Thursday, March 18, 2010

Olympic Ice Hockey: Finland vs Germany

Vancouver, BC, February 19, 2010: After telling Mireya's sister, Maggie and her husband, Gary, that we were coming up for the Olympics, Gary did us a big favor by finding a pair of hockey tickets for a late game on Friday.

Men's Ice Hockey, just so there's no doubt about the playing surface, featuring Finland vs Germany.

There was no shortage of national pride and many colorful characters.

It never would have occurred to me to wear a Canadian jersey to an event that didn't feature Canadians, but that didn't stop these people.

Actually, as you can tell, the people in the stands were more interesting than the game on the ice.

After 20 minutes of watching the players warm up, the ice was resurfaced and the referees posed for the TV cameras.

That machine is called a Zamboni and what Canadian boy hasn't dreamed about driving one around the rink. They don't have Zamboni's in football and baseball. They have people who roll out massive tarps in baseball when it starts raining, but what's the fun in that? 

You'll notice two of the Olympic mascots on the Zamboni, Miga, the Sea Bear and Quatchie, the Sasquatch, which is what we call "Big Foot" in Canada. Both characters are based on aboriginal folklore. 

The aboriginal folklore and religion are an ingrained feature of BC's culture that is unmistakeable and unavoidable when you visit. Vancouver's airport is full of major aboriginal carvings and artifacts. Having a set of Olympic mascots based on this tradition was only fitting.

Game on, and Finland scores the first goal. The crowd goes wild.

There were pleny of scoring opportunities at both sides of the ice, but the Finnish team dominated and the game was pretty much over half way through the third period when Gary and I left.

The biggest star of the game was Teemu Selanne, number 8, who played for Anaheim and San Jose in the National Hockey League. Selanne assisted on the first Finnish goal, and that point made him the highest scoring Olympic hockey player in history. Teemu Selanne no longer plays in the NHL, but he is a national hero in Finland.

By far, the crowd and their national pride was the most interesting part of the evening.

The Paul Frank look. How charming. This young lady was sitting in our row.

Getting tickets wasn't easy, but it wasn't impossible either
Many of the events had tickets offered for legal resale on the official web site for triple their list price. One example was standing tickets for cross-country skiing, list price, $35, offered for $100 each. The other problem was that the tickets were going quickly. So, I said, "we'll go to any sport, any team for $150 each," just to get something. Gary found two hockey tickets for $150 each up in the nosebleeds for Finland vs Germany. Not your top-tier game, but Finland had one of the better teams due to the fact that many played professionally in Finland and practiced with each other regularly. Germany was kind of a lost cause in hockey, but, frankly, I would have paid to see Easter Island play Liechtenstein in European Team Snowball Fighting. Gary's saying to himself as he's reading this, "now you tell me!" 

Folks, there's no such thing as European Team Snowball Fighting (yet), so, as you can imagine, we were thrilled to get the hockey tickets. The list price was $80, we paid $150 plus 10% auction fee. The same tickets for an NHL game would have been around $40 each. We once paid $95 each to see Vancouver play San Jose and those seats were 10 rows from the ice behind the goalie. You can start to see how expensive some of these Olympic tickets were even at list price.

And what an ordeal you had to go through to get your tickets. See, there wasn't enough time to get them in the mail, and will call wasn't an option (I don't remember why), you had to go to one of the venues where there was a ticket office. Going downtown to GM Place was out of the question due to traffic congestion (GM Place is the major hockey arena, dubbed by the press as, "The Garage." Maybe it should be called the "Old Bailey" as GM was, you know, bailed out by the US and Canadian governments.) For the Olympics, GM Place was known as Canada Hockey Place. However, the old hockey arena, the Pacific Coliseum, was hosting figure skating and short track speed skating, is in a much more convenient location on the way to work for Gary, so he picked up the tickets there.

The deal was, if you had purchased tickets and then resold them, you didn't send your tickets anywhere, they were simply invalidated and a new set were printed on demand at any of the official ticket booths. As we walked to the game, we were offered tickets by many scalpers, but there was no way of telling if the scalpers' tickets were valid or had been invalidated through a resale.

Anyway, after all that, and after paying Gary for the tickets, Mireya generously gave her ticket to Gary so she could go shopping with Maggie. Gary didn't know Mireya was going to do that till about 2 hours before the game. What a pleasant surprise for him!

Copyright © 2010 David G. Kelly

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