Today I had the pleasure of hosting Chris Wheeler, a video journalist capturing the Olympic Flame as it makes its way throughout the country. I was asked by EEDC a few weeks ago if I’d be interested in the opportunity, and I said absolutely. I love Edmonton and I love meeting new people, so it was good fit for me! EEDC regularly hosts travel media from around the world, something that most Edmontonians probably don’t know, but which absolutely makes sense to do.
DISCLOSURE: I got paid for my time today, but I am not getting paid for this blog post.
Chris is the iCoke Torch Relay Reporter, a project of Coca-Cola, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), and Tourism BC. This is the seventh time that Coca-Cola has sponsored the Olympic Torch Relay! So far the videos have been getting lots of views and Chris says that as he works his way west, the excitement is definitely building.
I started today by meeting Chris at the airport. He was in Saskatoon until very early this morning, and I quickly learned that the last 75 or so days of his life have consisted of “wake up, shoot footage all day, then edit/upload/sleep/travel”. It’s a grueling schedule, but one that Chris is passionate about!
We first made our way to the new Art Gallery of Alberta, where we got a very brief tour amongst all the construction that is still going on. Chris interviewed AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, and I think was really amazed at how long he has been working to make the new AGA a reality for Edmonton. I’m very excited for the new AGA building, which officially opens on January 31, and I can’t wait to see it all finished!
Next we walked to Blue Plate Diner for a quick lunch – tasty as always! It was really interesting to hear from Chris about the places he’s been on the trip, and some of the challenges he has faced along the way. One of the biggest, of course, is bandwidth. Chris shoots all his videos in high-definition, so even after editing and finalizing a video the files are still quite large, and hotels typically don’t have the fastest Internet. It’s pretty amazing that Chris has managed to continue posting new videos every few days!
Our next stop was West Edmonton Mall, and more specifically, Sea Lions’ Rock. We didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out that Chris was able to get up close and personal with Pablo, the largest of the sea lions. Chris got to hug Pablo, and even got a big kiss! We also stayed for the scheduled show, something I haven’t seen in quite a while. It’s very entertaining, and is definitely something to check out at least once! Right after we left, Rick Mercer and Danielle Smith showed up for a shoot. Both Chris and I are RMR fans, but resisted the temptation to interrupt them.
Chris is in Edmonton all day tomorrow as well, filming the Torch Relay and related festivities (on ShareEdmonton). After that he’ll be on his way to other locations in Alberta and eventually, back to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Best of luck with the remainder of your trip Chris!