A Last Minute Trip to the 2010 Olympics

I sorta always wanted to go to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. However, I dropped the ball pretty early on and never entered the ticket lottery. Not that many people got tickets in the lottery process. It then seemed that going to the Olympics would be challenging not just in trying to get tickets but that accommodation and transportation would also prove really challenging and really expensive. $1000/night for a Motel 6 at Whistler? No thanks. So I gave up my Olympic dream and settled for watching them on CBC (yes we get the CBC in Seattle!). Only to discover CBC lost the rights! Bummer, we don’t get CTV in Seattle. Now I was resigned to watching the Olympics on NBC with their tape delays and over dramatization :(.

After enjoying a long weekend of Olympic coverage on NBC we headed back to work last Tuesday. There we heard from Glenn about his trip to Whistler to see the luge and ski jump. We also heard from Chris, our director of finance, who drove up to Whistler for the day to see the luge. I was shocked to hear that he drove to Whistler and back in one day, shocked their was no line at the border, and shocked that you could still get tickets to events. It all sounded too good to be true. And so after hearing from another co-worker’s last minute trip to the Olympics Rob and I plotted our own last minute trip.

Alright, we didn’t plot much :).

The only planning we did ahead of time was buying this $20 parking pass that let us park for the day at Whistler but also more importantly gave us a sea to sky pass that let us drive all the way to Whistler and bypass the mandatory bus system.

Of course with a 5:20 am wake-up call the prudent thing to do the night before was to go to the Booze Olympics at John’s house:

Now we hit the road around 6, got to the border at 8-ish. At the border (truck crossing, not Peace Arch) there wasn’t a single car in front of us, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. We then zoomed up to Squamish and got our parking pass and were in Whistler around 10:30 (which is a pretty good drive time considering we couldn’t speed because there were so many cops).

Our first stop was the Whistler Olympic Park to see what was going on but they wouldn’t let us in, turns out you can only bus in. So we parked at our designated parking lot which was practically empty:

We then bused to Whistler village and within five minutes were offered bobsleigh tickets (cat-b) at just around list price ($50/piece). Not knowing any better we snapped up four of those for peace of mind and started to explore. The village wasn’t as busy as I would have guessed as we made our way to the box office. There we found many scalpers working their magic and so we picked up biathlon tickets (cat-a) for half of list price ($25/piece!). With the biathlon already underway we quickly caught a bus to the Whistler Olympic Park (20 minute drive way). There we discovered that once you clear security there’s a 20 minute walk to the venue. Fortunately we had Rob’s kid, Thomas, with us and we lucked into them loading us onto an accessibility bus which quickly whisked us to the venue.

There we found the men’s biathlon was over and that we missed it (as expected) so we grabbed lunch and watched the women’s 12 km biathlon from our seats in the grandstands.

Here’s the start:

After Germany won the biathlon we bussed back to Whistler and took a photo in a bobsleigh:

Then headed up the gondola to the Whistler Sliding Center. There we found our first line as everyone waited to clear security (they had metal detectors, etc):

It moved relatively quickly and we were soon watching the third and fourth runs of the two-man bobsleigh. When you first walk in you’re at the bottom of the track and things are relatively crowded and you’re far from the action:

But a short hike will take you up the track to areas where you can almost touch them as they go by at 140km/hr!

They go by so fast. Much faster than it feels watching it on TV. Of course, heading up the track means they go a little slower and makes photo taking a little easier. But if you’re not careful they’re still gone in the blink of an eye.

We snuck out of the bobsleigh a little early to avoid a long line at the gondola and hit the village for dinner. Turns out not many restaurants allow kids! Fortunately the world was busy watching the Canada-USA game and we got a table at Dubh Linn Gate and so I headed back out to watch the last five minutes of the game in the village where there was now a huge crowd. What a devastating loss! Meanwhile Chelsea was at Lululemon replacing what was stolen after her car got broken into.

After dinner we hit the road around 8 pm as the village was getting ready to party. Our drive home was pretty speedy with only one car ahead of us at the border.

All in all a long day; 5 am to 1 am. But so awesome to see two medal events and be in the thick of things up at Whistler. “Next time” we’ll do more than one day :).

So, if you’re like us and live in Seattle and have been thinking of going to the Olympics, talk to your boss or call in sick, it’s totally possible!

Here’s all our photos (first Chelsea’s, then mine).

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