Afterthoughts: Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games

My Olympic Fever has faded, and my Paralympic Hangover has passed. The city has more or less returned to normal. No more concerts or crowded streets. No more flag waving and fireworks. No more singing “Oh Canada, we stand in line for thee!” All in all, it was an amazing thing, being in an Olympic city.

I got more information about the protests and riots from Twitter than from CTV News. Yes, there was a mild riot in which some masked hoodlums busted display windows at the Hudson Bay store downtown. This act of vandalism did nothing to further the concerns or causes of those who protested peacefully. With the amount of money thrown at prettying up the city, trucking in snow, and installing temporary attractions (among other things), somebody is going to have to pay in the end. And it will likely fall on current taxpayers and their offspring to share the load. All that money could have been spent on social programs, schools, hospitals, any number of long term beneficial things. Oh, and they’ve raised bus ticket prices again to boot. Thanks so much, not really.

A number of restaurants around the city had a spike in prosperity, partly due to the practice of adding a 20% Olympic surcharge to each bill (see article at Spiffle). That was pretty sneaky . . . but people complained, especially the locals. During the Olympics, we went to Society in Yaletown with some friends, and yes there was a 20% addition to the bill. When we went to Earls downtown during the Paralympics, we asked our waitress before ordering if the surcharge was still being applied. She said they stopped doing it after getting backlash from unhappy customers (not surprising). We did have a fantastic lunch at Earls, by the way: Orchid martini and grilled chicken sandwich with melted brie, roasted apples, and fig jam. And dessert was ridiculous! Rich chocolate cake with caramel sauce and ice cream. If you’re going to go out for food, go all the way out.

The Paralympics were like Olmpics Lite. Fewer events, less uproar, shorter lines (the Zipline wait was only two hours instead of 7), and significantly cheaper tickets. We actually managed to snag seats for the USA vs Japan sledge hockey prelim and the wheelchair curling semifinals (US v Korea and Canada v Sweden).

The sledge hockey match was a lot of fun to watch, and very fast and physical. Athletes sit in a sort of single-track sled and use a short hockey stick in each hand  like ski poles to push off down the ice. Their arm and upper body strength must be amazing. It was fun being a fan in the stands that day. The US trounced Japan in the prelim (6-0), but the Japanese team fought their way back through the final games to meet the Americans again in the Gold Medal match (US won 2-0). Norway defeated the Canadian sledge hockey team in the Bronze Medal game (2-1).

Read more about Paralympic Ice Sledge Hockey.

Wheelchair curling was quite different than regular curling, as there are no sweepers. The Paralympic teams are co-ed, and the play was a bit like shuffleboard. It was my first opportunity to see a live curling match, and it wasn’t boring in the least. I suppose people are expected to be quiet during a match, but there were some great fans in the Korean corner, complete with a drum and a catchy cheer. I was really surprised to see both matches end in forfeit (which I don’t quite understand), but it was fun to sing Oh Canada with the crowd. The Canadian team went on to win Gold. Korea took Silver, and the Bronze medal went to Sweden.

Read more about Paralympic Wheelchair Curling.

It will take a while to see how hosting the Olympic Games will affect Metro Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia in the long term. It was all very exciting and dynamic from my perspective. I met some amazing random people and had a few rare experiences, and I’m glad for it. It’s time to retire my red-striped Olympic socks and put Quatchi on the shelf until the next Canucks game (which is tonight, by the way. Quatchi loves hockey!). Now I suppose I should get back to writing about food and go buy some peeps for Easter. Smeeps ahoy!

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