Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday morning and the first day of official Olympic competition. Today, we have tickets for speed skating at the Richmond Oval and for short track speed skating at the Pacific Coliseum.

We headed downtown to park and catch the new Canada Line train out to Richmond. Traveling to the venue was simple and free with our event tickets. What we did not expect was to have to walk over 1.5 km from the train station to the venue. This was not a big deal for us but might have been for older or disabled spectators. The highlight of the walk was all the people handing out free stuff! We all got bottles of cranberry juice and even got several pairs of orange mittens handed out by Dutch supporters.

We arrived at the venue and after passing through the security checks (where we had to throw out our free cranberry juice!), we were in. A very impressive and intimate venue for speed skating. All seats looked to be excellent. The event (men’s 5,000 m) was a lot of fun and it was great to see the gold medalist from the Netherlands break the Olympic record. The crowd was into it as well. Lots of Netherlands supporters all wearing orange (looked like over half the building was wearing orange). At the end of the event, a Dutch band that looked to be made up of fans in the building, started playing and the party was on! 

Following the event, we made a mad dash back to the train as we only had two hours before the start of our next event. Took us an hour to get on a train headed back to Vancouver. We then had to catch another train out to the Pacific Coliseum followed by a 10 minute express bus ride. There certainly is a lot of walking to be done if you want to attend events at the games. Once the bus dropped us off, we still had quite a hike before we finally got to our seats. We sat down just as the first short track event was underway.

The short track was exceptional. It is a very exciting sport to watch and the fans really get into it. Lots of fans from all over the world cheering on their athletes. The highlight of this event was the gold medal men’s 1,500 m event. Korea was set to sweep gold, silver and bronze with about 10 m to go when the second and third place Koreans collided and spun off the track. This allowed the Americans to finish second and third and gave Apolo Anton Ohno his sixth short track medal from three Olympic games.

Following the event, we ran back to the bus to avoid the commuting crowds. Upon arriving back downtown, we headed to the Jet Sport Hospitality Suite for dinner and to unwind. We had bought some of our tickets from Jet Sport and they came with free food and drinks. The food spread was exceptional as was the dessert section! There was a special section featuring cuisine from Sochi, Russia, where the next winter Olympics will be held in 2014. The service was excellent and we are looking forward to more hospitality in about a week’s time.

All in all, a very good day. Very busy, lots of exercise and definitely time to go to bed. A full day of Olympic action is quite exhausting. Did I mention it was raining?

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