A Proud Canadian

03 September 2009

Excuse my hiatus from the blog, I was off visiting my brother, sister-in-law and new twin (and adorable, may I add) nephews in Colorado.

As someone who spent nine years living in the US (which included three years of high school, four years of university, and two years in the work force), has parents still living there, and a brother and his family also living there; I feel as though I can say, I’m ‘part American’.  I have a good understanding of Americans.  I understand (and appreciate) the patriotism, the pride, the loyalty and love for their country… it’s inspiring, frankly.  This said, I am also a proud and loyal Canadian (ugh… the struggles of joint custody).  My point, and I do have one, is that during this recent visit across the 49th parallel, I noticed my Canadian pride took a steroid shot.

It was at the neighbourhood block party (oh yea… everything you would imagine an American block party to be – was glorious), that happened to take place my first night in Fort Collins, where I noticed I puffed out my Canadian chest a bit bigger.

The twin nephews drew quite a bit of attention at the block party, and thus I was constantly being introduced to people, as they moseyed on over to check out ‘the boys’.  As soon as the words “this is my little sister, she lives in Vancouver, BC…” left my brother’s mouth, it was all over… my chest was already puffed.  And for this, I blame the 2010 Games!

I sat next to a woman, old enough to be my mother, and filled her in on EVERYTHING going on in Vancouver – did you know that the Games are only six months away?  Did you hear how all of our venues are complete and ready for the athletes to train in?  Did you hear that Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC said that Vancouver is one of the most iconic places in the world to organize an Olympic Winter Games?  Did you know that Tamara Taggert, Vancouver’s weather woman for CTV won guest spot as co-host on the Regis and Kelly Show?

Yea, it was bad.  I got a little carried away.

That said, I AM more proud than ever!  The 2010 Games have brought a WHOLE new reason to puff out our Canadian chests.  This trip helped me realize that we have SO much to be proud of… and in only 162 days, everyone around the world will get to see why.

And if I’m never invited back to an American block party… I’ll understand…

GO CANADA!!

The Greatest Party of All…

13 August 2009

Anyone who knows me, knows I reeeeally enjoy throwing a good party.  What is better than bringing together groups of people, people whom otherwise may never have met, and giving them an experience that brings laughter and good conversation?  As I see it, I’m providing an opportunity for friends to meet new people, try new things, and maybe even take on a few new interests.  If I’m lucky, maybe a few new connections will be made and new friends will be formed… and if I’m REALLY lucky, the memories that people will leave with, will leave them wanting more.

Yesterday, while experiencing some of the aftermath relief of yet another, pretty fabulous party (if I do say so myself) last weekend (The Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club Annual Pool Party, where I sit on the committee), I found myself poking through the Vancouver Sun.  Right!  It’s the six month countdown to the 2010 Games!  Six months today (yesterday) will be the biggest, greatest, and most fabulous party of them all!

I have never had a party where Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera attend, let alone every media personality you can think of.  Talk about pressure!

In six months, Vancouver will be hosting a party where approximately 2,500 athletes from over 80 countries will be attending (based on the Winter Games in Turin), all of their families, their friends, their fans, their supporters, their coaches, etc.  This is a lot of people!

So are we ready, one might ask?

Venues? – Check.  In fact, all the sports venues are complete and are ready for the athletes to start practicing.  Can we talk about hometown advantage?  Our athletes couldn’t ask for a better scenario and have already been out practicing on turf they will be competing on.

Staff? – In progress, but looking good.  Currently we have 25,000 people volunteering their time and efforts for the Games.  More and more companies are also volunteering to send their employees over to VANOC on secondment (pretty much giving them a once in a lifetime opportunity – and priceless experience).

Transportation? – The Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler has been doubled and will soon be complete.  The Canada Line that travels from downtown to Richmond is complete and even three months ahead of schedule.

