The Games wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of the Olympic volunteers – and Vancouver 2010 boasted an extraordinary team of 18,500, who were eager to help and easy to spot thanks to their eye-catching blue jackets.
The Olympic volunteers gained praise from all quarters for their enthusiasm, helpfulness and cheerful demeanour during the Games, including VANOC CEO John Furlong and IOC President Jacques Rogge.
Furlong paid tribute to the “tireless, smiling, ‘blue-jacketed’ volunteers” in his speech at the Opening Ceremony, while Rogge gave “a special thanks to the thousands of Games volunteers for your enthusiasm. Without you, none of this would be possible.”
The athletes were unwavering in their praise for the volunteers too, especially for the work they did on the slopes of Whistler and Cypress Mountain.
“The volunteers have done a really good job. They're working really hard at it,” said Canadian skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis. “The conditions were great. There’s no way I thought they would be in that good a condition with the weather we’ve been having.”
Cross-country skier Oeystein Pettersen also highlighted the work of the volunteers following the men’s individual sprint.
“The conditions have been perfect all day. The volunteers have done an amazing job,” said the Norwegian. “The weather, the mountains – it’s been great.” New Zealand’s Sarah Murphy, meanwhile, was in the unique position of having her mother as one of those wearing the ubiquitous blue jacket. “My mum’s a volunteer, and she was there at the finish line, which was so unique and amazing,” said the cross-country skier. “She gave me a big hug.”
One athlete at the Games even knows what it takes to be an Olympic volunteer from personal experience. American figure skater Mark Ladwig was a security volunteer at Salt Lake City in 2002, but is now enjoying being at the Games in a different capacity.
“It feels very cool to have a credential around my neck – it’s just another colour,” said the 29-year-old, who finished 10th in the pairs figure skating with partner Amanda Evora. “The experience now is going to be inside the rink looking out. Actually, one older volunteer here came up to me and said, ‘Now I have to come back and compete at the Games’. I told him that curling was definitely for him.”
Whether or not that particular volunteer does make it back to compete at the Games, he – and the thousands of other volunteers – played an integral part in making Vancouver 2010 such a success.