Olympic Blog: Essential Equipment
Barbara Ferry, the director of National Geographic Libraries and Information Services, is in Vancouver with her family to watch the Olympic Games. She learned that while the athletes are assuredly bringing their high-tech gear, it turns out that the spectators have special equipment of their own.
Every Olympics has its essential equipment–items that everyone seems to have–or wants to get. I’ve heard that in the past pins were the thing, and I see some kids adorned but I rarely caught sight of any being exchanged. The exception was two ladies who had set up a make-shift display of dozens of pins from the United States and Russia near Canada Place — sort of a mini-détente. One nice Canadian also handed me a Robson Square pin when I inquired about directions.
For the Vancouver Olympics the it item is a pair of bright red mittens which are adorned with the Olympic Rings and Canadian maple leaf. They are everywhere, and were worn by the thousands at the indoor women’s hockey game on Sunday night (Canada vs. Slovakia, and Canada trounced the poor opposing team 18-0.) The mittens are a true Canadian item-created by Canadian Olympics Committee with proceeds benefitting Canadian athletes. I had expected to pick up a pair at Olympic stores or at a street vendor – the latter of which are noticeably lacking in Vancouver, which meant I had to hunt them down. Canadians told me they were available at “mall” stores not easily accessible to tourists without a car. I’d also heard also they are at the Vancouver airport (missed that opportunity) and in Whistler. The adult mittens were sold out online and are now being marked up 50-100% on sites like eBay. Finally, I tracked them down
at the Hudson’s Bay Company store on Granville Street. Just picked up ten pairs for family!
Other than the mittens, essential equipment includes, of course, tickets. I have yet to see a ticket scalper openly selling tickets – you are more likely to see someone with a sign saying they will “buy any Olympic ticket.” To keep the tickets dry and easily available for transportation and security checks, a specially sized lanyard is available at the hefty sum of $15 each. Despite the price, they are well worth the investment for kids and adults alike–I’ve already dropped my tickets in the rain once. Tickets can be used for free public transportation on the day of the event and it is helpful to have them handy without fumbling with a line behind you.
The other essential item is the Olympic cowbell. I’ve seen blue and white varieties with the Vancouver Olympics logo in local stores. Originally meant to cheer alpine skiers as they reached the finish lines, the bells can be found at almost any Olympic event. I’m ready to convert mine into a Christmas ornament at the end of the trip (two uses in one!).
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Finally, in Vancouver this February, required equipment must include rain gear. Weather umbrellas or ponchos, so far Vancouver has been either overcast, drizzly, or drenched. Umbrellas are tough for kids to handle in the crowds (learned the hard way with my ten-year-old son) and cannot be raised during outdoor events – ponchos work better all around.
Photos: Above: A pin détente between Russia and the United States; Below, Essential equipment includes lanyard for tickets, some sort of Olympic hat, cowbell and binoculars for those of us with nose-bleed seats. By Barbara Ferry