Villani Calls Vancouver Olympics ‘Richer’ Experience

* Mike Villani, the Voice of APD, is a long-time police department volunteer and friend. He served in the broadcast booth at the winter games.

by Michael Villani

It could be the only ending to these Cinderella games of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada skates past the USA, in overtime, to win the Hockey gold medal. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a grander, more exciting finale to these past 17 days of fierce competition than the one the world watched on Sunday.

Villani bids farewell to the games

Canada’s hockey triumph, on the last day of competition, just hours before the Closing Ceremony, was the country’s 14th gold medal – a record for any one country in the Winter Olympics.

I was on my way home when the final score was announced. The boos and groans from the mostly American group of passengers reflected their total disappointment in the final outcome. The cheers from the small amounts of Canadians scattered around the cabin, however enthusiastic and heartfelt, nonetheless paled in comparison to what I saw on TV, at home, later that afternoon. Vancouver was utter bedlam, with hundreds of thousands of delirious fans clogging the streets and bringing traffic to a virtual standstill.

Whew, I got out of Dodge just in the nick of time!

Mike Villani announces an APD award winner

Someone asked how these Olympics compared with my time at the Summer Games in Athens and/or in Beijing. Without blinking an eye, I told them “NO CONTEST!” This was by far the richer, more rewarding experience.

I had heard that Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged the usually reserved Canadian people to express pride in their country enthusiastically. No problem there, as we all witnessed these past two weeks. Their exuberance was infectious, and I’ve come home with a warm remembrance of my time with these proud people and their beautiful homeland.

With that said, I am very happy to be back in my “hood” with my wife Patti, my family and many friends who sent so many messages of encouragement and support. For that I am grateful.

I would also like to express my gratitude to my announcing partner PJ Kwong. Her’s is the beautiful voice you hear throughout the competition. Without her recommendation to the International Skating Union, I would have been home watching the Games like all of you. Thanks Peej…love you.

Congratulations to Team USA for their triumphant showing, winners of 37 medals at the Vancouver Games. For the youngsters who didn’t do as well as expected, they’ll work tirelessly for the next four years to be on the podium in Sochi, Russia – as will I, to again be able to report to you from The Games.

Voice of APD ‘Hears Skaters Blades as They Carve’ Down the Ice

* Mike Villani, a long-time Anaheim Police Department volunteer, is broadcasting figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This is his most recent dispatch.

Voice of APD Mike Villani with long-time international skating announcer and figure skating coach PJ Kwong

After having watched three days of Olympic Figure Skating competition: Sunday, the Pairs Short Program; Monday, the Pairs Free Program; and Tuesday night’s Men’s Short Program, I’m pleased to report I now know the difference between a Beilman Spin and a Bracket Turn.

If you were watching you saw some outstanding figure skating drama as American Evan Lysacek used his allocated four minutes, 30 seconds in the free skate program to deliver a flawless performance in the men’s competition to win the gold medal.

An equally stunning performance by Evgeni Plushenko of the Russian Federation secures him the Silver, and the Bronze went to Diasuke Takahashi of Japan. The difference in the point total at this level of competition is so tight; any one of these three could have taken the top prize.

But, let me put aside figure skating for a moment to let my readers know this city (Vancouver), this province (British Columbia) and this country (Canada) are simply going just NUTS for these Olympics!

The initial fire was lit some seven years ago when Vancouver was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host these XXIst Olympic Winter Games. The flame continued to burn brightly during its 106-day journey across this vast country and an almost-flawless opening ceremony.

Then, last Saturday, all of a sudden it was like someone threw a can of high-octane jet fuel on the torch as moguls champion Alexandre Bilodeau made history by becoming the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on his native soil.

Sunday night, when Bilodeau was presented his medal in a ceremony at BC Place, several of us were having dinner just down the street in Yaletown, Vancouver’s trendy, upscale, renovated warehouse district.

A number of streets in that area had been blocked off and the ebullient revelers were out in force, waving the Canadian flag, singing their national anthem and, in general, totally engulfing themselves in the glory of their heritage. As for me, it was extremely heartwarming to be surrounded by a display of such unabashed national pride and spirit.

Back to figure skating. As breathtaking as it is to watch on TV…It’s even more stunning to see in person, especially from one of the best seats in the house.

I’m so close to the action I can almost count the number of sequins on the elaborate costumes. I can hear the skaters’ blades as they carve their way down the ice. I can clearly see the looks of anguish when they stumble or fall, as well as the pure joy – with a grin from ear to ear – as they stick a Triple Axel or a Triple Lutz. The grace and fluidity that the more-talented skaters possess is pure magic to watch. Oh yeah…and they’re paying me to do it.

The Chinese where hard to beat in the Pairs and claimed both Gold and Silver; with the Germans winning Bronze.

I had Wednesday night off as short track took the rink. I went to watch what some call “Roller Derby on Ice” and saw the legendary Apolo Anton Ohno skate. Believe me, he is exhilarating to watch as he hangs back in the pack until just the right moment and then explodes in what seems like a cosmic burst of sheer power to jump way ahead. Amazing athleticism! Speaking of which, congratulations to Team USA’s Lindsey Vonn (Women’s Downhill Skiing) and Shaun White (Snowboarding) for their respective gold medal-winning performances. The American medal tally keeps rising as I report from The Games.

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