Monday, 15 March 2010

Paralympic Journal

We missed out on the Olympics for crowd and cash based reasons but we did get over to Vancouver this past weekend for the start of the Paralympic Games. It was an awesome, unforgettable experience. Fergus did have many “moments of doubt” which challenged us a tad bit, but we all survived and did some cool things in the process.

Ferg’s usual/ favourite place on the train - under the seat:

It’s fun to stay at the...

Ferg was genuinely excited to have a desk in the hotel room at which to do his work:

The atmosphere downtown was certainly not of Olympic proportions but the city was still holding onto the spirit and Paralympic references were everywhere:

The kids were excited to skate in Robson Square. Fergus had never been on skates before but was totally thrilled with it all and could have stayed on the ice all day. We went two days in a row and public skates appear to be very much in our future.

Effie was intent on working on her pushing and gliding and Ferg ripped around the ice and did these crazy stop turns with his blue thingy. I also worked on my stopping in ways that didn’t involve simply ramming into the boards. Fergus would say to me every time I grabbed his blue thingy to help slow me down, “I know you didn’t mean to do that Dad”.

Apr├Ęs skate, the sun came out for like 10 whole minutes!!

On Friday night we joined 60,000 other screaming attendees for the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies. Very moving indeed! Admittedly, I have never paid much attention to these Games in the past - they are kind of an Olympic afterthought with very little media coverage. You’d never know it from this spectacle. We were in the white section (ie: not front row at a Blue Man Group concert!):

Ferg looked a bit suspect in his white, pointy hat:

Many non-mounted Mounties (somewhere a village was left unprotected):

American team:


Big flame:

On Saturday we took a jam packed bus out to UBC for Canada’s first sledge hockey game against the Italians (we brought many large Canadian flags and our wee little Italian one from Chicago). The crowded bus and the mass of humanity did Fergus in a little. This was a boisterous, patriotic bunch as sledge hockey has quickly become the poster-sport for the Games.

Hey, even Stephen was in attendance (nothing says politically correct quite like attending sledge hockey). We had our one big chance to meet the PM (Plastic Man?) as we headed to our seats but gosh darn it, we weren’t wearing enough red to warrant a hand shake. And then my camera jammed just as I lined up the perfect shot. Here’s the back of his famous “hair”:

These guys are pretty incredible athletes and the support they got from the crowd was overwhelming:

Three fans. Note the lack of people behind us(!) - good for not getting beer spilled on your head when the home team scores!

During the second period Fergus decided he had had enough (his knee was aching from an earlier fall) and “asked” to go back to the hotel. In the end, the Paralympic demonstrations caught his eye and he tried his hand at sledge hockey, biathlon and some curling:

Effie and I had assumed that the two of them were long gone when, during a stoppage in play, we saw Gillian and two other women dancing (to “Cotton Eye Joe”!) on the big screen above centre ice. Turns out she and Ferg were sneaking some peaks from some other location in the building. Unfortunately, coverage being what it was, she was apparently cut from the televised broadcast. No Pamela Anderson moment< for her then

Canada had no real problem with the Italians despite spending most of the game, it seemed, with one player in the penalty box. Sledge hockey is not for the faint of heart - these are guys wielding not only TWO hockey sticks each, but two hockey sticks with ice picks for ends!

After exiting the hockey venue, Fergus had by now definitely had enough. As he laid prostrate on the asphalt, a torch bearer (with a wandering eye) tried valiantly to revive him by proudly displaying his Jon Montgomery autographed torch:

Fergus has always enjoyed “hanging with the fellas” as he’s a big fan of basically any boy taller than him. These days, sort of out of the blue, he has taken to going up to older boys and striking up a conversation, or joining one in progress. This can be cute but also sometimes a little bit sad to observe. It was cute when he ran around the ferry looking for his new friend so he could say goodbye and cute again when he figured he might run into this particular fellow on the return trip home. Then there were some other big kids that he followed around on the ferry that had no interest in him. When I asked Fergus how it was going he said the kids told him to “beat it” but that he figured they must have been talking to some other littler kids who were pestering them. Completely unfazed - cool!

Here’s Ferg, prior to hitting the ice for our skate the second day, explaining to a group of guys that he went to the sledge hockey game but that he didn’t stay for it all(!). He also regaled them with his cool bit of trivia - that some bears can climb trees faster than they can run (his Uncle Pump would be so proud!)...

More skating

We made it down to the water to see the outdoor cauldron - Effie’s main goal for the trip. There were no two hour line ups, like a few weeks ago, to get to the non-chain linked vantage point. That night, Gillian and I both had sunburned faces. Very curious as there was no sun to be found on Saturday. Too close to the flame!?!? Reflection from the ice!?!?

One very happy candy store customer:

Eff’s mascot keychain collectables that she very proudly purchased for 50% off.

Ferg’s favourite hockey player was everywhere this weekend and goose seemed far more interested in having his picture taken with flat Luongo than getting anywhere near the Prime Minister:


Rachel said...

Wow! The whole weekend looks amazing, and I do think this may be your very longest blog post ever (another indicator of the EXTREME amount of fun this whole trip was)!!!! Yay!

I love those blue skating aids, and I really wish our skating rink had those. We have some flimsy red metal ones that are wobbly and you can't actually lean on them or the ice skating patrol comes over to tell you that you might fall on your face and knock your teeth out or something similar.

And how totally awesome that Fergus can't even conceive that someone is telling him to buzz off! They obviously didn't realize his complete and utter coolness.

Zenmomma said...

Looks like you guys had a blast! Way cool.

Rebecca said...

Looks like a brilliant time was had by all (prostrate-asphalt-times excepted).

Your cauldron experience was very different than ours... we were jumping up and down trying to see over the heads of the people standing in the ridiculously long line-up. In order to get a photo, we stood across the street and Grant held his camera up high in the air. So, yeah. Your cauldron pictures rock.