Richmond residents were invited to re-live some of the city’s local and Olympic sporting past as the much anticipated Richmond Olympic Experience (ROX) opened exclusively to locals Saturday at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
And on Monday, the museum — billed as the first member of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Museums Network — which occupies parts of the Oval, was busy with visitors, as the city conducted a tour for local journalists to see the free and paid admission sections of the exhibits that have cost roughly $10 million to stage.
To kick off the opening, Richmond residents were offered free admission from Nov. 21-24. City spokesman Ted Townsend said that event attracted about 2,000 visitors over the weekend.
Expectations are there will be a steady flow willing to pay admission ($17 for adults, $13 for youth, $11 for children six to 12, and free for those under five) to view some unique Olympic artifacts and experience the five, high-tech sports simulators on hand.
Admission-paying visitors start with viewing a short film called Pursuit of a Dreamin a 50-seat theatre on the ground floor of the oval. The inspirational film highlights the journey various Olympic athletes endured to realize their goal of competing with the world’s best.
It covers a multitude of Olympic generations, from victories in the 100 and 200 metre sprints by Vancouver’s Percy Williams at the 1928 Summer Olympic Games in Amsterdam, to Canada’s gold medal in men’s ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
From there, a trip up to the Oval’s second floor provides free access to displays on Richmond’s local sporting history, as well as artifacts from some Canadian Olympians, such as the wheelchair used by Rick Hansen in Paralympic competition.
In the paid admission portion of ROX on the Oval’s third floor visitors can view interactive displays on touch screens leading to the main entrance.
From the three viewpoints along a mezzanine, camera-equipped video screens focused on the oval floor below serve a dual purpose, Townsend said.
First, they offer a close up look at ongoing activities in the building which houses a pair of Olympic-sized ice rinks.
And second, overlaid on the video screen images are pop-up information facts and videos that highlight particular parts of the Oval they are aimed at, such as where the speed skating track was situated. That was where Netherlands’ speed skating team dominated during the 2010 Games.
Then inside what is called the “core” of ROX is an array of interactive touch screens that provide historical information on the Olympics.
One of the busiest sections of the core exhibits contains the five sports simulators that allow visitors to try their hand at ski jumping, bobsleigh, kayaking, sit-ski, and car racing.
Townsend said car racing was included among the simulators since it was a demonstration sport at the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.
The ski jumping simulator aside, the other four were developed by Sidney, B.C.-based VROX Sport simulation especially for ROX.
In addition to the simulators, you can get to grips with some hands-on activities through a number of fun challenges that compare your results with Olympic level athletes.
They include a test of hand reflexes as you attempt to press buttons that are randomly lit up on a special wall display.
Hockey and soccer shooting accuracy are measured in another area. And measurements on the floor and wall compare your ability to leap distances horizontally and vertically.
For those wanting to see how they measure up as an Olympic Games broadcaster, a special booth allows you to record a video clip on the event.
And a unique, circular display area showcases all of the Olympic torches used in both the summer and winter games, including one of the very first ones used in the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin where Adolf Hitler is credited with coming up with the spectacle of a torch relay to officially open the event.
Meanwhile, the inner circle of the display shows winners’ medals from Games over the years.
More information about the ROX is available at theROX.ca.