It seemed appropriate on this early morning of Valentines Day, as I look at the beautiful but still gray Vancouver skyline, to muse for a moment on this experience so far.
Years ago, as I was a pre-teen watching Olympics on television, I marveled at the athletes, at the spectacle of the event and what it meant to bring the world together on one stage for 16 days of peace and sport. Over time, I became somewhat cynical about sponsorships, commercialism and microscopic coverage of athletes but I still held out hope that, under all the hype and hoopla, the ideals of the Olympiad were still in tact. Now that I've been here for a few days, I understand better what this event is about. I understand why those feelings of what seems like a lifetime ago are still very much a part of my personal Olympic experience.
At the risk of sounding cliche or just downright corny, Vancouver embodies everything that defines my dream. This beautiful, albeit a bit damp, city has opened its heart, soul and mind to the world. The citizens have embraced the different languages, cultures and customs of athletes and guests as every gracious host does in their home. Vancouver has made us feel at home; it has been comfortable. It has been Olympic in its spirit of the Games and all the surrounding chaos that make up the "show."
Granted, we are only a few days into a long few weeks, but so far this experience has far exceeded my expectations. Yes, it is expensive to come. It is expensive to go to events and you do have to know that one will spend time in lines, at security and just trying to get into a bathroom. Such is the physical nature of what I call the brick and mortar experience.
But if you can look beyond that; if you can look into the excited eyes of people attending; if you can open yourself up to making new friends on crowded buses, at restaurant bars and in coffee houses around the city, the Olympic experience is more encompassing than I ever dreamed it would be. From walking into the spectacle of BC Place and Opening Ceremonies with upwards of 60,000 fans sharing one common experience through so many different emotional and physical vantage points that brought them to congregate in this one place at one time, to sharing athlete stories with the parents of a member of the US Nordic Combined team as we rode a city bus, I realized that what was defining my Olympic experience so far was way more than the competitions we will attend on Tuesday and Thursday as our athlete takes his turn on the stage; it is about all the memories so far, as well as the ones we have yet to experience.
Thank you Vancouver. Thank you for allowing me on this Valentines Day to continue to carry a torch for an event that truly defines the best of the world and the best of sport.