March 15, 2010

"We come to you live from Vancouver..." Brian Williams and I on the NBC Nightly News set.

The Olympics ended in quite the blur followed immediately by an amazing ski vacation to the interior. That is the reason for the delay in my final post. Nonetheless, I still want to keep everyone up to date on the final few days of the Games. Almost immediately after the Thursday West Coast broadcast, people started taking pictures of the set as Brian only had one more broadcast.

It was upon realizing this that I handed my camera to a coworker and darted over to Brian’s side asking for a pictured of the two of us on the set. That led to the above picture in front of the cauldron. After that, we had our news wrap party. What a great idea, drinking beers on NBC. After that, I headed with some coworkers to the Johnny Reid concert. Reid swept last year’s Canadian Country Music Awards and had tons of tons that I find myself singing on any random day. He is one of the few Canadian country artists I have yet to see, so it was wonderful to see him live and it was all for free.

Thanks to being a member of the media, we didn’t even have to wait in line. On that Saturday (Day 16), I was riding down the elevator with a coworker talking about how we wish we got to see more events and about 5 minutes after that one of our assignment managers asked us if we would rather go see figure skating or the bronze medal hockey game. That was an easy decision and about an hour later, we headed off to the bronze medal game between Slovakia and Finland.

We sat right behind the Slovak bench, close enough to steal a players stick if I were less scared of the security guards. Although I have a feeling that stick would be worth less than Sidney’s. And not a bad game to see. Going into the final frame, the Fins were down by 2, but rallied to score 4 in the third to win the bronze 5-3.

What a prelude for the big final that happened the very next day. While I was working I moved a round a fair amount, managing to watch the game on a number of different TV screens, but saw overtime from LiveCity Downtown, which was a giant screen set up in a parking lot about 2 blocks from where the game was being played.

When Crosby scored hands flew in the air with beer leaping out of people’s cups everywhere. The streets turned into a sea of red. It must have been the easiest day ever to get a hug. Only a few hours later it was closing ceremonies and that concluded an amazing Olympic Games. I may have rated them the best ever…definitely the best Games I have ever been to.

We showed up the next morning to see our temporary newsroom coming apart at the speed of light. Even by the time I showed up at 9 a.m., my computer, phone, desk and chair were all gone. Everything takes a couple months to set up, we used it for 17 days and it takes about 4 days to tear down. Most things just get put in a crate and go into holding until they are shipped to London for the next Games.

February 24, 2010

Greg, Matty and I celebrating after a Canada goal Feb. 20 during the USA Canada game.

The area at the east end of False Creek between Science World and GM Place is usually a giant parking lot. I guess I should actually call GM Place Canada Hockey Place as to not confuse the visitors. They changed the name just for the Olympics for some odd reason.

It’s an area I have never really spent much time in…until Molson and the different provinces put up tents and started serving beer in those tents. On Sat. Feb. 19, with my first day off in 2 weeks looming and knowledge that my friend Matty was driving into town from Seattle, 2 tickets to Molson Canada Hockey House were dropped in my lap from a coworker. We had no idea what to expect and looking back we couldn’t have asked for anything better. We arrived to discover that the tickets were $99 each and not only did we get the tickets for free, they came with 9 free beer tickets. So we went to the bar to start using the tickets, grabbed a beer and turned around to see the music. Matty, my much taller friend, bent down and turned to me saying, “This band is really good.” I looked up and then it hit me. the older gentleman with the white hair and white beard was Randy Bachman and he wasn’t just really good. He was amazing. They ended the set with a little TCB. For us hearing TCB was just the beginning of us doing a little TCB. We made it all over the city, saw the cauldron and chatted with some CTV people at 3 a.m. who were doing live hits for the morning show on the East Coast. They seemed tired.

The next day we woke up and learned two things. 1) We were not 19 anymore 2) Our hockey team was not as good as we thought. But nonetheless there is nothing like watching a game in a bar where everyone is sporting a team Canada hockey jersey and every hand flies in the air when Canada scores as if we were all eager school children who knew the answer. After the game, I have never seen this city so quite. I personally feel it was good to lose that game. It will make winning so much sweeter. In fact, I want the U.S. to make it to the finals so we can take them down.

My other experience with the provincial happened last night when I experienced Ontario in 4D for the first time. Its a 3D movie with a twist. Fake snow flies at you when there is snow on the screen, water sprays at you when there is water on the screen and the seats shake.

February 18, 2010

Granville street is now entirely blocked off to people. It falls into the category of if you build it they will come. And people have, by the hundreds of thousands.

Tom Brokaw, Kevin Monahan and I watching the USA take on Switzerland in Olympic hockey.

All you hear walking down the street is cheering and people draped in Canada flags holding up their red mittens, saying “give me a high five.” As my brilliant friend Andrew Elgar said, it is like a two-week frosh week on steroids. Almost everyone wears something with the maple leaf that says “I’m from Canada and we rock.”

