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196 days until the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies – My trip to Calgary!

August 27, 2009

Or 168 days until the Olympics.  But for me, the Paralympics were way more important today.  However, as all good stories flow from start to end, so shall my story go!

Glass floor of the Calgary Tower

Glass floor of the Calgary Tower

I heard about the Red & White scrimmage a few days ago, 46 players vying for 23 spots on Team Canada’s Men’s Team.  If I’m honest, I probably knew about it quite a while ago, but it didn’t register until two days ago.  I asked if Air Canada would match WestJet’s price from Vancouver to Calgary, since WestJet had a sale on but I did not hear back from Air Canada, and I was tempted to let it go. However, when I looked on Wednesday, the flights were cheaper on Air Canada (an Olympic Official Supporter) than with others.  So what happened???  Well I had to catch a flight to Calgary of course!

Yes, as many of you already knew, I hopped a flight to Cowtown to see Canada vs. Canada.  I arrived in Calgary at about 12:30pm.  This would be great, except that I took the Canada Line in Vancouver from Yaletown to the airport (YVR).  And apparently (I believe this has may have been rubbed in a bit lately) Vancouver is the only city in Canada with rapid transit from the airport to the city centre.  This was apparent when I landed in Calgary and was told that it would take at least an hour to get from the airport to downtown.  And it did, a little over in fact.

Pengrowth Saddledome from the Calgary Tower

Pengrowth Saddledome from the Calgary Tower

I checked into my Hostelling International hostel (quite nice, very quiet and rather European, surprising considering how close to downtown it is).  Then off to explore town.  I posted on facebook and twitter that I was looking for things to do.  I did get a few replys, but thanks to Jenn for letting me know about the Ship and Anchor.  I had a great time there before the game and met Brian,* Bob and others!  The beer selection is vast, the food is good and the people are fun!!  Just what I needed!

Then I was off to the game!  Canada (White) vs. Canada (Red).  Luongo was the only Canuck invited to the Orientation Camp and he quite honestly rocked!!  Unfortunately, I was wearing a Red Team Canada jersey, and Lou was playing on White.  But I cheered him on nonetheless.  We also had six players from BC: Dan Hamhuis (Smithers), Brent Seabrook (Tsawassen), Duncan Keith (Penticton), Shea Weber (Sicamous), Scott Niedermayer (Cranbrook), and Milan Lucic (Vancouver).  I would like to say that I cheered them on, and I did in spirit, but it was hard to keep track of that many new jersey numbers!!

Luongo during the National Anthem.  Go Canada Go!

Luongo during the National Anthem. Go Canada Go!

It was a seriously fun game!  Everyone got to play!  There were powerplays, to test skills, and 4-on-4 to test more skills. It was pretty crazy.  I missed the whole second period waiting to get cash and beer (that was disappointing, GM Place is faster, but you don’t feel nearly so squished at Pengrowth Saddledome).  My first time at the Saddledome!  It was a lot of fun!  And a lot of the red jerseys in the crowd were Calgary fans (yes, to be fair to my new Calgary friends, I’m linking to the Flames too).  Quite generously, no one I spoke to held it against me that I’m a Canuck fan!

For the game I sat beside a 17 year old hockey player named Fabian.  He plays right D for the Innisfail Flyers and knows a lot about hockey.  That may be because he started at the age of 3!  He was a great wealth of information!

I had some beer.  Enjoyed my evening, then, on the way out… I can’t even believe I was so lucky… I met members of the Team Canada Sledge Hockey Team!!  I got to meet #29  Graeme Murray, #11 Adam Dixon, #27 Brad Bowden (described as the Bobbie Orr of sledge hockey!!) and assistant coach Michael Mondin!  (Sorry Michael, couldn’t find a good link for you).  I was in Heaven!  They even signed my Olympic team jersey!  What a great treat to meet Paralympic athletes unexpectedly!! I hope I have the chance to meet them again!

Team Canada Paralympic Sledge Hockey athletes and me!!

Team Canada Paralympic Sledge Hockey athletes (Brad, Graeme & Adam) and me!!

I did learn tonight that my schmoozing skills aren’t particularly great when it comes to Olympic hockey.  I did try to go to the venue that the Paralympic Sledge Hockey team members went, but I have no ability to grease that invite at this point.  I was a little disappointed, but unsurprised.  I am learning to ask well in advance for access to events, but this time I was way too late.  Maybe I am still early enough for interviews for the Women’s Hockey Canada Cup in Vancouver!!  We (me and folks) are going to the Gold Medal match at this point, but there are a lot of other games that I hope to get to!  So I will try to talk to Hockey Canada, and maybe I can get an interview.  I hope so!!

Off to bed.  I have to get back to Van early in the morning.  I appreciate your visit to my blog!  Thank you and merci!


* Correction – Sorry Brian, I called you Michael again when I wrote last night, too tired!


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