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Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver 2010’

Lori waves good by from the Main Media Centre at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

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Gold Medal winner Ashleigh McIvor blows a kiss to the crowd.

Whistler skier Ashleigh McIvor stepped up to win Olympic gold on home snow — scoring first place for Canada Tuesday in women’s Ski Cross.

“Who could go out and represent Canada better than a Whistler girl?” the skier asked after the race, adding, “I’ve been shredding pow, dropping cliffs and chasing the boys my whole life, and that’s what Ski Cross is all about.”

McIvor, who dominated nearly every heat she skied during preliminary rounds at Cypress Mountain, says she felt confident she would win. “This morning people were saying to me: ‘Ashleigh I think this will be your day,’ and they were right,” she said. “I was made for it.”

In the final round, McIvor was chased hard by an impressive field of skiers, including Hedda Bernsten of Norway (Silver) and France’s Marion Josserand. But the gold belonged to McIvor, a favourite heading into the race, who pushed hard at each start, stayed low and balanced through her jumps, and managed to stay ahead of the spectacular crashes that are all part the sport of Ski Cross.

“Ski Cross is such an amazing spectator sport,” summed up McIvor.

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I’m about to write about something I know nothing about: men’s free skating. More importantly: what the men freeskaters were wearing.

From my post mid-arena Thursday night at the Pacific Coliseum, I caught a pretty good glimpse of more sequins and sparkles than on the three-year-old dancers of a Petite Performers concert. And while the lutzs and salcows were truly amazing, the sheer shine on some of those guys made my Nikon’s flashbulb utterly unnecessary.

Pinky at the Olympics

First, let’s take a look at what I call the “salmon outfit.” I’ve no idea who Pinky here is. But I do know he didn’t win and the reason is directly related to this outfit.

Next, let’s look at the Ninja (right). Again, his I.D. is a mystery. I was too mesmerized by the twinkles to look up his name. Even his gloves had sparkle.

Mr. Blue

This guy — in blue — was my understated favourite. Then again, of course I like it, it’s nearly the exact outfit I made my husband wear at our wedding. Minus the blades, of course. My husband kicked butt in golf spikes.

Canada’s own Patrick Chan (right) looks pretty good. Fred-Astair-black with a hippy belt gave him a smooth, sophisticated look. Too bad his landings weren’t as velvety.

Celine or Plushenko?

Plushenko is channeling Celine Dion in this Vegas pose (left). His sparkling vest wasn’t bad… but the rhinestone tie got me really worrying.

The Other Mr. Weir

And finally, this one on the right is a real charmer. The USA’s Weir is oh-so-sexy in his Ginger Rogers’ get-up.

Weir-d

His halo of flowers in the kiss-and-cry area really did me in. Talk about putting the finish on an outfit. As my neighbour on the media bus home — a Sports Illustrated football editor — commented: “Now that just looked ridiculous.”

— Photos and story by Lori Knowles at the Olympics. www.twitter.com/loriexploring

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Dancing inside Whistler's new cultural centre.

At any given moment it’s rain, sun and snow here in Whistler, BC, during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, but no one inside the local Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) seems to notice. Men, women and children from all parts of the world sit transfixed as Aboriginal peoples dance, sing and tell their stories — vivid, rousing performances that capture the hearts, minds and respect of cheering audiences.

It’s all in a day’s work at this Centre, a new and strikingly beautiful cedar-and-glass structure set amid Whistler’s tall trees, snow and mountains. It has been built as an Olympic legacy to showcase the heritage and culture of Canada’s First Nations.  

The SLCC is an opportunity for Olympic watchers and future ski resort visitors to realize the connection the Lil’wat and Squamish First Nations have to Whistler. Squamish territory is to the south and Lil’wat territory is to the north; the two meet at Whistler, and have peacefully shared the land long before they shared it with skiers.

The museum is a hugely open space filled with the art, clothing, transportation and tools these two nations have used for centuries. There’s a massive hand-carved cedar canoe dug out from a single tree, ceremonial masks, weavings and house poles — tall, carved structures that resemble totems. There’s a traditional Squamish longhouse and a Lil’wat pit house. Gigantic, hand-carved cedar spindles whirl overhead. When they’re not dancing and singing, guides wander about in traditional regalia, banging their drums, greeting visitors and answering questions.

The centre's massive 40-foot dugout canoe dug out from a single cedar.

“We lead a red cedar life,” explains Gerald Paul, a cultural interpreter and member of the Squamish nation, as he shows off a 40-foot canoe dug from a single cedar tree. “The red cedar tree cradles our babies and our elders, we use it for clothing, transportation and shelter. Nothing from it is wasted.”

Paul takes his own deerhide drum down from a nearby wall and proudly explains it was made for him by his grandfather. Paul — an artist — has decorated the drum himself, creating a design that incorporates the human eye. “It is meant to remind us to keep ourselves humble,” he says. “Someone is always watching.”

Whistler is not the only BC community to benefit from Olympic exposure to First Nations communities. “A number of other cultural centres have also opened in the last few years,” says Paula Amos, spokesperson for BC’s Aboriginal Tourism Association. Those centres include the Haida Heritage Centre at Haida Gwaii along BC’s northwest coast, as well as a museum attached to the St. Eugene Resort near Cranbrook, BC.

Amos says dozens of galleries featuring First Nations art have popped up across Vancouver, as well a several tourism projects throughout BC that offer everything from canoe trips to seminars in First Nations art and culture. During the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver’s Pan Pacific Hotel has created an Aboriginal village called Kla-how-ya, meaning “welcome from the heart” in Chinook, a traditional trading language among First Nations. The exposition features aboriginal fashions, traditional dancing, cedar bark weaving, birch bark chewing, moose hide tufting, jewelry making, carving and, of course, storytelling.

