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Olympic Outsiders

If you can't be inside the Olympic Games, then follow Seattle Times producers, reporters, videographers and Olympic fans as we take you to the streets of Vancouver, B.C., to show you what's happening on the ground and give you a taste of the scene swirling around the 2010 winter games.

February 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM

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Thank you, Canada

Posted by Seattle Times staff

Submitted by Cynthia Bishop

Vancouver is a lovely city. The locals always had the time to help capture a photograph, provide directions, or offer my daughter a souvenir pin. A stroll along the West End waterfront is a nice way to spend an afternoon. Miles and miles of paths for pedestrians and bicycles connect the West End to Stanley Park. We remarked several times that Seattle needs something similar along the waterfront.

During the Men's USA vs. Canada Hockey game, we attended the nightly Olympic Awards ceremony where the athletes receive their medals. The awards were held via live broadcast in both Vancouver and Whistler, so all finalists participated in the same event. Luckily, the USA fared well that day. Bode Miller, Apolo Ohno and Shani Davis graciously took their respectful place on the awards stand and posed for photographs as the confetti streamed down. My daughter collected the confetti as souvenirs. She made sure to pick up at least one of each color: bronze, silver and gold. I must remember to practice the words to our national anthem, as a short debate ensued among my family members over the lyrics.

We received news during the medal ceremony that the U.S. beat Canada in men's hockey. Pockets of American flags waved proudly.

On the long walk back to the hotel, I asked my husband to hide our U.S. flag. Although respectful, it wasn't necessary. Robson and Granville had been rowdy streets all weekend, prompting a shutdown of liquor sales by 7 p.m. The Canadians quickly recovered from the hockey setback and the crowds were quieter by Sunday evening. I did not hear one rude comment from the Canadians. Embarrassingly, I did hear several loud and gloating remarks from other U.S. citizens.

During the trek, we caught a glimpse of a television interview in an unmarked building. It appeared to be a temporary hub for a news agency (I did not catch the name). I believe that I saw a reporter and Shani Davis, who was wearing an Olympic t-shirt. My husband and daughter were not amused that I wanted to walk around the building for a better glimpse. My time as a stalker was short-lived.

I should have realized my daughter offered the path to Olympic royalty. Her favorite activity for the weekend was swimming in the hotel pool. Apparently, it is a favorite for the children of athletes as well. "You're the enemy," remarked a fellow pool goer. I glanced down at my red souvenir sweatshirt purchased from the Canadian Roots retail store. The word "Canada" was emblazoned across the front. I could barely explain before he pointed to the family at the other end of the pool. The father of the group was Chris Drury, who had scored a key goal for the U.S. Men's Hockey team the night before. This confirmed my suspicion that Olympic athletes — or at least those with corporate sponsors — prefer the comfort of a good hotel over the Olympic Village.

I purchased tickets for our final event knowing we wanted to watch something that involved skiing. I decided aerial (freestyle) skiing offered exactly that. We sat in the middle of the fourth row. After the first athlete flew 20 feet off of the ski jump and flipped through the air three times, I thought he would land on us. (He did not.) The sport seems similar to gymnastics, where sticking a landing results in a better score. Like other Olympic venues, the aerial skiing space was an intimate setting. My husband asked a woman with her son why they carried signs that said "Speedy." She was very gracious in explaining that her husband was an event participant. I later filled in my husband that he was the participant we would be cheering on. Along with Ryan St. Onge, Speedy Peterson easily qualified for the finals.

When I first heard about the Olympic Bus Network required to attend events on the mountains, I was skeptical. These were not the buses that I remember from my school days - or even along most city routes. The buses offered plenty of space, quality seating, beverage holders, food trays and restrooms. The line was long yet moved efficiently.

My daughter's passport expired the following day. Although I had visions of sprinting on foot around the throngs of vehicles at the border just a few minutes before midnight, there was no such drama. The border patrols were well-staffed on both sides. On a Monday evening, we were the only car returning to the U.S.

Thank you, Canada. We had a lovely time.

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