Saturday, February 27, 2010

SNAPSHOTS: Moments from a Kid Reporter's Trip to the Winter Games

by Brennan LaBrie

Spending a week in Vancouver, B.C, is fun in itself, and even more so during the Olympics. And being there as a reporter is better yet!

As a spectator, I got to see so many wild and interesting things. The town was splashed with the Canadian colors red and white -- groups of guys even wore flags as capes. Sides of buildings were used as giant TV screens to show games and broadcasts. Cheers echoed through the streets when gold was won by a Canadian.

People wore wild hats and painted faces, and high-fived strangers. Streets were closed off and filled with art and performers. The sky train rolled past on tracks above us.

Jugglers and music -- and even fireworks --filled the center of town. Seaplanes landed on the water. People traded collector pins. Sausages roasted on roadside carts.

From a bridge that spanned a waterway I could see two giant ball-shaped buildings reflected in the water, and hundreds of small stone inukshuks lined the shore.

As a reporter, I got to see things in a very different way. I got to see inside massive media centers, go through security checks, walk straight into venues without waiting in line, ask questions of famous athletes at press conferences and spend time with them afterwards, and meet crews from the big news stations, which was just as fun.

My home base while there was the British Columbia Media Center in Robson Square. Rows of steps lead down to a public square where events and activities surrounded an ice rink where skating was free. Overhead were glass domes, roads and a zipline suspended four stories above the square. People waited in line 5 to 9 hours to shoot through the sky for a 12-second ride they will remember forever.

As part of the media, I got up close to the Olympic flame sculpture, Fire and Ice, which was kept at a distance from the public. My interviews lead to being interviewed myself, and I got to be on TV in places as far away as Russia, Australia and Mongolia. I got to see professional newsrooms and hold giant TV cameras. I worked alongside journalists from all over the world as we typed out our stories at night.

I enjoyed special moments that are like snapshots in my mind: meeting JR Celski (short-track speed-skater) in a coffee house on a rainy day, and talking with snowboarder Hannah Teter on a very sunny balcony and holding the silver medal she had just won. Dashing to a press conference with my credential tags flying. Boarding a luxury train at sunset after a great day in Whistler.

And some of the best moments were with my mom, Colleen, who made me laugh so much at the end of a long and busy day. That -- and of course watching her cling to the zipline harness in terror as she shot through the sky holding my video camera like I'd talked her into!

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