By Bev Schellenberg
So you don’t have tickets for any of the 2010 Winter Olympics? Consider yourself lucky. Think of it: by not going to the Opening Ceremonies, you’ve now saved the $175-1,110 ticket cost, the aggravation of pushing through the protestors, the hassle of braving the Vancouver rain, and the monotony of waiting for security to scrutinize your sundries. You don’t have tickets to the men’s gold medal hockey game, originally offered at $350-750 per ticket and now being auctioned off to the highest bidder? Slip off your shoes, and put your feet up. The best seats in the house are in your own home.
A lot of people agree. We Canadians may not “own the podium,” as some of us would wish, but we’re still happily breaking records even as we lounge in our livingrooms. Twenty-three million Canadians watched our 2010 Vancouver Opening Ceremonies last week, making it the most-watched television event in our history. (Our last television-viewing record was in 2002, when 10.3 million Canadian viewers took in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.) We reveled in the 40-million dollar spectacle, and smiled indulgently at the continuation of our snowy stereotype as performers sweated in their winter attire and paper snow fell. Patriotism stirred as we listened to our k.d. lang sing our Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and we happily watched as our easily accessible Wayne Gretzky carried the Olympic torch through our rain-drenched streets to light our outdoor cauldron (now sealed behind chain-link fencing).
I thought I’d check out the Surrey Celebration site during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, one of the places to be without tickets. The cozy skating area, the sliding area, the tiny curling pitch, and the booths sprinkled through the site were sparsely attended on opening night. A well-groomed, bearded Indo-Canadian man in his late 20s/early 30s stood by me. After asking me for a cigarette (I didn’t have one), he told me about his support of the past 25 years of Olympics, and that it was surprising he wasn’t volunteering in this one. He then headed off to continue his search for a smoke. Eventually a few hundred of us huddled together in the drizzle, while others stood in the sheltered area. We all cheered as the television announcer mentioned the locales of past Olympics and eventually came to 2010 — Vancouver, Canada.
A few people continued to wander, even as the the national anthem was sung, which contrasted strongly to the time I arrived early to a tourist attraction in San Diego. I couldn’t understand how, once we were let in to Sea World, the place suddenly grew quiet and looked like one of those Improv Anywhere scenes, with no one moving an eyebrow. Then I figured it out: the U.S. national anthem was playing. Funny how British Columbians will walk and talk through “O Canada” but respond like militiamen when called to Robson Street to dance in synch, as during our own 1500-strong flash mob scene on February 13th:
If, like me, you feel the necessity to get out of your home to fully enjoy the games, you have another viewing option. For the price of $9.99 per event or $29.99 for the 17 days of viewing, see them via any of 64 theatres across Canada, complete with digital surround sound. Alternatively, if you live in or are coming to visit Vancouver, consider a stop at Molson Canadian Hockey House or Heineken House, where the games are close but not live, and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded sports fans, beer in hand. Where better to perpetuate our beer-guzzling, partying stereotype? Don’t forget your killer beaver: