WILL COLFORD, SnowSeekers Inc.
Though my pin collecting became somewhat of an obsession, I am quite proud of what I’ve managed to acquire during the games. I am leaving the best place on earth tomorrow and it’s time to weigh in on exactly what I got and where I got it.
These are my top four favourite pins, each are rare and sought after; but more importantly, each one has its own story and memory of the Olympics.
Number 4: “I Feel Slovenia.” On our second night, we were invited to a media party at Slovinia house. You can see the whole thing on our video blog: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8AF6xtwEq0&feature=channel
The house was jammed. There was a wild mushroom and pepper soup like I’ve never tasted; Nancy Green gave the welcoming speech; everyone was excited for the Olympics to really get going.
One of the Slovenian volunteers approached me and we began speaking in a friendly manner. I felt bad because our entire team wore our Jamacian team shirts we got the night before. I asked to get a Slovenian shirt to better promote their team in the village. The volunteer peered around, squinted at me, and whispered in a thick accent, “come this way.”
She loaded me up with Slovenian swag and spirit, not even asking for a thank you in return. Like the pin says, I felt sLOVEnia.
Number 3: “The Volunteer Team pin.” The mascot pin was acquired on the Alberta Train. Though it doesn’t sound very good, this pin depicts a trail of lies. Early on in pin trading, I began to lie about the rarity of each pin in order to get better ones.
This tactic, however, backfired when I was in fact lied to and got swindled out of two truly rare gems. In fact, since that day I’ve been trying to track down replacements to no avail. The pin I got back turned out be something I could buy from 7-11 for a $1.25. Harsh.
Getting back to the Train, when I was supposed to be interviewing Katerina Witt – two time Olympic German Gold medalist for figure skating – I couldn’t help begin trading with a mother-daughter duo who both had the most supreme collection I’ve seen yet. They might as well have had diamonds draped around their necks. I instantly began salivating.
She opened the negotiating by going after the impressive looking, but truthfully dull, 7-11 hunk-o-junk. I talked it up just as it had been talked up to me and was able to snag two extremely rare beauties: team France and the mascot pin. It is, in fact, the volunteer pin and only those who volunteer at the Olympics receive it.
You can’t buy it, and no one gives it away. It was insidious, borderline villainous and against the spirit of the games, but I had to have it.
Number 2: “Clear green leaf with skier.” I saw this pin on a list of five most sought after Olympic pieces. After partying with some members of the USA Olympic team in Long Horns, I was ready for my bed. However, as soon as I stepped on the bus home, I knew it wouldn’t come soon.
Six Norwegian girls were celebrating their country’s success by belting out their national anthem. This sparked up the Canadians and an anthem war ensued. Moments like these are what makes the Olympics so great to be at. Eventually everyone fell into laughter, but I fell in love … with a pin.
It was perched on her touque like the idol in the first Indiana Jones movie. I delicately rubbed my fingers, and approached her. By this point I had many great pins, and had let go of my obsessive lying and swindling; I offered a very good trade.
She ended up with a U.S. Department of Special Security. Don’t know where it came from or really what it was, all I know is I haven’t seen another one.
During the trade, I noticed my stop about to pass; however, I was committed and decided I’d just do the whole loop if it meant getting this pin. The deal went down and we began chatting a bit more, as I now had lots of time. The girls, somehow, also missed their stop and asked the driver how best to get back.
This driver, most likely a volunteer, turned the bus around to make sure the girls got home okay. As it turns out, we missed the same stop. The driver’s kindness and willingness to go so far out of his way to help these internationals, just here to cheer on their country, will continually inspire me.
For this reason, I’ll continue to where this particular pin at home.
Number 1: “Ghana Ski Team.” Please read my full blog on the snow leopard:http://snowseekersblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-trail-of-snow-leopard
Writing these blogs in the media house one day, I was about to pack up, and head out to find some stories. Then I noticed a press conference with Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong and decided to stay. After hearing Kwame’s story of struggle and perseverance, they opened the floor to limited questions.
Already touched by his story, I asked him to speak more about the physical dedication it took to become a competitive Olympic skier in just six years.
He seemed like he’d avoid the question, then simply said, “I had to be my own coach, my own baggage carrier, my own physio therapist. If I got hurt I had to fix myself. It was such a difficult experience. I never want to repeat it.”
I’m not sure if a tear came to my eye or his, but the quiver and sincerity in his voice held back real pain. Kwame truly embodies what the Olympics wishes it could be. He is the enduring human spirit that reveals humanity’s true potential. Feel free to read his story and support his several causes by sponsoring a spot on his race jersey:
I know they’re technically just pins, but in some degree each one connotes a memory so much better than photos, or videos ever could. These pins are treasures; I am a rich man.
Stay tuned to www.snowseekers.ca/olympicnews for daily blogs, videos and more throughout the Olympics.
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