Friday, February 12, 2010

I Envy You, Vancouver

This scene from the 2002 Olympics four-man bobsled competition gives me chills! The expanse of the track was huge and the bobsleds were hard to see from a distance as they wound and curved along the track. When they came close to us, we had the perfect view: we looked behind us over the top rail of the seating area down to the track and saw the bobsleds flying to the finish line.

Today the Olympics opening ceremonies launches the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Almost nothing is as electrifying as having the Olympics come to your town ... the color, the energy, and the excitement.

Some may remember I covered the 2002 Winter Olympics as an unofficial resident reporter/photographer under the name Snowjob Susie. This was a self-appointed assignment. I'd trained to be a volunteer but it didn't work out because I couldn't get the time off work. (Note: That story has a happy ending ... I had a job offer at another bank by the time the Olympic flame was extinguished.) I didn't have any special access, yet just being here in Utah during the Olympics was special access as a few of my old pictures may suggest.

The pin trading area on Main Street was not vastly different from the jewelry exchange in New York City in terms of action and intensity. The Roots hats were all the rage and lines were long at the two Roots stores. A friend and I crashed the Italian party at the top of what is now the Wells Fargo building. The grocery stores had Coca Cola displays in the shape of Olympic rings. My daughter got to skate in Opening and Closing Ceremonies. She also skated on fake ice with Brian Boitano and other past Olympians inside the Grand America, an elegant hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. Utah light rail, TRAX, was jammed with people from all over the world wearing special Olympics jackets, hats, even ear muffs. Those of from Salt Lake City saw our town transformed into a wild party. I was interviewed by a Holland television station about what it's like to be an American skating mom. And speaking of skating, who could ever forget the French ice dancing skating judge?

The week after the 2002 Olympics, I traveled with other skating moms to Lake Placid for our daughters' skating competition. Some of my friends were in a parade to honor the Olympic atheletes and volunteers. We met skeleton gold medalist Jimmy Shea's dad at his liquor store. We relived the 1980 victory by the US hockey team. We saw the skiing venue. The people in the tiny little village of Lake Placid definitely haven't forgotten what it was like to have the Olympics come to town.

When the Olympic flame is lit tonight and Vancouver is illuminated beyond its wildest dreams, I'll be there in spirit. I envy you, Vancouver.

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