Thursday, January 16, 2014

See you in Sochi!

It is that time again! I am heading off to Sochi on February 1st, and once again, I will be keeping a blog of my time at the Olympics.

You can visit my new blog at Sean's Sochi Olympic Blog. I hope you'll come follow me around for my first time in Russia, it should be an interesting experience!

Cheers - Sean

Saturday, June 23, 2012

London Calling

Can't hardly believe it, but, I am heading off to London on July 21st, and once again, I will be keeping a blog of my time at the Olympics.

You can visit my new blog at Sean's London Olympic Blog. I hope you'll come follow me around for my first time in London, it should be a fun time!

Cheers - Sean

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homeward Bound

This has been an amazing Olympic games, and a great experience for me personally. Despite the tragedy preceding the Opening Ceremonies, the torch malfunction, and the lack of snow early on, the Games perservered and brought us many memorable moments.

No one embodied that spirit of strength for me more than Joannie Rochette. And being present to see Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue win gold was something I will never forget. Hockey gold(s) and plenty of other golden moments helped us to make "Own The Podium" not sound so outrageous (and un-Canadian).

The "vibe" in the city was something I've not experienced at any other Olympics. The crowds were large, loud, and enthusiastic at all the venues, and in the streets. The downtown was alive day and night with people participating in the Olympic experience. The volunteers and general populace were polite and friendly. Vancouver truly shone during these games. Stanley Park is a jewel, and the moutains are gorgeous.

I hope you've enjoyed visiting Vancouver with me, I know that I've had a ball. Thanks so much for your email, blog and Facebook comments. Thanks to Barry for showing me around Vancouver. Many thanks to my friends on the COMMs team, and to KVS, Telex, and NBC for allowing me to be a part of this yet again!

Susan, Connor, and Caitie, I love you and miss you, and can't wait to get home tomorrow.

Cheers - Sean

Closing Ceremonies

We're done!  I thought the part making fun of the Opening Ceremonies was clever, and I'm glad that Catriona LeMay Doan finally got to light the cauldron, but much of the rest of the ceremonies had a little too much cheese for me.

I can't believe that the NBC network broke away just before the music started to air the premiere of "The Marriage Ref".  Fortunately, we were able to continue watching the feed as they recorded it.

Here is a small collection of images from the ceremonies. I'll have one more post before heading out...

Party Time!

A very exciting game, lots of tension, overtime, Sydney Crosby, and Canada wins a record 14th gold medal, while the USA sets a record for the most total medals with 37.  Everybody's happy, right? 

I'm glad Canada won, not because I'm a huge hockey fan, but for the boost to our national psyche, and for my own personal safety trying to get home tonight after Closing Ceremonies.

After the party inside the arena....

The celebration spilled out into the streets of downtown Vancouver in Robson Square...

The Closing Ceremonies will be getting underway shortly.  I'll probably have one more post tonight, but then I am heading home tomorrow on an 11am flight (for which they are picking me up at 6:10am! - good thing I packed last night).

Brian McKeever

I know there is a hockey game going on that has everybody a little pre-occupied, but this story makes me very sad, and a little mad.  Brian McKeever, the legally blind cross country skier who qualified for the Canadian cross country team by winning the 50km Canadian trials, and who I wrote about in an earlier blog posting, was denied the chance to make history by becoming the first athlete to compete in both the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games when he was not named as one of the four Canadian starters in the 50km event that finished this morning.

The coach's decision not to start McKeever was based on how well the other members of the team had performed in earlier events.  However, McKeever didn't have a chance to compete in earlier events, and so had no opportunity to show how well he was doing.

As it turns out, Devon Kershaw finished 5th, only 1.6 seconds off the gold medal time, and only 0.6 seconds from bronze.  Still, I think the coach's decision will be heavily scrutinized.  There are more important things than medals, and I believe McKeever had earned the opportunity to compete.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NBC at the IBC

Seeing as I create a post like this at every Olympics (see my Beijing, and Torino blog posts), I'm not going to repeat the explanation of how things work here.  But, as ususal, I would like to show you where I work, with minimal commentary.

This is where I sit.  I help babysit most of the equipment in this room, and in fact our company writes the software and firmware for a good portion of what you see here...

Most of what you see on NBC is produced from the Control Room...

The director and producer sit up in the front row...

The audio for the show is mixed here...

Incoming video from all venues is handled here...

And this is the studio, where Bob Costas would be sitting...

It doesn't look nearly as nice without the cityscapes in the background and the proper lighting.

I work with a great team...

From left to right: Bob Gilmartin, Tony Kremer, Kevin Shea, Vic Main, John Pastore (COMMs Manager), me, and Rickey Hayes.  As always it has been a pleasure working with all of them.

Triple Gold!

Another four medal day for Canada, but this time we had three golds!

The day was capped by Canada's gold in Men's Curling bringing Kevin Martin and his rink the title that had eluded them in Salt Lake City.

