Yup! The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games!
It’s been pretty darn cool so far (even if we are paying an obscene amount of money to stay in some guy’s apartment where his mattress is, for all intents and purposes, a sheet of rock, so I am sleep-walking the whole time). Yesterday on our way to our first event we stopped and saw some public art.
See, notice how in Canada the public art actually looks like…art? Don’t worry, I was weirded out, too. But hey, I decided I could use some illumination!
So as I said, we were on the way to our first event: hockey. Well, my first event. The hubby/sports fan is going to some events without me so we can both be extra happy. The game? Canada vs. the enemy. Oh yeah. In the lottery where we got our tickets we were lucky enough to get the Canada game! Which means there were a lot of VERY EXCITED fans there! It also means who the other team was doesn’t matter much at all, because there was no one in the stands rooting for them anyway.
I don’t believe this was the first puck drop, but what do I know? All I’m sure of is that at the beginning of the game, a puck was dropped just like this. After that I pretty much lost it. There was lots of skating back and forth and screaming. (For a great explanation of the rules of hockey see Jen’s post explaining them over at Cake Wrecks)
OK, I have a husband who’s a hockey nut, so I do get the basics of the game, and it was pretty fun to watch…but I am a firm believer in the theory that most sports could be VASTLY improved if their length was cut to 2/3 of what it currently is. Hockey? Really, it only needs 2 periods! Baseball? Think how much less mind-numbing 6 innings would be instead of 9! (And for the record, I like baseball. I simply canNOT take 3-4 hours of it. Uh-uh.) Football? Let’s be honest, anything to cut down on the length of a football game would be an improvement! Ladies, can I get some support?!?
Post-hockey we got on the sky train to head downtown to the vastly-overpriced-but-official-Olympics-store where they are happy to sell teeny-tiny stuffed animals for $25, white long-sleeved-t-shirts for $33, and jackets for >$300. Buy some Olympic spirit! (I am addicted to shopping and still had way too much fun). The important part of this story, though, is that on the way, when we got on the train, we realized that literally inches away was the entire German short track team! How cool is that?? I think that is my favorite part of being here, randomly running into OLYMPIC ATHLETES on the street! They seemed like really nice guys.
Now, I know that all the women out there rank sports in order from hottest guys to least-hot. (No? Just me? Well….moving on….) For example, baseball is waaaaay at the bottom of my list. What about that sport encourages players to grow beer bellies? Soccer, up near the top. Normally- proportioned all-around athletic attractive guys. Well, running into the short track team may have convinced me to rearrange my ordering ’cause their ranking just skyrocketed! Yes? You with me!? *swoon*
And finally, today, on to curling! Now curling is just cool. It’s all think-y but still athletic-y and team-y and everyone has VERY VERY GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP. I was amazed to see that of the 4 games we were watching (4 go on at a time) an official never once had to take to the ice. The teams play based on the honor system, more or less. When a stone is out, yours or the other teams, someone kicks it out of the way. No arguing or making sure our watching to ensure the other team doesn’t screw you. Because they don’t. At the completion of an end, when the scoring occurs, the players look at the lay out of the stones, quickly agree on who won and how many points they got, and signal to the official’s table. I even saw one critical end where it was EXTREMELY close deciding who won not only the end but the match, and it only took a minute of discussion, the teams agreed, and no one threw a fit or got angry. After being surrounded by obnoxious sports fans all weekend (more on this in a minute) I was extra-super impressed by this!
There is nothing to make me hate sports quite like sports fans. Seriously, why do people have to be such @$$holes about a team of people they don’t even know personally and the team’s victory or loss which they HAD NO PART IN? Not to mention just the general disregard for anyone else as long as they’re cheering for their team. I’m talking about the guy who spilled his beer on me at the hockey game (I don’t drink, and the smell of beer makes me sick, so double ugh) when he decided to do the wave with both hands and a full glass, and then after seeing he did never said a thing. Or the group of Canadians who stormed in on the German short track team while they were getting interviewed on the train and yelled “CANADA! CANADA! CANADA!” while banging around to drown out the Germans. To their credit, the Germans were extremely nice about it (which I’m sure added to their hotness total to me) and just kind of waited calmly until they were done, and after they left kind of said “Thanks” (in German) and moved right along. But seriously, people! Or the Canadians who, at curling today, cheered every time the Japanese made a mistake. Now a few things about this: I hate cheering for other teams’ mistakes in any event, but it is ESPECIALLY rude in curling. It is just not done. There were vocal fans there for all 8 of the teams playing, and not one of the other 7 teams had fans who ever cheered when their opponent made a mistake. Not.a.single.person. See, in other sports, if your opponent screws up, at least your team might have led to it to some extent. A guy airballs a shot in basketball? Your team could have been playing great D so he had to take a less-than-ideal shot. Someone drops a pass in football? He could have been so well-covered he just couldn’t get into good position. But there is no such correlation in curling, especially what these people were cheering. Curling is turn-based, so if a team misses a shot, there is nothing the other team did to cause it. Yes, their previous positioning could have been good, but you cheer when they set up that positioning. The actual shot that missed was in no way caused to miss by your team. So you are ONLY cheering for the other team’s failure. It’s just bad taste and it was REALLY annoying me. Especially since the cheers for Japan’s mistakes were just as loud as the cheers for Canada’s good plays, and the fans even cheered the few simple mistakes Japan made (that every team makes) that were in no way even affected by Canada’s positioning. UGH!
