Oh Canada

I would have to say that my Olympic experience has been amazing.  It first became real to me when I drove to Maple Ridge at 5:30am to meet a group of people that I would be carrying the Olympic Torch with.

The Torch Relay
It was an experience I will never forget.  A group of about 15 of us met in the town hall to receive instruction on what was to be done, we were given our torches, and driven to our legs of the relay.  Before they dropped the first person off, they asked us all to share our stories of why we were chosen to be a Torch Bearer.  It was inspiring to hear the stories of ordinary Canadians doing extra-ordinary things.

I was excited to carry the flame for sure, but I was worried that the experience wouldn't be that great because I was scheduled to run at 7:13am in a tiny town and I couldn't talk any of my friends to come out and watch.  I figured there might be 2 or 3 people on the side of the road and that would be it.  I was wrong.  Maple Ridge was full of Olympic spirit.  When I got dropped off, the whole side of the road was lined with people, hundreds of them.  They had flags, and cameras, and smiles, and cheers.  It was amazing.

As I was standing at my start point waiting to go a looked down the road and saw it, the Olympic Flame, the same flame that had been lit by the sun in Greece, that had traveled by boat, by plane, by car, and by foot, it had traveled tens of thousands of kilometers and had been carried by thousands of people.  Excitement filled my body as I realized that it was coming to me.

Previously I had wondered how I should carry the torch: should I walk and make the moment last as long as I could, or should I sprint it as fast as I could, or what?  When I saw that flame coming to me I knew there was only one answer - I was to run it with Olympic pride.

My First Event - Sweden vs Slovakia Women's Hockey
The Olympics had started and I was enjoying watching it on TV and figured that would be the extent of it.  Then I got a slew of texts from one excited Janelle exclaiming she had won ice hockey tickets.  She entered a draw and her best friend's name was picked, she offered to babysit, then her name was picked, and she said "Never mind".  We all got to go together to Thunderbird Arena here on campus and sit on the front row.  It was women's hockey which in my opinion is not to the same caliber as men's and Canada wasn't playing; however, it was a great time.  Just the whole atmosphere. Flags waving, people cheering, everyone having a great time.  The buzz continued.

Downtown Explorations
I went for a bike ride downtown to check out the Olympic venues and Pavilions.  The line-ups were huge but I saw what needed to be seen and then came back the next day with Janelle and Kaylen.  We started by Science World and worked our way past Olympic Village, through downtown, and to the Waterfront were the Cauldron was.  It was neat to see all the flags up and take pictures of things.  Robson St is a zoo; they have blocked it off from traffic and there were people everywhere.  Pretty cool to soak up the excitement around here.

Canada vs Russia Men's Hockey Quarter Final
Janelle and I had considered blowing some dough to buy some Men's hockey tickets for a Canada game.  We undulated from yes let's do it, to no it's too much.  When Canada became scheduled to play Russia in the quarter finals I just couldn't resist.  Many predicted this to be the Gold Medal Game with two amazing powerhouse teams.  Most people wanted $750-$1000 per ticket.  I wasn't going to pay that much.  I started the morning by emailing a bunch of people on Craigslist with low-ball offers.  I basically said that if the game is about to start and you are worried because no one has bought your tickets give me a call and I'll buy them off you for cheap - better than losing out on the money.  After a few nasty replies I figured that maybe this wouldn't work.

My next idea was to head to the venue with a pocket of cash and see what scalpers were looking for.  They wanted $900-$1000 a ticket.  The game was scheduled to start at 4:30 and it this point it was 3:30.  I thought an hour before the game started they would start to get worried and sell for cheaper but apparently they had tons of time, and more than likely the cost would go up as the time went by, and I'm an idiot, and to get out of their faces.  Janelle was worried that I was going to get punched out.  What do you expect - scalpers - they are the scum of the world, you can't reason with them.

I realized that an hour before was too early to low-ball so we took off for a while and planned to come back at 4:15.  I figured we would be missing the first period as we were busing back home because there was no way we were getting tickets.  As we approached the venue I saw a guy holding up about 10 tickets.  This guy has got to be getting desperate I thought.  I asked how much and he said $600 each.  That's the best I've heard so far.  I offered $500 each and he tried for $550 but I was firm on 5 and he took.  As we were walking away I saw two guys, who we ended up sitting beside at the game, buy two tickets for $600 each.  Suckas!

Because we got our tickets so late we walked in the building right as they were about to drop the puck.  From the entrance way I could hear the chants: GO CANADA GO! GO CANADA GO!  It was electrifying.  As I walked up the stairs to the seating area into the arena the sound got louder and louder.  I looked out at thousands of people all wearing red and white, cheering as loud as they possibly could for Canada.  As I joined in I cannot describe the feeling I had.  It was worth every penny.  And the game was great - we stomped them Russians.  I read a good article describing the feeling in the building partially copied below:

"Both Russian and Canadian fans in Canada Hockey Place tonight created something like a force field in the building, especially in the moments before the opening faceoff—a bizarre collective energy that I’ve never experienced at any gathering in my life. It’s one of those things that make meetings between two hockey-mad nations so memorable. And I’ll remember this one for as long as my memory works."

After the romping of Russia the celebrations continued into the streets.  It was an experience I'll never forget.

Are you Still With Me?
The Olympics have been great.  It's wonderful to be here and to catch in all the patriotism that is not usually seen in Canada and to feel the excitement.  I guess there's only one thing left to say:


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