Gilday checks in from SochiSpeedskater pumped for Olympic races, not worried about terrorism
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014
And so Michael Gilday is letting us all know about what the Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia, is all about.
The Yellowknife speedskater got into Sochi on Saturday and had a chance to check out his surroundings and let everyone know about it through his Twitter account.
One thing which has dogged the games in recent weeks has been the issue of security. Organizers have claimed these Olympics will be the safest ever but two suicide bombings has put security under the microscope.
Before leaving for Sochi, Gilday said he was not particularly worried about it.
"Of course we are hearing a lot about it in the news these days, which isn't surprising as the games get closer," he said. "We've been assured by the Canadian Olympic Committee that every measure has been taken by the organizers of the games to ensure that Sochi will be safe for the fans and athletes."
He also said the Canadian team will have an RCMP presence who will travel with the team while they're there as an added measure.
"From what I'm reading, the amount of security measures and personnel who are in place already is impressive and probably unprecedented at an Olympics, so I believe we'll be safe," he added. "We've been told to expect that everything will take longer than usual since there will be security scans everywhere, but I suppose that is a good thing."
Gilday will be racing first in the men's 1,500-metre event this coming Monday and if you're up for it, it all begins at 2:45 a.m. MST with the heats. The semifinals follow at around 4 a.m. and the finals are scheduled for just after 5 a.m.
The Fieldhouse will be open to the public beginning at 2:30 a.m. for anyone who wants to join in with the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club and the Yellowknife Ski Club to cheer Gilday on. Both clubs have planned a sleepover for the Sunday night before the races begin, the idea of which came about late last year during the same meeting where the idea of the "I'm On Michael's Team" T-shirts came about.
Shane Clark with the speedskating club said both clubs have RSVP'ed their numbers and there will be a good crowd on hand when the festivities begin.
"The numbers right now for the sleepover stands at around 50, including kids and adults," he said. "We're going to set up sleeping bags on one side and have projectors and screens on the other."
Clark also said the city has allowed them to use the other field inside to have activities for the kids in the hopes of wearing them down to go to sleep.
"The user group who uses the slot late graciously gave that spot up so we could use it," he said.
Of course, the proudest people of all are Michael's parents, David Gilday and Pam Dunbar. They won't be making the trip to Russia to watch but David said they've bought a brand new TV, and will be recording it all when his son wins a medal.
David said it's a neat feeling to know his son is one of the best in the world in his chosen field and gets this opportunity.
"To think a kid from our town can do something like this," he said. "He didn't get to a lot of meets in high school, as you know, unlike southern kids who can go to competitions whenever. But to think a kid from the North competes with the best in the world every time and now gets to race at the Olympics is pretty neat."
Short Track Speedskating Schedule
Michael Gilday is competing in the men's 1,500m and 5,000m relay events. Here are the times the races will be happening, if you want to stay up for any of them
- Heats - Feb. 10, 2:45 a.m. MST
- Semifinals - Feb. 10, 4:04 a.m. MST
- Final - Feb. 10, 5:05 a.m. MST
- Semifinals - Feb. 13, 4:31 a.m. MST
- Finals - Feb. 21, 11:18 a.m. MST