OK. Tangent over.
Anyway, seeing the curling was really cool! Four games going on at once, so there was always something to watch, and usually an end nearing completion. For those who don’t know, curling consists of 10 ends. At the completion of each end, the game is scored. A team has four players, a captain (who does the set-up and yelling) and three others. There are 8 stones per end, each player throws two stones. The stones are slid down the ice, aimed at a giant bulls eye on the far end of the ice. Two players move ahead of the sliding stone sweeping at the ice to melt it and effect the speed and direction of the stone. If a stone goes past the target or hits a bumper, it’s out of play. At the completion of an end, the team with the stone closest to the center of the bulls eye wins. They get one point for that stone, and one point for each other stone closer to the center of the bulls eye than the other team’s closest stone which is at least partially on the bulls eye.
For more explanation, see the really cool pics below:
Isn’t the pose they go into to throw, cool? There are variations, but they all look so graceful!
It is not common to see all four team members sweeping. In fact, we didn’t even know it was allowed, because it so rarely happens!
You can see one team member crouching; she was giving direction on aim and when to sweep or stop. The other two are letting the stone glide into position, sweeping done. The US player is watching, but resting because she probably won’t get a chance to sweep for this stone (as she would if it crossed the half-way point of the bulls eye). The US had one more stone after this. If the end was completed with the stones where they’re shown, the US would have won the end (see the yellow stone close to the center?) and gotten one, or possibly two points. It’s hard to tell if the next closest stone is red or yellow from the angle.
After curling we headed out to Granville Island where there’s a big public market. We had some delicious lunch, and then my hubby got me a souvenir of our trip. You have to understand, I am not a things-with-city/event-names-on-them souvenir person. I prefer getting an object that someone looking at wouldn’t know was a souvenir, but that I know was and that reminds me of the trip and makes me happy every time I see it. A few years ago on my birthday my hubby set up a fun challenge that involved exploring Pike Place Market, and at the end I got a “fabulous prize” which consisted of anything from the market I wanted. I chose a mat with three small paintings of chinook salmon. To this day, every time I see that painting, I get happy and remember the fun present/celebration. So for my souvenir from the games I didn’t get anything olympic-related, I got this photograph:
I LOVE this photo for so many reasons, but the reason I picked this above all of the other AMAZING photographs the woman had was that “circle-fox” reminded me of “circle-Toby,” as my husband and I call our puppy when he’s in that position. It’s something he didn’t do until he was older, and we find it very endearing, and I just loved seeing an arctic fox doing it, too! The photograph is from Keay Wildlife photographers. They have so many incredible photographs, go and check them out! None of their photos are photoshopped or use flash, and the family who takes the photographs really do go out for about 1/4 of the year and live in the wild on shoots. What they capture is incredible.
So that’s it for my first two days here! Been lots of fun, and lots still to come! Tomorrow we’re going to try to get up early and go to a taping of The Colbert Show. Colbert got his fans to support the US speed skating team when their sponsor declared bankruptcy and dropped them, so they invited him out as an official member of the team. He’s technically like a “sports psychologist” or something. Then the TV station covering the Olympics (NBC? ABC? one of those letter ones…) also asked him to come be one of their official reporters on the US speed skating team! So he’s up here having fun, and I’m excited to possibly get the chance to see his show, though I have no idea how they decide who gets in and who doesn’t and I’m not lining up at o-dark-thirty for the privilege! Tomorrow we also have a womens hockey game (US-someone) and…wait for it…FIGURE SKATING! We’re watching the mens long program and I am SUPER SUPER SUPER excited :-D