Yanik’s Winter Olympics Adventure…
I always believed the Olympics would be an amazing experience and it didn’t disappoint. It’s with great pleasure I can check off another item from my Ultimate Life List. When I originally started my list I knew it would lead to a lot of cool experiences and the Olympics are way up there.
(Side note: I’m so committed to making sure you create your own Ultimate Life List that I have a cool gift coming for you soon.)
My trip out to Vancouver was a quick one, but I ended up cramming a lot into the trip thanks to my friends who live in the area. The first night I hooked up with my buddy and fellow Maverick member Aymen Boughanmi, plus Randy Charach and his wife, Shanna, for dinner. You could immediately sense a great energy in the town. Walking to dinner Shanna was sporting the must-have item from the Olympics – the red Canadian mittens.
It was the only thing Missy wanted me to bring back – but they were pretty impossible to find. Half my damn trip was being on the lookout for those elusive mittens.
The next morning I left Vancouver for a quick 1-day/night jaunt over to Whistler. Originally I was just going to stay in the city and watch curling that day. (Yeah I know - curling. I figured there had to be more to it than what I could see on TV). But I got a better offer. Francis Wolffe,, one of the foreign licensees we had on the Underground Licensing Profits MasterClass series, was actually living in Whistler for a few months and volunteered to pick me up and bring me back. Awesome!
After the event we hit the slopes and I did my best impression of Bode. I was excited when we finally took a break for some burgers and beer because I hadn’t skied the whole year and my thighs were burning. Not the same case with Francis – he used to ski 150x/year and was probably a bit bored with our runs.
Later on inside the village I found us a scarf/mitten combo that looked like bear paws. I told Francis I’d buy him a pair so I wouldn’t be the only idiot from the States wearing it. Here’s a shot with my paws at the Whistler Sliding Center while watching skeleton.
Now, as silly as the paws are they had a lot of people asking where they could get them – and they were warm. I loved them.
Watching skeleton was pretty wild because they let the crowd get within a few feet of the course and you can really see how fast these athletes go. Skeleton is a little like luge, but headfirst and nothing between you and the ice at 80mph except a flimsy cafeteria tray. The real sport is trying to catch the guys on camera since they whiz by in a blink of an eye and you have to anticipate when your digital camera is going to snap a shot. Here’s the best one I got after a lot of trial and error:
It looks awesome!! I actually want to try it and so far I found a 3-day school in Alberta that actually teaches you how to do this and get your skeleton license. (Anyone want in?)
I have this crazy idea I could somehow get into the Sochi 2014 winter games back in my mother land. We’ll see.
Anyway, back at the Whistler Sliding Center there was quite a competition heating up with Canada’s Jon Montgomery holding onto first place by just a fraction of a second. Amazing, considering they do 4 runs. The place went absolutely nuts with their native son picking up an unexpected gold on home soil.
Here’s his winning run I filmed until the IOC takes it down
Later that night the athletes all came down to the CTV pavilion for interviews and I watched Jon get handed a pitcher of beer from a fan – and he immediately started chugging it! So frickin’ awesome! I loved it! Here’s a video I found of this:
We went outside to see the crowd watch Jon get interviewed by the Canadian television program and at the end they burst out in a spontaneous O’Canada. It was really cool and I even joined in:
Later that night I got the inside skinny on the elusive mittens. They were outside of Vancouver at a store called ‘Zellers’. Francis and his girlfriend where nice enough to go out of their way to make sure Missy and now all her friends got mittens. It truly was the ‘mecca of mittens’. YES!
Back in Vancouver on Saturday was the beginning of my all-hockey-all-the-time event schedule, starting with a little warm up game with Slovakia and Lativa. I didn’t really care too much about either team; however my friend and business coach Cameron Herold was only going to be in town for that one day so that was the game we picked. It was a somewhat uneventful game with Slovakia dominated the much-smaller Lativians.
After the game Cameron and I met up with 2 more guys with roots in Vancouver – Adam & Mathew Toren from YoungEntrepreneur.com – who also have a glossy Vancouver city mag. A great dinner at GoldFish and then we hit a few of the clubs, meeting a few more guys including Aymen & Randy again. The whole city was pretty hopping with hordes of people enjoying the celebratory spirit of the games. Quite frankly, there might have been wilder spontaneous parties in the spirits then inside the clubs. I finally had to say enough is enough around 3 AM to get ready for “Super Sunday” as they called in Canada.
Super Sunday was 3 huge hockey games that mirrored the last 3 Olympic gold medal games. We had Russia v. Czech at noon, U.S. v. Canada at 4:40 and Sweden v. Finland at 9 pm.
