I’m sure a lot of people have heard about the typhoon that blew in today. You can read an article all about it here. It didn’t really seem to have too much of an impact on people, with the exception that the Athlete’s Village was packed since training was suspended at the venue. That left a whole lot of riders and support staff looking for something to do. And the malls were closed! It also meant that some of the jumper horses that were due to arrive today are delayed. The Americans are still stuck in Aachen and the Australians are having to make a prolonged pit stop in Dubai. Hopefully the weather will clear soon and they will be in before the week is over.
By late afternoon they re-opened the venue for training, which saw a mass exodus from the village to the stables. Mike and I had a Team Leader meeting at 7pm so we headed over there later. I was curious to see what the footing would look like after the torrential downpours and gale force winds we had today. When I arrived, the rings were full including the main competition ring. I was absolutely amazed to see the footing look like it hadn’t seen a drop of rain all day. Wow! It was perfect. Not even a slight damp patch anywhere to be seen. Now that is impressive.
Ashley and Leslie had their horses out in one of the side rings which was booked for Canada. Both horses looked relaxed. The Canadian Eventers had some time booked in the main competition arena where there were jumps set up. Each country had a set time limit to use the arena. They could jump the course, jump a few jumps, or just work around the jumps. Everyone seemed relaxed in there too, even with the big jumbotron all lit up showing videos and images.
During tonight’s team leader meeting, Germany asked if the jumbotron would be on or off during the competition. The organizers said that they had it on tonight to see how the event horses would react and depending on the reaction, it may be off during the competition. I had heard of a few horses being less than impressed (to put it mildly) about the jumbotron the previous night so I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn it off completely for competition and maybe only have it on during breaks. Funnily enough, apparently it’s the cartoon horses jumping over jumps and piaffing that caused the biggest upset. That must be one scary cartoon horse!
I had a guest pass for the village today and wanted to take full advantage by eating dinner there. Guest passes are from 9am to 9pm, and Mike & I arrived back at the village at 8:50pm. Managed to get through the security check and made a bee-line for the restaurant. Tonight’s delicious menu included roast beef, prawns sauteed in soya sauce and of course my dear ol friend Mr. Blueberry Cheesecake. I ate as quickly as I could but Mike still rec’d a phone call from the security folks downstairs asking where I was (it was 9:15pm by this point). Mike managed to convince them to let me finish my dinner and I was back down in the lobby by 9:30pm. I have a pretty sore stomach from eating so quickly, but it was worth it!
When I arrived back at the media hotel, the scene in the lobby was pretty dismal. Buckets everywhere, towels over the computers…..seems the ceiling was leaking in multiple locations. I’m guessing it must be connected with the renovation work that they’re doing on the roof. All I know is that my room is nice & dry and my bed is calling out to me so I’m signing off. Hopefully tomorrow I can tell you about the Jade market!
the main competition arena under the lights and the rain.....our Canadian eventers in the background
the arena just before you enter the main competition arena. For dressage this would be the 10-minute ring
watching Leslie and Orion (that's my thumb at the top so that I'm in the picture!)
Since there wasn’t anything in the books today except for a team leader meeting at 7pm, I had planned to catch some extra zzzzz’s and catch up on some computer work. This was cut a bit short when Mike called me at 7am to let me know that there was a Typhoon Level 8 warning in effect. My first question: Do I need to go anywhere? Answer: no, stay in the hotel. Question: can I stay in my room? Answer: Yes. So with that I snuggled a little deeper under the covers and listened to the wind howling against the windows and the rain beating down hard. Curiosity got the better of me and I got up to take a peek outside. This is what I saw:
I couldn’t even see the mountains and at times even the apartment buildings disappeared. Wow! Pretty crazy weather. I noticed a piece of paper by my room door. It was a notice about the Typhoon Signal 8 warning. All training sessions at the venue had been suspended until further notice and the shuttle buses were on reduced service. Good news is that I was able to catch up on a bit of computer work. Bad news is that boredom kicked in pretty quick. Mike had arranged for a day pass for me to the Olympic Village so Ali and I headed over on the shuttle bus. I enjoyed a fa-bu-lous lunch in the athlete’s restaurant that included roast beef, chicken stuffed with lobster and shrimp. Of course I had to help myself to some blueberry cheesecake as well. Hey, I make sure to take advantage of the few times I get to eat at the Village!
The restaurant was packed as many of the teams stayed to wait out the storm. The weather is supposed to improve by the evening so imagine that the venue will be hopping as people take out their horses for some excercise. I’ll be heading there for the team leaders’ meeting so it will be interesting to see how the fancy footing handles all the rain that has fallen.
Before I left, I was amazed at how many more signatures are on the “Peace Wall”. It looks great!
Time for me to sign off so I can head to the venue for the meeting.
….as they say in Hong Kong – joy gin!
On Tuesday night we held our Canada Welcome Reception. This was organized as a substitute for the welcome reception the COC typically holds to welcome athletes to the games. Since we’re a satellite city in Hong Kong, Mike organized a reception at the Media Hotel for athletes, support staff and any owners who have already arrived.
The reception turned out great. Luckily all of my shopping at the Dollaramas and Giant Tiger while still in Canada paid off big time and I was able to decorate the rooms in red and white. The food was fantastic – everything from chips & salsa to chicken and beef satays with peanut sauce, fried calamari, sandwiches, Thai fish cakes, mushroom vol-au-vents and crispy spring rolls. My personal fave were the popadums & curry sauce. In fact there was so much food that there ended up being a ton left over. When the clean-up crew started to cart away the trays they were immediately stopped by the athletes and grooms who asked for plastic containers so that the cheesecakes and mille-feuilles could be taken back to the barns. It was way too good to waste!
Also attending the reception was Peter Gray who as you recall is in town with the CBC crew to help them catch all of the equestrian action on video.
Although the reception was only a couple of hours, it looked like everyone was having a great time and it was nice to have the whole team together before everyone gets focused on competition time (which is just around the corner starting with the Eventing jog August 8th)
Here are some pics!
(l-r) Jacquie Brooks, Sandra Donnelly, Christiane Ober, Selena O'Hanlon
getting into the Olympic spirit (courtesy of Jacquie Brooks)
dressage chef Ali Buchanan captures the evening in digital
mixing it up
(l-r) Kyle Carter, Jay Hambly and Peter Gray
the dressage athletes are presented with beautiful commemorative Olympic coins from team leader Mike Gallagher
the Eventing team receives their coin sets
Eventing chef Graeme Thom makes a fashion statement in the infamous 'pyjama pants' with Jump's team vet Sylvie
the grooms are presented with an Olympic gift
Ashley Holzer takes a wii break with her kids (I'm pretty sure Harry beat her at tennis despite Emma's best coaching efforts)
Ashley and her daughter Emma
Jacqueline Brooks and Lindsay Kellock
the desserts were delicious! Holly makes sure a package is sent back to the barn
(l-r) Hollly Jones, Jacquie Brooks, Lindsay Kellock and Jen Kellock
I have to start off by saying that I’m not what you would call a world traveller. I’ve led a pretty sheltered life for the most part and until recently my only big trip abroad was going to Auckland, New Zealand in 1990 to watch the Commonwealth Games (thanks Mickey!). Although I absolutely loved New Zealand, that long trip was the nail in the coffin for my fear of flying. I didn’t really fly again until 7 years later when I flew to England for the first time to meet Al for the first time (my husband…..and I flew by myself – that MUST have been love!).
Fast forward to 2007 when I made my first trip as Assistant Team Leader for the Pan American Games in Rio. A 3 hour trip to Miami followed by an 8 hour trip to Rio. The bad news is that I spent about 1/ 2 of that time in the airplane bathroom. The good news is that because I was so sick, I couldn’t focus as easily on being afraid.
Fast forward to this year, and it’s the Olympic Games in Hong Kong. A 15 1/2 hour flight! Good news is that I wasn’t sick this time ’round (much to Mike’s relief I’m sure since he was my travel buddy). Bad news is that the seats were so crammed it made sleeping next to impossible.
So now I’ve been in Hong Kong for a 12 days, and I’ve really noticed the differences in Asian culture as opposed to North America – even in my limited environment which has consisted up until now the Media hotel, Olympic Village, Venue and the mall (yes, the mall…..need to buy a phone? I’m your man. Want to get something for the kids? That’s on the bottom level but you need to take the escalators to the rear of the mall. Marks & Spencers more your cup of tea? Level 3 is where you want to be).
People in Hong Kong love to shop. I mean they REALLY love to shop. Try shopping on a Sunday and it’s standing room only. Still not convinced? Today there is a Level 8 Typhoon warning…..the weather is wicked and the mall is closed. Correction, the stores in the mall are closed. The mall itself is open and the food courts are open. And the place is packed!! It’s quite something.
Lesson # 2 I learned…..there is no such thing as friends when it comes to the elevators. It’s a dog eat dog world and unless you’ve got an hour or two to kill, you learn to forget being polite and make a run for it. At the media hotel where I’m staying, they are doing renovations and 1/2 of the elevators aren’t working. That isn’t so much a problem in the middle of the day – but good luck in the mornings and evenings. I made the mistake of assuming that things are like at home where you wait for the elevator; when it arrives, you wait for the people already on the elevator to leave; then you get on the elevator in an orderly fashion with those who have been waiting the longest being first. So there I’m standing with quite a large crowd of people, and I’m noticing that some people are moving to stand in front of one elevator then moving to another. I realize that they are watching the floor number change and trying to guess which elevator will arrive first. Elevator arrives, and I wait for the people on it to leave. What ends up happening is that there’s a mad push of people for that elevator to get on. How the existing elevator people managed to get off I have no idea. Ok, I’ll wait for the next one. Next one arrives, and bam! People who literally just arrived to catch an elevator barge through the rest of us who have been patiently waiting. I miss that one too, but notice a pattern developing. I also notice that the majority of us who missed the elevator are wearing Olympic accreditation passes and are not from Hong Kong. Ok, I can be taught. I now join the people who are scanning the elevator numbers waiting for the next one. I move from one elevator to the next and manage to get up to the opening doors. The doors open completely and I ignore every fibre in my body to wait for the people to get off the elevator….I just keep walking. Success! I’m on. Jammed in like a sardine mind you but I’m on. 30 mins after first approaching the elevators, I am finally on my way to my room having learned a valuable lesson with a voice in my head saying “Dorothy – this sure ain’t Kansas no more”.
This is a couple of days late……been difficult for me to hop on the computer and make a proper update. The Jumper horses arrived about 1 hour early at 1pm. Unfortunately 3 of the jumper grooms were still in North America as their plane was delayed due to bad weather. Only Sergio (Jonathan Asselin’s groom) made it ahead of time with Jerome (Eric Lamaze’s groom), Lori (the team’s stable manager) and Sylvie (the team’s vet) travelling on the plane with the horses. Team Canada spirit kicked in and the Eventers made sure that the jumper stalls were bedded and ready. The Dressage team made sure that hay was on order and found some water buckets to fill and hang in the stalls.
When the horses arrived at the venue, the dressage and eventing guys went out to help unload the horses and escort them to their new digs. All 5 horses travelled well and did the obligatory first roll in the fluffy shavings to christen their stalls. So now the barn is full with all Canadian horses here – very exciting!
The remaining 3 grooms (Dominique, Samantha and Kirsten) arrived early the next morning.
One aspect I greatly enjoy about being involved as assistant team leader is getting to meet and know the people from the other disciplines. As much as I love dressage, it’s great to become involved with Eventing and Jumping as well! Because Sergio came in a day before the horses, we took him along to dinner with the RCMP staff sargeant Louis (who flew in to do a security briefing with our Canadian Team). Sergio is from Mexico and seeing how the next Pan Ams are in Guadelajara in 2011, I’m taking FULL advantage in getting Sergio to help me learn Spanish. So far he’s helped me learn “my name is Kerri”, “see you later”, “good morning”, “hi”, “how are you”, “I’m fine”, “are you tired?”, “I’m tired”. Every time I see him he throws a new one at me to see how much I’ve picked up.
Now that the jumper grooms, horses, team vet and stable manager have arrived we’re just waiting for chef d’equipe Torchy Millar and the riders who will be coming in on different days over the next few days. The team is almost complete!
Oh….and for those who have emailed me asking me to post smaller thumbnails, your wish is my command. Click on the images if you want to see a larger version. And as per IOC blogging guidelines, I am in every one of these pictures….see that blurry part at the bottom? That’s my arm!
Jerome and Hickstead
Jacquie and Ole
dressage chef Ali and Special Ed
Lori and In Style
Sergio (my new Spanish teacher) and Rayana
second installment to come later today…….