Ticket Sales? - VANOC has been releasing tickets in phases, and the first phase was sold out in five hours, last December!  Not bad…

Accommodation? – To say hotels will be hard to come by during the Games, is a certain understatement.  With a few options still remaining, such as the 2010 floating hotel (www.newwesttravel.com/Van2010.cfm), we’re clearly left dry as far as options.

Guests? – The one thing, as a party planner, you always worry about while planning your soiree – Will people come??  Well, I think this happens to be one concern that is certainly not going to be an issue for us Vancouverites, come 2010.  You couldn’t ask for a better city, better people, a better organizing committee, and a better backdrop.. in fact, you’d be silly not to come.

All in all, I think we’re right on schedule for the planning of Vancouver 2010.  No need to panic, in fact… the fun has only just begun!

Now that you have a bit of background on what’s going on in Vancouver (my previous blogs) follow me as I share with you how I am preparing (and experiencing) the lead-up to the greatest party of all!

Cheers!

The Leopard has made his Mark….

30 July 2009

A little tid bit about a pretty cool and interesting 2010 athlete…

Known as the ‘Snow Leopard’ from Ghana, this 2010 Slalom and Giant Slalom (a sport that makes up the “technical events” in alpine ski racing) athlete is not only new to the scene, he’s also the first ever athlete from Ghana to compete at any Olympic Winter Games.  Oh, and he’s pretty adorable!  http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/2010wintergames/index.html

Otherwise known as Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, the Snow Leopard (titled after his eye-catching leopard print ski attire), was born in Glasgow, Scotland to parents of Ghanaian decent.  Spending most of his childhood traveling from Scotland to Ghana to Nigeria, he later moved onto the UK where he received his Master’s degree.  It was there, that Kwame discovered a liking for Slalom.

Kwame’s true passion for the mountain didn’t come until later in life… in fact, until seven years ago, the athlete hadn’t ever SEEN snow!

While living in the UK, studying for his Masters, Kwame took up skiing and it’s thanks to his job at an indoor ski dome in Milton Keynes, UK that he decided to challenge himself to compete at the highest level of skiing, going from novice skier to semi-pro in four years.

This past March, after an intense period of training, Kwame received news that he had qualified to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, as the FIRST EVER Winter Olympic athlete from Ghana.

Anyone else hear the echoes of the Jamaican bobsleigh team?

Keep your eyes on the stripes…he’s certainly worth cheering for!

More than just The Games!

08 July 2009

In just a matter of months, people from all over the world will be coming out to Vancouver to experience the 2010 Games.  We Vancouverites know what you travelers are in for, but do you?  Let’s just say, we doubt 2010 will be your only trip out this way!

If you’re one of the millions who have booked your flights and have your Games tickets ready, have you thought about what you’re going to do on the days where you don’t have plans?  Why not experience the real deal and see what British Columbia is all about?!

Exposure Travel, a local Vancouver Adventure Travel company works directly with their clients to customize the perfect adventure that fully encompasses British Columbia and what it is that you’re looking to experience.  Whether it be an Eco-Safari, a secluded island get-a-way, sunset cruise, heli-jet adventure, golfing off the coast, or even taking a hike off the beaten path, Exposure will ensure you get the adventure you’ve only dreamed of!

Oh, and no worries about food, accommodation, or any of those details – all taken care of by the experts!

2010 shouldn’t be ALL about the athletes… live your own dream, while you’re at it!

www.exposure.travel

Skeleton – Why such a name?

23 June 2009

I spent a bit of time the other day pondering why the name ‘Skeleton’ was chosen to represent a sport that has very little to do with the framework of a human body – unless of course the creators were considering the danger involved in the sport and imagined what would potentially happen to the emaciated body, aka ‘the skeleton’, if things went awry… highly unlikely though.  Between WIkipedia and the FIBT website (The Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Toboganning), I think I found my answer.

Firstly, for anyone who gets crippling butterflies before going down a waterslide or even driving down a steep hill (such as myself), this sport is not for you.  In fact, I got butterflies looking at some of the images online.

