Winter Olympics

(from left to right) Morgan Keane '03, Tom Keane '03, and Kristen Kmetetz '03 attend the men's ski cross competition at Cypress Mountain
(from left to right) Morgan Keane '03, Tom Keane '03, and Kristen Kmetetz '03 attend the men's ski cross competition at Cypress Mountain
Three members of the Class of 2003 recently had the privilege of attending the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.  Kristen Kmetetz, Morgan Keane (Miller), and Tom Keane traveled across the continent to be part of this historic event.  Here are their stories and some of their impressions.

How did you plan the trip and get tickets to the events?

Morgan:  For years, I have been talking about going to the Winter Olympics with my dad.  Last spring, we decided to finally make it happen and began planning a trip with Tom and my sister, Emily.  We were able to purchase tickets online from the allotment of seats for US fans.  The task of event selection fell to my father.  He chose events based on availability, schedule, and, of course, his own personal preference.  In the end, we saw ski cross (with Kristen,) three hockey games, and a curling match.  Can you tell he's a hockey fan?

Kristen:  I have what seems like a lifelong obsession with the Winter Olympics.  I had the good fortune to attend the 2006 Games in Torino, and while my mother and I always hoped to travel to Vancouver together the timing didn’t work out.  I was excited simply to watch the events on TV, but about three weeks before the Opening Ceremonies I saw an article about planning a last-minute trip to the Olympics.  It started the wheels in my head spinning, and 48 hours later I had convinced a friend to join me, booked hotel and flights, and found figure skating, freestyle skiing, and curling tickets.  We found tickets for an additional figure skating event on eBay and purchased other tickets in Vancouver.

Kristen, how did these Olympics compare to Torino?

Kristen:  The atmosphere in Vancouver was far more lively than in Torino.  I think that has something to do with the fact that Vancouver is the largest city to ever host the Winter Olympics, as well as the fact that Canadians love their winter sports.  The Canadians came out in much larger numbers than the Italians did to support their team.  While we naturally cheered for the USA, it was really fun to see the stadiums erupt in spontaneous renditions of O Canada whenever the home team did well.

Curling seems like an unlikely choice.  Are you devoted fans of the sport?

Tom: I think we would all admit that we weren't (and continue not to be) huge curling fans.  That said, the sport is very popular in Canada and it was definitely exciting to see it in that context.  The curling venue was designed to accommodate four simultaneous matches.  This was a bit overwhelming at times since anyone trying to follow one of the other teams was startled by the force of cheers whenever Team Canada would make a shot.  Thankfully, the Canadian fans' zeal was not just for their team, but for their sport.  They were very gracious in explaining the finer points of technique and strategy to those of us in the stands who weren't life-long fans.

Kristen:  I am surprised to be saying this, but I thought curling was a blast.  We saw Canada play Great Britain, and the two teams are apparently the curling "powerhouses."  I expected the atmosphere to be like a golf tournament, but it was downright rowdy!

What was your most memorable experience at the Olympics?

Morgan: My favorite part of the trip was attending the events. I was especially excited to see the USA women's hockey team compete.  However, I have to admit the best hockey game we saw was between the Russian and Swiss women's teams.  They were competing for 5th place in the tournament, so I didn't expect it to be riveting.  I could not have been more wrong. The teams were tied after regular play and a period of overtime, forcing the game to be decided in a sudden death shootout.  It was definitely a stand-out moment in our trip.

Tom: Seeing the first ever Olympic ski cross race was certainly a stand-out moment.  With four racers on the course together, the competition can be very exciting to watch and I hope it catches on.  Overall, though, I would have to say that what I most took away from the Olympics was the general atmosphere around town.  There were people from all over the world who, despite their fierce support for their country, shared in the overall spirit of the games.  It was great to see groups of fans bedecked with their county's flag and colors - including a Swedish hockey fan dressed as the Swedish Chef from The Muppets.  It would have been nearly impossible to escape the festive mood on the streets.  Patriotism was the guiding theme, but cordiality and support for whoever won weren't far behind.  

Kristen:  Some of my favorite moments were the figure skating events I attended.  At the very last minute my friend and I scalped tickets for the final night of the ice dance competition, and it turned out to be our most exciting event.  A Canadian couple won – the first time a North American pair has ever won the event – and the Americans earned the silver.  Both gave amazing performances and earned huge standing ovations.  The women’s short program event was also filled with brilliant skating.  Nowhere was the Canadian fans’ support for their athletes more vivid than when Joannie Rochette took the ice and skated a fantastic program only a couple days after her mother passed away.  Seeing her performance and 11,000 people responding with tears and cheers louder than at any Canadian hockey game was something I won’t easily forget.   
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