Opportunity knocks – Olympic style

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Open up, it’s the 2010 Olympics.
..…The 2010 Olympics who?

When the Olympics comes a knocking, what are YOU gonna do?

As part of the 2010 team, this is MY logo now too!

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Olympics and knew it would only be a matter of time before my love of the Olympics would finally come together with my desire to be a part of the Olympics.

Unless you purposely avoid any type of news or information outlets out of fear of being too knowledgeable, you must be aware that the 2010 Winter Olympics will be taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Luckily, it’s also my current place of residence.  With the games only a few weeks away, the city is still very much in the midst of last minute preparations.  Even unseasonably warm weather won’t stop us though. While Inuit cultures have many words for snow there’s only one universal word for ‘this sucks’:  Booooo!. We’re the land of the north so we’ve taken the cue and gone further up to bring the snow down south by the truckload. While most years we’re happy when we reach highs of 12 degrees in January, this year we’re hoping to be as cold as the rest of the world thinks we already are. As stereotypes go, the fear is some tourists will be looking for igloos and Eskimos when they get here and will instead be greeted by puddle covered streets and Hawaiian shirt wearing locals in flip flops.  Aloha, eh.

Ever since Vancouver was chosen as the host city (go Canada go!), I’ve been trying to be a part of the games. Besides applying for several positions on the team, I’ve also tried to volunteer to host any of the Canadian men’s teams, happily offering my home for them to use.  With me still in it of course ( I’ve always been a giver).

I’ve always assumed my role in the Olympics would be as a competitor and not just cheering on the sidelines but getting a chance to watch them AND be a part of the Olympic team is certainly tempting.  Also, my first choice would have been for the summer version as my sports of choice are in track and field, more specifically the 100 and 200m sprints (In my dreams, I win medals all the time). However, beggars can’t be choosers and when the behemoth powerhouse known as the Olympics is calling the shots, you happily do as you’re told.

When the opportunity to be a part of the Olympic team first presented itself, I wondered what my role in these 2010 games could be:

  • Host of the opening ceremonies?
  • Commentator for the bobsled races?
  • Performance artist for the victory ceremonies?

    Ooooo so sparkly! I can cash you in for Olympic tickets...

  • Or runner up to Miss 2010 Olympic Games. After all, should, for any reason, Miss 2010 Olympic Games not be able to fulfill her Olympic duties at the 2010 Olympics I would be ready and willing to step in. ( I predict a Hawaiian shirt related mishap in her future…)

However, what I was initially told about the position was this:

  • There may be long hours  (not a problem)
  • There will be no change to your current salary  (oh well, that’s fair)
  • Any overtime you complete will be voluntary hours (as I said, I’ve always been a giver)
  • You’ll be locked away in an office building  (I’m locked away anyway, at least now there will be a different view of the wall)
  • Many repetitive administrative duties (repeats just mean I will inevitably get better!)

    Ack! Can I at least be-dazzle it??

  • Numerous bosses to answer to (well how can this be bad? Oh right.)
  • More tasks than can be physically completed in a day (so I should give 120%?)
  • Working with a lot of highly skilled A personality types (yikes!)
  • No per diems  (what’s a per diem?)
  • No bonuses (ummm…)
  • The location has no parking and is not easily accessible by public transit (er….)
  • No free tickets or special access (…)
  • There’s little chance of working on Olympic venues/sites (what?!)
  • And you might have to wear the following uniform =>

My final answer: Where do I sign up?
So the dust has settled, the offer letter has been signed, proper expectations have been set and Monday, January 25th marks my first day as an official 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics team member. My excitement: unmatched, my eagerness: unrivalled and my desire to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity: limitless.

Let’s do this!


Hey look, another prediction realized! Either I’m pretty good at this prediction stuff … well there are no other options. 2 out of 8 have been true so far. See why predictions are more fun than resolutions?

Bet you’re really paying close attention now. 😉


Why should polar bears have all the fun?

Hypothermia: In cold weather, your body may lose heat faster than you can produce it. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. It can make you sleepy, confused and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realize you need help. That makes it especially dangerous. You can get it from being cold and wet, or under cold water for too long.

Hypothermia can lead to death if not treated promptly. (source)

Date:            January 1, 2010

Time:          2:30pm to 2:31pm

Weather: 5 degrees with heavy rain

Over 1500 adventure-bound Vancouverites took to the icy waters of English Bay beach off the pacific ocean on New Years day 2010 for the 90th annual Polar Bear Swim. Spirits were high as everyone gathered on the cold, wet sand decked out in lavish costumes, homemade getups, and other outfits that can only be described delicately as ‘obvious cries for help’.  From clowns to Vikings to Viking clowns, the scene was an eclectic showcase of Vancouver’s free spirited individuals. Several news teams and thousands of onlookers were also out in full force; cameras aloft and working away like red carpet photographers.

