The Olympics are over and it seems like the whole city is in a daze. Walking through downtown on my way to work on Monday morning, I would not have been surprised to see a tumbleweed blow by. Since I was not able to blog very much during the Games—I worked a minimum of 65 hours each week, not including travel time to and from downtown—I thought I’d make up for it by sharing some of the best bits with you now that it’s all over. I hereby present you with part one of a special series entitled Sarah Miller’s Favorite Moments of the Olympics:
1) Alexandre Bilodeau wins Gold
I will never, ever forget the moment when Alexandre Bilodeau walked out onto the stage to receive Canada’s first ever Gold Medal. Getting to be in the building for that was a once in a lifetime experience. It was the moment when the Olympics really became Canada’s Games—the TSN Turning Point, if you will—when everyone climbed on board with reckless abandon. When he walked out it was so loud you could not even hear the medal ceremony music (and trust me, it’s loud) and the noise just escalated from there to when they actually put the medal around his neck, and reaching a final crescendo when they raised the flag. I wish someone had thought to bring a decibel metre.
2) Random volunteer yells at moderately famous hockey players.
The volunteers who were put on security duty or pass checking duty for the most part tended to be Type A individuals. They took their jobs very seriously, sometimes a little too seriously. At BC Place the production trailers (where our audio trailer and all of the broadcast trucks sat) and the logistics trailers (where we signed in/out and ate our meals) were separated by a road. On hockey game days, the players and outside media were bussed in along this road and some of the crowd came in that way. They built a large scaffolding bridge over the road for us production people to walk over when the road was overly busy, but on days when there were no hockey games we tended to just cross the street—technically not allowed but nobody really cared if the road was not in use. Here is a picture of the bridge to give you an idea of why we wouldn’t want to climb it all the time:
One particular non-hockey game day, I was walking back to the audio trailer from the catering tent and this group of guys was standing on the road just outside the production compound. They looked a little lost and were trying to get directions from the volunteer who stood outside the compound checking passes. Unfortunately this was completely unacceptable to one of the security volunteers at the other end of the compound (at least one hundred yards away, maybe further). She started yelling at the guys to get out of the road at the top of her voice: “YOU CANNOT WALK IN THE ROAD! GET OFF THE ROAD! GET OUT OF THE ROAD!” with such urgency you would have thought there was a car speeding towards them—there wasn’t.
Of course I thought it was a little bit hilarious because a) the lady was taking herself and her job way too seriously and b) there was nobody coming so what’s the problem and c) there were about 6 other volunteers in the nearby vicinity who could have politely asked the guys to get out of the road without yelling. So I was walking towards them, chuckling to myself when I realized that the guys were Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Peter Foresberg and about 4 other players from Team Sweden. Then I lost it, because seeing a volunteer unwittingly ream out a bunch of pro hockey players is funny. The fact that it was the Sedin twins—second only to Roberto Luongo in most Canucks’ fans hearts—made it even more hilarious. I could not see the lady’s face as they walked by her but I’ll bet she was embarrassed.
3) Seeing Brian Williams (NBC version) in the IBC
There were a lot of newscasters milling around our production trailers, guys you’d recognize if you watch hockey on Sportsnet or TSN. Sadly, I never caught a glimpse of any of my favorites (Jay Onrait, Dan O’Toole and Ray Ferraro) but I did see NBC’s Brian Williams the day I went to visit the International Broadcast Centre. He is probably my favorite of all newscasters, because he was once on 30 Rock and listens to cool music. Also, he really loves Canada. I only wish I’d been brave enough to ask for a picture.
4) Drunk guy gets a little too enthusiastic about the national anthem
Much has been written about Canadian patriotism during these Olympics, but one of the funniest manifestations of national pride has got to be turning the national anthem into a drinking song.
One night after work I went out for pizza and beer with a few people from the production crew. By the time we were finished work and everyone had gone back to their hotel rooms to change and we’d reassembled to go out it was already fairly late. It was the night that Canada beat Germany in the hockey quarterfinals so most people in the bar had gotten quite a head start on the drinking. One particular group of guys kept singing the national anthem with reckless abandon, each time forgetting more of the words and stumbling into a waitress or a table or a bar stool. We had heard them sing it 7 or 8 times before the waitress finally cut them off and suggested they take their party outside. The bar quieted down a little bit and we finished our pizza in relative peace.
About forty-five minutes later we left the bar and much to our delight the drunkest of the O Canada! guys was almost passing out in the bushes just outside. As we walked by one of the guys on the crew sang the opening four notes of “O Canada!” to him and the guy instantly sprang to life with “Our Home and Native Land!” only to fall back into the bushes again—still singing. We were killing ourselves laughing as we walked down the street, but the drunk guy continued to follow us singing at the top of his lungs. We passed his slightly less drunk friends further up the block who were mad at us for getting him going again.
Some of the American guys on our crew who have worked many, many Olympics and other sporting events said that they’ve never seen so much public drunkenness anywhere in the world as they’ve seen here in Vancouver. Go Canada Go!
5) Gold Medal Hockey Game
Never have I ever seen a more exciting hockey game in my whole entire life. And that’s including all the Oilers Stanley Cup finals stuff. It was so fast, so electrifying and there was so much on the line. We watched the crowds pour in to Canada Hockey Place, and they had drums and horns and were so loud before the Game even started it was amazing.
I watched the game with most of the production crew in the media “lounge” on the concourse at BC Place. Half of the crew was American which made for some fun cheering on both sides.
You almost didn’t need to watch the game though because you could tell exactly what was going on just by listening to the crowds. If you were outside when Canada scored you could hear the horn and the cheers from all over downtown. It was pretty awesome. And then of course, there was the game winning goal. Which was heard around the world, I’m sure.
For the most part, the Americans were good sports about it. And I mean really, you can’t expect to come to a Winter Olympics in Canada and beat the Canadians at hockey, can you?
That’s it for this edition, I decided to split things up to keep you interested and also because I don’t have a long enough attention span to write about everything at once. Stay tuned, more to come.