Posted by: GeekHiker | March 29, 2010

Vancouver Olympics 2010 – Final Thoughts

You didn’t think I was done with the Olympics, did you?  They were only over a month ago, after all…

Okay, seriously, I just wanted to share a few final, random thoughts about going to the Olympics in Vancouver:

  • I honestly didn’t get all the criticism that I heard, particularly in the U.S. media just before I left.  Everything seemed to be very well organized in our experience.  There were problems, of course, as there would be with any event of this size, but it seemed that VANOC dealt with them quickly and effectively.
  • Vancouver, as a city, and all of Canada never wavered in their support.  Even with the tragic start to the Games, people pushed forward.  They acknowledged what happened, but didn’t let it drag them down, and in the end the Games were celebratory in nature.
  • The volunteers: amazing.  Everyone was friendly, nice, helpful.  After a while, the blue jackets everywhere were reassuring to a stranger in a strange land (and even to the locals).  But it wasn’t just them; local volunteers, the RCMP’s, security officers, heck, even the border officer at the airport, was pleasant and helpful.
  • This post sums up the feeling about town nicely.
  • The Olympics are expensive.  Not to say out of reach of the average person, but there’s a certain amount of planning involved.  We started talking about it two years ago, buying tickets last year, planning things months ahead.  Even the tickets we had, which were not the most expensive (by far), cost us a few hundred total.  Add to that food, pricy souvenirs, etc., and it’s a bit like spending several days at DisneyLand.  Still, with planning and saving and being thrifty (and, in my case, a friend who was willing to put a bunch of people up for several days), it can be done.
  • Canadian sports fans are awesome.  I’ve been to a couple of Lakers games in my time and I never quite fit in with the crowd; they’re a group that, when the home team is down, actually boo them, rather than “cheering them on to victory.”  Canadians, on the other hand, cheer good sport.  Any sport, and everyone who plays.  That isn’t to say that they didn’t cheer louder and harder for the home-town teams.  They most certainly did.  But they also cheered on anyone and everyone, not just the home team.  The hockey game, for example, was between the Swiss and the Russian teams, and the crowd was just as boisterous there: flags waving, cowbells ringing, cheering at each attempt on goal.  At the medals ceremony after the Gold Medal Men’s Hockey game, the crowd cheered on the U.S., who won Silver, for playing a great game.  At Skeleton, cheers went up for every person flying down the track.  This is the group of sports fans I’ve been looking for my whole life.
  • If you attend the Olympics, you’ll see less than you would at home, but more in-depth.  So much time is taken getting to the venue, going through security, navigating the crowds, watching the event, etc., that a single event can take a half-day (or a whole day, such as with Whistler).  So you’ll see less, in terms of total Olympic coverage, than you would watching on TV at home.
  • On the other hand, you’ll see more because you’re there.  The delays, the videos used to pump up the crowds, the accidents, coaches conferring with each other, etc.  Even the ice surfacing machines decked out in Olympic colors while those at home are watching a commercial.

Vancouver Olympics 36
One of the decked-out ice surfacing machines at the hockey game

  • Since you don’t get to see the videos used to work up the crowds, you all missed one of my favorite things: the 90 second music video montage used to pump up the crowd at each event venue.  With great music and scenic video of Canadian sights, every time it aired it had people clapping, cheering and stomping their feet by the end.  I need to contact VANOC to see if I can get a copy.  I did, however, record one on my camera in video mode, and still watch it on occasion to get me “back in the moment”.
  • Here’s one I can’t figure out: I was generally the warmest when outside with all my friends.  Two from SF, two from Vancouver, and it was me, from sunny Southern California, who was usually stripping off jackets and working up a sweat and such walking around town.  Yet I freeze in my own apartment.  Maybe I can live in a colder clime, so long as I have a warmer house…
  • Vancouver is an amazing city.  Or maybe it’s just a better fit for me as a person, I don’t know.  What I do know is that of all the cities I’ve been to, Vancouver is at the top of the list for the one I’ve felt most comfortable in.
  • I got to share the Olympics with some of my closest friends.  In a fantastic city.  With great, upbeat crowds and friendly people.  I miss it already.


  1. Yay! I’m so glad you had a nice time! It sounds Amazing. Are you thinking about moving now?

  2. I didn’t feel THAT warm and welcome last time I visited, but maybe because we didn’t know anybody and it wasn’t Olympics season. After reading this (and that LA Times article) I am reconsidering moving to Vancouver!

    If only I could find a damn job in my field, or just any job with livable income for a 30-something… Gotta start looking now!

    It’s awesome you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing the experience!

  3. The grass is always greener on the other side of the border. I’ve only had a limited exposure to Canada but what I’ve seen and experienced, I liked.

  4. Glad I finally got the chance to catch up on your Olympics posts (—oh, and the ‘boobs’ post).

    Vancouver is lovely, and there are days I truly miss Canada. Were it not for NYC I might have moved back to Montreal.

    Would you seriously consider emigrating? Perhaps you could find a way to live/work there for a few years, to try it out. . . .

  5. I’m still so amazed that you were actually at the Olympics! Awesome!

    Also – I grew up in a cold climate, but lived in much more temperate area for a few years, and was ALWAYS colder there, in the temperate location. People actually know how to keep their buildings warm in cold climates, because they have to.

  6. Canadians rule. I’ve never met one I didn’t like. You definitely make me want to go visit Vancouver even more.

  7. MissMcCracken – Oh, I don’t know. It’s nice to think about, though…

    K – I don’t deny that Vancouver is like any other city: if you don’t know anyone, it can feel less than welcoming (though far more so than, say, L.A.), and it certainly has its problems (i.e. don’t go to the east side). Still…

    Homer-Dog – LOL, perfect way to put it!

    AbsurdBeats – I still need to visit NYC. Can I crash on your couch?

    WaitingForButterflies – Thanks! And I’m glad to know I’m not alone in being cold in a warmer climate. 🙂

    MelHeth – Indeed they do! You’ve never been?

  8. Hey,

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time at the Games and in Vancouver – thanks for sharing your experiences. Honestly, if you like to hike then Vancouver would be an awesome place to live for you. I don’t know that visitors got a sense of it, but within Vancouver culture is more outdoors oriented than say Montreal (which has an amazing arts/music/theatre/culture scene). Beyond this it is a city that is still developing an identity, but whatever it is,or will be the city proper definitely has strong urban/metro vibe.

  9. A – I did, and it’s a great city. Now if you can just find me a spectacular job or a fantastic woman to marry me so I can move there…

  10. That 90 second “pump up” video..I was at the games and I COMPLETELY agree: an overriding memory for me too.
    BUT WHAT WAS THAT MUSIC?! I am desperate to find out!

  11. I (we) was so glad it all worked out. It is always good spending time with GH and lovely to meet the BF and her man.

    You are always welcome in our northern clime.

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