2010 Winter Olympics Vancouver

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Thursday, February 25, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

Yesterday will surely go down as one of the best days we've had on land since living aboard.  In a moment of inspired insanity, we decided to drive up to Vancouver to absorb the Olympic Spirit so, in a mad rush, we researched all we could on the Internet and left early the following morning for Richmond, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver, where we parked for the day and took the Sky Train into the city.

As luck would have it, we didn't know where we wanted to go, nor did we have a map, so we disembarked at Olympic Village believing it would be the obvious choice.  It wasn't.  So we chose a new destination and walked into the city from there.  Along the way, we ran into a few groups of men selling tickets to the bronze-medal Women's Ice Hockey Game (Finland versus Sweden) which had started 35 minutes beforehand.  The first price thrown at us was CA$100 a ticket, so we quickly walked past.  The offer from the next man waiting was CA$50 but, not knowing where the arena was, I was convinced the game would be over by the time we got there.  Inevitably, the next question was, “how much do you want to pay?” but my response of, “nothing” didn't get us anywhere.  Once we learned the arena was only a 10 or 15 minute walk, the tickets became more valuable (though I still couldn't shed the feeling that we were being had) and we settled on a price of CA$20 a piece – my frugality nearly ruining our chance to see an Olympic event (a medal round, no less).

With the deal done and the tickets in hand, we walked as fast as we could to the Canada Hockey Place, through security, and made it to our seats by the early minutes of the second period with the score 1-0 (Finland).  Sweden scored a goal to tie the game during the second period which was answered several minutes later by Finland making the score 2-1.  The first female president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, was in the audience, and it was difficult not to get caught up in her girlish enthusiasm as she cheered, “go, go, go!” while being interviewed.  Sweden wasn't finished, however, and they came back during the third period to tie the game and send it into overtime.

No one ever knows what is said in the locker room at moments like this but, whatever it was, the Finnish team took it to heart and came out after the intermission fighting and scored the winning goal with only 2 minutes and 33 seconds off the clock.  The moment the buzzer went off, the gloves and sticks went flying as the Finnish team ran to each other and embraced.  The next shot on the big screen was of the president, now wearing a team jersey, jumping up and down and cheering in excitement.  The Swedes stayed on the ice until the obligatory handshakes were over and then returned to the locker room.  The Finns, however, didn't seem to want to leave the arena and allow the moment to disappear off into history, and neither did we. 

We've both been to sporting events before – professional, amateur, and international – but it's difficult to describe exactly what it's like to attend an Olympic match.  This was something clearly special – something transcending sport.  There's an energy that fills the air, and you can't help but hold your breath for these teams who have everything to lose in 60 minutes of play – for many of them, it's the last opportunity to wear their country's colours or a uniform at all.  These women have nothing to gain monetarily or, in most cases, professionally – there will be no endorsements or professional contracts at the end of the day.  They play for the love of country, team, and sport; and while you're watching what's happening on the ice, you're aware of all of this leaving you convinced that you're seeing the game played in its most pure state. 

At this point, we could have happily left Vancouver, but the day wasn't over yet so, from the Canada Hockey Place, we walked a block or so up to the LiveCity Downtown venue to watch men's curling on the big screen and the start of the gold-medal women's hockey between Canada and the US along with hundreds of Canadians who were cheering their team on to victory.  The game became painful after Canada scored two unanswered goals, so we left in search of our next adventure.  By this time, the streets were filling in with pedestrians wearing red and white, the sidewalks were lined with vendors selling their wares, and buskers filling the air with music as people listened and danced along.  We carried on to Robson Square to see the public ice-rink and then down to LiveCity at Yaletown for a concert.  By 7:00 PM, we were both exhausted, so we boarded the Sky Train back to Richmond and were on the road again by 8 o'clock, across the border in a matter of minutes, and leaving Canada and the 21st Winter Olympics behind.

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