The Paralympic Winter Games and Crashing into my Wife

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted and for good reason. We came over to Canada not just to have a good time and kayak with sea monsters but also to try and get work. The working holiday visa cost a fair amount of money, and I’d tried for a couple of months last year to secure work in my chosen profession whilst in Canada. Luckily for me, the Olympics were in town. But, unluckily,  it turned out I’d missed that boat by almost a year when it came to getting a cushy job behind the camera filming skiers flying past.  However, all was not lost. A rather helpful chap at the BBC pointed me in the direction of an organisation who were planning to run the only 24 hour live TV channel for the whole of the Paralympic Games, paralymicsport.tv, and said that they may need some help.

The Paralympic Games have always been a bit of an afterthought to the Olympics in my mind. The big gold medals have been won. The USA are crowned top of the table and everyone goes home to start planning how much money they can make in 4 years’ time.  Next thing you know, there are dudes with no legs doing the 100m sprint or the alpine downhill, and all the major broadcasters are back wherever they came from putting out re-runs of ‘The Apprentice’. 

Now, I might be wrong, but if I went down a really scary ski run as fast as I could, beat all of my able-bodied mates down to the bottom in record time, and then a guy/girl in a wheelchair came up to me and said “I bet I can do that”, I’d stick around to have a bit of a look. Not the major broadcasters though. BBC, NBC, CTV, Sky, the lot, ship out of there because no-one gives a crap about ‘disabled’ people when it comes to sport. It’s filmed by the host broadcaster to exactly the same standards as the Olympics, but hardly anyone beams it out to their citizens. Not even on the red button!

Under normal circumstances, sitting in my living room in Nottingham, I would have been completely oblivious to it, but this time around I did have a bit of a watch (only because I was there to broadcast it all to the world though, I would have needed a degree in investigative journalism to navigate my way to the miniscule, but good, coverage provided by the BBC. For future reference, don’t look under ‘Vancouver 2010’ – oh no, that would be sensible – look for ‘Disability Sport’).

Anyway, turns out, if you haven’t got any arms, you can be a good skier. Also, If you can’t walk, you can play one of the most entertaining sports I’ve watched for years – Sledge Hockey.  These athletes aren’t just filling  up some disabled quota and having a go, they are elite competitors who have not had a shot at the OLYMPIC games because they have the misfortune of being disabled in some way.  The evidence is there for all to see, as accessible as the bible, at paralympicsport.tv. We should have put these games out in parallel on at least *some* of our networks. Let’s say, the same amount of coverage as those claiming disability benefit?? We could actually crowbar Bargain Hunt or other sh*te like that out of the schedule!

Working as part of the TV channel was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, despite the 16 hour days! It was great to see my skills, developed through years in my job, put to good use. It’s just a shame only a select few got to watch the amazing output. Thanks to all the team (pic below) for making me so welcome.

Yes, they are playing the theme to ‘Bargain Hunt’ at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games

Dave_opening_ceremony

Me in the press box at the opening ceremony. I have my lighty-up wavy thing to hand!

11 gruelling days later it was all over, so Nich and I decided to head up to Whistler to get some skiing in before we leave this part of the world and head back to the UK. As you can read in Nich’s blog, I decided to purchase a GOPRO HD helmet camera to capture some footage on the slopes. It was awesome conditions on the second day and we found some excellent riding in the trees. The camera tells a lot of the story and you can see what it looks like here

A little mishap occurred when I put the camera on Nich’s helmet and then tried to board too close to her to get the best footage. You can see that here. No injuries, just a broken pole! The slow motion gives a great indication of how skis come off during a collision too. I’ve been watching it so much I’ve been accused of deliberately crashing into my wife so I can see what it looks like on camera! Who, me?? Never.

A great two days in all though and it leaves us with just a few days left here in Vancouver. We’re going to cram in as much as possible but we’re looking forward to coming back and seeing everyone next week! Especially looking forward to Chris and Kay’s wedding! That reminds me, I have a stag to organise. Taxi!
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