Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In the Final Stretch

I've now finished my 2nd venue - canoe/kayak slalom at the Minden Wild Water Preserve. The course was set on the Gull River 3 hours northeast of Toronto. Luckily, I had a place to stay in Minden and didn't have to make that daily commute. The venue was so natural and unlike any other I've been to. The Venue Media Center was a tent with no air conditioning and more bugs than reporters. But it was also refreshing and fun riding a golf cart through the woods from one end of the venue to the other.

Now I head to soccer, which has already been going on for 10 days. This will be the first venue that I'm not running the (media) show. I'll be helping out the Venue Press Manager and he's got a team of volunteers that already know what they're doing. It's a much slower pace, with athlete interviews taking place only once every couple of hours, but it has the potential to get crazy during the medal rounds.

I'm loving my experience so far, but I'm excited for my 4-day vacation coming up where I get to be a tourist in Toronto with Teresa. I'm meeting a lot of great people (see my canoe sprint volunteer supervisors pictured above) and learning a lot about event operations. It's like some sort of Olympic summer camp.

Follow me on Twitter @nickolivier

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

One venue down, 2 to go...

After 4 days of racing, I said goodbye to the Welland Pan Am Flatwater Center. The Venue Media Center was packed each day as Canada, Cuba and Brazil racked up the medals. Everything went smoothly for me, except for a few late buses back home to Toronto.

An average day of Canoe/Kayak Sprint included taking the 4:45am media bus from the Main Press Center to Welland. I arrive 2 hours later and I'm on my feet for the next 7 hours, running across the venue, talking to media and coordinating with my volunteer team. I had the best team of 16 volunteers that anyone could ask for!

Now I've got one day off before heading out to the Minden Wild Water Preserve for Canoe/Kayak Slalom. What did I do on my day off? Slept, watched some PanAm squash, and rode Toronto Bikeshare, naturally.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#PanAmProblems


I'm writing this post from Niagara Falls. Well, actually the Canadian immigration office at the U.S.-Canada border at Niagara Falls. 

I somehow failed to obtain the work visa I need to legally work (and get paid) while I was passing through customs at the Toronto Airport. I guess that's my goof for not asking but they weren't supposed to let me in without one. 

I can't just go back to the airport either. I have to cross a border and the nearest one is Niagara Falls-1.5 hours away. Imagine having to go to the Grand Canyon to file your taxes. 

This photo was taken before my 6 hour wait for the visa. But I got it! Now time to get to work. 

Follow me on Twitter @nickolivier. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Traveling to Toronto

When I left my part-time gig as media director with USA Canoe/Kayak over a year ago, I knew there was a good chance that would be the end of my Olympic journey. And I was okay with that. 

But I was ecstatic to hear from an old Olympic buddy that the Pan American Games were hiring. I didn't know that he had been working for the PanAms as Director of Press Operations. 

The Pan American Games are like the Olympics, only for countries in North-Central-South America, and the Caribbean. It includes all Olympic sports, plus 8 more like bowling and speed roller skating. 

I applied for and was hired as Venue Press Manger for canoe/kayak and soccer. Each day I'll be in the sports' venue media center - like a stadium's press box. 

I'll be in charge of making sure the reporters have results and anything else they need. I've worked at past Olympics and Youth Olympics as a reporter or a press officer for a specific country, so this will be my first time working in media relations for the people putting on the Games. 

I can't wait to rejoin the Olympic movement and to experience Toronto for the first time. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

On to Rio 2016...?

Despite all the fun and Games described in these blog posts, there are times when the thought of going to another Olympics is not an appealing one. Between the hour long bus rides, the 30 minute waits for the bus and having to go through airport-style security about five times a day, nothing is easy. All the cool sporting events I was able to see occurred at the end of a long day of work and getting to and from the venue was an ordeal. This was time that could be spent working, sleeping or eating.

