Posts Tagged With: Olympics

London 2012

Using every avenue and all means possible, Helen was able to acquire tickets to three Olympic events this summer in London.  We stayed with our friends Jean Paul and Katie, and arrived just as they were preparing the house for a party that evening featuring Jean Paul’s vat of Indian curry. (Apparently a family recipe from the ‘old country’,  which was somewhat strange, since he is from the Basque). Helen and I took a quick nap, trying to ease the jet lag to rally for the party. We did pretty well staying up till around eleven. Pints of beer + jet lag + JP’s curry = sleep.


Centre Court

The first event was football, at the mecca for english football, Wembley Stadium.  We went with Helen’s childhood friend, Lucy and her husband Jamie, who were kind enough to give us their extra tickets. We lucked out; Team GB was playing Senegal in the second game. Wembley Stadium is state of the art with Jumbotrons and plush seating with some old-school rules. You are not allowed to bring beer into the stands, because back in the day when drunk lager louts/football hooligans used to beat the crap out of each other in the stands. I was wondering why so many people were loitering in the concession area pounding down beers.  You either had to chug beer in the hallway or sneak beer into the stadium in coffee cups. We did both.






Beach volleyball was next. The large temporary stadium was built in the courtyard of the old Horse Guard Parade. A strange sight; this modern modular stadium in the shadows of the 250-year-old buildings and on top of the jousting grounds of Henry VIII. Henry loved his jousting.

There was a commentator whipping the crowd into a frenzy and a DJ playing music between points. Between games they had a dance troupe in retro bikinis dance around the sand court or start conga lines that would dance around the stands. Beer drinking in the stands was commonplace instead of outlawed. We saw the powerhouse teams from Brazil, both men’s and women’s, and with it being  sunny for once in London, it did kind of feel like Rio.



The next afternoon it was tennis at Centre Court at Wimbledon, with four game scheduled. I was excited walking through the hallowed grounds with all its tradition and Pimm’s cups. It was the complete opposite of the beach party at volleyball the day before. The judges trot out and around the court in a line, with stiff arms, to their positions. The tennis balls are lined up before the game and rolled individually to the ballboys in a ritualistic fashion. The head judge calls for “quiet please” before the ball is served. We were lucky and saw some of the best players including the two eventual gold medal winners Andy Murray and Serena Williams.




Team GB out in force at Wimbledon


















It was a whirlwind trip with everyday packed with Olympic events or meeting with friends or family, full speed. When we got home, we needed a vacation to recover from our vacation.

Categories: Europe, London, UK - July 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vancouver Olympics 2010

I’m back in Vancouver for the Olympic events at Cypress Mountain. The weather has gone from rain/snow/fog to sunny and fifty degrees. The workload has gone from shoveling snow in the rain to sitting in the sun and watching the athletes train on the course we built. The crew I’m on has grown very protective of the course and grown a bit of an attitude, “We built this course so stay the hell off it”, berating anyone that gets near it.





You’ve got to love a serious Athlete!

Helen has been having fun working in the Athlete’s lounge. She was given a top-secret mission by the French snowboard team to find a sharpie pen and draw fake mustaches on each other before the half-pipe competition watched by millions all over the world. She was successful. Hours before the biggest event of their career they are in the bathroom drawing moustaches on each other laughing like schoolgirls. You gotta love snowboarders.

I’m a short-timer now, with just one last shift tomorrow, but its race day, the first Olympic women’s ski cross on the course we built. I will be working on the course.

I should be easy to spot; I’ll be in a Smurf-colored jacket and hat.

Categories: Americas, Vancouver, BC - February 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before Vancouver Olympics 2010



I just finished my fourth day volunteering on the hill (Cypress Mountain) building the course for the Olympic snowboard and ski cross race. I have the prestigious position of snowboard course shaper, I think a better title would be ‘Official Snow Shoveller of the Vancouver Olympics. It’s some serious manual labor but I am doing fine for an old man; the kids are complaining more than me about being tired and sore. Having a great time, I love it; the crew I’m working with, it’s a fun group; a bunch of stoner Canucks and Aussies, plus I’m working with the guru of snowboard course design; everyone is very mellow. It’s good working on the hill again, it reminds me of the old days working at Vail and Snowbird.




Helen started today; she is working in the snowboard athletes lounge. I’m outside shoveling snow all day in the rain and snow and she is inside flirting with Olympic snowboarders.

Everyone is working at full speed to get everything ready, it does not help that this is the worst snow year they have had in ten years. There are snow cats and construction vehicles racing all over the mountain plus they are flying three helicopters at the same time transporting hay bales, snow and random equipment from cables attached to their underside. One of the helicopters is a huge air crane, a bug like monstrosity that transports a ton of snow from the surrounding mountain tops.
We were working on one of the last turns, #7, and one of the helicopters was dropping equipment thirty yards away from us all day, kind of sketchy considering at one point it dropped not only the equipment but also the huge carrying cable. I got some good advice from one of the crazy Canuck controllers; “you should pay attention because that sh*t can really kill you”.

Thanks pal. It’s kind of hard to ignore a helicopter a hundred feet directly above you with a ton of steel swinging wildly on a fifty foot cable.



Categories: Americas, Vancouver, BC - February 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at