Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 2 of the Games!

Monday, February 22: Class

Our last class was on February 22 and was probably the most interesting. Our first speaker was Craig Lovett, the founder of Cleanevent. He has such persuasive speaking skills and just demands the attention of everyone in the room. He discussed Cleanevent, from its inception in 1987 to its recent sale to another Australian facilities management company. He talked longer than most of the other speakers we’d had, but never lost our interest.

My supervisor, Peter Cooper, was the second speaker of the day and the last of the program. He discussed organizing committees from a variety of perspectives that I had never really thought about. Some are run like divisions of government, while others operate as corporations. It all depends on the type of country in which the Games are being held. For instance, the Vancouver Organizing Committee is completely different from that of Sochi. Additionally, the organizing committees of different events (i.e., the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Pan-American Games) are great stepping-stones to careers in the Olympic World. I had only heard of some of these events, and had never considered what a great opportunity working for them could be.

Tuesday, February 23: Medals Ceremony in Vancouver!

I had a BIG surprise waiting when I got to work on Tuesday…Sarah and I had been planning on going to see The Fray perform at that night’s medals ceremony in Whistler. However, just as I was picking up our passes for the event, Coops offered me two tickets to the victory ceremony in Vancouver. Since I hadn’t gone to any of the ceremonies yet, we jumped on the opportunity. That afternoon, Coops helped us find a ride to Vancouver. We got to BC Place right as the ceremony was about to begin and found our seats, which were located in an awesome suite. The ceremony started with tribal dancers, which were really awesome. Then a local band took the stage and was actually very impressive. The crowd must have recognized them because they went crazy. Finally it was time for the medals to be given out. Three events were given that night—the most exciting presentation was for Ladies Ski Cross. A Canadian, Ashleigh McIvor, won that event. I have never seen anything as electrifying as the crowd when she stepped onto the medals platform and as “O Canada” began to play. It was such an incredible display of national pride that brought a tear to my eye, despite the fact that I’m not even Canadian.

Wednesday, February 24: IOC Speakers

Craig Lovett has some amazing contacts within the sport management industry, and really hooked us up with an amazing opportunity today. All of the interns got to leave work to go to the Media Center and hear two speakers. The first was Anthony Scanlon, who is currently the Head of Games Operations Coordination for the IOC. He described the IOC’s Management Approach, which was developed in 2003, and consists of the following responsibilities: 1) Framework Definition, 2) Monitoring, 3) Supporting and Assisting, and 4) Evaluating. He also discussed the role of the IOC, and of the organizing committees, in terms of protecting the brand identities of the corporate partners. This part was particularly interesting to me and prompted me to think about combined my marketing and SPTE degrees in the field of sports-related sponsorships.

The second speaker was Lisa Hindsen, formerly the Head of Sport for the IOC. She currently owns and operates a consulting firm. Her client at the time was the 2014 Sochi Olympic Committee, who she was assisting with “transfer of knowledge”. She said the biggest challenge was ensuring that they know the realities of planning an Olympic Games, rather than just the overly optimistic view a former organizing committee might try to present. Lisa also discussed the Games Readiness Integration Plan, which the IOC developed to help bring three different planning streams (venue, function, and client) into one concise planning effort. I found it extremely interesting how the IOC has such a step-by-step guide in place for host cities. Obviously, it cannot explain everything down to the smallest detail, but provides an incredible framework for the process. It was also great to see a female be so successful in an organization that seems to be dominated by men.

Saturday, February 27: Bobsled, Medals Ceremony, Usher concert

Saturday was my last day to really “experience the Games”. All I had wanted since I got to Canada was to see the US receive a gold medal, and it was my last chance. After [another] long day at work, Sarah and I headed to the Sliding Center to watch the finals of the 4-Man Bobsled. The American team had the last run of the event, and needed a strong time to hold off a very competitive time. We were holding our breath as they sped down the first track and we waited for the split time. By the first split, they already held a substantial lead that they just needed to maintain. I was praying that they wouldn’t crash, and was absolutely in awe when they successful crossed the finish line. We absolutely went crazy, especially when we connected the dots and realized we would see them receive their medal that night.

Saturday night, we went into Whistler to the Celebration Plaza to see the US get their medal. Seeing our athlete’s on the podium and hearing our national anthem play was one of the coolest moments of my life. Due to the poor design of the venue, I wasn’t able to see our flag being raised (except on the big screen), but the music alone was enough to give me chills. It was even more special because I got to share the moment with two other Americans, Sarah and Joey. Following the ceremony, Usher performed. It was an amazing show that was made even better by the fact that we were there for free. How many people can say they saw the US get a gold medal AND saw an Usher concert without having to pay for any of it? Saturday was definitely a day that made all the struggles of the internship worth it.

Sunday, February 28: Closing Ceremonies

Sarah and I went to a bar to watch the closing ceremonies. I absolutely loved the humor of several of the performances and the wonderful energy it portrayed. The entire country had such a great attitude about everything during the Games—even the things that went wrong like the original torch lighting—and the closing ceremonies just emphasized that.

The last day of the Games was bittersweet for me. On one hand, I was so relieved that they were finally done. The crazy schedules, the insane stress, the pure exhaustion…all gone with the end of the Games. But on the other hand, this incredible event that I’ve loved for my entire life had ended in a flash and I felt like I missed the whole thing. There was so much more I could’ve seen and done during those 17 days…and if I’m honest with myself, I know I saw as much as I could without driving myself crazy. But there’s the part of me that wishes I could’ve seen it all. It was just hard to find a balance between working the Games and being a fan of them.

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