Sunday, February 14, 2010

Welcome to Funcouver!

As much as I love this city, it can't half be a negative, no-fun place sometimes.

But not this week.

Friday's ceremony was spectacular, exceeding all of my expectations. We watched in a pub full of people, the walls bedecked with flags from all over the world, and clapped and cheered at our favourite parts.

I couldn't find a YouTube video of my absolute favourite part - Shane Koyczan's rendition of his "We Are More" poem - so here he is in an earlier performance, reciting the whole poem in front of the Vancouver cityscape instead. I also loved the orcas, but I couldn't find a clip of that either! Hopefully you all saw it on the night...

My British friend and I leaped to our feet and cheered Team GB when they came out. Everyone looked at us. But then the whole pub did the same for Team Canada, and the owner and his son came in with air horns and massive Canadian flags on hockey sticks, to rapturous applause. I loved the fiddling, I loved KD Lang, I loved that they chose four people to light the flame simultaneously. I love that my iPhone autocorrected my first spelling attempt to the correct form, Gretzky. (I think he should have smiled more though).

I really love that when we saw the fireworks light up the TV screen, everyone ran to the window to watch them in real life.

What a contrast to the destructive douchebags who rioted and smashed windows yesterday morning. I think the anti-Olympic movement just lost a lot of the support that the (much larger group of) peaceful protesters had earned over the last few months, and on opening night. What a shame that maybe 20 people - probably not all from Vancouver, and probably not proposing any constructive solutions to the problems they're using as an excuse to riot (I haven't heard any, anyway) - got to define the agenda like that.

It's so much easier to be destructive than creative.

Anyway... moving on. We decided that those cowardly mask-wearing fuckers were not going to deter us from having fun, and set off for downtown with our Team Canada shirts and British flags. The SkyTrain was packed, but amazingly, people were chatting to strangers and having fun. This never happens in Vancouver.

Arriving downtown, we set off to find the Olympic flame. There were tens of thousands of happy people down there, wearing their team colours, being asked if they needed help by Olympic volunteers, and packing every cafe, restaurant and bar.

The Olympic flame, as lit by The Great One on Friday

The first photo was taken on maximum zoom, through the fence. At a weird angle due to the crowds pushing into my back. We were very disappointed that they wouldn't let us get any closer.

This photo was taken by Kyrsten, with me leaning backwards over a small child to try and get into the shot!

We tried to get into some of the pavilions, but the average line-up was over an hour. No worries - we have two weeks, and we'll try again on a week day rather than on the first Saturday of the Games! And it was great just being downtown. Many of the streets have been turned into pedestrian boulevards, there were street food stalls and buskers everywhere, public art, music... and did I mention tens of thousands of happy people wearing their team colours and having a great time?!

Just a really fun, positive atmosphere.

We retired to a pub to watch the qualifying rounds of the women's moguls, and to watch the Canadian women's hockey team destroy Slovakia in a decisive and frankly rather embarrassing manner. The people at the next table were all wearing Team USA jackets, but cheering for one specific Canadian player. Turns out their daughter is on the US team, and plays on the same club team as the Canadian! They said they were having a great time, loving Vancouver, and loving the Olympics.

In another pub later on, we saw Jen Heil win Canada's first medal, a very creditable silver. We're still waiting for our first gold on home turf (or snow), having failed in Calgary and Montreal... but there's still lots of time, and we will be glued to our screens for the women's 3,000 metre speed skating at 1pm. One of our medal hopes is a friend's cousin. GO CANADA GO!

I hope you're all enjoying the Games too!


  1. But will Canada or Great Britain win a gold first?

    BTW, <a href=">just for your amusement</a>

  2. Damn, html is difficult when (a) The Beast is sat on you, and (b) you're being taunted (ironically) by an American.

  3. So glad you're having would be awesome to be there! And that's a great picture of you, despite you having to bend backwards. :-)

    I haven't been keeping up with the news. What are the protestors protesting against? The Olympics in general or having the Olympics in Vancouver?