Earlier in the day, and separated by only minutes, Canad won gold in Speed Skating in Men's Team Pursuit and Jasey Jay Anderson road his snowboard to gold in the Men's Parallel Giant Slalom.

Lyndon Rush's team also took bronze in the Four Man BobSleigh but deserved better, finishing 2nd in each each of his four runs, but ending up third by 0.01 seconds after a great final run by the Germans.

With 25 medals already, Canada has surpassed the 24 we won in Torino, and with 13 gold medals we have tied Norway and the Soviet Union for the most in one Winter Games, and set a record for most gold by a host nation

And apparently there is some hockey game tomorrow where we might be able to pick up another...

Synchronized Skating

I know many (if not most) of you will already be (intimately) familiar with Synchronized Skating, but there are also several followers of this blog who probably have no idea what what Synchro is, so bear with me a bit.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Synchronized skating is a team sport in which 16 skaters perform together. It uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and dance and is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step sequences. Each team performs a free skate with required well-balanced program elements. In addition, teams at the Junior and Senior level also perform a short program.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

In Canada, the sport is governed by Skate Canada, while internationally it is governed by the ISU (International Skating Union), the same bodies that govern the other figure skating disciplines (Singles, Pairs, and Dance).

There have been World Championships held since 2000.  The 2010 World Championships take place in Colorado Springs, and will feature 24 teams representing 19 countries.  The current World Champions are Nexxice, from Burlington/Kitchener, Ontario.  So why isn't Synchronized Skating an Olympic sport? This video makes a decent case for it:

My daughter Caitlin skates on a Synchronized Skating team in Newmarket called Iced Energy at the Novice level. Earlier this month they competed at the Ontario Regional Championships and qualified for the Canadian Nationals and the Ontario Winter Games to be held the first week of March.

Appropriately enough, the team skates a program with an Olympic theme this year that celebrates the Winter Olympics of Calgary '88 and Vancouver 2010, blending Olympic theme music with the inspirational "Believe" by Suzie McNeil (which has become an anthem of sorts for Canadian athletes this year).

Though I missed seeing them skate at Regionals, I will be home in time for Nationals, and I just wanted to acknowledge their success this year and wish them luck at Nationals and the Ontario Winter Games!

If you would like to see Synchronized Skating become an Olympic Sport, please visit this site on Facebook.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Double Gold!

Charles Hamelin brought home double gold for Canada tonight, our 9th and 10th of these games, first in the Men's 500m Short Track, and then 35 minutes later, as part of the our Men's 5000m Short Track Relay team.

In the 500m race, Hamelin was joined on the podium by Francois-Louis Tremblay who took bronze after American superstar Apolo Ohno was (controversially) disqualified for placing a hand on Tremblay's hip as they rounded a corner and Tremblay's subsequent fall.

Earlier in the day, the Canadian Women's Curling Team looked like they had gold sewed up, after stealing two in the 7th end, and another in the 9th, to take a two point lead into the final end. However, a last rock mistake by skip Cheryl Bernard in the 10th allowed Sweden to score two to tie, then in the extra end, she missed a last rock double takeout to allow Sweden to steal the gold, with Canada settling for the silver.

In a huge shock today, our Women's 3000m Team Pursuit long track skating team was eliminated from medal contention by the USA. Our team holds the world record in this event. On the other hand, our men's team won their semi-final and will race for the gold. Also still chasing gold are the Men's Curling Team, and the Men's Hockey Team (after narrowly holding off Slovakia today).

The USA vs Canada Hockey final promises to generate huge ratings for both CTV and NBC, and should provide a thrilling finish to these Olympic Games.

With four medals today, and a total of 21 for the games, Canada sits in third place behind the USA with 34, and Germany with 27. However, we do lead all countries with 10 gold, one more than Germany, and two more than the USA and Norway. With several more chances for gold, we could take a run at the Winter Games record of 13 gold medals.

Here's a short video recap of some Canadian highlights so far...

The Hollow Tree

Barry and I spent one last morning together, as he was kind enough to take me on a tour around the perimeter of Stanley Park, stopping here and there to a quick look around.  Unfortunately, it was raining (and continues to rain) so we didn't get to do too much exploring.

Barry showed me the devastation caused by a huge wind storm in 2006 that knocked over more than 1000 trees in the park.  There were places along the road where once you could only see a forest, and where now you have a clear view of the ocean.

One of Vancouver's first tourist attractions is called the Hollow Tree.  It is a more than 700-year old red fir that has a hollowed out trunk.  The tree was nearly uprooted in the storm, and was scheduled to be taken down because it was a safety hazard.  Fortunately, the tree was saved and re-enforced so that it remains a beloved attraction by locals and tourists alike.

It's really hard to convey how big this tree is.  I hope these pictures give you a bit of an idea.  Can you imagine what it would have been like to see this tree when it was alive and complete?

"You Gotta Be Here"

Phew, after the drama of the last couple of days, I think I need to lighten it up a bit, so I've allowed my cynical side to be turned back on...

