcement - Ben Mulroney interrupted himself and said he was getting information in his ear that Canada had won a gold medal!  Well let me tell you, that place erupted.  I have never heard so many people in one place all hollering and cheering at once.   Flags waving everywhere, people going bananas and Ben grinning from ear to ear.  He had no word as to who it was but said he would get back to us.

When the crowd settled they began the medal ceremony portion of the evening.  Kristina Groves, Jenn Heil and my other boyfriend Apollo Anton Ono all received their medals.  So amazing to watch the race that afternoon and see Kristina get her medal that night. 
Apollo getting his medal
Taken of the big screen
 Apollo is so cute and I love his charisma, dedication and enthusiasm.  GO USA!!!!  In addition to Apollo medaling there were 2 American girls in the Gold and Bronze position in Women's Moguls. 

We only sat through 5 Nelly Furtado songs before leaving BC Place to make our way back up Robson to meet Cody-Anne and Kevin.

  They had gone to Yaletown to a free concert and were happy to hang out with us later.  Mar and I were starved and stopped at the Pita Pit.  I love that place.  Don't have those in CA and I wish we did.  Once again we just wandered around downtown, took some pictures
Proud Canadians
Silly Canadian
Cranky Canadian (not really but I couldn't resist)
 and then headed home on the Sky Train.  

Another day to be proud to be Canadian.  Go Canada go.

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