Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Elementary School Day

I was so excited when my brother's school ordered to many tickets the the Paralympic Alpine Skiing Event.  I quickly requested a ticket and got it!

Yesterday I found myself squeezed onto a school bus with 90 elementary school kids.  The bus ride was quick, thank goodness!  We took the Creekside chairlift up and sat in the grand stand, which was wonderful.  We had a great view.  It was VERY hot yesterday.  We were all bundled up, but found ourselves WAY overdressed.

While we went there for Alpine Skiing, that got cancelled, so we ended up watching Super G.  I was amazed at the athletes.  There were athletes that skied dow with one leg or one arm, and the sit skiers were amazing.  I was lucky enough to be there when Lauren Whoolstencroft won gold.  The Canadian fans erupted.  It was nice to see the enthusiasm of the Olympic Games continued into the Paralympic Games.

On our way down, they wouldn't let us take the lift down.  There we were, 90 students walking down a ski hill.  It was comical really.  I surprised myself by  not falling flat on my face!

My whole experience during these games has been amazing and they are just so amazing!  I really hope we can continue during London 2012!!!!  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For The Love of the Game

Hockey is a game enjoyed by all ages.  I know 6 year olds that know more about the game and players than some of the players themselves!  I babysit one boy who has so many hockey cards, he was able to make all the Olympic Teams from all the countries.  He spent 2 hours telling me a brief history about each player.  I was amazed.

Yesterday, I had the chance to go see a Sledge Hockey game.  USA vs. South Korea.  It was amazing to see this sport.  The men on that team are amazing to have over come so much to continue doing something they love!  Sledge Hockey is something that has always intrigued me, and it was great to see so many people turn out to cheer on the teams.  Whether you were young or old, able bodied or disabled, the game brought everyone together.

The beginning of the game was interesting for Evelyn Dias - - and myself.  We got our tickets and went to sit down, only to find out our row didn't exist.  The VANOC helpers were great, and got us different a better location than we were originally...hehehe.  We got to our section to find our seats were in the middle of literally a mob of proud USA fans.  VERY PROUD USA fans.  The game hadn't even started yet, when one of those very proud USA fans accidentally spilled their beer down my back.  I just kept telling myself it's all part of the experience.  We ended up moving so we could sit with Jasmine Dhaliwal - - .  That's when we found ourselves next to one of the boldest little boys I have ever met.

My first encounter with this boy was when he asked me who I was cheering for.  I told him I wasn't decided yet and he told me I should cheer for the USA because they were winning.  He informed me that's what he does at every game I go to.  I had to suppress my giggles.  He was decked out in Canada gear from head to toe with a cow bell around his neck, clutching his Miga and Sumi stuffies.  I thanked him for the advice and continued watching the game.  One of my favourite discoveries during the Olympic Games has been the Bam-Bam noise makers.  They are 2 inflatable sticks that make a cool sound when you beat them together.  I was beating them to the beat of a South Korean motivational chant, when something grabbed them.  The littler boy stood, there my Bam-Bam in his hand, staring at me.

"I thought you were going to cheer for USA like I told you!"  He said to me.  "I still don't know what team I'm going for."  I replied.  "I told you, USA."  He said.  I agreed and kept watching.  It was comical really.  The little boy never sat down the whole time.  He wanted desperately to get on the jumbo-tron.  Every time the camera guy came around, I would tell the boy to make as much noise as he could.  I don't think his parents were very happy with me, but I wanted to help this little boy.  He never did get on.  I felt bad, but hey, he was still enjoying himself.  I never did get the little boy's name, but by the end of the game, we were best buds.  I ended up giving him my blue RBC Bam-Bams.  He was stoked.  I taught him how to use them and even though it was the end of the game, he left the stadium beating them together, making a huge racket.  I don't think his parents we very happy with me...again, but hey, when you have someone so young so enthusiastic for a game like he was, I believe you need to support that however you can.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paralympic Truce Event

As the only Sea-to-Sky Students Live reporter, I was presented with the opportunity to experience the Paralympic Truce event.  I just got back about 5 minutes ago, so I am going to tell you about my adventure.  It was interesting.