  4. I was so impressed with the opening ceremonies - especially the cultural sections. The only parts that were "meh" was the pop-like rendition of the Canadian anthem, and the issues with the torch lighting (I feel that the outdoor one could have been done better). But, it made me proud to watch, and I teared up when Team Canada entered the stadium :)

    DH bought me a Team Canada scarf, and those wonderful red mittens, for Valentine's day!

  5. Ah I'm jealous of you being in Vancouver Cath!

    I thought the opening ceremonies were very well done and I was a very proud Canadian. I agree with Alyssa in that I really didn't enjoy the anthem style, and I agree with you that Gretzky could have smiled more.

    I hope we get tat first gold soon, just to take some of te pressure off!

  6. Here ya go, Bob: "

    Thanks for the link, very amusing! I'm not sure when the women's skeleton (GB's best hope) starts, but I do think that Canada will win a gold before Britain does!

    Thanks, MH

    The protestors are mostly protesting against the cost of the Olympics (much more than expected due to sponsors pulling out when the economy tanked), and saying the money should have gone to healthcare and ending homelessness instead. Good points - but the legitimate arguments are being lost now due to the violent tactics a minority of the protesters are using. The ends do NOT justify the means in this case...

    Alyssa and Liz, that version of the anthem really did suck! The singer had a good voice though, and at least it wasn't Celine Dion :)

    Fingers crossed for gold in the speed skating! I've met my friend's cousin and am rooting for her in particular! COME ON KRISTINA!!!

  7. That reminds me so much of the atmosphere at the Obama rally on election night. :)

    So glad you're enjoying it all!

  8. CAth: It's on Wednesday!* :)

    (I really really hope that Team Sweden will be good! Let's just not talk about skiing, ok?! ;) )

    *women, hockey, Canada, Sweden

  9. Kristina Groves won a bronze! Yay! She has 4 events still to come, so hopefully this is just the first of her medals for this year!

    Eco, thanks! It is awesome.

    Chall, are ya scared yet?! Canada beat Slovakia 18-0. EIGHTEEN!!!! Sweden only beat Switzerland by 3-0...

  10. WOOHHOO!!!! Canada got a gold!!!

    Chall: nope, a win isn't a win in the Olympics. It's all about the point differential too (which is why they run up the scores). :D

  11. Alyssa: hm, wonder if anyone told the Swedes that? ;)

    Of course, we won't need a "points difference". haha, I'd better stop now since it's not clear at all how well this olympics is going to go. Me thinks someone might have the eat words soon enough..... ah well, let's see the curling as well :D

  12. I'm kind of upset that they didn't have The Tragically Hip at the opening ceremonies. Aren't they Canadian icons?

  13. Alyssa, YAY! For Alexandre! That was awesome. And we came sooooo close in the snowboard cross too.

    Chall, did you notice that we just beat Switzerland 10-1 today? And I see that Sweden are currently beating Slovakia, but only 4-2 in the 2nd. Your money is mine, my friend :)

    Thomas, yeah, you'd have thought they'd fit them in somewhere. Maybe they're playing the closing ceremony instead?

  14. I'm going to be a downer on the opening ceremonies. I loved almost everything, except gretzy (Yes I have never liked him, and yes I AM Canadian) and the lack of shout out to the chinese immigrants who built the national railroad. We recognized 2 of the 3 cultures that have formed our country. We missed out on those that built the railway which connected us together.

    The protestors have lost all respect and support. Yes they had legitimate points, but its pisses me off when protestor impact veterans (you may not like war but they fight for your right to protest) and when children miss out. I felt so bad for those kids in the downtown eastside that waited to see the torch and then couldn't. Then to vandalize?? what does breaking windows have to do with protesting?

  15. I never actually saw Gretzky play - he was the only hockey player I'd heard of when I moved here, but I moved here the week before the Salt Lake City games began, and my first exposure to him was when he coached the gold medal winning team! So I have nothing at all against him except that he should smile more.

    I've heard the same criticism of the lack of recognition of Chinese Canadians from several quarters. I wonder if there's anything planned for the closing ceremonies?

    With you all the way on the protesters. Your right to swing your fist stops at my face and all that.


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