Have you noticed that the Government of British Columbia has been running these ads on both CTV and NBC (how much did that cost?) promoting BC as a tourist destination...

Great footage!  Makes me want to come here again, but...

Does anybody find it slightly ironic that the video, whose main theme is "You Gotta Be Here", looks like it is filmed with a bunch of "famous" Canadians who are standing in front of a green screen, and aren't actually HERE at all?

I'm just saying....

Emotional Rollercoaster

Wow, another emotionally draining day.  First we had the Women's Hockey team's solid performance (and great goaltending) defeating the USA for the gold medal.

Despite the victory it was not all good news for Women's Hockey.  The IOC has warned the IHF that the sport must become more competitive, and that the dominance of the Canadian and US teams is hurting the sport.  Softball was removed from the Summer Olympics because of US dominance, let's hope the same thing does not happen to Women's Hockey!

In addition, the Canadian team did not do themselves any favours by coming back onto the ice more than 1/2 hour after the medal ceremony, still in uniform, and with gold medals around their necks, where they were reportedly drinking beer, and champagne, and smoking cigars.

Switching gears entirely, we then had this...

How could you not be touched by the depth of her emotions, and the courage and strength she displayed tonight?

It was a nearly flawless night of Women's Figure Skating, and Yu-Na Kim was phenomenal, setting records with both her Short and Free programs.  Here's something astonishing...  each element receives a GOE (Grade Of Execution) that reflects how well the element was performed, and which is added to the base score for that element.  Kim's cumulative GOE score was +17.4, which is worth more than two triple axels!

But it was Joannie Rochette that captured our hearts, skating only days after her mothers death shortly after arriving in Vancouver to watch Joannie compete.

Joannie showed us what true champions are made of, and though she could not catch Mao Asada for the silver, she survived a very good skate by Mirai Nagasu of the US to hold on to the bronze.

I lost my Mom unexpectedly to a heart attack in 1998 at age 53.  I cannot begin to imagine what it took for her to focus on skating and to deliver as she did, and I could not watch Joannie skate tonight here without tears in my eyes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Eagles Have Landed

I've been starting to wear down a bit, and have been pretty tired the last few days.  I think the emotional high of going to the Ice Dance final is catching up with me. 

The past two mornings I have slept in, and just done a little shopping on the way in to work.  One of the first things I noticed upon arriving in Vancouver was how they have put a lot of effort into dressing up the downtown area. 

Part of that process involves street art in the form of dozens (maybe hundreds) of eagles placed in random places throughout the city (kind of like the moose that dotted Toronto a few years ago). 

Some of them are quite nice, others are extremely gaudy.  Seeing as I haven't been out and about much the past few days, I thought I would just share with you some of my favourites as collected in photographs over the past two weeks.

These have proved to be pretty popular, as I see lots of people pausing to take photos of the eagles, or photos of their friends with the eagles.

Tomorrow, I have a "date" with Miranda Berney, who is my uncle's, cousin's, daughter (I think?). Vicki, aren't you the geneologist, does that make her my third cousin twice removed, or something like that?

We've never met, but she is working up at Whistler in a TV production role for the Olympics. She has a day off and wanted to come to Vancouver to experience part of the "Olympic vibe" in the city.

We are going to just walk around Granville and Robson Square downtown, then check out the Olympic Cauldron and have lunch in Gastown before I head in to work.

Unfortunately, it looks like this stretch of beautiful weather has come to an end, as it has been raining the past two days, and is forecast to continue with wet days through the end of the games.

I am glad that I had that string of beautiful days that allowed me to see some of Vancouver's great outdoors like Stanley Park, English Bay, Queen Elizabeth Park, and Lynn Canyon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today was Canada's best day at the Olympics with four more medals!  

The Canada 1 team of Caillie Humphries and Heather Moyse took gold, whle the Canada 2 team of Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown took silver (moving up from 3rd with their last run) in the Women's Bobsleigh event.

The gold medal, our 7th, ties us with Germany and the USA for the most gold medals at these games.

Also tonight, our Women's 3000m Short Track Relay team picked up a silver medal after the Koreans were disqualified for interference with the Chinese team.    In addition, three Canadian men have qualified for the next round of the 500m Short Track event, and three Canadian women have moved on in the 1000m event.

Earlier in the today, 37-year old Canadian flag-bearer, Clara Hughes took the bronze in the Women's 3000m Speed Skating event at the Richmond Oval.   It was an inspired race, and a great end to her speed skating career.   Clara now has six Olympic medals (including two in cycling from Atlanta in 1996) tying her with teammate and fellow speed skater Cindy Klassen for the most ever by a Canadian.

Oh, and apparently there was a hockey game, or something, this afternoon...

Tomorrow, the curling playoffs begin, three Canadian men vie for medals in Aerials, the women's hockey team faces the USA for gold, and Joannie Rochette returns to the ice for the ladies Free Skate in what is sure to be another emotional evening for her.