Monday, March 1, 2010

The Final Day

The flame is out and the smiles on the women’s bobsleigh gold and silver medalists say it all.

Way to go Canada!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Making New Friends

Where did the time go? We are almost at the end of the Games!

I have been asking for pictures and thoughts to post from other folks here at the games. Today I have pictures contributed by Tiffany Gregory of the University of Kentucky. Ms Gregory is in her senior year and participating in these games as an Intern with the Olympic Broadcast Service. She has taken a few pictures of the ski jumping venue.

Volunteers watch from special stands at the side of the Ski Jumping venue

This is the view from the side of the hill of an athlete in the air

The Ski Jumping venue

This is what the athlete sees from where he sits before takeoff...

The other contributor is Véronique Riopel, a volunteer from Montreal, Quebec. She has included her comments and pictures for all to view and she sends a special message to the French Immersion students in St. James-Assiniboia.

Bonjour chers amis,

Votre professeur M. Weston m’a gentiment demandé d’écrire un petit quelque chose pour vous décrire mon expérience aux Jeux Olympiques et, du même coup, afin de pratiquer votre français. Comme vous avez pu le remarquer, je suis une francophone venant de l’autre bout du pays, c’est-a-dire du Québec, plus précisément de Montréal. Je m’appelle Véronique Riopel, mais je préfère Véro; les anglophones ont bien de la difficulté à prononcer mon nom, je me marre toujours quand ils essayent, mais heureusement ils finissent toujours par y arriver!

Près de chez moi, à Squamish

Nous travaillons au CMW (Centre médiatique de Whistler), où le niveau de sécurité est le deuxième en importance après le village des athlètes. Le centre médiatique est en plein cœur du village de Whistler; c’est idéal parce que je peux profiter de toute l’ambiance olympique avec mes collègues après le travail. À date, je suis allée voir Estelle et Hedley en concert, et je planifie aller voir Usher le 28 février après la finale de hockey. J’ai également été voir quelques bands du Québec, comme The Lost Fingers et Mes aïeux.

En quoi consiste notre travail en tant qu’auxiliaire de presse?

Somme toute, c'est de s'assurer que les journalistes de partout à travers le monde ont tout ce qu'il leur faut pour bien faire leur travail. Nous somme la ressource d’information principale pour la presse écrite, donc le premier contact entre les journalistes et le Comité d’organisation des Jeux olympiques d’hiver de 2010 à Vancouver (COVAN). Nous les aidons de la plus petite demande (comme leur donner des directions pour l’autobus), à de demandes spéciales, telles que réserver la salle de conférence de presse ou avoir accès à la place des médailles

J’ai adoré mon expérience comme bénévole lors des Jeux Olympiques, et je n’arrive pas à croire qu’il reste seulement 3 jours avant la fin! Je vais soumettre ma candidature pour les Jeux de London 2012 dès mon retour à Montréal.

Si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à me contacter :

Each night crowds gather in the Village plaza to see the presentation of the medals. It is especially spirited when there are Canadian athletes on the podium. This evening the women’s bobsleigh teams medals were presented here and once again thousands joined in the singing of O’Canada.

Finally, a picture of the Olympic Pug.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 13

I have been talking to you about my experience in meeting folks from around the world. But the pics on today’s blog come from a buddy of mine that I went to High School with. We still keep in touch and got together last week at Creekside, the site of the Alpine skiing events. He has sent me some pictures that share his Olympic experience from Vancouver and Whistler. It seems fitting to pass along his impressions of the games to all that are following the blog. Thanks to Brad Elliot of Toronto, Canada for his hard work in gathering the images of the games and sharing them with me.

The Opening Ceremonies

In response to your questions:

Rick Etkin is a world class photographer in his own right and is focused on ensuring all the photographers are served well by the media centre staff. He tells me that he will share some more sites later this week when the plog is updated.

At the end of my shift each day I have a chance to take in the sites and sounds of the Village and watch the Olympics on TV too! That is what I was doing last evening with my Canadian friends Ron and Peter as we watched hockey.

I really enjoyed the day I went up the mountain and travelled on the Peak-to-Peak Gondola.

I like the Inukshuk symbol of all the mascots and I have included a picture of it for you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 12

I spoke to the fellow who is in charge of the press photographers here in the Village. His name is Rick Etkin. He told me about a couple of links to online photo galleries that feature content by some of the best sport photographers in the world. These 'Plogs' (photo blogs) are hosted at the Denver Post. You should take a few minutes to check out these amazing photos and these incredible pictures.

In responding to the Blog comments:

The best thing about volunteering is the chance to meet people from around the world who share a passion for the Olympic spirit.

