2010 Olympics Day 8: Cross Country Skiing And Barenaked Ladies (Not That Kind)


2010 Olympics Day 8: Cross Country Skiing And Barenaked Ladies (Not That Kind)

I survived the hangover of 2010, and got up early this morning so I could catch a bus to Whistler Olympic Park, about 9 km down the Sea-To-Sky Highway from Whistler Village. I had a ticket to the Classic Style Cross Country Sprint races. Since I’m cross country skiing illiterate, I really had no idea what to expect. I’ve learned at the other Olympic events I’ve been to that in person they are far more impressive than the finely edited broadcasts you see on television, but cross country skiing? Really? Yup.

After an unwarranted ticket scalping interrogation by the RCMP (a mounty that went without his morning Timmy Horton’s, apparently) at the gate of the venue, I grabbed a fence position as the sun rose over the racers already on course.

I figured I’d see a start, then wait for 20 minutes, then see a finish and the rest of the racers trickle in. Shows you how little I know. Rapid fire, the skiers came shooting passed me and my Norwegian-speaking neighbors. The fans roared to life, their coaches sprinted along the snow and barked orders as far as they could keep up. As quick as I began doing nothing when I entered the stadium, just as quickly the mayhem broke out.

This kind of race — and correct me if I’m wrong — begins with every competitor starting at intervals in a time trial situation. So if you can imagine, craziness follows each skier as they go around the track. For me, relatively unaffiliated as who to cheer for, noticed there was a kind of wild wave of energy that coursed through the venue for both the men’s and women’s races.

When the time trials were done, then came the dull. Over an hour and a half of nothing; meticulously anal course grooming, hand raking, leveling, and raking again. Not the spectator sport it should be. Maybe this is where my cross country skiing stereotypes come from.

2010 Olympics Day 8: Cross Country Skiing And Barenaked Ladies (Not That Kind)

But — and there always seems to be a “but” on this trip — back comes the mayhem, throwing everything I had ever thought about this sport on its head. For the rest of the afternoon, the races kept coming without breaks, men’s quarterfinals then women’s, men’s semifinals then women’s, finally both championship races. The racers left their heart and souls on the snow, they were pushing themselves to literal exhaustion (and getting carried off), and the numerous photo finishes made me a Norway fan for the day (nothing like jumping on the bandwagon). All I need is a funny-horned helmet thingy (see above). I cheered my adopted team on to a bronze medal, behind two Russians, and walked out of the venue, stunned at the athleticism of the athletes, humbled by my ignorance of the sport, and psyched to go see the Barenaked Ladies.

Come on . . . get your head out of the gutter. The entertainment surrounding the Olympics is a draw itself. The Whistler Live! concert series taking place every night throughout the Olympics in the village square, made a real effort to attract Canadian artists to perform at “their” Olympics. The Barenaked Ladies were tonight’s headliner, playing a completely free show. Besides being well known (and sending me back to my high school days), they are a talented band, very Canadian, and the maple leaf pride resulted in an outstanding show.

2010 Olympics Day 8: Cross Country Skiing And Barenaked Ladies (Not That Kind)

The night was capped by my peeping through the fence at the Whistler Medals Plaza to see my girls, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, receive their gold and silver medals for Ladies Downhill Skiing. I’ll see you, Lindsey, tomorrow at the Super Combined before I go experience everything that Skeleton actually is.

Peeping, Barenaked ladies, and sweaty European athletes — just another day at the Olympics for this TheExpeditioner.com reporter.


Published on February 18, 2010

  • http://twitter.com/Emmi134 Emmi Bances

    Its so fun to be there….i would have enjoyed that recreation activity :D

    Riu guanacaste costa rica

  • http://twitter.com/Emmi134 Emmi Bances

    Its so fun to be there….i would have enjoyed that recreation activity :D

    Riu guanacaste costa rica

  • http://www.gutterguardreviews.net gutter_guard

    I'm so love this blog, already bookmarked it! Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jonwick jonwick

    only days that end with a Y.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TheExpeditioner TheExpeditioner

    Peeping, Barenaked ladies, and sweaty European athletes — isn't that every day for you Jon?