Today I had the opportunity to take part in a VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee) function at the new Olympic area at UBC. Petro-Canada was making an official announcement that they wanted to share with local Olympians, the COC and the 2010 organizers. I excepted it to be a simple press conference, a meet-and-greet, and maybe some laughs with the 2010 mascots (I was secretly hoping to meet Quatchi today). After mingling in the lobby we were asked to take a seat in one particular section of the arena. As we walked around the rink I noticed a podium and a red carpet set up in the middle of the ice. Nothing unusual, just a press conference in the rink. I noticed there were a few cameras set up and they seemed a little more "pro" than those used for the nightly news. We were asked to grab a set, any seat, as long as it didn't have a name on it. Well, there were only two seats in the entire section with names. And they both said "GROVES". Uh-oh. What on earth is going on?! I turned to one of the organizers and said, "ummmm, is this seat for me? I didn't bring a guest..." She then says, "WHAT, your parents aren't here?!" To make a long story short, she thought I was Kristina Groves, the speed skater who turned out to be a key part of this "function". Phew!
Anyway, back to the story..
We are handed flags and random Canadian paraphanalia. The lights to out and man comes on the loudspeaker giving us instructions (on a side note, his voice was very familliar. It was one of the Hockey Night in Canada announcers). We are told that Kristina will be skating a few times around the rink and we are not to cheer until the third lap. It turns out that they are filming at Petro-Canada commercial and we are the "fans." It was a lot of fun, but I was so nervous for Kristina as there would only be one take for this commerical. Of course, she did a fantastic job and was actually a very good actress. I don't know how I would have done with acting the emotions of competition in that situation.
The actual annoucement was also special and rather unique. Petro-Canada is supporting the families of Canadian athletes competing in 2010. They will be covering the accomodation and event tickets for families who have to travel. Families are a huge part of our Olympic journeys so this level of support and recognition is wonderful. Sharing my race in Beijing with my family (despite the outcome) meant a lot to me and I know my experience wouldn't have been the same without them.