Covering the Olympics was something I always wanted to do. But what were the chances of that happening for a sportswriter from a newspaper in upstate New York? They probably were less likely than a young woman from the same area becoming a two-time Olympian.
Covering the Olympics was something I always wanted to do.
But what were the chances of that happening for a sportswriter from a newspaper in upstate New York? They probably were less likely than a young woman from the same area becoming a two-time Olympian.
But it happened for me, thanks to the Olympian: Erin Hamlin from Remsen, N.Y.
Whistler Village is very quaint. When I was there, I browsed its shops, boutiques and eateries.
One of the pedestrian-only pathways is called the Village Stroll, and that’s what you do here: You stroll through this mountain ski resort town wondering what else you will see.
On the buses looping around Whistler, I was joined every day by skiers and snowboarders on their way to a mountain at the edge of the village. It seems as if everyone here skis or snowboards.
The skiers clopped along in their boots with skis in hand. Snowboarders moved more quickly, iPod cords discreetly snaked inside their colorful clothes. All of the weekend winter athletes were unburdened by more than the basic needs to get up and down Blackcomb Mountain.
I carried more equipment than the skiers and snowboarders for my days around Whistler. A laptop or two, a small camera bag, notebooks and file folders. The physically demanding nature of covering the Winter Olympics, a symptom of which was often not knowing the day of the week, was negated by the beauty of my office for the last 10 days. I regularly commuted to the Whistler Sliding Centre on a short, scenic and free Blackcomb Gondola.
My Olympic experience was a sensory overload. The things I saw, heard and processed at times left me dizzy. The scenery here is among the most beautiful I have ever encountered.
Before I left, a friend promised me in an e-mail that the mountains I would see in the West would be unlike any other. He was right. While hiking around the luge track, I could not help but turn around for a look at the mountains in the distance.
They were haunting on a cloudy day with clouds or fog hovering around them. The number of digital images on my camera is proof of my awe.
Sadly, I never will forget the sight on a press center video monitor of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili crashing at the Whistler track. The first time I saw the video, the horrific nature of the accident did not register. Only later when there were more press at the Whistler Media Centre and I heard the "Ohs" did I understand what happened.
The language I heard often was not English. In press rooms, at the luge track, on buses and in restaurants, conversations were foreign. People wore clothing and waved flags representing places far from my home.
I lived a daily reminder here of the size of the world beyond my own. Unlike Erin Hamlin and the athletes at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, I am not a frequent traveler. I had not been out of the United States in 20 years before coming to the Olympics. It’s easy to forget our world is not the only one.
I never understood area athletes who were nervous playing in a big game before I came to the Olympics. A game is a game, I always thought. Why would a title affect an athlete’s performance?
Now I know. The Winter Olympics is the biggest game I’ve played in. Interviewing, reporting and writing – that stuff is easy. Well, sort of.
The challenge here is managing an unfamiliar location. Before I could do anything I knew how to do, I had to navigate my way through bus routes, Internet access and fairly regular inspections from security personnel.
The World Series, the World Cup, the British Open and Wimbledon. These are other sporting events I’d like to cover. In the U.S., it would be a privilege to work a baseball game at Wrigley Field or watch football at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
My experience covering the Olympics in Whistler might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And if it is, it’s a powerful one. What are the chances something like it will happen again?
Well, the World Cup in South Africa is 110 days away and there are a lot of soccer fans in New York state.
Observer-Dispatch writer Anne Delaney is on her way home after covering the luge events and the Olympic experience.