The rest of the transition period before the Paras began was a whirlwind of activity. We’d all been so excited for the Olympics to end, but we quickly learned that there’s no rest for the weary! The office was busier than normal—with the rest of the interns on their “spring break”, venue managers needed a little bit of extra help. We were also in the process of having half our staff leave, which meant processing termination forms, collecting uniforms, reallocating shift times, and moving people’s bed assignments so that we could get rid of a few unnecessary trailers.
The Paralympics began in a quiet fashion—hardly anyone outside of Whistler or Vancouver even knew they were going on. It frustrated me that these athletes worked so incredibly hard to get to the highest level of competition with almost no recognition. And for them it’s even more challenging to get to an international event like the Paralympics because they receive little (if any) funding. I have to admit that if I had not had this chance to experience the Paras up close, I would have remained as ignorant about them as the general population. But now that I’ve seen them, it will be hard to forget. These athletes are absolutely amazing—the way they overcome challenges to participate in the sports they love is awe-inspiring. For instance, the visually impaired downhill skiers compete with a guide in front of them, verbally giving instructions as to which direction to turn. And they do this while reaching speeds of 60 mph. I can’t even imagine the courage or trust it takes to try this for the first time.
With the start of the Paralympics finally came some calm within the company. We had done an excellent job during the Olympics and now just needed to keep up the good work on a smaller scale. Two of our previous venues, Cypress Mountain and the Sliding Center, were no longer in use, and the rest had fewer events and shorter days. Even the Media Center, which continued to run 24 hours/day was an easier task, considering how empty it was. Despite the less challenging days, much of the energy seemed to have left the camp. Coops and Lyn had left just prior to the start of the Paras, as had many of everyone’s favorite residents. We were all just chugging along, waiting for the end to come. Only one more week of competition and then it’s time to leave!