Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Update: Home Away From Home!

Party at Ontario House!

Mid afternoon, I started making my way by car, by myself, driving to Vancouver. It was a nerve-wracking experience. Canada won two out of three golds that day just during the drive. My phone was blowing up with updates, the radio was screaming out our athletes' success and I was cheering at the top of my lungs while trying to negotiate the complicated lines of pylons and constantly changing speed limits.

Not to mention the Tsunami warning issued for coastal BC.

With Haiti ringing in these games -- held during the warmest February on record -- and Chile there to send them off, I hope people are taking notice of the changes climate change is bringing us. Especially while the whole world's been watching. I hear a lot about that "frog in the frying pan" but I'm still hoping we can hustle out in time.

Anyway, once I found a parking spot just off the sky train, I made my way downtown and into the Concord City Place Community Celebration zone. Good times. Everyone was in good spirits, despite the grey drizzly Vancouver day.

Ontario's Pavilion had the usual mile-long line up outside for the 4D adventure ride ... I have to say I think it was worth waiting for -- got in the back door again for the prime time seats. As David Morley said, I really think within ten years all of our living rooms will have a set up like that.

Some amazing meetings tonight, for sure. I'm glad that I was able to be there or else I wouldn't have met Jessica Dubé and her skating partner Bryce Davison. They're off to Torino in three weeks to compete in the World Championships, so we wished them big time luck.

Next, I found myself in a sandwich with a cycling legend (Curt Harnett! Competed in so many games, and has a fist full of medals to show for it) and a rowing legend (Adam Kreek! Part of the men's 8+ in Beijing who won gold) -- the two sports most dear to my heart.

David Calder came too, so it ended up being a rowing kinda night. Adam was telling me about his next project, which I encourage you to support. He and three others from Seattle are currently planning a cross-Atlantic row to break the world record (35 days!) and support Right to Play which is a really amazing organization using sport to affect social change. He'll be taking the same route as Columbus, and it took Columbus more than 70 days, so cheer these guys on!

I also met Andrew Byrnes who had his Beijing gold on hand, so on this golden day, I got to touch a little bit too. Then we took our turns using our brains to light up the CN Tower, and change the colours of the lights at Niagara Falls. Seriously.

Beijing 2008: Gold, M8+ Andrew Byrnes

Andrew, Premier, Adam and Adam's amazing birkenstock steeze

The Mental Game

I light up the CN Tower, just thinking about it

I tried a couple beers, one I hadn't heard of. I asked the bartender and he suggested I ask the brewers myself -- then called them over. So awesome to be at receptions like that. So I had my first Beau's All Natural with its makers, and it sure did pass my taste test. I also made friends with the Timothy's Coffee guys, who were just all around awesome, and so was their coffee.

And of course, it was great to see the colleagues I haven't seen in weeks.

The Premier delivered a great speech, and so did Mike Chambers, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Our government's support of sports, and our Ontario athletes' performance throughout these games and ones past has been amazing -- as you can see from the medal count! The Premier's family was there too, and after hanging out with us for a little while, they were all off the Bronze medal hockey game.

Dubé/Davison give Morley/Eigan their tickets to the Bronze medal game ... hugs ensue.

After the meat of the reception was over (and speaking of meat, wow, they had some tasty Ontario foods! mini burgers! Smoked-duck wrapped young pea shoots! goats' cheese balls!), the entertainment took over.

Ill Scarlett from Mississauga was there, and when they took a break in their acoustic set we were treated to this on the big screens:

Then my colleague Lisa comes up to us and says "do you know who that is?" I said "no, but I LOVE her!" and it turns out yet another cabinet minister has a talented daughter. My first favourite was Martina Sorbara (now Dragonette), and after checking out some of Julia Bentley's other stuff, I have no doubt she's on the rise. Awesome to meet her (and her sister, who's been known to don a moose costume and cut a rug at live shows). I think "Canadian Please" has been in my head ever since.

Me and Julia Bentley, youtube sensation!

The funnest part of the night though was watching this guy lose his shit when the Premier gave him tickets to today's Gold Medal Game between Canada and the US.

With a big smile on my face, I headed back to the sky train, hoping hard that I hadn't got G's car towed. All was well, and it was back into the night up to Squamish to obnoxiously show Gerhard and the Scarths the pics I snapped, the pins I collected and the stories I've just shared with you now.

All the best!

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