Vancouver Olympics, factories and climbs

Yesterday the UC Sport Studies tour spend a day in, around and above the city of Vancouver. There was shopping, factory visits, Olympic venues and a big hill climb.

The day started with a quick trip to Mountain Equipment Coop, one of Canada's most renowned outdoor stores to provide students with an opportunity to restock and supplies they might need for the adventures ahead. We then headed south to the Richmond Olympic Oval (http://richmondoval.ca), site of the 2010 Olympic speed skating. The 400m speed skating track was housed in a large single roof venue, the roof covering an area of nearly 6.5 acres. Sustainability is a key feature of this venue with its conversion to a large multipurpose community sporting facility being the main legacy to the area. The venue is huge and accommodates a range of sports which is also versatile. We saw it as 2 ice hockey rinks, 6 basketball courts, a fitness centre and the venue for the Vancouver Open, an international badminton tournament. The use of local wood is another example of sustainable practices but also provide a beautiful looking roof.

Next we headed to the Arc'teryx (www.Arcteryx.com) head office, a high end outdoor clothing and equipment company. We were provided a tour of the head office and had the process of product design right through to sales explained. They are currently working on the Fall 2014 range, but we got a sneak peak at the 2013 range. We then headed off to the local factory, which makes 30% of the entire range with other factories spread around the world, including the USA to meet requirements for their US military contracts. The factory was fascinating, and hot, as we got to see the hundreds of steps involved in the process of hand making each high performance jacket. The workers are mostly paid on a per garment basis and the skill and speed displayed at each work station was very impressive. This is not how most of us viewed a jacket getting made and getting an insight and tour into the factory floor provided a new appreciation to what goes behind our clothing we take for granted. Since we all signed large non-disclosure statements we can't say much more than that ;)

Last stop for the day was the infamous Grouse Grind. Grouse Mountain overlooks Vancouver offering spectacular views and is a regular hike for a dedicated few of Grouse Grinders. The Grouse Grind (http://www.grousemountain.com/grousegrind) is a very popular hike which is surprising in a way - 2.9 km, 853m climb, 2,830 stairs! The record up is around 23min, most of us were over an hour and it's brutal. We were rewarded however with dinner with those stunning views at the top. No doubt everyone slept well last night.

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