The sport of Skeleton is where athletes lie on what looks like the rolling contraption the mechanic used to look under my car the other day, and race down the same track used for bobsleigh and luge at speeds of 130km/h (80mph)!  Oh, and there aren’t any breaks or steering mechanisms.  The steering is managed by slight shifts the athletes make while on the sled and/or by dragging their feet.

Now back to the name.  Although it isn’t fully known where the name originated from; there are two solid theories.

Back in the 19th century Norwegian fisherman would use sleds similar to our Canadian Toboggans as transportation; their name for them was ‘Ake’.  Similar to the ‘Ake’ was the ‘Kjaelke’ which was used for having fun on the ice (a current day sled).  The first theory behind the name of the ‘Skeleton,’ is that the Anglicization of the Norwegian word ‘Kjaelke’ was incorrect and pronounced ‘Skele’, thus leading people to call it ‘Skele-ton’.

The second theory derives from 1892 when an Englishman by the name of Mr. Child surprised his sporting friends with a fully metal sled he had made.  This metal sled was the prototype for what is now the common day ’skeleton sled’.  Apparently it looked a bit like a ’skeleton’ and was thusly named.

It isn’t certain which theory is correct, or if either are, for that matter.  That said, it’s a very interesting sport that joined the Olympics early on, but took a pretty extensive hiatus until quite recently.

In 1926 the International Olympic Committee declared Bobsleigh and Skeleton as Olympic sports, however, it wasn’t until 2002, that Skeleton itself was added permanently to the Olympic program with the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, after a 54 year absence from the Games.

Since its return, the popularity has increased significantly and even countries that don’t have tracks (because of climate, terrain, or monetary limitations) participate in the sport.  Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, South Africa, Argentina, Iraq, Isreal, Mexico, Brazil and even the Virgin Islands have become involved with the sport in recent years.  Unfortunately the FIBT has to narrow the field greatly and only a few dozen countries are able to compete in the Olympic Games.

An interesting sport with an interesting name…

Biathlon – Who knew?

17 June 2009

After chatting with a few friends the other night about Winter Olympic sports, we couldn’t help but get stuck on the sport of Biathlon – how did this come about?… an Olympic sport that combines both cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.  It was quickly decided, unanimously, that the sport of Biathlon is not only very odd, but also quite dangerous, no?

I needed to know more!

It turns out that the sport of Biathlon was first developed as a training excercise for Norwegian soldiers, an alternative to military training.  The first competition was held in 1767, and in 1861 the first known ski club, the Trysil Rifle and Ski Club, was formed in Norway to promote national defense at the local level.

In 1924 this ‘military training’ was brought to the attention of the Olympics, but was disputed.  In 1928, 1936 and 1948 it was demonstrated at the Olympic Games (an attempt to promote the sport), but was denied recognition – too few countries in the field, and those who did, couldn’t agree on the rules!

It wasn’t until the mid-1950s when the sport was introduced into the  Russian and Swedish winter sport circuits and the public LOVED it!  It was soon after (1958) that the first World Championships in biathlon was held in Austria.  By 1960, the Olympic committee came around and included the Biathlon in the Olympic Games held in Rome, Italy.

So how does it work?

Athletes begin by cross country skiing around a track, covering a distance of 7-20km depending on the variant of the Biathlon contest.  The distance is broken up by either two or four shooting rounds, half in prone position (lying down), the other half, standing.  When they arrive at their shooting post, they us a .22 calibre rifle at a range of 50 metres.  Their targets are 115mm when standing and 45mm when prone.

For each of the shooting rounds, the athletes must hit five targets.  If you miss your target, you need to make this up in one of three ways (depending on the format of the competition):

- Ski around a 150 metre penalty loop

- Have one minute added to your total time

- Or use an ‘extra cartridge’ (placed a the shooting range) to finish off the target; there are only three of these ‘extras’ available for each round and you’re also stuck doing a penalty lap for each target left standing.

