On February 19th, 2010 m’lady and I headed from her grandmother’s house just outside of Vancouver to Whistler for a little thing called the Winter Olympics. We had been in town for a few days already (indeed, this was our second sporting event of the Olympics), and with the weather unseasonably warm even by British Columbian standards I comfortably left the house wearing summer clothes despite the fact that we were heading to a ski resort notorious for winter conditions almost year ‘round.
The trip to Whistler involved a series of buses (both terrestrial and water-borne) that whisked us from Delta, BC, across the Burrard Inlet and up the newly renovated Sea To Sky highway. I was in and out of sleep for the whole ride. It was hard to stay awake as I was running on just two hours of sleep, but it was hard to slumber because the scenery was so awesome. As my still cold-infected ears popped their way up the Sea-to-Sky highway my reddened sleepy eyes feasted on mountains backed by clear blue skies.
The bus dropped us at the Whistler Olympic Park where we were directed a few hundred metres along a path through the woods towards our event for the day, the ski jump. There were speakers in the trees playing native music while we revelled in the beautiful nature hike that brought thousands of us to the enormous slides on the mountainside.
While the weather was beautiful and sunny it was just chilly enough to draw me into the merch booth to purchase a surprisingly reasonably-priced long sleeved Olympic-branded shirt. Then we bellied up to the bar for a couple of large hot chocolates and got into competition position.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this was the first (and only) time I’ve attended a ski jump competition. Also not surprisingly, I kept waiting for someone to fall. But there were no Eddie The Eagles this day, just a whole lot of bodies tearing down the steep track and launching themselves up, up, up, until they were unquestionably flying through the air. Every single jump was super impressive (there were around fifty jumps in total), and while I remain mystified by the fact that they change each competitor’s starting point along the track depending on the wind of the moment, I gained an appreciation for a sport that was previously barely on my periphery.
After the competition we walked through Whistler village and ate up the Olympic glow. The Olympic bus network would have required us to go back to Vancouver pretty much immediately after the ski jumping so we opted to buy a private bus ticket back at 5pm, giving us the entire afternoon to kill in m’lady’s old stomping grounds. Everywhere you looked people from all over the world steeped in the Olympic spirit were hobnobbing and enjoying themselves. We found the CBC commentators and mugged for the cameras behind them, we sipped coffees and meandered through the smiling crowds, and we sat in a bar and joined the world in watching the ski competition on TV. With every run we would watch most of the race on the television, but for the best view of the end of the race we would just turn and look out the windows of the pub where the finish line sat.
That was pretty nifty.
In all it was another great day at the centre of the world’s greatest sporting competition, and as the sun started to set we began our trek(s) back to Delta, all executed simply, efficiently, and free* (with event ticket).
*Except the 5pm bus I guess.