2010 Olympic Trip Conclusions: 12 Things Everyone Should Know

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I left Whistler on another gorgeous, bright winter morning. Unfortunately, obligations exist. So I headed down to Vancouver in hopes of filling my mom’s order for several pairs of those cheesy mittens and curling tickets. I spun through a mall but, alas, no mittens.

I spun through the Vancouver Olympic Center’s box office and, realizing I was in Canada still, no tickets (who doesn’t want to experience the world of curling first hand?). I decided, tail between my legs, to get started on my drive home. It must have been somewhere in the midst of Eastern Washington’s barren fields of nothingness that I thought to share some of the knowledge I gained in my ten days in Vancouver and Whistler.

1. Any and every event, regardless of how lame or amazing you may think it is, will blow any of your preconceived notions out of the water.

2. Give any German flag-bearing fan a wide berth. I took a shot upside the head, then had a great chat about Oktoberfest. I guess that’s not so bad, eh?

3. Best Whistler restaurant — Prime Tapas at the base of the Creekside Gondola. If you have a chance, order the mussels (from Vancouver Island) or the fresh Tuna. If you’re trying to . . . you know, I suggest the oysters.

4. Lindsey Vonn is gorgeous (yes, believe the hype).

5. Vancouver’s diverse neighborhoods should be a destination themselves: Granville Island’s maritime and market vibe, chic Yale Town, historic Gas Town, the most authentic and largest Chinatown in North America; with the influx of green space and parks, I can see why the city is a popular destination.

6. I can’t help but give a shout out to Bryon Wilson, the bronze medalist in the men’s freestyle moguls, and a fellow resident of Butte, Montana. That was an extra special moment for me.

7. Whistler Resort and Village claims to be the best on the continent. I haven’t seen another place that could dispute that statement either. In fact, not many places force me to founder away in the deep powder, but Whistler’s peak did just that.

8. Random Olympic sport thoughts:

• Snowboarding: What other Olympic sport lets you listen to your iPod as you compete while your pants hang below your butt? Is that part of its draw?

•Ice Dancing: Trying to make skating as cool as you can, without doing any of the cool things.

•Luge: Are you people insane?

•Skeleton: You people are insane.

•Curling: A beer drinking game turned Olympic sport. What’s the point, and why can’t I help watching hours of it?

9. Olympic travel isn’t as bad as people thought ahead of time. Buses are numerous and frequent, avoiding the Sea to Sky Highway driving checkpoint is easy with some planning (open 6 a.m. to 6 p .m.), and a pass is easily obtainable in Squamish.

10. There is so much going on, all the time, you should pick and choose what to do. The daily Olympic events are a must, then grab a bite at one of the outstanding restaurants, then take in some of the festivities: public celebration sites in Vancouver, free afternoon and evening concerts in Whistler, Fire & Ice at skier’s plaza in Whistler Village, or simply just wander around — any of these are completely worth it. Keep in mind, I didn’t have any time to museum- or tourist-site hop around either.

11. Big props to my friend Louis, his family, and his roommates for putting me up for the trip. I successfully did ten days of the Olympics on an uber-mini budget of around only $1,200. It helps those mittens were all sold out.

12. The Olympic spirit is something everyone should experience. When you have so many people, with so many different views, supporting so many things, tension is bound to arise. I never felt any thing like that. People from all countries were supporting everyone, although still hoping for their favorites to win.

There was a peaceful coexistence of all athletes, and people from all over the world. Even I was a monster Norway fan at the cross country race, an American fan at the skiing, and a Canadian fan every other time. I’m not sure if there is a sense of competition of the athletes against the elements — mountains, ice, or clock — or if there is just a sense of being involved in something larger than your personal ideologies. Whatever the reason, it’s special, and I will never forget it.

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