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With Radioactive Hearts

Shani Davis. Mr. Tikis' photo, not mine. Which you can tell because it's actually good.

...being a memoir of viewing the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Mens 5000m speed skating event.

This actually began some months previously when the perceptive Mr. Tikistitch realized that Vancouver would be OMG dude OLYMPICS WHAT WE CAN DRIVE TO!!!! So, we put our collective Stitch ears hats into the ring, and were rewarded, in the fullness of time, with some pretty tickets.

Now first understand that even though The Land of Canada is our close neighbor, it is A DIFFERENT COUNTRY! Is true. There's like the metric system - remember studying that crap in school, hahaha? Well, the Canadians actually must've felt bad about it so they went and posted it on all their road signs. (They're all so really really nice.) Also, the money? Not real at all, it's just like Monopoly money, which is keen. No, rilly! They even call them "loonies." I mean, they're even in on the joke.

Anyways, the nice-itude was a bit of a handicap in our full participation. Yesterday's agenda included not only our first event, but actually physically picking up said tickets somewhere in the center of downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver 2010 web site made it clear that this would be a CARBON NEUTRAL EVENT, which seemed to add up to DON'T BE DRIVIN' TO OUR DOWNTOWN, YA HOSERS!! Unfortunately, amid pages with links to various international prizes the proud Canucks had been awarded for coddling polar bears, there was absolutely nothing about, ya know, how to utilize any actual public transport system alternatives.

I finally did some last minute interpolation using The Google and located what was supposed to be a designated Park & Ride lot near-ish to our event and/or the fabled sky train. We pointed the Tiki car towards downtown Richmond and crossed our carbon-guzzling fingers.

Now, to interject here, if this Olympics were held in the United States, and we had been directed to a dodgy Park & Ride lot that had been designated for the events, we would have known exactly what to expect - a muddy vacant lot, miles from civilization, presided over by some toothless gentleman named Homer, who would emerge from his trailer home to demand $23 cash for the first two hours.

Instead, we actually rounded our P&R twice before recognizing it for what it was - an ultra-modern, and absolutely spiffy-clean multi-storey parking garage, with a computerized payment system, located across a sky bridge from the equally ultra-modern sky train public transportation system, which led directly to downtown. The total charge: $2 for 24 hours. And, as we've already explained, it was $2 Canadian, which is not even real money!

Tickets are pretty

So, we ended up literally zipping downtown, and, pausing briefly to gather in a very cute little protest parade (the slightly irritated Canadians were so terribly unhappy about stuff, and so registered their disinclination by walking politely through downtown, chanting in reasonable voices), we scooped up our tickets and were whisked back to the venue.

Ice ice baby

The men's 5000 m speed skating event was to be held at the Richmond Olympic Oval which looks like it had been erected like last Wednesday. Can you say clean? The Portapotties were spotless!

Canadian Chewie

Due to Canada's unreasonable efficiency, we even had some time to kill before the start of the show, and so took in some retail therapy. Mr. Tiki and I bought tee shirts, and I demanded "That plushie Yeti dude," which started the salesgirls laughing hysterically. "Toldja he was a yeti, eh?" the one said to the other. I guess he's got a name, but Gus and I decided he's actually Canadian Chewbacca.

Mittens go Dutch

OK, so, a bit about the event. Now, in case ya don't know, the Winter Olympics is a lot like the real Olympics, only lots more snow and many, many White people. From what we've gathered about the 5000m men's speed skating (based on extensive research Googling "mens 5000m"), this particular event is dominated by Some Dutch Dude. Like most Cheerfully Stupid Americans, we'd never heard of him beforehand, but that's OK, because he apparently brought along half of Holland to watch him. Anyways, everywhere we went, there were tons of people wearing funny orange hats and funny orange sweaters and funny orange gloves. There were even people giving out orange mittens - totally for free! - beforehand. They are like the awesome-est mittens ever too - they're actually orange fingerless gloves that convert to orange mittens.

Kazakh-mania dudes!!

But the day wasn't all for Holland. During the warm ups, we noticed some dudes wearing a uniform with a flag we couldn't remember ever, ever seeing before. Turned out, there was a competitor from Kazakhstan! Yeah, rilly! And not only that, when he finally made his run, this whole row of people stood up and started wildly waving a Kazakh banner for him! Everyone else in the crowd quickly hipped to that and started screaming wildly as well, partly for the Kazakh skater dude, and partly for his awesometacular fans.

Canadian speed skater dude we met in the beer line.

At this point, I nipped out to the concession line. And, guess who I spotted in the line for beer? A couple of the Canadian ladies recognized the Canadian speed skater dude who had just finished! Here's their actual conversation, translated from Canadian:

Canadian Lady: OMG, are you the Canadian speed skater, eh?

Canadian Speed Skater Dude: Yes, eh?

Canadian Lady: We are so proud of you, eh?

Canadian Speed Skater Dude: Aw shucks eh?

He was totally sweet (he's Canadian!) and posed for pictures with everybody.

Enter Sven

Finally, we got to the main event, where Sven the Dutch Dude sashayed out to the ice. And, whoa. Dude pwns. He was seconds ahead of everyone else.

ZOMG Dutch people

The Dutch people kind of had a collective grand mal seizure. They even had a brass band playing! I mean, I couldn't even bring in my water bottle, but these dudes brought tubas!

Sven owns the universe!

Oh, and if I may be allowed a moment of grumpiness, even though we go this event because it was a medal event, turns out, they didn't actually hand out the damned medals at all, but just gave everybody flowers. I mean, what is it, Valentines Day? I mean, it is, but still.

Anyways, then it was back to Public Transport. I have vivid memories of trying to get onto the Atlanta subway system following an Olympic event, and the terrifying solid mass of people that extended from outside the station, down the stairways, and out to the tracks. It was like a Who concert with ONCOMING SUBWAY TRAINS. As it turns out, Vancouver had the brilliant idea of having people stand politely in line in order to enter the SkyTrain station in an orderly and safe manner. (Along with a bunch of ultra-polite security people to enforce order.) And THEN! They actually ran lots and lots of trains, so people were picked up in an orderly and efficient manner! It was ... almost impossible to get grumpy about it.

Anyways, then it was back to our safe home, where we arrived in time to see Apolo Ohno grab a silver whilst sitting safely on our comfy couch. And we counted our blessings that we had not thought to go to events at Whistler where it was currently sleeting all over spectators watching moguls and luge. BTW, can anybody actually share the attraction of the luge event? Looks like a guy laying down. And, yeah, going real fast. But even the teevee commentators seemed a bit lost for something to say. "Whoa, that dude is laying down really good." Or, something.




Feb. 15th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Chewie!!! *snuggles*


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