You can certainly take pictures of it, write about it, talk about it, watch it on TV in a news clip and maybe even view it live on the beach but nothing beats actually doing it. First hearing about this crazy event from a friend, I decided to go out and finally see what all the fuss was about.

Like me, some of you may have falsely believed you can simply waltz onto the beach, slip into a swimsuit and then jump in the water and be done with the whole ‘polar bear thing’. To you I say: “You fools!” There’s so much more to it than that. Fortunately, my trusty guide and invitee took me under her wing and showed me the way of the Polar Bear.

Step 1: The Ensemble

What a sweetie, he asked me if I wanted to blow on his horn for the photo, shucks!

Basic swimsuits are fine (for amateurs, scoff, scoff) but purists know the whole point of the chilly dunk is letting go and giving yourself up to the experience.  Something you can only do in a getup. The more ridiculous or outrageously hilarious you look, the better for our amusement. For some reason, self-realization is actually enhanced when you’re wearing Viking horns and a diaper.

Ensemble Tips:

–         The brighter the better

–         Accessories are a must

–         The crazier the better

–         Yes, your birthday suit IS considered an ensemble

–         Whatever you choose, have fun with it

my roomie's stuffed polar bear donning my apparal. Working it!My trusty guide helped put an ensemble together that made me feel like a free spirit (the self-realization part is that I also realized I looked like a fool). It involved a tiara (for the princess in me), Mardi Gras style necklaces (a must for all free spirits), red, glittery pom poms (to cheer on other free spirits), sparkly makeup (got washed off in the pouring rain) and a whistle (not part of the costume, simply used to scare off anyone who gets too close to your ‘free spirit’). And voila, step one complete.

Step 2: Getting There

You’re better off walking or taking a taxicab but your best bet is always public transit. Reminiscent of the parking situation during the fireworks shows during the summer, there’s nowhere to park and traffic moves at a standstill at best.  Also, get there early. Gigantic crowds have a tendency to move slowly when you’re in a rush. The event was slated to start at 2pm. Arriving promptly at 2:20pm, we only had time to toss off our jackets and shoes, strip down and get right into the melee on the beach (another tip – arrive ready to jump in). This meant our socializing was limited to after the plunge only and not before. Surprisingly, it’s easy to meet new people when you’re wearing a wet t-shirt and bathing suit bottoms.

Step 3: Taking the Plunge

Again, the naïve amongst you might believe you can simply walk up to the ocean, dangle your feet in the water and be done with it.

Tsk tsk tsk.

This is where the experience of your guide is key.  Mine had me step back several feet from the water and told me to run like heck and jump in. For first timers, it’s one way to ensure they get all the way in. No second-guessing when you’re up to your waist in 7-degree water and change your mind. Toe dipping is also not an option. Full immersion up to your neck or nothing!

You’ll be surprised, when you first walk out of the icy depths, at how warm you feel.  It washes over you almost immediately and you’re tempted to jump back in the water and splash around a little longer. Instinctively, you want to towel off and get changed into the dry clothing you packed (another tip!) but you’ll have no proper motor function right away. The cold water makes buttoning and tying and knotting almost impossible as your system tries to regain its lost body temperature by pulling heat from your hands, legs, fingers and toes. Still wearing a soaked swimsuit and a dripping wet ensemble, I happily traipsed around the beach laughing and smiling and taking pictures with others fresh from their dips.

Step 4: Make it a Memory

There’s no point to doing anything (legal at least) if there’s a: no record of it and/or b: no witnesses to see you do it. Take photos, take names and take note- while everyone you know is probably recovering from their New Years’ eve shenanigans by laying on a couch somewhere and nursing their outdated 2009 hangovers, you’re out here taking a huge, frozen bite out of 2010, yeah!! (also, beware of brain freeze)

Me and only 1500+ others received this 'exclusive' collectible

Also, if any of you are curious about what it’s like to immerse yourselves in water suitable only for polar bears then I suggest you do the following:

  • Fill your bathtub to the brim with water from the cold-water tap;
  • Add 3 cups of ice cubes, 2 cups of sand from the beach and one cup of water from the hot water tap;
  • Stir briskly until the ice cubes have just melted, take a step back and jump in.

Welcome to the newly minted Polar Bear Bathtub club! Just make sure you take a picture and get a witness to see you do it. Otherwise…

It doesn’t count.

sources: Viking – scaq.blogspot.comcrowd shot