Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, from the second night on, binoculars dangled from one of our necks anytime we left our hotel room. Our fourth night out, we were back at the Olympic Saddledome. There we watched as The Soviet Union crushed Czechoslovakia in ice hockey. The final score 6-1. It was at this same venue that we would also bear witness to the funny, but not-so-funny mishap of Hildy and Howdy.
The twin polar bear mascots dressed in cowboy attire meant to summon warm feelings of western hospitality, were seen everywhere throughout the winter games. We ran into them outside Nakiska and being the friendly hosts they were, they posed for a picture with Robert. Sure-footed around town, on ice, it was a different story. Between performances, the twosome would don skates and gracefully circle the rink waving to the crowds. As they were slowing down, about to exit, during one such break, Howdy’s skate caught an edge and he crashed hard and began to slide. Holding hands, Hildy immediately followed. The sound in the stadium was like that of a crowd’s exasperated sigh when a golfer misses an easy putt. Moments later however, applause rang out once everyone knew that they were okay… and they were safely off the ice.
On one of our last days at the Olympics, we traveled to Canada Olympic Park located on the western outskirts of Calgary. We were there to see the men’s Luge competition. After our experience at the women’s alpine races, we knew we needed to get closer to the action or we’d need a magnifying glass to make out the athletes in our photos, once the film was developed. We found a good spot and then waited. Poised with his camera, Robert snapped a photo of the German doubles team about to whoosh down the icy track. When the signal sounded they were off. Though not far away…all we saw was…a… blur… zooming by… at 90 mph. It was nothing like you see on TV.
We ended our time in Calgary just as it began. Gathered together once more, we shared stories over a farewell dinner with the entire group. Some of whom we palled around with and got to know better during our stay. And before parting ways, each of us received a parka, a Calgary hat and a medal to commemorate our time spent at this special event. A group photo capped off the evening.
From my journal: February 28, 1988 Redondo Beach, California
“Watched the closing ceremonies broadcasted from McMahon Stadium on ABC tonight…hard to believe we were actually there just a few days ago!”
It didn’t hit me until weeks later, how truly exceptional our experience there was. It was heart warming to see the camaraderie of the athletes as well as fans cheering them on. Whether winning an award or not, good sportsmanship always prevailed. It seemed that these games brought out the best in everyone, the athletes, viewers and fans alike. The Summer Games in Tokyo are now underway. What better time to come together and celebrate the best in all of us.