I got an email stating I had to be at the Welcome Centre in the Paralympic Athletes' Village by 9:15am.  I was lucky enough to mooch a ride of my dad...who is as sick as a dog right now.  Thanks Daddy!  We started off at about 8:00am.  We hit snow as soon as we got on the highway to Whistler.  This was no light dusting, this was one of Whistler's famous blizzards.  We wanted got stuck behind a snow-plow, which isn't all that bad considering our predicament.  Along the way, we passed a truck in a ditch, and a semi-trick flipped over.  That's how ridiculous the highway is when it's snowing.  It was crazy!

After much driving, we finally made it to the Paralympic Athletes Village.  I went to the Guest Pass desk and told the lady I was media for the Truce Event.  She took my name, checked me  in a told me I had to catch a shuttle to the Guest Pass building.  Ok, I was thinking, this is going to be interesting...I was right.  They didn't have the entrance path cleared, so the lady led me through the exit path which took you to the same place.  We were stopped, however, by the RCMP security.  We were told I needed to be scanned through and get my pass there.  The lady told the officer I was a VIP guest...thats right....VIP.  He told her I still couldn't get through.  Now I don't know who the lady thought I was, but it gets better.  She had security open up the entrance gate for me, but it hadn't been shovelled.  I said that was fine, but she informed me we could wait inside while they shovelled it out for me....there was like 3 inches of snow and I was wearing snow boots.  I agreed to wait inside with her.  Within 5 minutes it was all shovelled out.  I got to the shuttle and was the only on on there, but the bus driver drove me up to the Paralympic Guest Pass Building.  I picked up my pass, went through security, and was in the Village Plaza.  Thank goodness.

For awhile, I thought I was the only one there.  There were a few volunteers, but other than that it was deserted.  I called the lady who was the contact for this event, and she informed me I might be in the wrong place.  Well I couldn't really go anywhere because I had my pass and the people who gave me the pass had my I.D. to insure I returned my pass.  I went to the front desk, and they told me I was in the right place.  I phoned the lady back, and she told me to meet her in the Café.

The Far Coast Café is a tent with couches and coffee tables.  It's a nice little warm place to be.  I met with the lady I had to and waited for the event to start.  I moved closer to the window to get a better look at the stage.  I wasn't paying much attention to who was entering the Café.  Low and behold, the President of VANOC, John Furlong, walked in.  I was shocked.  He was bombarded by people, but made time for as many as possible.  He was sat down, along with IPC (International Paralympic Commitee) President Sir Philip Craven, Patrick Andersen, Wheelchair Basketball Player and Mayor of the Whistler Paralympic Athlete Village, Ken Melamd, Mayor of Whistler, and a representative from the United Nations.

John Furlong was the first to address the crowd.  He talked about how important the Truce is.  How sport CAN inspire peace.   He talked about how the Truce Monument will be a permanent legacy.  He thanked the volunteers for their hard work.  He really is a nice guy.  He made a few jokes to the crowd and was good spirited about how when he left, it was Spring in Whistler and how when he came back, it was Winter.

The next to address the crowd was IPC President, Sir Philip Craven.  He talked about the monument.  The Truce monument was inspired by the raven who is a very powerful figure in First Nations Culture.  It represents inspiration and equality and the artist, Corrine Hunt, captured that in the monument itself.

Patrick Anderson is not only Mayor of the Whistler Paralympic Athletes Village, but also a Wheelchari Basket Ball Champion.  He spoke of how sports can bring out both the best and the worst in people, but it's all about the passion you put into the game.  He was truly inspiring to listen too.

Though all the speeches were short, they were to the point and very inspirational.  I cam out of it enlightened.  Everyone signed the monument and posed for pictures with it.

There was an opportunity to interview people and I was prepared to interview JOhn Furlong.  I was excited.  There was a line up to interview him and he didn't get to everyone.  I followed him to the check out to see if I could ask a question.  I was a foot away from him when his phone rang.  I guess I have to be a little more pushy, because when he finished up the phone conversation, his personal assistant came and told him his shuttle was here.  I was left standing there, notebook and pen in hand.  NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!  I guess between his phone and his personal assistant, Mr. Furlong is a busy guy.  I feel so bad that I lost the chance!  But it was all a great learning experience.  I feel very honoured to have done it and experienced this momentous event.