On Saturday afternoon, Bill and I headed over to Pacific Coliseum to watch what was turning out to be a premiere event…short track speed-skating. As usual, it was raining so we bundled up for the 1.5 mile walk to the Coliseum which was really a mere .25 miles from the house, sans the intense, crazy, people-wrangling system VANOC had set up. After walking opposite the venue for 20 minutes we finally found our way to the security line, where we stood in line another 20 minutes, before being examined by someone who looked like they were pushing 18. Lucky Bill got a special little “massage” when he kept setting the sensor off.
Venue problems continued once we found our way into the Coliseum. Question: How do you get to your seats when the access point for your section is entirely roped off for accredited people only? Answer: Enter 3 tunnels away and crawl over 100 people. This was actually the volunteer’s response when I asked how she expected me to get to my seat: “We’ll just need you to pick a row and start making your way over. We’re working to resolve this.” Apparently somehow NO ONE managed to notice this little issue prior to the venue opening? Really? THEY STAGED AN ENTIRE GAMES AND DIDN’T NOTICE THIS MASSIVE LOGISTICAL PROBLEM? Not one to make waves, I carefully slid by everyone’s toes, clutching my food, muttering “I’m REALLY sorry about this…”. One section through, I saw a whole free row of seats (Miracle! I won’t have to trod on anyone!) and started walking across this blessed seat tundra, only to hear a furious, clipped Eastern European-accented voice start berating me, “You can not be here! Stop! You are breaching security!” I looked around to find out who the hell was yelling at me, and saw a stern-faced volunteer (the only volunteer that I encountered, in the entire 96 hours I was there, that was not dripping smiles and sunshine. It’s like they gave them happy pills along with their turquoise volunteer jackets.). I said, “Well, I’m seated in section 8, so I don’t know how you expect me to get there.” To which he delivers this lovely Eastern-block response of “That’s of no concern to me. You can’t be there. You’re a security risk.” Yes, me, in my fuzzy red Olympic mittens, holding two pork sandwiches, is quite the risk indeed. I stand there, looking incredulous, watching him steam with irritation until he furiously mutters “Just move! Just keep walking!” Which I do. All the way to my seats, which are about 4 rows shy of the ceiling.
We settled into our seats and watched short track speed skating which is super fun since there are bound to be tight races and crashes. Plus, both Ohno and J.R. Celski, both from Seattle, were on hand. In the marquee event of the night, the men’s 1500m finals, we got to watch Ohno wrestle his way to near the front of the pack, only to be bumped by one of the Korean skaters. Luckily he caught himself, but lost precious seconds, leaving him back in 4th place. On the last turn, in a pure “Oh my god, this is why sports are so awesome to watch live” moment, the 3rd place Korean, greedy to pass his teammate in 2nd place, loses and edge and takes both himself AND his teammate out, leaving room for both Ohno and Celski to cross the finish line in 2nd and 3rd. Yay America!
After speed skating we took the bus downtown to try and see Wilco at LiveCity Yaletown (one of the major Olympic entertainment venues). We found a 45 minute line, so we ducked into a little restaurant serving “the best mexican food in town.” Except when we got there at 10pm, they were only serving drinks because according to the proprieter, they ran out of food at 6pm! And it smelled SO good. I slammed a Growers (hard core, i know) then we headed back downtown to Robson St where they had roped off the streets, turning much of the popular city roads to pedestrian-only. After standing behind the CTV local news booth, waving and cheering and doing the “look at me! look at me!” thing that everyone does when they’re in the background of a shot, we ate some street meat (GOD, i can’t even BELIEVE i did that) and then went back home, exhausted and looking forward to getting to sleep past 4:00AM.