A trip to the Winter Olympics

| Special to Student Life

The U.S. women’s hockey team routs Russia 13-0 on February 16. (Courtesy of Trisha Wolf)

Standing in line to pick up tickets to the USA-Russia women’s hockey game last week in Vancouver, I met a guy who made me feel like I was currently living in an urban metropolis. He was from Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Though Yellowknife is bigger than Sidney, Mont., the town in which I am working, it is more than 900 miles from a major urban center. I live only 200 miles from one.

Though this encounter had very little to do with sports, it shows a few different sides of the Vancouver Olympic experience. First, there were lines everywhere, and they were long. Second, he encouraged me to visit the Canada North House, a part of the Game’s Cultural Olympiad, which highlighted the culture of Canada’s provinces and territories. My family enjoyed the art and performances at the North House the next day. Third, he gave me an awesome Northwest Territories Olympic pin. Pin trading is a huge part of any Olympiad, and I was very excited to have a pin with a dog sled on it.

My father, sister and I spent four days at the Olympics. I had wanted to go to the Olympics since I was 5 and watched Shannon Miller compete in 1992, and I was very excited to make that dream a reality. In addition to the hockey game, my family and I saw the final two runs of the men’s luge competition, a men’s curling session and the victory ceremony in which Alexandre Bilodeau was awarded Canada’s first Olympic gold medal on home soil.

Television does not do luge justice. Standing at the track’s fastest point between curves 15 and 16, you see the sleds whiz by. I did a double take as the first forerunner (lugers who go down the track before the race begins) flew by. They are really, really fast. For the fourth run, my family hiked up the track and saw the race at different points. The speed difference between the top and the bottom is incredible.

My family was unfortunately not immune to the chaos caused by the weather. We had tickets to the women’s super-combined. Originally scheduled for Feb. 14, it was postponed until Feb. 18, two days after we would be leaving Vancouver. Unfortunately, refunds will not be issued until April. We were also among the thousands who had Class B tickets that were disappointingly canceled for the women’s snowboard cross.

Curling was surprisingly enthralling. The United States played Norway, Canada played Germany, and France played China simultaneously. I learned that there are time clocks in curling, learned how points are scored and learned what constitutes a great shot. The crowd went crazy as Canada easily beat Germany. The U.S. heartbreakingly lost to Norway in overtime on the final shot. France defeated China on a brilliant curving shot, clearing two stones to gain position with time running out.

As we walked home on our last night in town, we ran into the French curling team. My sister and I congratulated them on their win, and they thanked us.

Trisha Wolf was a managing editor for Student Life in the 2008-2009 school year.

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