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Olympics Day 7 – Birks & Skeleton

February 19, 2010

It was a full and busy day, as well as being another gorgeous day in Vancouver.  The morning started with trying to dress for a media event at Birks, one of Canada’s most historic and recognized jewellers, and pack for a day up at the Whistler Sliding Centre.  These two activities do not go together very well.  One is sorta swish and upscale the other calls for snowpants (mine are still in storage darn it) and lots of layers.  Anyhow, I did manage to put together something that I figured would, with a change before heading to Whistler, do the trick.  Who knew dressing for the Olympics could be so complicated!

My Mom, Sharon, came with me to the media event at Birks as I was allowed a guest and my Mom is a professional photographer.  Darned convenient of her isn’t it? 🙂  We were greeted very graciously by both the employees of the PR company that organized the event for Birks as well as by the Birks & Mayors staff.  I was shocked that so many had heard of me, but pleased at the same time.  Thanks to all of them that took the time to read what I do.  In my limited experience with this sort of thing so far it is rare for PR companies to care much about who or what the media do, as long as they promote the product.  This was different and very nice for it.

The lower floor at Birks downtown Vancouver store.

The downtown Vancouver Birks store is one of their flagship storefronts and it is easy to see why, it is simply gorgeous.  Breakfast h’ordeurves were served along with orange juice, pomegranate with champagne or coffee.  The Vancouver 2010 collection of jewellery was on display, as well as the collection designed by Jenn Heil which consisted of earrings, a chain bracelet and a necklace.  And of course, Jenn Heil herself, our Vancouver 2010 Olympic Silver Medallist in moguls, and Canada’s first medal winner at these Games was there in person.  Jenn is a sport ambassador to Birks, as well as now a jewellery designer.  Besides getting to see her in person, we also had the treat of seeing her silver medal.  They really are quite huge!  And so very beautiful.

Jenn Heil's jewellery collection, including the stackable rings, the bangles aren't shown.

After a few introductions Jenn spoke about her inspiration for her collection.  Now, when I first saw the pieces I didn’t really connect with them.  They’re pretty, but there wasn’t much about them that made me want to own them and wear them.  But then Jenn explained the elements, and when you see them as pieces making a whole, all with a story, they really become so much more beautiful.  The whole collection is based around five rings, representing at one level, of course, the five Olympic rings.  But each one has its own meaning as well.  The first ring, the smallest and the one that the rest all hang from represents a Dream.  The four remaining rings represent: Focus – it looks like a target, Team – a braided texture showing how many build the strength of one, Courage – it is thicker and heavier than the other rings, as it needs to be strong, and finally, my favourite, Joy – with a bubbly texture for the feeling of joy rising from within and shared with others.  Apparently Jenn Heil has been interested in jewellery for a long time and came into this project with Birks with a strong vision of what she wanted to create.  It is wonderful that Birks helped her to accomplish that.

Jenn and the team at Birks did reveal two more additions to the collection today.  A set of five bangles and a set of five stacking rings in the same textures as the other pieces.  I even got to try the proto-type set of bangles on!  They felt and looked wonderful!  Unfortunately, they are the most expensive item, with each bangle costing around $300 (about $1500 for the set) so I won’t be getting those, but I am mulling over the necklace… 😀

The necklace in the Jenn Heil collection.

We took our leave after the reveal of the new pieces.  I am still not a very good reporter and didn’t want to disturb Jenn as she was already talking to lots and lots of people.  Oh – and just quick, two interesting tidbits about Birks.  Vancouver 2010 is the first time there has been an Official Luxury Jewellery supplier for any Olympic Games, and as such, Birks has supplied over 42,000 gifts to Vancouver 2010!  That’s huge!  But seeing as I have already been given a Team 2010 Birks keychain as a shift gift for volunteering I suppose there are a lot of gifts out there!  Thanks Birks!  We left more than happy with the experience and with time for me to grab a coffee, a snack as well as time to change before my trip to Whistler.  We were even given Birks Olympic pins on our way out (thank you Cheryl!).  I will admit to coveting this pin for quite a long time.  I am so pleased to have one now!  It’s really wonderful and topped of a great morning.

