How in the world does a long-time high tech professional end up directing the operation of one of the most unique and stress-inducing sporting facilities on the planet?... a bobsled track! And how during that journey does said techie co-author a children’s book with his wife based on that exotic sport?
Answers to both questions begin with my favourite mantra… “WHY NOT TRY?”
With Vancouver bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games back in 2001-2003, and with me growing restless with my life near the epicentre of the high tech world, I decided it was time to pursue a career change. I am a lifelong sports fan and weekend warrior, who loves the impact that sporting events can have on the pride of the communities and nations who host them. So after volunteering for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation for a couple years, while holding down a demanding tech job, I decided in 2007 that it was time to quit my tech career cold-turkey and focus on landing an Olympic job… “why not try?” By late 2007, I did land that job, just as our first child was about to be born… there is nothing like daring to change up one’s life in several major departments all at once!
The job was a business development role, working to try to ensure that three new sport venues being built in Whistler would not end up as unused, or financially failing, white elephants after the Games had come and gone. It was a fascinating job, filled with high-highs and low-lows, that taught me a ton about the amateur sport world and about the Olympics and sport event hosting. The tragic fatal crash of young Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili, during a training run on the day of the Opening Ceremonies of the Games, cast a shadow that will never leave those of us who had poured our hearts into bringing the Games to our region, and even more so on those of us who had helped to bring Whistler Sliding Centre to life. And yet somehow we carried on, and hopefully honoured young Nodar, as we worked hard and witnessed dramatic victories by Canadian athletes, and wonderful stories of American, British, and German triumphs, over the two weeks of Olympic competition on the track.
The year before the arrival of the Games, my wife, Talya, and I penned a children’s book, during the naps of our two year-old daughter during a getaway vacation. The book, titled “Bobsleigh Jellybeans” would be illustrated by, Chris Ripley, one of the bobsleigh athletes from a Canadian development team of four young men, who we billeted in our basement when they came to Whistler to train. The title and plot having been stimulated by them once mentioning that their red speed suits made them look like big, red jellybeans. It is a story of friendship, teamwork, and following dreams, and the book’s proceeds went to assisting with training expenses of our new speed-demon friends. We all had a lot of fun with the somewhat accidental project; book readings in schools, a few media appearances, and some solid book sales. And we all learned a few things about becoming self-published authors, illustrators, and marketers. Once again, “why not try?”… good things can happen when you put yourself out there.
Becoming the director of a bobsled track, soon after the close of the Olympics and just two years into a sports world career, has got to be the most bizarre of my unorthodox professional endeavours! Although I only stayed in the role for a year, I learned a lot, including about my own ability to employ personal resilience, adaptability, and team building skills --- and that being a test dummy for tourist bobsleigh and skeleton sliding programs is both exhilarating and pretty hard on the spine!
The entire Olympic and sliding sports world experience was a wild ride and one that I will always cherish, despite some very trying times along the way! Yet again, it demonstrated to me that trying new things and not listening to naysayers was both a challenging and rewarding way to live.
Santé (to health), Paul Shore
PS: Bobsleigh Jellybeans is still available today --- including as both a paid print book, and a FREE eBook, on Amazon --- reviews on Amazon much appreciated!
Uncorked will touch, amuse, inspire and evoke fond memories of travel to fascinating places.