Today was the second last day that the Richmond Olympic Oval opened the rink to the public for one last hurrah of the Olympic experience. Tomorrow is the last day you can go skating from 1-5pm. Admission and helmet rentals are $2 and skate rentals are $3. Parking is free (at least for me it was).
I went this afternoon with a few of my friends. I don’t normally travel into Richmond and naturally, my airhead of a friend told me to take an exit that basically led us to New Westminster–not where we wanted to go. Thank god for the iPhone and GPS. As I drove past the Oval, my jaw dropped. That place is massive.
There was quite a lineup outside of the Oval but it went faster than expected. Many people brought their own skates, and according to one staff member, 90% of the people he had talked to in the lineup had never stepped foot into the Richmond Oval before.
We headed upstairs to where the rink is, and it was exactly how I had seen it on TV. Obviously. Crowds of people were swarmed around sitting on chairs, putting on their skates, making their way to the entrance of the rink… The entire process was pretty fast considering the number of people that were present. Music blasted while we skated, and during one of the breaks (when the Zambonis came out and did their thing), they played Nikki Yanofsky’s “I Believe”.
Now, I’m not a skater. I’ve never learned how to skate. I don’t know how to skate. I can walk on it just fine and glide around like a total noob, but I can’t skate. This is why you have people called friends. We all took 2 tumbles throughout the ~ 1.5 hours (total) that we skated around, which consisted of losing balance, one skate hitting someone else’s leg, a friend trying to save my ass from losing balance which just made him lose balance… but it was all in good fun. We laughed it off.
Being a worse-than-amateur skater doesn’t mean that I stop snapping photos though.
After some fun on the ice, we walked around to check out what else was happening in the building. We happened to see a Paralympic gold medalist in a wheelchair, taking photos with people. I had no idea who he was, but I just went, GAAASSSSSSPP, basically because I wanted to hold that gold medal.
I’d held medals at the Mint during the Olympics, but this seemed different. Maybe because this time, I wasn’t wearing a white glove saying “I touched a gold medal”. I was aware of how heavy the medal was going to be, but somehow, I was still surprised.
I Google’d up the Paralympian and it turns out it was Darryl Neighbour, wheelchair curler. He’s in his 60s and really nice.
After we finished scouring the top level and went back down the stairs, we saw a still pretty big lineup for those wanting to get in, and the Oval was to close in about 2 hours time.
There’s an area in the Oval called “Field of Play”, where you go up a set of stairs and end up basically in the middle of the whole place. There’s a blue podium where you can take photos and you get a nice view of everything around you. The entire section inside the track is concrete/wood, and there’s a huge area for basketball and/or volleyball right now. That area looks bigger than my high school gym.
The words there (part of it cut off) are supposed to say “With Glowing Hearts” (and maybe some stuff after that), which is the Olympic’s slogan. The other side of the rink says something like “Vancouver 2010″.
After tomorrow, when the Oval closes to the public, they’ll be turning away from the long track speed skating configuration for a layout that will be able to accommodate ice, track, court, paddling, and fitness users. The end result will be three levels high with all 512,000 square feet filled out.
Can’t you just picture yourself on the 3rd level, running the treadmill, and looking down to see a fun hockey game, a volleyball practice, some basketball being played, and track and field, all at once?