London Olympic Rowing – Best seat in the house

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front row, tv monitor, informed friends to discuss what we’re watching….

I went to London with CTV to be a Primetime studio analyst for the Olympic rowing regatta. This meant that while a team of people would call the races stroke by stroke as they happened, I would observe the regatta and explain what was going on in the big picture to the Primetime audience in Canada in the middle of the night in the UK.

To do this – I had one hell of a daily schedule. I was at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre from 8am-3pm to get a feel of what was happening at the regatta, talk to my international peers and watch all the incredible races. My actual work with CTV was in the evening. I would go into the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at about 7pm to prepare for the live Primetime show with Brian Williams. Depending on what time I was on – I was there until 2-3am.

I was very lucky to have a driver for most of my commuting. I had a hotel about 45min from the IBC – where I would sleep for 1-2 hrs by day- and another hotel about 30min from the Rowing course- where I would sleep 2-4 hrs by night. The drive between the two was never less than an hour, sometimes closer to 2hours, and once – when I had to take a bus and a train – it took me 3hours 20 minutes. The route between the two was actually incredibly scenic and I was driven by the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. One day- we went passed Big Ben as it chimed 3am… and then again later as it chimed 3pm –for nine days I was commuting a lot and sleeping only a little.

The regatta was amazing and my role was incredible. Continue reading

A sense of wow. In London and in the Olympic Village

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My second day in London and being at the Olympics is certainly living up to memory. It’s always bigger and brighter around them. These are my 8th Olympic Games and each time I arrive I am filled with a sense of wow.  I’ve been to three games as an athlete, three as the team mentor/athlete service officer and these are my second as media. When rowing starts I will be working on CTV’s prime time show with Brian Williams as a studio analyst. It certainly is a bit of a dream to be working with Brian – he has told the story of some many incredible Olympic moments – including my own.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried about keeping up with him!

Yesterday was a whirlwind of London tourist sites. I was with a group of my broadcast team mates and after getting settled into our desks and given our local cell phones we set out to orient ourselves – and frankly to start the process of beating jet lag. We watched the British Open over a long lunch in Canary Wharf, saw Big Ben, Canada House in Trafalgar Square, walked along The Stand to Leister Square, stopped at the Maple Leaf Pub in Covent Garden and then had dinner in Piccadilly Circus. Take that jet lag!!

When I first arrived here on Friday night, I thought just being in London and traveling around the city and seeing all the Olympic Venue signage and advertising made the Olympics seem so real. It kinda did – but after today – it’s even more real.  Continue reading

Lucerne and its lion

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I’m in Lucerne for the weekend to watch a World Cup rowing regatta. So so nice. So many friends and familiar faces – the last time I was here was in 2004 – but Lucerne is like mecca to a rower. There is something very special about racing here… it is like our Wimbledon.
On the way to the Rotsee where the regatta takes place is one of my fav places on earth. There is a monument – the Lion Monument that is a memorial to the Swiss guard who stood to protect the French king that they’d been hired- and swore to protect. (Louis XIV of the Marie Antoinette – Let them eat Cake fame… ) Of course the mobs overwhelmed and killed the Swiss Guard.  The monument is carved into an impressive stone wall – a cliff almost and shows a Lion who has been mortally wounded in combat. He is dying a valiant and brave death. Part of me always thought that high performance sport, and I guess specifically rowing, is like that. Before the race you know that you will need to throw yourself onto the sword. We choose to go into a battle that will feel like it’s killing us – and yet we do it anyway. In it’s peaceful way, it is brave and valiant. I used to stop here on my way to races that I was nervous about and somehow it made me feel brave and valiant too.

The joy of a local adventure – on a bike

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Kevin Wallace and his Gears team set me up on my new Cannondale Super6

More and more I’ve been getting on my bike. Around Toronto I’m mostly on a beat up old mtn bike because I think it handles the cracked up roads and sidewalks while allowing me to defensively ride amongst the cars. (Please Mayor Ford- don’t give up on dedicated bike lanes!) Recently, my partner and I got road bikes and we’re loving the freedom and the workout that they provide us. Urban, sub-urban and country rides – we’re having a blast.

My good friend Kevin Wallace (featured in all of my adventure racing stories) and the gang at Gears Bike shop have set me, and some of my Olympic peers up on some sweet Cannondale bikes. Gears hopes to show everyone how much joy and adventure can come from a bike – we all use them differently – for travel, transport and play… but almost everyone has ridden a bike with child like joy. If you haven’t been on one lately… give it a try.

I absolutely love this video (and the whole series of others) that Gears has put together.