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Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics from a foreign perspective

Jan 13, 2010

by Jen Kenefick, VIA Architecture
Part 1: Pre Olympics

When one thinks of the Winter Olympic Games, Ireland is not a country that would be at the forefront of one’s mind. This is not particularly surprising. We have a more unpleasant version of the weather in Vancouver, where seasons are not so well defined and where most precipitation falls as rain! So it stands to reason: no snow, no winter sports.

Having said that, Ireland has entered a team (small though it may be) in the Winter Olympics ever since the 1992 Games in Albertville, France and this year is no different. There will possibly be up to 8 Irish athletes competing in Vancouver in events such as bobsleigh, skeleton bobsleigh, slalom and cross country skiing.

Since arriving in Vancouver last June, it has been hard to avoid talk of the Olympics. Every time you pick up a paper or watch the news, there is something about it. And why wouldn’t there be? The Winter Olympics is a huge global sporting event.

Being at home for the Christmas Holidays, I was interested to see how much coverage of the Games there would be in the media. During the almost 2 weeks I was home, I cannot recall any. But people were definitely aware of it. Almost everyone I talked to mentioned it at some stage in conversation about Vancouver.

I guess a ‘foreign perspective’ depends largely on said foreigner’s origin. Being from such a small a country as Ireland, (especially relative to a country the size of Canada), and if estimations of the number of people expected  to come here during the Games are correct, I am imagining the number of people in and around the city to be absolutely outrageous! With talk of leaving town, working from home, offices closing and general avoidance of the downtown area, it sounds like the locals are expecting a tidal wave of Olympic revelers! So, I for one am looking forward to seeing just how accurate these predictions are and just how ‘crazy’ things are going to get!  

I have found interesting too, the many different opinions that are held by Vancouverites in relation to the Games, from great anticipation to absolute hatred. So as an outsider, with no allegiance to one side or the other, I am genuinely interested to see how it all pans out in the lead up to and during the Games.

Maybe a small note of irony to finish my little blog is that while Vancouver (and the rest of the world) is praying for snow, Ireland is ‘gripped’ in the biggest freeze it has experienced in 50 years and there is record snowfall in most parts of the country! 

While Ireland’s medal predictions may be slim, I plan to embrace the Olympic spirit and hope I will be proud to say that I lived here during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.