seeing blue (ice) + gold at Vancouver 2010

I believe the Olympics have highlighted social issues we have here in Vancouver. And Canada. And the World. With or without the Olympics. They’re issues that need to be talked about. And I’m glad we’re talking about them. But I’m not willing to let that interfere with my respect for the Olympians – past and present (*with a nod to my godfather, former Olympic gymnast and judge).

The Olympics. The spirit of them. The passion of them.. I support that whole-heartedly. Go Canada. Go World.

Kaen Valoise as an urban Olympic ski-jumper

When the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics kicked off, The Ice Cubicle liked how Vancouver writer and budding playwright Kaen Valoise contrasted the lead-up to the Olympics and the Games themselves in a Facebook note, excerpted above.

So when I found out that Valoise had been enjoying not only the athletics but also the glowing, blue presence of ice in Vancouver – mild-weathered, coastal Vancouver! – I asked her for photos! thoughts! stories! and she graciously guest-blogged the following.

* * * * *

My friend Miranda and I walked all over this fine city, and checked out lots of Pavilions – including the Bell Ice Cube. Although the obvious corporate focus did make us hesitate, we were surprised with a truly fantastic experience! Of course, timing was also on our side.

As we arrived, we were handed a free pair of excellent quality headphones, and entered the large cube of a room all decked out in white. (Even the complimentary headphones were white!) From the ceilings hung long white wires – some with tiny white lights, and others with plug-ins for our headphones, so we could listen to one of several massive plasma screens that covered the walls.

In the centre of the room were waist-height podiums with screens and headphone plug-ins. These offered a small selection of short features, and we chose the “Athlete Profiles” option.

We plugged in and were instantly charmed by the terminally sweet Maelle Ricker. We giggled as she admitted to being an accordion player, inspired by an accordionist she saw during Vancouver’s World Expo in ’86.

We then turned to one of the massive plasma screens, and I noticed a new Snowboard Cross race was about to start.

We strode over and plugged in, and whaddya know: Maelle was one of the racers! You can imagine the charge of excitement we felt as we watched our new favourite Olympian win the gold!

The 31-year old, a two-times X-Games champion, who was fourth at the 2006 Olympics, raced to victory at Vancouver 2010.

It was a very thrilling race and the whole cube roared with cheery joy as she charged through the finish line! What a rush!!

The next day, I found my way to a local fancy shmancy restaurant, Monk McQueen’s in False Creek. Though not a place in which I would typically hang my hat, they had a very special feature I made a point of visiting: an Ice Lounge! The fee ($20.10, which includes a complimentary beverage) was a bit expensive, but in my world worth every penny!

Since first reading about Quebec’s ice hotel years ago, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of relaxing in a sub-zero climate. I mean – don’t we usually relax after releasing ourselves from the frosty outdoors? That I should be able to enjoy a -5 climate in Vancouver – whose temperatures only very rarely dip below zero – was even more of an unusual treat.

I giddily donned my big and fuzzy rental parka and stepped into the Great White North! The space was tiny, and I wondered if it served as their walk-in freezer when not decorated up as a lounge..!? But the limited capacity made it more cozy than crammed. A handful of ice sculptures decorated the space without threatening to take it over, and there was an ice bench draped in animal furs. (Luckily, I’m not a member of PETA)

The Ice Lounge serve drinks in an ice goblet. This was too challenging to firmly grip while wearing my mittens, but a bit too cold to hold without them. My solution? To drink quickly!! But then again, that’s pretty much just my general style anyway.

When I was there, the space was deserted. A moment of calm between two large groups, one which I watched leave, and another I watched arrive as I was preparing to leave. The sparseness gave me a moment to talk with the very kind and interesting bartender.

As I left, I wished a little that I’d gone with friends – a small group could easily have “owned” the space, and made it feel like our very own little frozen party! I hear they are thinking of keeping it open beyond the Olympics, so who knows, we might have our chance.

guest blogger Kaen Valoise a Vancouver-based writer, budding playwright and passionate theatre-lover who breathes deeply, laughs loudly, lives fully and loves blatantly.

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