Day 4, February 20
Days 4 and 5 were both pretty busy with specific Olympics events. Before I headed up to Vancouver, Mariska and I had bought Ice Dance (training) tickets for Saturday, February 20th, starting at 7am! Although 7am didn’t happen, Jaime and I did make it there by about 9:30am and with 3.5 hours of women’s figure skating (training) and ice dance, I think we saw a fair bit and had a good fill of ice skating. It was absolutely beautiful, particularly the couples, some with just incredible lifts and unbelievable poses. The Canadian couple had a good performance, though I wouldn’t have picked them to win gold (which they did in the end). Jaime and I enjoyed commenting on the outfits, synchronization, themes, and overall match to the music. What were the Germans thinking in their costumes? Russia & US, boring! China, ugly! Hungary, cool 80s theme! The folk dance couples were cute too.
Late afternoon Eddie and I decided to press our luck and head down to Canada Hockey Place to try to get tickets to the Latvia-Slovakia hockey game for less than $80. We succeeded! Had great seats for $75. We saw poor Latvia take a whoopin, but it was exciting to be in the crowd full of energy, cheers, and get great shots of the athletes and attend what would be my last Olympic event for this time around.
Day 5, February 21
My last day, and with a 5pm departure time, I wanted to see some of the National houses. The first we went to was Korea, which was meant to be a showcase of Korean heritage, high tech, and winter sports as Korea bids for the 2018 Winter Games (along with Munich, Germany and France). It was somewhat disappointing and didn’t have nearly the exhibits I expected, or even a very good showcase of the culture or bid location.
Next we went to the House which will be hosting the 2014 Olympics: Sochi.Ru or more familiarly, Russia. With the help of a friend, we avoided the 2 hour line and got in with Media passes. That was pretty awesome. The pictures of Sochi look stunning, and there was a good display of Russian culture, both positive and negative. Watch my video on flickr to see a Russian culture music troupe. That was the positive. The negative was the coldness and the attitudes of the Russian hosts. They were very unfriendly, only mildly helpful, and seemed to want to be rid of us as soon as possible. And we were wearing media passes! One would think they’d want to encourage people to come to the 2014 Games and thereby give a good impression of Russian hospitality, it didn’t work out that way. Particularly as ‘media people’ we have the power to influence others’ thoughts and perceptions, therefore they should want to influence us positively–but just disappointing.
Vancouver did a superior job at hospitality, in terms of its people, efficiency of public transportation, positive energy, parties etc. Even my mom’s friend commented, “Almost everyone I spoke with is going to go to the next olympics in Russia due to the fun and excitement they had in Vancouver.” My response, did any of them actually go to the Russia House (Sochi.ru)? If so, I think they may have a different perspective of what the Russian Olympics will be like.
Russia will have a big PR campaign ahead of it, but each host city always faces huge challenges and still manages to pull off a great, world-class event. Regardless where the Olympics are held, in my 2 experiences thus far (Beijing), they are fantastic! I hoping my next Olympics will be Rio de Janeiro in 2016!!