Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paralympics 2010

db and I bought tickets to an Alpine event for the last day of the Paralympics. Everything was selling out so fast, and we couldn't see all that we wanted, but we were happy to get Alpine event tickets.
Alas, it was not meant to be. The Alpine events for Sunday were canceled in anticipation of bad weather. The only tickets left were Cross Country Skiing. We had seen Olympic Cross Country Skiing, and although we weren't as excited to be going back to the last venue we had been at, we were happy to at least be going to see something.

The Paralympics were much more relaxed. We could drive to the venue since the Sea to Sky highway was opened to regular traffic once the Olympics left town. From the parking lot, we were taken on a short shuttle bus ride from the parking lot to the entrance. There was no security. Our tickets were scanned, and we walked through to begin our climb to the venue.

There was a good crowd with flags from Norway to Mongolia. It was a good atmosphere.

Once there all of my enthusiasm returned. I was so inspired and in awe of these athletes. By the end of the day I was perhaps more in awe of these athletes than the Olympic athletes simply because they are competing with a disability. Imagine being blind and skiing with the help of a guide ahead of you. Imagine skiing with no poles, or having to rely on your upper body strength to climb a hill while on skis. I found it very moving to see these athletes perform at this world class event.

We saw several events: the men's and women's sit skiing 1 km sprints, the men's and women's visually impaired 1 km Classic sprints, and the men's and women's standing 1 km Classic sprints. db and I saw from the qualifying to the medal round, and were able to follow the overall performance of an athlete.

In this picture you can see that the Olympic rings have been covered over, and the Paralympic symbol with the three "agitos" (latin for "I move") replaced the Olympics symbols.

The weather wasn't the best. It rained on and off and the wind picked up at one point.  We made several trips to the "warming tent" that was set up near the concession stand.

Even the Aussie's inflatable kangaroo was in the warming tent at one point. I think everyone made a trip there at some point during the day.

We probably lasted as long as we did because of the warming tent, and we were pretty well dressed for the weather, but clearly not dressed well enough (I could have worn my long underwear, for example). However, I saw some young girls there who were horribly dressed. One girl was wearing a mini-skirt with leggings and some flimsy looking boots. She had no hat or gloves that I could see. Ah kids. At least she had her phone to message her friends about how cold she probably was.


The Russian men swept the sit skiing, and took a moment to celebrate together, as well as before their Russian fans that were present.

They did have to be moved off the course though because another event was already underway, and soon skiers would be entering the stadium.

Perhaps most exciting was watching Brian and Robin McKeever win their third gold medal in the Men's 1 km sprint.

Here's Brian McKeever warming up before his event.
Many skiers jogged near the start gate before their event.

We were standing at the final corner where the athletes take their last turn before heading towards the finish line. We watched Brian's sprint to the finish, and it was remarkable. What a race.

I wish we had stayed for the medal presentation, but the weather got the better of us, and had worn us down. After their medal win, we headed home.

I have some more shaky video of the sprint to the finish for the McKeevers. I'll have to post it. I stopped my camera before they crossed the finish line though because I forgot all about the camera, and wanted to watch them finish. I'm not the best when it comes to sport video since my enthusiasm tends to get the better of me. 

I think I'm a bigger fan of the Paralympics now than I am of the Olympics. It was frustrating to not be able to see much of it on t.v. Maybe next time the networks will get it right, and give the Paralympics the coverage it deserves, and has earned. Or maybe next time I'll stick to watching what I can on-line.

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