It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and I love it. We truly do live in the best county on earth and we are showing the rest of the world a million reasons why they should be jealous.

Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans

Now on to more of what I have done other than walk around. We have had some great days, but easily the highlight has been going to watch the USA vs. Switzerland hockey game with a true journalism legend…Tom Brokaw. I was trying so hard to make sure I got Brokaw in the shot that I didn’t really get myself in it.

I also went to see Alberta country star Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans. I can’t believe no body wanted to come with me, but I still had a great time.

February 14, 2010
Happy Valentine’s Day and congrats to Alex Bilodeau!

I must say the first couple days of competition have been really exciting. Canada now has 3 medals and 2 of them in my favourite sport to watch, the moguls. I get the feeling that everyone really wanted Jenn to win, but she had a great run and silver is absolutely amazing.
While I didn’t get to see the moguls live, I got to do some pretty neat things in the first couple days. A few hours before the opening ceremonies I noticed them unwrapping something right near our studio. The more they unwrapped the more I thought it may be the outdoor cauldron. And sure enough, it was.

The outdoor cauldron right after Wayne Gretzky lit it.

So we watched the opening ceremonies from inside the newsroom and shortly before the torch was brought into the stadium, we ran outside in anticipation of them doing something dramatic to light the outdoor one.
We waited outside in the rain for over half an hour, and sure enough, there was Wayne riding up in the back of a pick up truck with his red mittens and the torch in hand. I even got video on my blackberry of it being lit.
The next day, I got word we were going to be interviewing him and after an hour of stalking him around the studio, I finally had my picture taken with the Great One.

As if that weren’t enough for one day, work let me leave early to take Brian Williams’ ticket and sit next to his wife at the short track speed skating. As it turns out, it wasn’t just his wife. Next thing I knew I was conversing with Jeff Zucker, president of NBC, and Steve Capus, president of News, their wives and some of their kids.

At short track sitting 3 rows up from the ice.

Today, after a relatively slow day, I was outside our tent studio making sure no one talked during our west coast airing. About half way through the show, I learned, thanks to my Dad, that Canada won its first Gold on home soil and all of a sudden you could hear this huge roar all over downtown Vancouver. It was a very exciting moment. I think at this moment Canada surpassed the U.S. for the most patriot people on the planet. I loved seeing it.

February 11, 2010

A view from Spanky's Ladder on Blackcomb.

Does anyone need an Ikea cabinet built?

This past week I have really upped my skills in personal shopping and building Ikea furniture, but I guess I have been building the stuff for Brian Williams’ office so it could be worse.

But why talk about building Ikea furniture when I can talk about the Super Bowl and meeting the US men’s Olympic curling team.

As it has been almost a week since the last time I wrote, I have some catching up to do. On Saturday, I skied a beautiful blue bird day at Whistler. To look for fresh tracks, I spent a good chunk of the day hiking out in to the back country. I can’t think of a better thing to do.

On Sunday I worked for part of the day and then after our show finished at 4 p.m. everyone sort of disappeared. They had all stopped working to watch the Super Bowl. There is nothing like watching football with a bunch of American’s. It is one thing I miss about living in the U.S. That and Thanksgiving. We have nothing like it in Canada where everyone stops working no matter what and everybody talks about it. But what may have been the best part was that even though I won no money in our pool, the guy sitting next to me won $200 so he bought the beers. Lucky me.

I rock. On the ice next to where the U.S. men's Olympic curling team was playing.

Last night I headed out to Richmond to watch some curling. The US men’s team was taking on a recreational men’s league team and one of my co-workers is working on some stories about the team. Most of the drive out was a really poor attempt by me, who has curled once, to explain the rules. The most important rule, I explained, was that the winners buy the first round. I guess it stuck, because even though we didn’t play, my co-worker decided to buy us two rounds while we watched the game. And afterward we met the team. All really nice guys, but we’ll see how they do against the Canadians. Even in this game, they lost a close one to the recreational team.

Tomorrow is opening ceremonies. I hope everyone is excited. Canada has a chance to top the medal chart this year and may win 3 golds on Day 1 including Jenn Heil in the Women’s moguls. Be sure to watch.

February 5, 2010

Shooting seaplanes...with the camera. The seaplane airport now has airport-like security. No more showing up 10 minutes prior to take off.

Some Olympic stories that I have had a small hand in over the past week. I was usually carrying the tripod, but I was still at most of these places.

Ramping up security for the Games

Trucking in Snow to Cypress Mountain

I have had a busy week logging tapes/transcribing interviews, tracking down footage from all over the continent and learning about why bears may come out of hibernation, how Cypress will have enough snow when the Games begin and why there is increased security for the seaplanes. I have also been practicing driving massive tank-like vehicles called GMC’s. Just when I thought I was getting good at driving the Yukon, I find a set of keys on my desk. They say they are for my car or the car I will be driving. Turns out it is a Yukon XL. Like a Yukon, only bigger.

Cats move snow around the future Olympic aerial slope after the trucks dump it at the base on Feb. 3.

Kind of like supersizing your value meal. The whole parking lot at the new convention centre, home of the International Broadcast Centre, is filled with massive trucks just like this parked in “small car only” spaces. Almost all the spaces have this designation, yet almost everyone associated with the Olympics is driving trucks that could hold the whole delegation or a tenth of all the security personelle.

Working on the stories has been great, but the highlight of my week may have been seeing legendary sportscaster Bob Costas three times. Once he was sitting just a few tables over from me in the cafeteria. I’ll work on taking pictures in a subtle way so he doesn’t suspect I’m stalking him.

January 31, 2010

Jim Maceda walks with U.S. Congressman Rick Larson at Peace Arch Park during an interview Thursday.

Since I wrote, last I’ve started work and even found some time for more skiing and apres.

I arrived for work on my first day (Jan. 27) to meet some really nice and helpful people, who all wanted to give me the tour. The International Broadcast Centre is a massive $1-billion building right on Burrard Inlet near Stanley Park. NBC is in the basement so we never know if it is raining or sunny. Luckily, this is Vancouver so we usually know. After four tours, the only thing I can find is the bathroom. I guess that is a good thing though.

Toward the end of my first day, I learned that I would be going with veteran foreign correspondent Jim Maceda and the crew to upstate Washington for a story about security at the Games and what the U.S. is doing to assist the Canadians. I would like to say I started work at the crack of dawn that day, but in reality I had already been working for about 3 hours before dawned had cracked. We did interviews with people at the U.S. customs and boarder patrol, a county sheriff and ended the day interviewing a U.S. congressman during sunset at Peace Arch Park.

The view from the Peak-2-Peak gondola on Saturday. It was even harder to see on the hill.

After another day of work researching and looking for images on Friday, my bosses gave me the weekend off. They said, “Do laundry for the next month because you don’t know when you’ll find time again.” So I went skiing. Unfortunately the snow was wet and heavy due to warm weather and that it was almost raining half way up the mountain. There was also an amazing amount of fog so all I could see was white on white with rain drops on my goggles. Still, it is always great to be in Whistler. And of course we hit the Kokanee apres ski at the GLC for some beer, nachos and good music. When there is bad snow, often apres is the best part of the day and Saturday was one of those days. I even won a beer.

I’m taking today (Sunday) off to get some rest and as suggested, do laundry.

January 26, 2010

I picked up my media pass today so bring on the games…it’s only 17 days until opening ceremonies. How do i look with my credentials?

I'm on official business, NBC News

We're counting down the days...

January 25, 2010

There is nothing quite like the feeling of making a turn in powder and having the snow rush over your face like water when you are standing under a waterfall and your skis effortlessly glide though the white stuff. After two days of skiing on hard pack conditions in Whistler, I finally got to ski it with lots of snow and I’m once again addicted to that feeling. I’m now heading back to Vancouver from Whistler on a Greyhound bus that smell remarkably like a hockey locker room. However, my journey didn’t start in Whistler, it started with a depressing plane ride followed by a friendly face…

I watched Funny People and The Wrestler on the plane…in that order. Maybe not the smartest idea. A lot of talk about death. So after that depressing plane ride, I met Francis (my former classmate and former and now current roommate) at the airport and he showed me the way home on the Canada line. It is awesome, could have been more awesome if I didn’t have luggage, but still awesome. After all the construction and complaining it is great that Vancouver finally has a subway. All of the construction that I saw two weeks ago is showing and Vancouver is looking like a world-class city ready for the Games.

On a separate note, it has been really warm and sunny in Vancouver. On the day I left Vancouver, June 21, 2008, it was 10 degrees and raining. Last Friday it was 12 degrees and sunny. Go figure. I guess I have that tourist luck now. I lived here for 2 years and never saw weather like this. They could almost hold the summer games. Just look at these pictures, they could have been taken at a resort down south, but they were taken just a few days ago in Vancouver.

A view from Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. 12 degrees and sunny.

Guess where this is taken? It is not a resort, but yes those are people sailing in January.

January 13, 2010

Soon I will be heading out to Vancouver to embark on my journey. I will be working for NBC before and during the Olympics. I will be keeping everyone up to date on my adventure with stories, pictures and hopefully video. Wish me luck.

Even though I will be working for a U.S. network, I would still like to say “GO CANADA”.


2 Responses to “At the Olympics”

  1. Skip Walters Says:

    Just read your BLOG. excellent


  2. andrew elgar Says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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