Finally, the athlete with the shortest time wins the race!

Next on our list of sports we didn’t know much about was, Skeleton.  Stay tuned!

The Floating ‘O-tel’

15 June 2009

“All dressed up and no place to go…?”  It’s the way a lot of 2010 ticket holders are feeling right now.  Although renting a home from  a local Vancouverite is still an option, it may not appeal to everyone.  For those looking for a ‘hotel experience’ but can’t find a hotel (join the club)- look no further!  Newwest Special Projects will be chartering a Deluxe Freestyle Cruise Ship from Norwegian Cruise Line (the Norwegian Star)and docking it on the North Shore, just ten minutes from downtown during the 2010 Olympic Games.

The Norwegian Star will feature all the amenities, activities and entertainment programs as it would if it were at sea.  Packages begin at $350 USD and include meals, airport transfers, daily transfers from/to the ship to North Vancouver’s Sea Bus Terminal, and even a city tour of Vancouver.  The Star can accomodate nearly 9,000 guests with a variety of rooms and suites available from Inside and Outside Staterooms to Mini Suites with balconies, to deluxe Penthouse suites.

If you decide to leave the cruise and actually attend one of the Olympic events (which we know will be difficult) and don’t want to pay the outrageously over-the-top food prices for lunch while out… The ‘O-tel’ will be happy to pack you a brown bag lunch to go! 

Luxury, convenience, and affordability – something we Vancouverites aren’t used to!

Check it out: http://www.newwesttravel.com/van2010.cfm

Ask and you Shall Receive

11 June 2009

Vancouver’s newest local celebrity, Jillian Harris (aka The Bachelorette) gave the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games a nice shout out on the show Monday night while wearing a fabulous blue 2010 hoodie, courtesy of BC’s fashion forward clothing store, Aritzia (who has a license from VANOC to produce branded clothing).

That $85 blue hoodie caused a bit of a stir when fans across Canada and beyond frantically went in search of finding one for themselves – blogs were written, questions asked to journalists… inquiries flooding the internet.  Where is the blue hoodie????

Aritzia, who planned to launch the blue hoodie this coming Fall, in line with other branded items, quickly had some decisions to make.  Wait till Fall?…. or strike while the irons hot?!

Needless to say, Aritzia will be releasing a special edition of this “blue hoodie” Thursday in Vancouver only at their store on Robson Street.

Mental note taken – ask and you shall receive! 

Put in your orders, they’re going to go fast!!!

Check out Jeff Lee’s blog from the Vancouver Sun for an image of the ‘hoodie’:

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/insideolympics/default.aspx

 

 

After Second Launch of VANOC Ticket Sales… Still some Left for the Taking

08 June 2009

At 10am on Saturday, June 6th over 150,000 more Vancouver 2010 tickets were released on the VANOC website for Canadians (www.vancouver2010.com).  VANOC experienced traffic of 1300 hits per second and had a record for page views at more than 5 million!

The 1,000 Men’s Gold-medal hockey tickets were snatched within minutes, along with Opening Ceremonies, Speed Skating, and Figure Skating.  That said, there are still tickets left including tickets for the Men’s and Women’s ice hockey, curling, and even the Victory Ceremonies – and decently priced!

For those looking for the Gold Medal finals and opening ceremony tickets, VANOC will be launching their third, smaller phase of ticket sales in the Fall!  Make sure you’re registered and ready!

A little Introduction…

08 June 2009

My first post is a taste of what’s to come.  Vancouver is ramping up quickly for the 2010 Games and there’s lots going on here (to say the least)….  This blog will be an opportunity for everyone in the H&K network and beyond to feel kept up to speed on everything 2010.   You can reach me through this blog by posting your own comments, or feel free to email me with questions, suggestions, ideas, etc., at whitney.stanford@hillandknowlton.ca