It’s 8:00am. I have slept four hours in the last 24. And I’m at a curling rink.
On Day Two of my Olympic adventure here in Vancouver, I spread my sporting wings by taking in a match between Canada and Japan. The gorgeous new venue sits smack in the midst of a residential neighbourhood, making the thick security perimeter staffed by hundreds of police from Montreal’s finest appear even more incongruous than the thousands of RCMP milling about downtown Vancouver. It was a balmy +9, and I left my jacket behind at what Vancouverites are affectionately calling “The Spring Olympics.”
Having arrived at this event the day after I watched Canada and Russia combine for 16 goals in two explosive hockey games, I adjusted my expectations and prepare for a more sedate match. But then I stepped into the venue. Two young men beside me, clad only in red boxer shorts, their faces painted with red maple leaves, were running madly around the concession stands using Canadian flags as capes and screaming “GO CANADA!!!” Team Canada colours were literally everywhere. Canada stole a point on an end and the grandstand erupted into an earthquake of boot stomping. Three rowdy fans started a raucous cheer. Someone started a countdown and, to my eternal amazement, a wave broke out, roiling over the crown as it sped around the arena time and time again.
This ain’t your grandpa’s curling match.
Three hours later, in a sloppy match marked by errors on both sides, Canada squeaked out a last-rock victory, and crowd exploded. Suitably charged from my morning experience, I quickly made my way to the UBC Campus and settle in to watch Canada’s women slaughter a hapless Swedish squad 13-1 in hockey. The scoring was so fast and furious my legs were starting to cramp from leaping to my feet so often. Fortunately for my hands, I purchased one of the ubiquitous Official Vancouver 2010 cowbells, which spared me from having to clap my palms into oblivion.
Immediately after the game I raced from UBC’s campus downtown to BC Place, where I joined 30,000 others in screaming wildly as Maelle Ricker received her gold medal at the Vancouver Victory Celebration. Bearing witness to the inauguration of a Canadian hero was an emotional and moving experience that somehow managed to feel intimate despite the sell-out crowd packed under BC Place’s puffy fabric roof. Paul Brandt hit the stage following the medal ceremony ,to the delight of cowgirls everywhere, and I slipped out into the downtown streets where the party was just getting started.
By that point, I had been awake for 44 of the last 48 hours. Sleep is not in the Olympic lexicon. Tomorrow: my first opportunity to view Whistler’s contribution to the Games.
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 <email@example.com.