Did I cheer for Team Canada against the Germans? The following picture was taken during the second period of tonight's game!

From left to right: Myself, Ron & Peter cheering on Team Canada

Day 11

Chocolate milk and snow boarding questions. I have not had any chocolate milk yet and I hurt just looking at people learning to snowboard. I have been a lifelong downhill skier. I know that a few of my skiing buddies are following this blog and all I can say is that this mountain is a great one.

I have seen athletes from all over the globe. I really enjoyed seeing Jon Montgomery of Russell, Manitoba after his Gold medal win. He stayed in the Village Square quite late into the evening signing autographs and chatting to fans.

The fans from Switzerland are very enthusiastic and chant as much as we do. The large bells they ring can be heard all over Olympic venues, but those Norwegian pants are cool. I don’t really have a favorite athlete but I do admire the dedication and commitment of the individuals who strive to participate in the games. They are focused and have put their best effort forward. I encourage each of you to follow the athlete’s example.

I look forward to seeing the Ness Canada Day celebration pictures later in the week!

The Mascot for the 2014 Winter games in Sochi, Russia in front of the Russian Olympic store.

Canadian Pride on display.

MTV VJ's Paul the Intern and Aliya-Jasmine Sovani doing an interview in the village square.

Boddie Miller of Team USA being interviewed by the journalist of Croatia.

The Media workroom in the Whistler media centre where press file their stories.

A behind the scenes look at the mixed zone. Here broadcast journalists are setting up to interview athletes after they leave the podium.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 9

Thanks again, Mr. Mead, for the sweater!

Hello to all my friends across Canada and the United States that are following the blog!

The celebration of Jon Montgomery’s gold medal win in Skeleton was in full swing in the Village last evening. Huge crowds gathered at the medals plaza and filled the village stroll afterwards. 'O Canada' was being chanted and sung all evening long. I heard a few “GO TOBA” shout-outs as well.

I know that much is said about the spirit of the Olympics but the feeling of pride is hard to describe. And not just by Canadians. Everyone congratulates the winning countries athlete’s team members. This is global village.

All kinds of folks from around the world can be seen strolling through Whistler Village...

I feel very lucky and fortunate to have been selected as a volunteer for the games, as this is a once in a lifetime experience.

I also took some time yesterday to enjoy the skiing here in Whistler. I didn’t exactly shred the runs but had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy the “hill”. The 1200m vertical drop takes a very long time to ski.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 8

Hello all! I am pleased to see the pics of the folks at the Board Office up on the blog in the previous post. If you would like to post your local Olympic pictures, please send them to Mr.McKiel. Class pics would be great too!

My favorite athletes are the ones from Manitoba. I hope that you have all had time to read about them.

I was stationed at the medals plaza here in Whistler for the day so I got to see first hand how the media interview athletes. The media is divided into three groups: TV broadcasters, print journalists and photographers. These three groups are divided into rights holding media, the media that have paid the Organizing Olympic Committees to be able to have special and first access to the venues and athletes, and non-rights holding media they have not paid for access but are still allowed to interview and film the athletes after the rights holding folks. Priority is also given to the athlete’s home country media for first interviews and the best spots for pictures.

Once the athletes receive their medals they are taken to an area called the “Mixed Zone” where they meet the international press. This area is also divided into three areas for broadcasters, print journalist and photographers. Our job is to make sure that everybody stands in the places that is assigned to their group, it can get a bit hectic.

Jennifer Hedger (TSN Sport Centre) broadcasting live from street level

Someone asked about my favorite sport to watch, the ski jumping is exciting but I do really like to watch hockey!

The red mittens were part of the torch runners uniforms. If you are watching the games on TV you will see lots of volunteers in our uniform with light blue jackets, dark blue pants and a cool blue toque with Vancouver 2010 on it!

I have not seen any wildlife but I spend most of my time in and around the village. The village has lots of great restaurants, however as a volunteer we receive a nice nutritious lunch or dinner depending on the shift we are working. I am sure Assistant Superintendent Pshebniski and the Nutrition Committee would give their approval.

I will be here for the rest of the games so I will continue to post pictures and answer your questions.

The other night following the medals ceremony, I watched part of the free nightly entertainment. Here is an example of DJ Deadmau5's music:

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Are YOU Celebrating the Winter Olympics?

While Mr. Weston is lucky to be celebrating the 2010 Winter Olympics out in Whistler Village, we're having many of our own Olympics celebrations within the Division.

How are you celebrating within your classrooms and schools?