I met another friend of mine, Craig Brockie, to start the day’s festivities with Russia v. Czech. I was really excited for this game, with Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin from the Caps playing for Russia along with their other line-up of superstars.
Your outfit for a big game is critical. I had my #8 Russian jersey, Capitals hat and my new favorite accessory, the blue paws. Then planning ahead I had a Team USA shirt under the Russian jersey and Swedish shirt ready afterwards. The great thing was my paws actually fit the color schemes for all 3 teams!
I was surprised how many Washington Captials Ovechkin jerseys were floating around the arena. On the way in there was one gal who mirrored my outfit, and she was from Washington DC too so we had to get a quick pic.
Since I was born in Moscow – and because of Ovechkin and Semin – I was definitely rooting on Russia. I don’t know what the hardcore real Russian fans made of me. I was chanting in Russian with my American accent.
It’s cool seeing how the fans get really worked up for International play. You had Czech fans with their faces painted and then you had Russians who brought the biggest damn flags I’d ever seen. This really doesn’t do it justice.
My buddy Craig wasn’t really cheering for either squad so he just wanted a good game and kept elbowing me every time the Czechs scored with the hope of going into overtime. No thank you. With the Russians losing to Slovakia in a shoot-out the other night they needed this game to move on to the quarterfinals. It would have been a huge upset for them to exit the tournament this early. Russia actually looked like they came out to play this time. The big point in the game was Ovechkin laying out Jagr in an open ice check at center ice. It was ridiculous! Here’s an animated gif for your watching pleasure:
Russia took home the ‘W’ with a 4-2 win. Then a quick change to put my Russian jersey around my waist and voila – instant USA fan.
It was time for the biggest, most anticipated game, USA vs. Canada. It was by far the hardest ticket for me to snap up. I picked one up the day before from a guy on Craigslist. (Gotta love Craigslist – that’s how I found my apartment in Vancouver to stay in, too!)
Good news is I was in – bad news I was the only American supporter around me.
The entire stadium was a sea of red with a few smatterings for USA supporters. Serious enemy turf. The crowd was so pumped until it was stunned into silence with about 40 seconds in with the first USA goal. I almost felt bad for the home fans during the game. Even Missy was texting me during the game hoping for Canada goals.
One of our Maverick members from Buffalo, Dave Lally, is friends with the assistant coach from Team Canada, Lindy Ruff. (Actually, the coach came to the Maverick Iceland trip with us in August.) So Dave is traveling with Lindy and his wife and I meet him after the first period and he’s got a Canada jersey and hat on. Traitor!
Dave said he half stood up on the first goal and started looking to give high-fives, until he remembered how he was dressed. My blue paws were perfect for high-fives with the random US fans I saw in-between periods. I thought the Canadians would be really mean and nasty after the loss but not really. Even “Captain Canada” and “Boy Canuck” posed for pics after their loss to the U.S.
I gave my support to the Nordic boys in yellow and blue since Backstrom plays for the Caps. Ready for change #3 I put on my team Sweden tshirt.
In between games I hung out in a “holding area” and talked to a few Swedes. It was really incredible to hear their knowledge of the sport and to know which of their countries athletes plays for which team. They knew right away about Backstrom at the Caps, and they even remembered Calle Johanson and Bengt Gustavason. Bengt goes way back – some serious history.
And I got the low-down on the chant I had to know in order to root for “my” team. I only got the first part of it, but it was enough to ingratiate me to my new buddies. “Heya Sveda…!”
I ended up 3-0 on the night with every team I supported winning. Maybe there’s something to this. In fact, I’ll make myself available for rent for the Gold Medal game on February 28 if you’re a serious fan and want to assure victory for your team…and I’ll bring the blue paws out too.
In just a few nights I got some really incredible highlights – and another unique experience that’s priceless. The only thing I wished I had done different was bring the kids out but I think they were a bit too small. Maybe for Sochi in 2014. It would be a real treat to take them and my dad.
Okay, at the beginning of this post I mentioned that seeing the Olympics has been on my ‘list’ for quite awhile. And I decided to put together a resource to help you create and get more items checked off your own Ultimate Big Life List. I’ll be posting a pretty cool ebook for you shortly!
I’ve always been a fan of creating lists – and I’m not the only one. I’ll be interviewing Ted Leonsis (former AOL exec & owner of the Capitals) shortly. He’s come out with a new book called “The Business of Happiness”, and one of the major sections is all about creating your own list…so this very good timing. Sign up here to hear it – http://www.MaverickBusinessInsider.com/happy/
And finally if you haven’t had enough here’s a montage video I put together with my trip: