Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010 Olympic Games--Week 1

Sorry this all didn't get posted earlier--I had worked on all of this as the Games went on, but with all the internet problems, hadn't been able to get everything posted. The internet is FINALLY up and working again :-)

Friday, February 12: OPENING CEREMONIES

The first day of the Olympics were filled with excitement and anxiety around camp. This was what we’d all been preparing for, but were we ready? Did we have enough staff? Did we have enough reliable staff? Would our transport plan get everyone to work when they needed to be there? If it snowed, could we handle it?

Unfortunately I was scheduled to work during the Opening Ceremonies, but thanks to having a TV in the office, I got to see most of it. The camp had a viewing party for the ceremonies, but I was excited that most of the management team watched it in the office with me. I was having an especially difficult time not being at home—my family always has a party and makes a huge deal for the ceremonies. My younger sister had even flown home to be with my parents during it, and being so far away was weird—nobody here seemed to understand exactly how much I love the Olympics and how much they mean to me. But at least watching it with a group of people whose company I enjoy helped some. The only part of the Ceremonies I didn’t see was ironically the torch lighting. I was checking buses to ensure the workforce was present for work. It kind of hit me that these Games would be very different from past ones for me—not because I was here in Whistler, but because my priority was my job rather than enjoying the Games.

Sunday, February 14: LUGE!

Since before the Games began, I had been wanting to see some of the luge competition, but my schedule in the office conflicted with every event. Luckily, Tyler offered to cover part of my shift so that I could see some of it. It was such a cool experience to be able to walk into the venue with my contractor accreditation, skipping all the crazy lines, and watch the event from basically wherever I wanted. The Sliding Center is an awesome venue—with such a large track, there are a ton of places to stand. Sarah and I stationed ourselves literally five feet from the fastest part of the track—Turn 16. It is absolutely mindblowing how fast these athletes are traveling—upwards of 140 km/hour (almost 87 mph)! As cool as it was, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous for their safety after the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. When you can see the action in person, it’s not at all difficult to understand how fatal accidents occur. It honestly surprised me that tragedies like this don’t occur more often…

This was also my first real taste of Canadian nationalism. Although I’ve seen tons of national pride throughout the town, this was the first time I’d seen a crowd react to a Canadian athlete as they competed. It was truly spectacular and inspiring how much passion everyone had for their country. I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of cheering I heard for the American athletes—a lot of it was from Americans who were visiting, but a lot also came from our northern neighbors J

This was also the day that Canada won their first gold medal on Canadian soil (they hadn’t won any golds in Montreal or Calgary). Alexandre Bilodeau placed first in the Men’s Moguls. The energy here was incredible—it really tugged at my heartstrings to see everyone’s overwhelming joy and made me adopt Canada as my other team during the Games.

Wednesday, February 17: HALFPIPE!

As a reward for all of our hard work, Paul Lovett (head of Cleanevent) offered all the USC interns a chance to go see the Men’s Halfpipe event down at Cypress Mountain. I was originally scheduled to work, but Paul found a replacement for me so I could go. The ride down was about 1 ½ hours, but it seemed to fly by. We were all SO excited to see Shaun White and hopefully a US gold medal. We were a little worried about finding a place to watch from—all of the general admission tickets had been cancelled (the lack of snow had made the ground unstable for that many people) and the grandstands were sold out. When we got there, we just grabbed a seat in the bleachers and figured we’d move when someone showed up to claim their seats…somehow no one ever did! Sarah and I ended up sitting in some fairly VIP sections. Athletes’ families were all around us and we were sitting next to some of the biggest donors for the US Ski & Snowboard Associations. We were no more than ten rows back, directly in front of the halfpipe. The view was INCREDIBLE. The semifinals were very exciting, as several Americans qualified for the finals. We were all still waiting for the real show, however, as Shaun White had already qualified and thus wouldn’t be competing until the finals later than evening. He was the last competitor of the final round, in both runs. His first run was awe-inspiring and put him at the top of the leaderboard. After that, he just had to wait it out and see how the rest of the boarders did on the their second runs. But nobody even came close! He knew before he even took his second run that he had won, and as he approached the top of the halfpipe, he just put his arms up and cheered. The place went absolutely MAD! It was such a cool moment as an American to be able to support one of our top athletes. White went all out on the second run and got more air than we’d seen all night. The whole crowd was insane…he scored a 49.4 out of a possible 50 points. American Scotty Lago also earned bronze.

Seeing Shaun White win is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. On the way home, I was calling everyone I know to tell them that I’d just witnessed Shaun White winning a gold medal for the US and completely dominating the event. I was so proud to be American and see how many other American were there to support him. Awesome, awesome night!

During the Games, we continue to have class every third or fourth day. This week, we heard from Paul Lovett about the process of bidding the cleaning contract of an event. While it sounds like a huge challenge, it was also extremely appealing to me. It combines past knowledge (i.e. the number of man hours used to clean a particular type of event) with future research (i.e. the cost of labor in an event location or even the cost of a broom). It is like a puzzle that must be put together, and must both attract the organizing committee while being profitable for Cleanevent. I could definitely see working for the company on a bid team in the future. We also heard form Pat Leahy, Paul's business partner in Incognitus and worked for a while in job placement. Incognitus is essentially a consulting company for venue and event management. Pat spoke about job interviews...I was originally not looking forward to this AT ALL since I've heard numerous lectures on the same topic in the past. However, he approached it from a new perspective. He provided us with a list of things we should get out of an interview, rather than everything we should be doing to impress the employer. He helped us to understand the things to look for at a company and the questions that should be answered for us as we go through the interview process.