That said, I wouldn't trade it for the world. The Closing Ceremony renewed my energy to stay in the Olympic movement for as long as it will have me, or at least another four years. The Closing was truly a party, which wasn't always the case with the tight security surrounding this Olympics. John Lennon and Freddie Mercury even made appearances. Surprisingly, Brazil's portion of the ceremony was one of the more subdued segments.

Right before the Closing, I was lucky enough to score a media ticket to the gold medal men's basketball final between USA and Spain. Until then, I had been sticking to the less popular sports because I didn't want to take a seat away from a reporter who's actually working the event. But I couldn't turn down this opportunity. The game was close and the crowd was into it, but Kevin Durant and Co. were too much for the Spaniards.

I leave on Tuesday, which gives me the rest of today to have some non-Olympic fun in London. I think I'll go for a bike ride.

Click HERE for my latest photos.
Click HERE for my latest press release.
Click HERE to see the Universal Sports interview I helped set up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sprint to the Finish


London 2012 Round 2 starts Tuesday for me as the flatwater sprint canoe/kayak racing begins for Team USA. We have two kayakers. Carrie Johnson is a three-time Olympian who will affectively retire  after these Games to begin a four-year veterinary program at UC-Davis. The other, Tim Hornsby, is a first-timer whose girlfriend just finished 9th in the pole vault.

Since my last post, I have been able to watch tennis at Wimbledon, women's water polo, men's basketball, rowing and table tennis. It was the first time I had seen many of these sports live, but seeing tennis at the All-England Club was special. It's the closest I might ever get to experiencing Wimbledon. I watched the Bryan brothers advance in men's doubles and Serena Williams do the same in women's singles. Both would go on to win Gold later. I also sat on "Henman's Hill" to watch Federer v. Isner (USA).

In the lull between slalom and sprint canoe/kayak racing, I've been able to set up interviews with BBC World News and Universal Sports. The sprint canoe/kayak venue is even farther away than the slalom venue, and the races are in the morning, meaning I will have to leave my dorm at around 6am to get there in time. I'm not sure if I'll have any time for sightseeing, but if I do tops on my list of things to do are Tower of London and trying out London's bikeshare system. Somehow I never saw the Tower of London during my semester abroad in this city.

Click HERE for my latest photos.
Click HERE for my latest press release.
Click HERE to see the BBC interview.
Click HERE to read one of the stories I helped set up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Olympic Reunion


When I'm not out at the faraway canoe/kayak venues, I'm generally at the Main Press Centre in Olympic Park or at my dorm at the University of East London - Docklands Campus. Seems like everywhere I go I run into people I know - some I expected to see, others were a surprise. It was the first time for me to meet 5 of the 7 canoe/kayak Olympians, two coaches and one of my co-workers. Then there's the 11 other Young Reporters that I knew from our adventures in Singapore and Austria. Then there's the good folks at the U.S. Olympic Committee and the other U.S. press officers at other sports. To think it all started with an internship in 2009.

Sadly, all five U.S. slalom athletes were knocked out of competition in the qualifying rounds, many in heartbreaking fashion. After a very busy first two days of competition, I find myself with more free time than I'd care for. Still, I'm working to garner as much media attention as possible while I am in the same city as these athletes. The two U.S. sprint athletes begin competing next Tuesday.

Yesterday, I was able to venture out into Central London for the first time. Olympic Park is in a part of East London that no tourist would have gone to before now. I was glad to finally see the London I knew from my study abroad experience in 2008. I was able to catch some beach volleyball near 10 Downey Street, where the Prime Minister lives. As I write this, I'm sitting in the press area watching Argentina take on Pakistan in field hockey. If I get a full day off, I'm thinking of going out to Wimbledon to watch some Olympic tennis.

Click HERE for some photos. More photos.
Click HERE to read one of my event recaps.
Click HERE to read one of the interviews I helped set up.
Click HERE to watch kayaker Caroline Queen's final run.