Friday, January 15, 2010

Part Five - Final thougths etc Jan 15, 2010

Well with the training over it is a game of wait and see just which delegation I will be attached to and just when I will make the trek up to Whistler.

For the Paralympics Games because there are less countries and participants they can house all the NOC/NPC volunteers at the Whistler Olympic Village - they don't like using the term Athlete's Village because it house the Olympic Family which includes coaches, Chef de Mission as well.

Feb 22, 2010 is the day that I will get my accreditation and uniform if just the Paralympics Games - as soon as I have the pass I can start using public transit for free.

We will head up one day prior to the delegation arriving - we do get to help them with the opening ceremonies by escorting them from a staging location to BC Place.

For the regular Winter Games if I am at Whistler and that is the the most likely scenario I will be housed in a condo, staff housing - won't really know until I get up there - if this happens a lot will take place in the next couple of weeks - accreditation, uniform, radios etc.

I have been vague on some aspects of the training - all volunteers are required to sign a non-disclosure waiver. While we can blog like I am we are told to keep it plain until after the Games.

Similarly we aren't suppose to post any images from the the venues etc until after the Games.

I found the training to be very well-planned and informative and look forward to being able to carry our my Olympic Dream.

Answer to the Question in the last post.

The Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games which held one after the other are two completely different international organizations and have different logos and in some cases sponsors.

If you look closely at the backpack you will see the two logos on the same bag - what they have done is put and extra flap on the front of the pack that when unzipped and removed reveals the Paralympic logo.

A similar situation exists with the uniform where there are snaps for the other logo to be atttached etc.

Time for breakfast



Part 4 - the final training event - Touring the Vancouver Athlete's Village Thursday Jan 14, 2010

Thursday - it is pouring rain so my idea of biking over to the Olympic Village is down the drain so I drive and park about 2 blocks away - proceed to the entrance gate and are met by our supervisors who check us off the list - attendance is mandatory so we are tracked every step of the way - then it's into what during the Games will be the retail mall where the athletes and officials will be able to purchase necessary items etc.

After the Games it will be converted back to its built purpose - a community center for the citizens of Vancouver - if I can enjoy the views on a dark and deary night I can just try to imagine what the view will be to the athletes on a beautiful sunny day.

We have about an hour lecture on emergency procedures and safety concerns and its time to get wet with a tour of the Village - we are separated into smaller groups and are given the lowdown on what the various building will be.

We then come inside to the NOC - NPC building - this here and at Whistler is the hub for our class of volunteer - where we get our work pass stamp - pick up mail and any other matters for our delegations etc. We will have a chance to relax during down time - use the internet etc - it will be home for the Games regardless of which location we are at.

Those who are starting early also have picked up there cell phones and told to read up as apparently these Samsungs are state of the art.

This building will be converted into a London Drugs and Urban Fare after the Games.

Back outside - we see the big food tent and where we will get what ever meals we are entitled too.

Finally back inside for some final thoughts and we are then given our backpacks.

If you look at the attached pictures can you see the difference.

Hint: look closely at the logo.

Answer in a next post



Part Three:Training to be an Olympic volunteer Day 2 Jan 9, 2010 - A day in the Classroom

Saturday saw me heading out to the BCIT campus in Burnaby and once I located the correct parking lot and paid my $4.00 for a full day of Parking it was inside to some coffee and breakfast goodies - most of the things that I really shouldn't be having but did anyways - see some of the guys that I spent yesterday with.

Should mention before I forget just how friendly and easy going all the instructors have been so far.

As one who had to learn throughout my working career about treating all customers, staff and people in general in a positive smiling way it was good to see that is the Olympic spirit from the start.

In talking to Wes he has just found out that he has been assigned to the Polish team as one of the other NOC assistants has dropped out.

To keep it short the day was a condensed crash course in all things relating to our positions as Assistants to the National Olympic or National Paralympics teams.

Many of the volunteers have spend a couple hours a month for the past eight months learning what we have crammed into one long day.

We get a couple of short breaks and then a great lunch - good sandwiches and juice - then its back for the last two major lectures.

We get lots of chances to ask questions - some are very active in this regard - I am fairly mute - do have a few to ask.

After our lunch break we get a sterling video presentation from a person with disabilities and how we should approach them - his message is simple and to the point JUST ASK - don't push that wheelchair before you ask. It was a video re-run of a live lecture that he had given to an earlier and was very enlightening. He also used the words DON'T ASK - when you see a person with disabilities don't ask them what happened. I should note that this view wasn't shared by one of the Paralympians who was part of the presentation team. In his case he will give a short answer.

Our final presentation was from Allison Forsythe - a Canadian Olympic Alpine ski member in 2002 and 2006 who's career was ended because of an injury during a training run for the Torino Games - quiet the story and she had lots of do's and don't from an athlete point of view.

It being 5:00PM we finally adjourned with lots of knowledge and binder full of info - it contains the info that we received verbally today.

Gave Wes a ride back to his Son's place in Kits and then headed home and supper.

Next up - a visit to the Vancouver Athlete's Village on Thursday evening.

Part Two:Training to be an Olympic volunteer Day One Jan 8, 2010 - Whistler venues and the drive home

After arriving in Whistler and doing another driver change we head for the Athlete's village and await for our tour time at 2:30 but first about the checkpoint - today it's just sign our name beside it on the training list but it is will a lot more secure than that at Games times.

We are met by our trainer and walk through the Village - the roads and sidewalks are very slippery as there is some freezing rain falling - it is also windy and cold - a good introduction of what things might be like during the Games - we don't get to see inside the suites as they are busy putting the finishing touches on the Village.

It's then back into the car and time to try and find the various venues and more importantly just where we are expected to go when we have a passenger.

Our first stop is Whistler Creekside - home of the original Whistler ski area that will host the Alpine Skiing events - finding the venue is easy - you can't miss it - finding where we are to drop off and park was a little more challenging - while the signage is going up it appears to be a little incomplete partly because the area is a ski village and people living and working there still need to go about their daily routine.

We stopped a couple of security guys - explained who we were - showed them our map and they told us where we would be going.

Next on to the Sliding center - from a friend I knew where it is located so we headed there but tried to take the recommended route which isn't necessarily the shortest route - found the sight but not the drop off area - apparently they will have to walk a short distance from the parking area to the participation area.

I should note with the exception of the Olympic Park all the Whistler venues are existing sites or located right in the town center so access isn't the greatest by car - Whistler was built as a mostly car free Alpine town so it can be a challenge to drive to events but that is part of our role.

Next - the medals area - it is not finished but we did follow the signage and found the site - then it's on to the Media center at the Convention center - still finishing up here as well.

Final stop will be the Whistler Olympic Park - the home of the Nordic, biathlon and ski jumping events - located about 15KM from Whistler or the Village it is a pleasant drive up in good weather - it is starting to rain etc as we make the drive up - we reach the checkpoint - tell them who we are and are allowed to proceed to the three venue areas - this area is a lot easier to navigate as it was planned for the Games - it will be operated after the Games by the Four First Nations on whose territory the Games are being held.

After a quick driver change and darkness we start the drive back to Vancouver.

A couple of us were let off in downtown and the others took the car, refuelled it and return it to the depot.

Thanks to Wes, Douglas, Lucian and Steve for a good day - if these are kinds of people that will be volunteering the athletes and general public will be well served.

I will see all the Steve tomorrow at our next training session.