Mike's return on Thursday signaled the beginning of the end of our Olympic Time. We were going to be staying an extra day as programming required. But the end was in sight. I had been lucky up to this point to get out to 3 hockey games. I figured if that was all, then I was happy to have been able to attend those 3. Thursday was also the day Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan was to hold a news conference and a demonstration of how he was going to accept the Olympic Flag during the closing ceremonies. For those who might not be familiar with Sam's story, it goes like this: Sam was injured when he was a younger man as a result of a skiing accident. It left him a quadriplegic. He has been a city counselor for many years and in the last municipal elections became Canada's first quadriplegic Mayor.
VANOC and Sam would be before the world's press at the International Broadcast Center explaining the Flag handover ceremony. This would be our story for Today and when Mike arrived later in the day, all he would have to do is pick his clips and write the item. The story pretty much wrote itself. Sam was the story. His clips were funny and telling. We put this one to bed early.
Friday brought another VANOC item, this time what has the team learned while embedded with the TOROC people. They spoke about tickets sales and empty seats and transportation. They were very careful with their words and I am sure that more will come out in the coming months about what they really thought of the Torino organization and the execution of the games. Again this was a fairly easy item with little extra travel. Both pressers were early in the morning giving us plenty of time to get things together before our feed window. Low pressure, I like that.
As I left the press area at the main Media Center, I noticed a group of people just in front of me. The center piece to this group was the Russian mens Figure Skating Gold Medalist. I sort of recognized him. Anyway we seemed to be going in the same direction. I ended up ahead of the small group and went outside the security zone to wait for my ride. Mike and Brent went to get some food in the media center, so I would wait for several minutes outside the gate. A Van pulls up. I pay little attention to it. I notice the Russian and his posse coming my way. It become obvious that this Van was here to pick him and his group up. They are still inside the security fence and have stopped to speak to another group, all with Russia jackets on, so I suspect that this second group which numbered about 3 persons, were Russian Olympians or coaches. While this is going on, an Italian lady who was going to catch a bus or something notices the figure skater. She recognizes him immediately. She is shaking with excitement. She was a fan. She notices me standing there and askes if she can borrow my sharpie. I know what she wants. Her hero has not yet come out of the gate yet and she decides to wait. She is shaking, quivering, smiling. I notice she has a small film camera. She is hoping for a photo so her friends and family will believe her encounter with skating greatness. Then the moment of truth, the skate champion makes his way out side the fenced area, his group running interference for him. He blows right by this one lady, refusing to sign her meager piece of paper, then turns his back so as not to present a photo opportunity for her. And all at once the van leaves, without so much as a wave. The lady was crestfallen.
I would have understood if there had been many wanting and waiting, but there was one. This adoring middle aged average Italian women who would have cherished that piece of paper and or photo for the rest of her life. And Mr. Russian skater, like the classless self centered prick he probably is, proved to both me and my broken hearted sharpie borrowing friend just what kind of a ZERO he was.
You know the great ones, they are different. They at least wave, they at least smile, even when they are in a hurry.
Later that evening I had the good fortune of getting into a private party at the Log House. There were many Olympians there and the event was sponsored by Whistler/Blackcomb. I met the President of CTV, Rick Brace and Vice President Susanne Boyce inside. I also ran into several Canadian Olympians. I had my photo taken with Canadian Womens Hockey Capt. And Gold Medalist, Cassy Campbell. (Photo: Gold Medalist Cassy Campbell, Hero!)It was a pleasure to meet her.
I was introduced to Susanne's driver or "fixer" as driver/translators are known as. Stephano was his name. This guy was a chic magnet. Nice fellow. The next thing you know he's getting his photo with the "Kokinee Girls". They had been flown in by the organizers of the event. Well lets just say World Wide Murman was not going to be out done. I got in there for my photo and one of the ladies asks, "Do you fly Chopper 9?" She saw my Chopper 9 hat I had on. "No, I am CHOPPER 9" I said. Lets just say with that they got a little closer,,,, We will have to see about getting the ladies a ride sometime. ( Photo: Me and the Glasier Girls from Kokinee , when team Torino saw this photo, I was the Hero))
Oh what a job, someone has got to do it, it might as well be me.