Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Portrait of a city

Calgary hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988. I didn't live in Calgary at the time, but the Olympic torch came through my hometown on its way to Calgary. Throughout the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, a flame burned at the top of the Calgary Tower, making it the World's Largest Olympic Torch. The torch is still lit for special occasions, like Canada Day and during the Calgary Flames race for the Stanley Cup.

The stories I remember best from the Olympics that year aren't of the gold medalists, but rather of Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team. Eddie the Eagle was the only applicant for the British ski jump team. His geekiness and and poor ability endeared him to the public, but many athletes and Olympics officials felt he made a mockery of the event. Following the '88 Olympics a new rule (the Eddie the Eagle rule, as it's referred to) was made requiring all Olympic athletes to have placed in the top half of an international event before participating in the Olympics.

The Jamaican Bobsled team also got a lot of attention as a human interest story. Their story was later made into the Disney movie Cool Runnings starring Canadian John Candy.

My self portrait today is taken at Canada Olympic Park (C.O.P.). It is in the middle of Calgary, just north west of the city center. Behind me are the ski jumps from the Olympics. The '88 Winter Olympics turned a profit and left Calgary with infrastructure that my family enjoys regularly (as I learned from Wikipedia):

Olympic Oval - for speed skating, which was the first time in Olympic history where the event took place indoors under climate controlled conditions - I've skated there with my kids as a field trip every year for 9 years
Olympic Saddledome - Indoor arena for figure skating and ice hockey competitions (construction had already begun prior to the Games being awarded to Calgary) It's now the home ice for the Calgary Flames (NHL)
Canada Olympic Park - Ski jumping, bobsleigh, luge, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing (aerials and ballet), disabled alpine skiing
Canmore Nordic Centre - Cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, blind cross-country skiing
Max Bell Centre - Curling and short-track speed skating
McMahon Stadium - opening and closing ceremonies - now our football stadium
Nakiska - Alpine skiing, freestyle moguls skiing
Stampede Corral - Figure skating and ice hockey (secondary venue)
Father David Bauer Olympic Arena - Ice hockey (secondary venue)

I didn't consider myself to be athletic or sporty growing up, but I sure like being active with my kids and I enjoy the legacy facilities from the Olympics regularly. Last night we finished up a month of night shift ski lessons at C.O.P. How great is it that we can go skiing for the evening?

The only way to get a clear picture of Jaclyn at a ski hill is to catch her on the chair lift. She's so fast that I don't see her coming soon enough to place myself well for a picture, like to get the sun behind me, and then she just whizzes past. I get one shot, good or not.

Chloe got her first experience skiing this year at her C.O.P. lessons. She's having so much fun! Spring skiing may be the time to learn, because the soft warm snow is slowing her down, and letting her control her turns.

Carmen is one of the youngest kids in her class. She's now working on parallel skiing - giving up the 'pizza' shape beginners make by pointing their ski tips together at the front.

Steven is a good skier, and really wanted to try snowboarding, so he took beginner snowboarding lessons this month. He says he likes it better than skiing, but I'm sure that's influenced by the fact that all of his friends board rather than ski. I don't know if I'll ever see him on skis again.

End of the evening - time to go home.

That was a seriously long post for me. Calgarians are very loyal to and proud of their city. I just discovered I'm a naturalized citizen of Calgary as evidenced by my enthusiasm for this self portrait challenge.


Kelly said...

Every time we visit you I am so impressed by what a great city Calgary is. Plus, your family is an incredibly great Calgary attraction.

But the cold. It just looks so very cold.

Great self shot, though. I had a lot of trouble with mine, but did a similar post on my love for Portland.

Elizabeth said...

Going skiing just for the evening is very cool. Well I don't ski but the thought of it is.
Your pictures are gorgeous. I have never been to Calgary or Canada for that matter but it always seems like such a beautiful place in the movies.

lelly said...

i love this post! i lived in atlanta for the summer games in '96, and i feel such a swell of pride, even to this day. i am a sucker for the olympics!

i also love that you shared your family enjoying this beautiful location!!

Anne said...

I agree with Kelly, it looks COLD there in Calgary. I love your post, and I can definitely feel your enthusiasum seeping from every word.

Mandy said...

Great pictures! It does look quite cold there, but definitely like somewhere I would like to visit!

Amy said...

I want to come visit. I love the post & all of the fabulous pictures.

Crystalyn said...

it looks so beautiful. one of my good friends is from calgary and tells me stories about the olympics there. how fun to go skiing with your family. what a wonderful way to spend time together.

Price Cream Parlor said...

Love this post! I learned so much! So fun that you are able to take advantage of your area and enjoy the night skiing! We love doing that when we visit Utah! Loved the photos especially the last one of the evening sky!

annalisa said...

I loved having the Olympics come to Salt Lake. I wish we took more advantage of the parks they left behind. Thing is, I don't ski. Something about that claustorphobia and feeling of out of control you get on skis, snowboards, and apparently even bikes.

RGLHM said...

Great photos!
Reasons to love Calgary. HMMMM. I miss the Calgary of 1988. I have very fond memories of the Olympics. We went down to the ceremonies a couple of times. I felt so connected to the 100 other people crossing the street and with all the people who cheered like crazy. Thanks for the memories.

RGLHM said...

PS bet it's colder up north:-)

Jenny said...

Those pictures are very cool. It so fun to see how many different types of scenery people live by. I had no idea you lived in Canada.

Cristin said...

This looks fantastic, but SO COLD! I wish we lived close to some snow...great post!

amy m said...

I love what you choose and the photos are great. I'm jealous looking at your family skiing. I would love to get my little ones up in the mountains, seems such a shame being so close and not using them, but don't think they would be terrified. Any advice?

Barb said...

High praise on the photos from Amy M, I'm flattered. I have found ski lessons to be exceptional at every mountain we've ever skiied. The instructors make it fun, and don't push at all. Just pack the kids up and take 'em!

Victoria said...

Looks like a beautiful place! My dh loves Canada, he went on a mission to Toronto/Ontario 83-85 and always talks about it. Someday we will go back there.

Thanks for sharing!

rebecca said...

I am catching up - loved your interpretation of the challenge. What great photos!

Jill said...

These are beautiful pictures. I loved it when Salt Lake hosted the Winter Games in 2002. I went to one of the Speed Skating events and saw Apollo Anton Ono win Gold! Very cool.