Olympic superfan Patrick O'Meara poses over a beer with SnowSeeker Rick MacDonnell.
- Feb. 24/10
For Patrick O'Meara of Connecticut, the Olympic Games have become a bi-annual event. After attending the Sydney Olympics in the summer of 2000, O'Meara has experienced every Olympics since, both winter and summer.
One might think that these vacations would start to become old hat after 10 years, but according to O'Meara, each one is as overwhelming as the last.
"I've now been to Sydney, Salt Lake, Athens, Turin, Beijing, and Vancouver," O'Meara said, "and each experience has been totally different to the ones previous.
"Each Games brings with it a different city, a different country – a different culture – so you're guaranteed a different feel each time. They've haven't gotten old yet."
If it ain't broke...
O'Meara isn't even sure how the adventure started. He decided to take his vacation in Sydney some 10 years ago, to coincide with the Summer Games, and he had such a good time that he just felt no choice but to relive the experience every other year.
"It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the Games. I can't imagine someone getting to see the Olympics up close and personal and not wanting to feel that again. If you're not affected by the atmosphere then there's something wrong there."
Decked out in a Team Finland hockey jersey – at a Team Canada game, no less – O'Meara proudly displayed his favourite aspect of the Games: the camaraderie, the community, the sense of togetherness and support that the different countries participate in.
He acquired his Finland jersey four years ago in Turin, Italy, during a hockey game between Finland and his beloved Americans.
After sitting alongside a group of Fins and laughing and joking and getting to know one another, O'Meara traded away his Team U.S.A. jersey for a Team Finland one.
So much for trading pins.
A toast to friendship
"As much fun as the events are, the village experience, the different music and stuff that you can see, the real fun is between people. It's sitting down at a bar with complete strangers and leaving with what feels like new friends."
When asked how his Vancouver/Whistler experience stacks up with the five previous, O'Meara had difficulty answering.
"It's hard, you know, comparing each one. Like I said, they're all so unique that I can't really compare them in a quality sense. What I can tell you is that the Canadians have been great, and that this place is as beautiful as anywhere in the world. I couldn't be more impressed."
As much as the different cities contribute to the experience of the Olympic Games, O'Meara's experience has been forever changed with the introduction of his children into the proceedings.
Aged five and seven, his two kids are already on their third Olympic Games. On this day, though, they were nowhere to be found.
"My wife took the kids to see one of the art galleries in the village. Pottery, sculptures, that sort of thing." O'Meara, instead, headed to the Brew House for a little hockey. "'Pick me up when you're done,' I said."
Grasping his beer and lovingly patting his jersey, O'Meara and I raised a toast to the Games, to hockey, and new friends.