Thank you VANOC and the IOC

21/03/2010

As I read (and weep) about the ending of the Paralympic Games today I have been thinking about my time out in BC as an Olympic volunteer.  I have tons of memories, good and not so good; made many new friends; taken over 4,500 photographs (which I am still sorting out); added to my pin collection; and many pieces of Olympic memorabilia – red mittens and Canada scarf (regretting that I didn’t buy the hat to match :(); a cow-bell and bear bells; a set of Petro Canada glasses (that didn’t break in transit back to Scotland!); and the gifts given to the volunteers by VANOC and the IOC.  We were given a couple of pin badges, glass coasters, a commemorative coin/medal, a stunning Birks Olympic key ring (which I plan to change to a necklace) and a Swatch watch when we finished our last shift.  All unexpected and very much appreciated by me.

Gifts from VANOC and IOC

I miss my colleagues and friends in the Village at Whistler and I hope they all had a great Paralympic Games, and I hope to see them again sometime.

I don’t however, miss the food in the workforce dining area.  It was some of the most unpleasant food I have ever tasted and was pleased we could use the meal vouchers at McDonalds.  I am sorry if that is too critical but I believe it is important to feed your volunteers properly, after all they are giving freely of their time and working hard to help deliver a successful Games.  Yes, the gifts are welcomed but the every day care of the volunteers is crucial, and food is a vital component.

In the coming weeks the Villages in both Vancouver and Whistler will be dismantled and the work completed to turn them into the homes that people have bought.

I was pleased to have been able to visit the Vancouver Village.  I didn’t get the opportunity to see inside the buildings due to the preparation for the Paralympics but the outside and surrounding area are very impressive.  The condos on False Creek in Vancouver will have magnificent views of the city and beyond to the mountains.

Vancouver Village

Vancouver Village

The houses in Whistler are situated in a lovely rural setting, surrounded by the mountains and trees.

The homes in Vancouver and Whistler are a lasting legacy of these Games and not many folk will be able to say that they had Olympic/Paralympic athletes staying in their homes. One day I hope to go back to Whistler to see how they area of the Village has been developed.

I also hope when I do return in the winter I will experience a Whistler winter and see the snow rather than the grass in the valley.

I have posted a few photos of both Villages here if you are interested.

Whistler Village

Whistler Village (with snow!!)

It’s over to you now London in 2012.  You have a hard act to follow, and I don’t mean Beijing.  Will the UK unite like Canada did?  Will the streets of London buzz like Vancouver and Whistler?  Will it rain for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games!?  Only time will tell.

And then we move onto 2014, a year of sport, when Sochi hosts the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles, Scotland.  Bring it on!

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Olympic bouquet of flowers

12/03/2010

A fascinating story you may not have heard . . .

The bouquet of flowers presented to each Olympic/Paralympic medalist on the podium – 1,800 in all – are all the same, made up of green spider mums with hypericum berries surrounded by leather-leaf fern, monkey grass, and aspidistra leaves.

They’re all made by Just Beginning Flowers, a non-profit company in Surrey, British Columbia, which employs women who are just out of prison, abused, fighting addiction, or with special needs, and teaches them how to be florists.


Back in Vancouver

04/03/2010

I am now back in Vancouver and my first observation in the city is that the Olympic branding has already been taken down.  In some places you would never have known that the Olympics have been here.  Last time I was here Granville Street had the Lantern Forest and it has gone already.  Other places have closed down, such as some of the pavilions.  However, some are still open or will re-open for the Paralympic Games, which is really good because it allows visitors to those Games experience some of what went on during the Olympics.

Vancouver

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Athletes Village here in Vancouver and it is quite the place.  Up in Whistler the Village was laid back in a winter resort environment (even if there was no snow!!).  After the Olympic and Paralympic Games are over, Cheakamus Crossing will become one of Whistler’s Games legacy, providing affordable and environmentally and sustainable housing for full-time Whistler residents.

In Vancouver the Village complex on False Creek will become highly sought waterfront homes.  I have been told that the penthouse on the top of the building Team Canada stayed in is on the market for over $6m.  There is no doubt that the views from the south side of False Creek are stunning, looking to the water, the city and beyond to the mountains but six million dollars!!!  During the Games I visited a condo on the other side of False Creek, it looked directly to the Athletes Village, and it was not much bigger than my wee flat back in Scotland.  You pay for the view.

False Creek from the Athletes Village

When I was in the Village yesterday I attend a wee soiree for the Village volunteers, which was held in the athletes dining area.  There were many people there but I only knew a few faces from Whistler.  I had the good fortune to meet the Man in Motion, Rick Hansen.  We chatted for a few moments, he signed my newsletter and was kind enough to allow me to have my photo taken with him.

Rick Hansen, the Man in Motion

During the evening there were a couple of speeches from VANOC, praising the work of the workforce, in particular, the volunteers.  And not for the first time, I heard it said that the “Canadian volunteers” are the best, for coming from all over Canada to help make the Games so successful.  I have yet to hear anyone from VANOC publicly thank those of us who have  traveled far and wide from out with Canada, at our own cost, to come to Vancouver to be part of these Games, which is very disappointing.  I feel our role should be recognised too.  Yes, we have been well rewarded with a fantastic uniform and a variety of thank you gifts but a verbal thank you from VANOC to us would have been much appreciated (by me anyway).

I am therefore suggesting to anyone reading this that is involved with the volunteering aspect for London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, please ensure any speeches include due recognition to all volunteers, from home and overseas.  Without us it would be difficult to put on a successful Games.  Rant over!


The Legacy of 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

26/02/2010

Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies will focus on sport development in Canada long after the Games

For Whistler, what happens after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is as important as what happens during, which is the reason for Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies (WLS2010).

After the 2010 Winter Games, it will be up to the Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies to ensure the multimillion-dollar Games venues in the Whistler community become part of the community, a new tourist attraction and a key player in athlete development in Canada.

WLS2010 is a not-for-profit business that will own and operate three 2010 Winter Games venues post-Games: the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and the Whistler Athletes’ Centre.

The 2010 venues will offer recreational programs as well as training facilities where they can fine-tune their skills. Athletes will also be able to find affordable accommodations at the Athletes’ Centre, which is key to attracting training camps, international competitions and other tournaments.

“The three new 2010 Winter Games venues will mean increased recreational and economic opportunities for the Sea to Sky Corridor,’’ said Keith Bennett, president and CEO of Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies. “Our goal is to make these venues economically sustainable.’’

Seven years after the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, the venues are still well used. Visitors take tours of the freestyle skiing venues, ski jumps and sliding track. The former Olympic venues are also home to U.S. national ski, snowboard and sliding athletes.

“These venues are an on-going legacy for us,’’ said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker Becker. “They continue to be a draw for everyone from elite athletes to the public.’’

Taken from WhistlerToday – 26 February 2010