Vancouver 2010 marks the first time Aboriginal peoples have fully participated in an Olympic Games right from the bidding process. “The experience has rejuvenated our culture,” says Amos. “It’s not just about revitalizing our economy, it’s about having the opportunity to share and celebrate our traditions.” Adds Amos: “British Columbia now leads North America in Aboriginal cultural tourism.”

For more information on Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC), visit www.slcc.com. For more information on British Columbia’s Aboriginal tourism, visit www.aboriginalbc.com.

Lori Knowles is covering the Olympics live from Vancouver and Whistler for the Toronto Sun’s travel section, and blogging daily at www.LoriExploring.Wordpress.com .

This article appeared in the Toronto Sun, Wednesday Feburary 17, 2010.

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Erik Guah at the finish.

It was a bittersweet day for Canadians here on the Olympic downhill course at Whistler Creekside. The energy in the crowd was wild with anticipation for hometown boy Manny Osborne-Paradis, Erik Guay and the rest of the Canadian Cowboys to win gold on Canadian soil. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Canadian Erik Guay was top Canadian, placing a respectable fifth among the greatest downhillers in the world. The race was won early by Didier Defago of Switzerland, followed by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway with a silver and the USA’s Bode Miller with bronze.

Manuel Osborne-Paradis at the finish.

Canuck favourite Manny Osborne-Paradis—who grew up on racing the Dave Murray Downhill—placed a disappointing 19th. Jan Hudec was 25th, and young gun Robbie Dixon crashed during a wild ride on the course.

Osborne-Paradis said he was disappointed in himself. “I hit a couple of bumps the wrong way and that was my day,” he said, trying to stay optimistic. “The start was more fun than the finish, but at least I had some fun today!”

Guay, whose finish in the top five was his best result in downhill this season, was subdued but content at the finish line. “It’s my best downhill result of the year,” he said. “I have to be happy with that.”

Gold medal winner Didier Defago played it cool at the post-race press conference. As the first Swiss to win gold in downhill in 22 years, he had a huge Swiss cheering section at the race. But as the oldest man ever to win an Olympic downhill, Defago’s cool may have had more to do with wisdom. “I wanted to go home with a little more weight in my bag than I came with!” he joked.

Silver medallist and DH veteran Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway also played down his second-fastest time of the day: “I think I could be fast for the rest of the games too. It’s a good start.”

Bode Miller at Monday's post-race press conference

Chewing a big wad of gum on the press conference stage was bronze medallist Bode Miller of the USA. “One of the really imp things about the Olympics is that it’s fun,” he said.

When asked if he felt different this season from past years on the World Cup circuit, Miller agreed. “This year there wasn’t a lot of business commitments. I just wanted to ski race, and ski race in a way that would make me proud.”

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Olympic journalists are 90% male.  And German…. Those are my first thoughts as I mount the steps to the Whistler Creekside finish area of the Olympic Downhill—the first alpine event of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The finish of the men's downhill at Whistler Creekside

Journos—droves of them—with camera lenses the length of flagpoles are marching up the slope alongside me. Faces set in serious frowns. I smile at every one but I don’t get much back in return. “Gutten morgen” is about all I’m getting here. They probably think I’m American.

First thing I do inside the media centre is nab a start list. Patrik Jaerbyn of Sweden will be first down. Bode Miller is No.8, followed by Canada’s Erik Guay in No. 9. The guy you gotta watch is Manny Osborne-Paradis in the No.19 bib. Robbie Dixon is No.23. Jan Hudec is No.31.

Crowd outside is going wild. Loud music. Cowbells galore. Canadian flags draped over shoulders. The scene is absolutely awesome. There’s not a person left asleep in Whistler this morning. The air electric.

I’ll try to track it all live on www.twitter.com/loriexploring

— Lori Knowles

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Jenn Heil (left) wins silver for Canada. Photo: Vancouver2010

Jenn Heil has style. The Canadian moguls champ and hands-down-favourite to win Canada’s first gold at the 2010 Olympics, accepted defeat gracefully after earning silver at Cypress Saturday night. Beaten fair-and-square by the USA’s Hanna Kearney, Heil told reporters: “Of course I wanted gold. But I won silver. I’m so proud to be Canadian right now.”

It was an evening full of tension. The first Olympic event to be held on the slopes of Vancouver’s Cypress Mountain was marred by rain, wind and fog. At many points during the day folks wondered if the event would even go off. But go off it did—despite the bad weather—with a roaring crowd supporting the skiers in every bump and jump they hit.

Heil — who has dominated the World Cup circuit in moguls all season — was in position to win after her first run Saturday. Canadians in the crowd and across the nation waited to celebrate Canada’s first gold medal ever awarded on Canadian soil.

But it wasn’t Heil’s night. With ponytails flying, Hannah Kearney of the USA wowed the crowds with a fast and spotless run. Kearney earned a point total of 26.63, ahead of Heil’s 25.69 points and the 25.43 points of bronze medal winner Shannon Bahrke, also of the US.

Heil’s defeat obviously disappointed the skier, who kept a smile fixed on her face throughout the flower ceremony immediately after the race, but who appeared shocked and disappointed. Heil pulled it together after spending time with coach and boyfriend Dominick Gauthier, whom she later credited for keeping her keen and sharp during the lead-up to the Games. By the time she faced the media, the silver medallist was 100% champion, insisting it is an honour to win a silver medal.

“All I can say,” Heil told Canada via CTV cameras, “is that a gold medal is gonna come soon.”

-By Lori Knowles

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