Tuesday I had a 1:30pm shift at the Oval so I decided to go downtown that morning to explore some of the free venues that opened early. First stop. The Royal Canadian Mint Exhibit on Granville Street. Having been to the Ottawa Mint in 2008, the only reason I lined up for the exhibit was to see and feel the Olympic medals. I was told this is the first time EVER that Olympic medals were allowed to be view by the general public.
It was about 8:10am when I got to exhibit and at least 10 people were already in front of me. While waiting I chatted with this couple from Surrey and they told me they were all excited to go to the Women’s snowboard cross that morning after receiving free tickets to the event. Needless to say they were quite bummed out when VANOC announced the cancellation so they decided to spend the day to soak in the Olympic atmosphere.
Once the exhibit opened we made our way upstairs to the medal room where one of the designers was on hand to explain the entire process from conception to production. Suffice to say quite a bit of information was presented so I won’t bore you with all the details but here are a couple of quick facts:
– 1,014 medals were produced: 615 for the Olympic games and 399 for the Paralympic games.
– With total unique designs, no two medals are alike.
All of us in the medal room were given a white glove as we were not allowed to handle the medals with our bare hands. We can take photos with the them but due to IOC regulations, no one is allowed to wear the medals nor show a victory pose with the them.
After my time with the medals I made my way to the Olympic Superstore around 9:30am only to find a line up that stretched for a block and a half. It was hopeless to get in so I went to the International pavilion on the 5th floor instead to look at the merchandise there. It was interesting to see all these Americans buying a whole bunch of the Canadian Olympic gear with the red mittens being front and center. I struck up a conversation with some folks from Dallas and they shared with me their experiences here in Vancouver and had nothing but good things to say. As we parted ways I actually thank them for spending money here.
The Russian presence is another thing you cannot miss. They’ve taken over Science World and renamed it Sochi House for these games. I saw a lot of them roamed the streets and two large kiosks were set up inside The Bay selling Team Russia gear. Judging from the lack of customers and the rather high prices, I think they might have to ship everything back to Russia.
The morning ended with brief stops at the Aboriginal pavilion, the B.C. pavilion, and the Art galley since they either open late or have long line-ups.
My shift at the Oval coincided with the women’s 500m race so I walked towards the venue with a lot of spectators. Along the way some Koreans were handing out flags and vests and I got myself a pair of Oranje gloves and some temporary tattoos from Speed Skating Canada.
It was my first time working in the athletes load zone so I got to see a lot of the skaters and coaches up close, including the 500m gold medal winner Lee Sang Hwa and American skater Shani Davis, who came by in the afternoon for training.
I was told before hand that some of the European skaters can be quite high maintenance due to the treatment they get back home but overall everything went smoothly and without incident.
6 shifts done with a free Quatchi in tow, I left the Oval Tuesday night hoping this experience will never end because it’s been fun.
Item du jour
Making of the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic medals