If you have a picture that you'd like to share in this slideshow, send it to Andy McKiel -

Let's show the world our support for Canada's athletes :-)


Day 7

Here is some info about the medals ceremonies. Today’s picture is from the rehearsal for the medals presentations. Volunteers stand in for the athletes so that TV cameras can be checked to be sure that they are in the right spot for the best pictures. Sound checks take place as well. The people that carry the medals and flowers to be presented get a chance to do a walk through of the ceremony. This is done so that it all goes smoothly on TV.

I have seen a few athletes but none from Canada yet. Hope to see some soon. I will keep you posted if I do. BTW there is a lot of snow at the bottom of the mountains but no sign of protesters here in Whistler.

This is the team of volunteers that I work with. This photo was captured by Rick Etkin.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 6

The photos of the day are of a bit of a behind the scenes look at the beginning of a press conference with USA women's downhill silver medalist Julia Mancuso and gold medalist Lindsey Vonn. I was at the back of the room and took a quick photo.

The second photo is of me in my Olympic Volunteer uniform in front of the Blackomb ski lift with my niece Kyla Jeffrey of Vancouver.

Hello again to the middle school students at Lincoln Middle School, Ecole Golden Gate and Ness Middle School. You have been asking about the opportunity to go to events.I am not stationed at any of the Games venues and I did not buy any tickets to any events so I will not see any competition in person. However, today I did attend a press conference with USA women's downhill silver medalist Julia Mancuso and gold medalist Lindsey Vonn.

The internal Olympic Broadcast Service shows live feeds of all the events. I am able to see all of the events as there are many big screen TV's throughout the media centre. When I am working in one of the areas our jobs is to control the remote for all of the TV's...sweet.

The official languages of the Olympics are French and English and almost all the people that I deal with speak some English. As volunteers we are paired up with at least one other person that is bilingual. I have asked one of my teammates from Quebec to contribute to my blog and they will be writing in French in the next couple of days. At all of the press conferences there are translation services available for the international media.

Go Canada!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 4

I have had a few questions about my job as a Press Assistant volunteer.

I am stationed at the media centre in the Whistler Village. We are a team of about 24 people who provide a positive customer service experience for the international media. That means that we try and answer any questions that journalists and photographers may have about the media centre. That can include information about connecting to the internet or accessing the internal database of Vancouver 2010. This database contains all the information about the athletes participating in the games, their teams and the details of their sporting venue.

Media folks also need information of all kinds regarding the games including results, event locations and times, or where to buy batteries for their digital camera. We staff a help desk that either gets this information to them or directs them to the appropriate source for that information. There are hundreds of reporters and photographers requiring assistance daily.

Our team also has responsibilities at the Whistler medals plaza. Medals ceremonies for the following venues are held nightly for events at:

- Olympic Park that includes ski jumping, biathalon, and cross country events

- Sliding Centre that includes the Luge, Skeleton and Bobsled

- Dave Murray Downhill run that hosts all Downhill and Slalom ski events

Once medals are awarded we direct the athletes to the area called the “Mixed Zone” where they are interviewed first by the media from their country and then by the other international journalists.

I too have access the database for the Olympics and can answer questions that you may have about the games. Send me your questions and I will try to answer as soon as I can.

Go Canada!

The view from the slopes - Men's Downhill in progress

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 2

What an exciting day here in the village. Big screens are placed throughout broadcasting the olympic events all day and evening. As I was walking around this afetrnoon I saw Nancy Green being interviewed, some kids from sweden playing with the official mascots and folks from around the globe gathering in the main square.

Nancy Green

The Olympic mascots: Quatchi, Sumi, Miga

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 1

The tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili has left folks in the village in a somber mood today. A small memorial has been erected at the base of the Olympic rings outside the Whistler Medals Plaza.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Torch Relay

What an exciting day - cold, but exciting! This morning, I was invited to the Torch Relay flame exchange program that took place at the Parkhill branch of the RBC on Portage Avenue.

The program began at 8 a.m. with presentations from students at Crestview School talking about their experiences when helping out the homeless at the Main Street Project. Check out some of the highlights of the Torch Relay Ceremony that took place outside:

- click here if you cannot access the embedded YouTube video -

Immediately following the indoor activity, we all moved outside to watch the Torch relay flame exchange. The students and crowd were very enthusiastic. They chanted and cheered as the runners approached and then left the stage. Browse the attached photos and remember - only 36 days 'til the games begin!

Students and staff from Crestview enjoying the presentations.

Getting ready to head outside and see the Olympic torch.

Passing by our school division's Board Office on Portage Avenue.

Gail Asper was one of the torchbearers this morning.

A new flame is lit.

And the journey continues...