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Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
The Olympic experience, and a really cool jacket to boot
by Randy Pascal

“I made a lot of new friends and got a cool jacket.”

In a dozen words, Mary Waddell just summarized the volunteer experience at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Of course, the stories run much deeper than that.

In the case of the long-time local nordic ski aficionado, the intrigue actually starts prior to those Games, the simple luck of timing that would see her selected to take part in the event.

“When I applied, B.C. was only taking officials from B.C.,” she noted. “But I was living in the Yukon, and they’re kind of buddies. They have the same high school programs. That’s how I got in, because lots of people I know from Ontario didn’t.”

“I tried Sochi, but I started getting replies in Russian and figured this was getting too tricky. Everybody likes to get their own officials involved.” A Level 3 official on the nordic ski scene, Waddell was named as chief of stadium marshalls, a posting that kind of straddled the line in terms of race proximity.

“We were watching people coming and going at the gates, skiers and coaches, the racers,” she said. “You saw bits and bytes of everything, you were behind the scenes. I was around the finish line when Devon (Kershaw) came in fifth in the 50 km.”

Of course, anyone involved with Olympic Games or other sport gatherings of that size will point to many of the non-venue memories they accumulate as fostering the uniqueness of their experience. It was no different for Waddell, who joined a large number of the nordic ski volunteers by taking up residence for the Games in the MV Mona Lisa cruise ship, which was anchored in the port at Squamish through much of February of 2010.

“We would be taking the bus back down, from Whistler, at the end of the day, and the last stop before the port was the Howe Sound Brew Pub,” recalled Waddell with a smile. “You would think you were going home and you end up getting off.”

“One of the really cool things was that all of the volunteers were all in the Brew Pub, it was all volunteers, and we all had on our “smurf coats” (the light blue Hudson Bay jackets that each and every volunteer received). It was fun to be with all of the people who knew skiing – and I still get comments on the jacket.”

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