Friday, February 10, 2012

2002 Winter Olympics Remembered...Happy Anniversary!

Olympic cauldron burning - February 2002

During the Olympics we took advantage of as many free activities as possible.  One afternoon we went to take pictures of the Olympic flame.  The cauldron is a permanent fixture by Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.  We took all the typical photos, including ones where it looks like you are holding the cauldron as a torch.  Today, the site features other commemorative Olympic items on display.

Flags flying during the 2002 Winter Olympics

Salt Lake City became an international city during February of 2002.  It was wonderful to walk the streets and hear different languages, to talk to people from other countries, and to see things like this amazing flag display.  Some days we went downtown just to soak it all in.

Our boys learn the art of pin trading.

Pin trading is an unofficial Olympic sport.  I confess I never got really good at it, but did trade a pin or two.  It was fun to watch our children interact with people as they tried to get a pin they thought looked interesting.  I doubt any of my Olympic pins have large dollar values, but I am happy to have amassed a small collection.

A successful trade!

We also went to a pin show in a local Greek church.  It was free of charge, and several pin traders had tables set up.  We enjoyed wandering through and seeing pins from previous Olympic games, as well as ones from the Salt Lake games.

Snake winding through the streets of Salt Lake.

We watched a parade, which was fun for kids and adults alike.  The weather was bitterly cold one day when we were downtown, but on other days, the weather was quite pleasant and made activities like viewing the parade or watching Japanese drummers perform outdoors really enjoyable.

Another view of the parade.

The parade highlighted Utah's western wildlife and featured large puppet horses, buffalo, a rattlesnake, and more.  I was glad we took the time to see it.  It was an inexpensive way for our children to enjoy the Olympics.

Photos like these on venues and buildings provided the look of the Games.

We were privileged to host a friend and his son who came for a few days of Olympic events.  Having someone crash in our living room while hotel accommodations were in short supply was another of my favorite Olympic experiences.

The Salt Lake organizing committee arranged several cultural events that were held during the Olympics.  Although you had to get a ticket, the tickets were widely available and not terribly expensive. We went to two cultural events:  a Navajo exhibit, and the Dale Chihuly blown-glass exhibit.

A woman at the Navajo exhibit.

At the interactive Navajo exhibit, we were able to talk to people about crafts like blanket weaving and basket making.  Several skilled people were on hand giving demonstrations.  In one area, we listened to Navajo words on headphones and tried to pick out which words had which meanings.  Navajo is a difficult language, and I was terrible at matching the words!

Navajo Codetalkers

It was a tremendous honor to meet these World War II heroes who served in our military as codetalkers.  The Nazis were never able to break the Navajo code.  These men were sworn to secrecy and were unable to discuss their great contributions immediately after the war.  It is only recently that these heroes are getting the recognition they deserve.

Chihuly art - Salt Lake 2002

Dale Chihuly's art was on display on the street, in Abravanel Hall, and in a special exhibit.  We bought tickets, watched a movie about Chihuly and glass-making, and walked through an amazing "underwater" exhibit where blown class scenes and creatures floated above our heads.  It was enchanting and beautiful.

We also attended a free Beach Boys concert outdoors.  It was a festive couple of weeks.  But the Olympics are, above all else, a sporting event.  We applied for tickets early, and tried to maximize our dollars and variety of events.  I attended part of the ice dance competition, short track speed skating, men's and women's aerials, and two women's hockey games.  It was our first introduction to post 9/11 security procedures, however, all the volunteers were efficient and friendly.  Every venue was wonderful, the crowds were great, but most of all, we loved seeing the best athletes in the world compete!

USA women's hockey game

During one hockey game, we met speed skaters from Kazakhstan.  They graciously let us have our pictures taken with them.  I think they were impressed with the torchbearer jacket my husband wore throughout the games, too.

Me with speedskaters from Kazakhstan

Even the "nose bleed" seats that I could afford for most sporting events were good seats.  My son loved short track speedskating, and although Apollo Anton Ohno was a hero of the 2002 Winter Games, my son became enamored with the maple leaf flag and cheered for Canadian athletes throughout the competitions.  We also had tickets to a medals ceremony and got to attend the night Derek Parra received his gold medal for long track speed skating.  The band Creed performed, and it was a great party as the athletes were honored with their medals.  

Short track speed skating relays

The night of the closing ceremonies, the TV coverage cut away just as the big fireworks display was taking place at Rice-Eccles Stadium.  We hurried outside into the cold night air, and standing on our street, watched the fireworks soaring above the stadium in the distance.  It was a wonderful end to a wonderful Games.  Of course, we were a bit sad to see it all come to an end, so we went to a Paralympic hockey game in March.  As is common, Salt Lake hosted the Paralympics after the Olympics had ended.  These courageous athletes were fun to watch, and carried on the spirit of sportsmanship and competition we had experienced during the Olympic Games.

The governor of Utah announced two days ago that he would form an exploratory committee to see if it is feasible to bid on the Olympic games again.  I hope the answer comes back as a resounding yes! I would definitely go again.  Just think, if Salt Lake were to be awarded the Olympics again, you would once again have SEVEN years from the time the bid is announced until the Games are held to save up for tickets!  

What do you think?  Should Salt Lake City host the Olympics in 2022?

1 comment:

  1. I'm up for another Olympic run! Pretty sure I wouldn't be carrying the torch this time, but Having the games here again would be so awesome.