Jenn Heil with her Vancouver 2010 Silver Medal with Birks & Mayors President and CEO Thomas Andruskevich unveiling the new pieces in Jenn's collection.

Since I wound up with extra time I headed to Lonsdale Quay a bit early to see what is happening over there Olympic-wise, though I was also hoping that I would be able to catch an earlier bus to Whistler as my bus ticket was for a time slot more than an hour away.  After a quick peruse around Lonsdale Quay (I didn’t have enough time to visit the Kruzenshtern, but I will certainly be going back!) I headed to the Olympic Bus Network hub to check on the buses, and it was no problem at all to leave earlier!  I hopped on the bus and pretty much promptly fell asleep, and stayed that way most of the way to Whistler.  Now, if you haven’t done this trip I do suggest staying awake as it is beautiful, but since I have been to Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky highway before I took it as a great time to catch up on sleep.  I arrived in Whistler early enough to catch Justin and his brother Mike (both up from near Seattle) for a beer before they headed back to Vancouver and I headed up to the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Cormorants drying out at Lonsdale Quay.

The Whistler Sliding Centre

This guy does "More Cowbell" right!

Skeleton was great.  The Whistler Sliding Centre is endlessly fascinating to me.  I had visited in the summer but with grandstands, warming tents, food tents, athlete’s areas, Olympic Broadcasting Service equipment and people and the spectators it is a whole different place!  And let me tell you, skeleton is fast!  I mean I knew it intellectually, but seeing it on the television does not prepare you for how fast they pass you in the track.  Nor do you often get the sounds of the crowd as the slider comes down the hill.  It was great!  And I know it wasn’t very cold up there but I’m glad I brought lots of layers, sitting or standing a lot makes it hard to stay warm.

Start gate for women's skeleton.

Canadian slider Michelle Kelly

Me and my Mukmuk toque at the Whistler Sliding Centre

I did walk all the way to the start of the skeleton track and saw all of the women’s first two runs (Canadians in 3rd and 7th with two runs left tomorrow).  But, with my brother coming into town tonight, and feeling a bit chilled, I decided to head back to the busses early so I didn’t see any of the men’s runs but it sounds like the Canadians did well there as well (sitting 2nd, 7th and 10th with two runs left tomorrow as well).  It took a while for my bus to fill up (they only send full busses back to Vancouver, logical if slightly annoying) but then I was on my way, asleep, again.  Yay for catching up on sleep!  I should go to Whistler more often!

The SeaBus ride home - Lions Gate Bridge and the Olympic Rings.

After arriving back in Lonsdale Quay I caught the SeaBus (the new boat even!) then the Canada Line all the way to YVR to meet my brother and parents who were waiting for me at the Canada Line station right at the airport, perfect timing!  We rode back downtown and headed home for a bit of talking before heading to bed.  And now, it’s late, and the list is unsurprisingly long for tomorrow as well, though of course, filled with fun!  If you happen to be around a television between noon and 12:30 keep an eye out on Global BC Noon News for me as I’ve been invited back this week.  Hopefully it will go well again.  Until then… thank you merci!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    February 19, 2010 7:26 am

    Reading your blog from northern BC – What an incredible day! What a memory! Keep enjoying it.

  2. Jo-Anne permalink
    February 19, 2010 8:50 am

    Hi Andrea,
    Oh the JOY. Sounded like an incredible day. Will be sitting in front of our TV at noon to watch the broadcast. And I know the conversation has probably been non-stop since Tony arrived.

  3. February 19, 2010 10:51 am

    What a day! Such beautiful jewelry from Birks. I am jealous you got a pin. Your a lucky duck! Heheee…I did get my photo with one of the small Birks torches.
    Taping the Global news! Cheers.

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