Richmond councillor recalls competing at 2010 Olympics

As part of the Canadian Olympic team, Coun. Alexa Loo’s memories of the 2010 Olympics are possibly more personal than most people’s.

2010 was the now-Richmond city councillor’s second time competing at the Olympics in snowboarding.

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The feeling of being at the Olympics is different from any other competition, Loo said; partly because it’s a multi-sport event; partly because it’s not a pro event and there’s no prize money; but, most importantly, just because “it’s the Olympics.”

There was a strong sense of camaraderie at the Olympic Village among the international athletes, said Loo.

“Even if you don’t necessarily understand their sport, you understand what it took for them to get there,” she added.

At the Vancouver Games, Loo competed in the parallel giant slalom. The day of her competition was one of torrential rain and strong winds.

Loo qualified for the round of 16, but finished 12th behind her nearest rival, Anke Karstens from Germany, by one one-hundredth of a second — which translates to one hand-length.

Later, she and her rival compared their arm’s length and Karstens’ was exactly one hand length longer than hers.

“She has a big, tall German dad; I have a small Chinese dad,” Loo said.

But Loo’s favourite moment of the 2010 Olympics was when her best friend, Jasey-Jay Anderson, won gold for Canada in men’s parallel giant slalom.

Loo and Anderson had been teammates for 12 years. She had watched him compete and win on the world stage, but he had never made it onto the Olympic podium. He was one of the best snowboarders in the world, Loo said, so, watching him win gold at the 2010 Olympics and get on the podium “where he belonged” was the best moment of the Games for her.

“If you can’t win yourself, you like the people you love to be able to do it,” Loo said.

While there were detractors of the Olympics leading up to the Games, Loo said, in the end, the city came together to celebrate.

“Leading up to it, there were a lot of people who were naysaying the whole thing and not that excited about it, but once the Olympics actually got here, the whole spirit and the buzz (was) everywhere,” she said.

Large sporting events engage the community and show the next generation what is possible to achieve - that it’s possible to reach high levels of athleticism, Loo explained.

“When we have top-level competitions right here at home, we have the opportunity for kids to see excellence and what’s possible,” Loo said. “When they see people who look like them doing it, and people who live in their neighbourhood, they (say) ‘I can do that — I can aspire to do great things.’”

Leading up to the Olympics, Loo visited Homma elementary several times, talking to the students about the upcoming Games, serving a role model for these young people.

In May, after the games were long over, 35 girls from Homma elementary attended her wedding at St. Joseph’s in Richmond.

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