Friday, February 26, 2010

celebrate ireland

yesterday, the 24th, was the birthday of one of the sellers in my box office, joanna. joanna is from dublin, ireland - and is here in canada working and traveling for a year...and has ended up working for the games...and has been such a fun addition to our cypress mountain staff! our box office had a surprise little birthday party for her...and we made it a red-n-white celebration, in honor of her celebrating her birthday in canada!!!!

colleen shows off our mad decorations.

more decorations.

the incredible cake.

joanna walks in and is totally surprised.

joanna inspects her canada cake!

the party of the century.

joanna attempting to cut her cake.

lessons from norway

the other night, after we were done with another fun day up at cypress, i went with 2 co-workers to a chain here in vancouver called 'boston pizza.' we went to watch the canada/germany men's hockey game...and it was a lively, spirited crowd that had assembled in the bar to watch the game.

the two guys in the picture above were two of the most vocal people in the room (and clearly the most active, as you see them standing on their chairs, drinking and watching the game.) they were both from norway - and were in the bar celebrating their country picking up a medal in women's ski cross. but as the game started, these guys started chanting and cheering, "WE LOVE CANADA!" over and over and over again - walking around and getting others to cheer and clap and celebrate, as well. then they came to the table behind us that was full of russians...and when they found this out, they changed their tune to, "WE LOVE RUSSIA!" over and over and over again...getting that table into the cheering. they even found the lone german, sitting at the bar, in his german-flag-colored suspenders and his german flag draped over his chair (dejected, because his team was getting clobbered), and starting chanting with him, "WE LOVE GERMANY!" over and over and over again.

i sat back and watched these norwegians working the room, professing their love of every country they came in contact with - and really believing that they did, INDEED, love all these countries - and it struck me that these guys are what the olympic experience is all about. they aren't athletes....they aren't coaches...they aren't here competing for a gold medal and endorsement deals. they are part of the spectating masses that have come to connect to the world they live in, in whatever way they know how. (this night, it just happened to be over hockey and pizza and beer and standing on chairs...but it varies from location to location.)

i came to vancouver thinking i couldn't love the olympics anymore...but thanks to experiences like the ones with the fans from norway, or with the awesome dutch fans who have let me get pictures with them and laugh with them, or with the aussies standing in line while it sleets as we sing and clap and cheer, i have found an increased capacity to love the olympics in my life.

and knowing it makes me want to stand on the table and shout, "WE LOVE OLYMPICS!" for everyone in the bar to hear.

Monday, February 22, 2010

olympic sights

enjoy some images from the past 11 days....

me and the swiss curling team. i helped get them into the men's aerials, and they were overjoyed. i got a picture and a swiss curling team pin!

we see so many crazy fans outside our box office...and this was a particular favorite today!

a shot of the "controversial" australia flag on the side of the olympic village.

me, on cambie bridge, post-US hockey win (over canada) world all lit up in the back.

the view of the crowd watching the hockey game with me. total count? 3 americans and 4 billion canadians.

a team USA fan - walking the streets along granville...loving the fans...

me at pacific colliseum....after the first night of ice dancing.

a look down from our suite to the ice and the rest of the colliseum.

ben bennet, quatchi and i...kickin' it in vancouver...

a look at the full half-pipe.

loving some team USA fans in the stands!!!

me and halfpipe...old friends...

the ticketing staff from CYPRESS - on our venue walk-through....

me, out front of BC place. getting ready to go into the opening ceremonies. amazing.

me with my drum of goodies AND white poncho at the opening ceremonies...

some fans from ghana stop for a quick picture!!!

i mean....i love the dutch fans. how could you not?

a practice day in the fog.

2 more dutch fans. they rock.

olympic-size lessons

wow. so....i dropped the ball on THIS! hahaha. february 11th was really my last post? i could've sworn it was later than that. but the MAnderson Report doesn't it looks like i haven't reported in here since....well, before the games began. if blogging about the olympics were an olympic event, i would've been DQ'd long ago.

so i have tons of stories and pictures to share...but today, to catch you up, i just wanted to share some quick lessons that i have learned over the past week+ of being part of the games...and look forward to the next week and what lessons lay in store.

lesson 1: no matter how many times you've seen one on tv, there is nothing like sitting in the crowd for an opening ceremonies...especially that MOMENT when the host nation walks in. i just got goose-pimples again thinking about it. as cheesy as it sounds, i will cherish that night forever.

lesson 2: i always thought i loved american patriotism...and i do...but i have learned here that i just love 'patriotism' - american or canadian or ghanian or whatever nationality. i have been choked up more than once at these games seeing someone express their love of their country in the myriad of ways people choose. i love learning this lesson....again and again....

lesson 3: i have learned that the energy and excitement of the olympic games will compensate for the extreme tiredness and sleepless mornings and nights that come with a job like this. even if i went to bed at 1am and have to wake up at 3:30am to catch a 4:30am bus up the mountain, there is an energy that fills me and makes living this schedule for 2 weeks possible. i would like to bottle and sell it.

