In the Olympic Spirit

From my journal: February 15, 1988 Redondo Beach, California

“In two days we leave for Calgary to see the XV Winter Olympics!….Can’t wait!”

We arrived at the Calgary International Airport on the fourth day of the 1988 Winter Olympics and were bussed into the city center with a dozen of other Apple Computer folks, who like Robert, had earned this reward trip. Assembled at the Carriage House and Conference Center, we enjoyed a welcome buffet dinner and were introduced to the rest of our group, about 40 of us in all. Coming together for this international event had everyone buzzing with excitement. Speculation about which athletes and teams would take the gold, what the venues would be like and how the weather would hold up were some of the many conversations flitting around the banquet hall. Just before retiring to our rooms, we were issued items we’d need for the next six days. Among them, badges, maps, bus schedules, a pair of binoculars and finally the coveted ticket packet!

The highly anticipated competitions that year included the Battle of the Brians and the Battle of the Carmens. Canadian Brian Orser and American Brian Boitano were going “toe to toe” in the men’s figure skating contest.  East Germany’s Katarina Witt and the U.S.A.’s Debi Thomas both skating to Bizet’s “Carmen”, were vying for the gold in the women’s division.  Another hot ticket was ski jumping as Britain’s Michael Edwards, aka Eddie the Eagle was set to perform, as well as Italy’s Alberto Tomba in the alpine race. The other widely publicized contest involved bobsledding. People couldn’t stop talking about the Jamaican Bobsled team making their Olympic debut.

With all these sporting events happening, we could hardly wait to see which tickets we got! Yes, we’d be visiting the Olympic Saddledome, yes we’d be going to Canada Olympic Park and yes, we spend time at Nakiska!  What we’d be watching was… Men’s Ice Hockey, Ice Dancing Pairs, Women’s Alpine Skiing and the Men’s Luge. Still, the Olympic spirit was palpable and we were thrilled to be there!

Nakiska Ski Area in Calgary

Bundled up we took the Tour Canada West bus early the next morning to Nakiska. Scouting out a place to stand, we opted to climb up a snow embankment behind a red orange mesh fence. Robert readied his camera when we heard the announcement. We’d have to wait another day to see the defending World Champion Maria Walliser of Switzerland race by us. The women’s downhill competition was being postponed due to high winds.  So we headed back to the Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary and did what spectators, reporters, athletes and volunteers alike have taken part in since 1896…and that is, the fine art of pin swapping! 

Calgary ’88 Pin
Apple Computer Pin

Astounded by the vast number of tables set out displaying tiny, colorful enamel pins, “pin heads” those wearing hats covered in them, made easy banter with anyone who happened by. Red pins emblazoned with a snowflake, Olympic rings and the words Calgary ’88 in gold to corporate pins like the multi-colored striped Apple Computer ones we carried, were everywhere to be found. There was truly something for everyone. Not only did people take an interest in these souvenirs, but also in every person they encountered. Where are you from? Have you been to Canada before? Which events do you have tickets for? By day’s end we figured we met at least fifty people and amassed just as many pins!

After our long day on the trading floor, we shuttled over to the Olympic Saddledome. Inside, we began our trek up to our seats. Way up. Way, way up!  So far up with outstretched arms we could touch the ceiling. Well, almost. We settled in quickly and prepared ourselves for the big event…the elegant sport of…Ice Dancing!  Camera – check, popcorn – check, and drinks – check.  Looking down at the ice just then, it dawned on us that we forgot something. That item, sitting on the table in our hotel room was a pair of high-powered binoculars. We soon realized that there was a very good reason they were given out at the start of our trip!

Tiny Ice Dancers!!

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