It's now been roughly a month since I've made my return from South Korea, and notwithstanding an unexpectedly lengthier than anticipated playoff run by daughter and her Queen's University hockey teammates, things are settling back to normal.
Understandably, the questions still arise, almost daily, about my Winter Olympics experience in the South Korean city of Gangneung. And almost daily, I seem to find myself raving about my entire 17-day stay, often times stressing just how wonderfully they treated us.
It struck me the other day that I have not necessarily explained to family, friends and acquaintances who exactly “they” were when it comes to the 2018 Winter Olympics. In my particular case, I will suggest that “they” were everyone – everyone that I came into contact with, from my arrival at Seoul Airport on Feb. 6 through to the end of my flight back to Toronto.
“They” certainly included the entirety of the folks involved with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the crew that not only invited me to attend these Games in my role as an ITO (International Technical Official), or effectively, a hockey scorekeeper, but also served as my co-workers, sharing relatively tight confines within our specific venue.
Their attention to detail in every single phase of the process really helped to put my mind at ease. If the goal within the service industry these days is to exceed customer expectations, the folks within the IIHF accomplished that in droves.
From a seamless flow-through upon arrival, to accommodations and various needs (transportation, meals, information sharing, etc...) throughout my stay, the IIHF absolutely outdid themselves in terms of ensuring that our entire adventure would be a positive one. Little surprise that I returned to Canada with a bevy of email contacts, and a resolve to try and ensure that I make the effort to touch base from time to time.
“They” absolutely must include the South Koreans with whom I interacted, both those who I worked with on a daily basis within the hockey venue, but also those involved either as Games volunteers, throughout the city, and even the residents themselves. I had been told that they would be extremely gracious hosts, and they definitely did not disappoint.
“They” would have to encompass the entire “hockey” family at Kwandong Arena, the folks with whom I shared countless hours a day. Even the contacts that were made with each and every one of the women's teams that were present – coaches, team managers, support staff – all conspired to make the whole wonderful journey a memory that I am sure to cherish for the rest of my life.
Randy Pascal is a freelance sportswriter in Greater Sudbury and the owner of SudburySports.com.