With Rio Olympic Games coming up in August, it is only natural that I ask: have you ever travelled for a sporting event?
In distant 1981 I travelled for about two hours by train for a national figure skating championship in the former Soviet Union where I then lived. In 1998 I drove for about 5 hours to Long Island, New York to see Gymnastics event at the historical Goodwill Games (created in response to several boycotted Olympics).
This past March 2016 the WORLD (participants from 38 countries and the spectators from 24 countries) came to Boston for World Figure Skating Championships. I did not have to go far from my Boston suburb to witness the week of amazing skating and unforgettable sporting drama. The week at the Worlds reminded me of all the excitement of attending a premium sporting competition – especially the one I have been following on TV for years! It also fueled my interest in sports reporting.
I loved capturing the competition drama with my camera:
While I am debating a long-distance travel to Helsinki, Finland for Figure Skating Worlds 2017, I started looking for interesting sporting events near home.
Last weekend I headed to Toronto, Canada, for the Rhythmic Gymnastics Koop Cup 2016 held on May 13-15. This FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) approved event was hosted by Canadian Gymnastics Federation and Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics club – the oldest rhythmic gymnastics club in Canada. The event featured junior and senior international gymnasts (and groups) from 15 countries (with US gymnasts competing in the Aesthetic Group Gymnastics only).
I met national team members from Russia and Ukraine as well as several gymnastics legends and international gymnastics officials, brushed up on the Rhythmic Gymnastic Code of Points and watched three days of the most artistic of all sporting events that is rhythmic gymnastics. It was not easy to capture dynamic turns and leaps of the gymnasts (let alone the apparatus throws), but I managed a couple of good photos!
While multi-day sporting events take significant time (after all, this was the main reason of my trip!) there is usually time for some sightseeing (extending a trip for a couple of days before or after the competition would be of course ideal). Even the athletes find time for a quick walk between practices and competitions and find it necessary to “clear their heads”!
I spent a three-day very busy (but very satisfying) weekend in Toronto! There were gymnastics events scheduled on all three days, but with a little advance planning and a rental car, we managed to get ourselves acquainted with both Toronto and the city of Markham where we stayed near the event venue.
We arrived in Toronto late on Thursday night, but in the morning of our full day one (Friday) we took advantage of the beautiful sunshine and enjoyed a walk in the area known as the”Beach”on lake Ontario.
In the evening (after the competitions), we went on a culinary excursion in a charming Unionville area of Markham and thoroughly enjoyed our atmospheric Austrian dinner in the Old Country Inn.
On day two, we met our private guide Olga in Toronto’s Casa Loma Castle at 9 am to go on a three-hour (driving/walking) tour of Toronto. Olga took us through all the quirky and mainstream neighborhoods of this vibrant cosmopolitan city and we even had time for two coffee and dessert stops (which I cannot do without while travelling).
We made it back from the tour right in time for the start of the day 2 of the competitions.
In the evening of day 2 there was still time for a nice dinner at a formal Peter’s in Markham.
If you don’t have reporting and interviewing duties like I did in Toronto, you would even squeeze some shopping fun on day three (I spent my third morning of the trip interviewing gymnastics legends). We went to the airport right after the competition ended that day and I was in bed in my Boston suburb shortly after midnight.
If a big trip to a sporting event is not in your plans (or budget), you could still have a fun sporting day trip for yourself and your family by researching events at the arenas near you. You can look up the events via your favorite sport’s national (or international) federation webpages.
Quick Tips for Travelling to attend Sporting Events
1. You typically don’t need to attend all events in the competition to fully enjoy it (unless you want to, of course) – review the schedule and pick the ones that work for you. When picking your events, consider that for little kids, the closer in age they are to the competitors, the longer they can stay focused, so you may want to choose junior events (typical athletes’ age 13-15).
2. While tickets may be available up until the beginning of the events, good seats go fast. (I booked my World Figure Skating all-event pass 18 months prior to the event)
3. If you are staying overnight, try to book a lodging near the event’s site as the competitions may finish late at night (especially if you stay for awards ceremonies).
4. Make sure to go on the venue’s website and review the photography/video rules and what not to bring. You may be surprised. (For example, professional photo equipment is not allowed at USA gymnastics events unless you are an accredited journalist!)
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