On Monday, I made my last of two trips to Whistler during these Games. I headed down early before my event to allow for some time to take in the Whistler Village experience. The shops, restaurants and bars were packed beyond capacity and the entire community exuded a palpable sense of excitement and camaraderie. Contrary to what many believe, the vast majority of Whistler’s slopes remain open for business during the games and skiers mixed with spectators at every turn.
I joined the throng outside CTV’s Whistler studio and watched athletes be interviewed before parking myself on a snow drift in front of the massive screen set up at the mountain’s base to take in the end of the Russia vs. Czech Republic hockey game. A VJ from MuchMusic chose me out of the crowd to do an on-camera interview discussing the implications of this game in the broader round-robin tournament but sadly, didn’t invite me to join Much’s outdoor hot tub bubbling away at the foot of the ski lift.
After the game, I headed up early to the Whistler Sliding Centre, hoping to stake out a prime location from which to view the men’s two man bobsled finals. I was stunned to find that arriving over an hour before the event still left me well behind a wall of humanity pressed against the entire lip of the 1.4km track. Blinds were pulled down around the venue, obstructing much of the public’s view in an effort to protect the icy track from the powerful and unseasonable warmth of the sun’s rays that were beating down.
Time to get creative.
I spotted a group of men wearing the distinctive badges of authorized VANOC personnel. They turned out to be a group of NBC production engineers who came to enjoy a day off watching the bobsled runs. I had a bag full of fancy camera gear. They had official-looking passes. A plan forms. Next thing I know, the four of us were positioned on a raised, track-side platform reserved for Olympic photographers. The ruse held for three runs before an overzealous security volunteer realized that my partners in crime were backstage techies and not front-line photographers. He was even less impressed when he realized I was an absolute nobody. Oh well. I scored some outstanding shots while it lasted. I then reposition myself mid-way down the track to take in the rest of the event.
As the bobsleigh finals came to an end, all of Whistler was drawn, as if by a gravitational force, to the centre of Whistler Village, where the big screen was airing the third period of Canada’s now-infamous loss to the U.S. in men’s hockey. No fewer than 5,000 fans packed the small square drowning out the cheers of the smaller American contingent with cries of “Luongo!” and promises of revenge.
I boarded the return bus for Vancouver secure in the knowledge that my tickets to tomorrow’s Team Canada women’s hockey game against Finland would yield a more positive result.
When not jetting around the world as his alter ego, The Crime Traveller, Edward Prutschi is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. Follow Ed’s criminal law commentary (@prutschi) and The Crime Traveller’s adventures (@crimetraveller) on Twitter, read his Crime Traveller blog, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.