lesson 4: i love both the idea and the execution of the idea behind the $2 coin. i love it. more than once i have thought, not feeling any paper cash in my pocket, "UGH! I am out of money again except for some stupid change!" only to pull the 'stupid change' out and realize there is like $18 in there...thanks to the genius of the $2 coin. i will love it forever.

lesson 5: there is nothing wrong with french fries and gravy. nothing. i've tried to think of something...and there is nothing.

lesson 6: i never had a real thought on scalpers before this event...except that i think they were always a bit shady in my mind. i come away from this HATING them. H to the A to the T to the E. Scalpers are pure evil in the form of disgusting humans and should be banished from the earth.

lesson 7: this is all moving too fast. imagine how you feel when you say, "it's already february 21st? this month is moving too fast." now speed that feeling of fast up like.....times 10...and you will begin to understand how fast this is moving. it suuuuuucks!!!!

lesson 8: i have loved learning that there are other people - many other friends and family out there - who are fans of the olympics like me! it has been amazing sharing this with you all!!!!

there is a handful of my lessons for today. i am going to make a real effort to finish up strong this next week with posts and pictures and stories and fun - because i don't want to forget ANY part of this amazing experience!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the agony of defeat

tonight i went to yaletown to see the last official 'community celebration' of the 106 day torch relay. tomorrow night the torch will enter the olympic stadium and kick off the games. so awesome. the big draw tonight was to see canada's own, the velvety-voiced michael buble, as he carried the torch.

well...michael buble really runs fast. it threw me for a loop. and my pretty normal ability to get an important picture in the clutch was thrown out the window. here is the best shot i got:

see the blue triangle under the blob/flame on the left? yeah - that's his arm. holding his torch. pretty amazing skill. i know. (and if you squint, and imagine, you can see his red glove wrapped around the torch.) here is the OTHER good shot i got of him....from roughly one million miles away:

and then after realizing my failure, i felt christy and anais giving me the dirtiest looks EVER because i had MISSED the perfect shot. (we were literally 2 feet from him as he ran by.) but at least i had my camera in hand here...and snapped a picture of them in front of the crowd.

i'll get you next time, michael buble!

unbelievable 24 hours!

so friends....the past 24+ hours has been such an incredible span of time. everywhere you look around this city, the level of excitement and pride and anticipation is on full display! yesterday (tuesday) i spent the morning at the olympic family hotel, helping the new ticket sellers for that venue get settled in and ready to start work. the olympic family hotel is basically the hotel that all the IOC members and many of the national olympic committees from around the world stay. there was such an exciting energy to be there and see them all greeting each others and watching as the different countries were sighted throughout the lobby!

me and the hall of flags at the olympic family hotel.

after that, i headed out to the VANOC headquarters for some managers training - and while we were there, it was mentioned that the OLYMPIC FLAME would be coming to make a special appearance for the vancouver olympic committee's families and friends. SO OF COURSE i had to stay to see the torch arrive! and while we waited, i got to meet 2 of the mascots and get pictures, and laugh with some new friends and FEEL the excitement build in a crowd comprised of many people who have been working on this dream for 8 years or more!

VANOC CEO carries the torch. so. awesome.

after the torch evening, which was just incredible....and i'm not even going to try to explain because words would fail me....they were offering the chance to get a picture with the flame (in a lantern) so i waited a bit but the lines were ridiculous so i ended up heading out to catch the bus. at the bus stop, i started chatting with a really nice couple, close to my age, and we were talking about the games and the event we had just been at (after we realized we were both at the same torch event) and different things about vancouver and washington dc. we continued our conversation on the bus, and were having a great time, and i mentioned a friend of mine here who is dealing with all the US athletes each day - getting them checked in and dealing with some big names....and the gal said, 'yeah....but did she get to hold a silver medal today?' and then in a strange twist of thought that went something like this: "what? a silver medal? what are you.....WAIT A MINUTE DID YOU JUST PULL A SILVER MEDAL OUT OF YOUR POCKET!?!?!?!?!?" come to find out, sister was at the torch ceremony as a 'past olympian' and is pretty much a big deal. she was a rower - won silver in the women's eights race in 1996 in atlanta. I. WAS. DYING. torch. mascots. medal! amazing.

i mean come on! perfect ending to an incredible day!!!

and to top it all off - tonight i ended up watching a good portion of the final dress rehearsal for the opening ceremonies. i mean - THE OPENING CEREMONIES!? of the OLYMPICS!? WHAT!? it's true. i pinched myself - and i pinched again - and it kept coming back to me. indeed - this is all real. and has been such a fantastic experience so far!

now we are down to one day left until vancouver 2010 is under way...and i won't give anything away...but i will say this....congrats, canada! you should be pretty darn proud!!!!! and thank you for being an INCREDIBLE host!

the ads for the gloves.

fun friend sherry was a torch bearer last week! here we are showing off her special-grip gloves for the torch relay!

new pals danielle, miga and i celebrate. me and quatchi having a blast together!

2 of my favorite VANOC'ers: danielle and paul!

the countdown clock when i walked by this evening....