Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Torch, pep talks, and opening ceremonies

It has been a busy last few days as we have been getting ready for the big day on Friday. Lots of work, but lots of fun as well.

Yesterday (Tuesday), we had the day off from Britannia as it was going through the security sweep. I spent most of the day riding around Vancouver. Bicycling is a great way to see the city. It was a rare sunny day, so people were out and about. It is a really beautiful city (if you like the ocean, mountains, parks etc......). Just off of Stanley park are these Olympic rings. Someone told me that whenever Canada wins a gold medal, they will light up and "go crazy". I hope I get to see that!

I also rode around the athletes village (well, as close as the security fence would let me). Each country has their flags up all over them. Apparently, this is the best Athletes' Village ever. You can just see the Australian Kangaroo flag in this one.

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to go to a special VANOC staff event to greet the torch as it arrived at Vanoc headquarters. It was a really nice event and a reward for the staff that have been working there for the last few months or years. The mascots were there as well, so I got to meet Quatchie up close before the torch arrived.

The person that ran the torch in to the headquarters was Vanoc CEO John Furlong. This guy is pretty amazing, with everything else that he has to do to prepare for the Olympics that were just 3 days away, he took the time to address his employees and to give everyone a pep talk. He is also a really great public speaker. One thing that he said that will stick with me throughout the Olympics is "don't hold back, make the effort to do as much as you can during the next 3 weeks, because it is the chance of a lifetime." (he might not have said these exact words, but you get the drift....

We also heard from the leader of the torch team. They have been on the road for 106 days now and are still inspired every day. What a great way to bring the country together and to make all Canadians feel a part of the Olympics.

Today we spent the day at Britannia getting ready for our first practice on Friday, but we left early to attend the final dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies! Tickets were made available to volunteers and staff as a thank you and it was something of a pep rally for 40,000 people or so. Before the ceremonies were were asked by the artistic director not to talk about it, to make sure that it would still be a surprise for the rest of Canada. We also heard from the Mayor, the premier of BC, and Steven Harper! Then the show started. We got to see all of the acts, but not the final torch bearer and the cauldron. so I will watch that on TV with the rest of you.

Tomorrow, is our last day before athletes in Britannia and then after work, I am going to see the torch as is passes by where I am staying. Thanks for all the Birthday wishes!