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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Beat the chill with Grey Cup zipline thrills

Wristband system should reduce wait times for popular attraction

By Jamie Hall, November 23, 2010 6:38 PM

EDMONTON -- Fun. Fast. Freezing. The zipline strung 24 metres above Edmonton’s Sir Winston Churchill Square — to be known forthwith as Huddle Town for the duration of the Grey Cup Festival — promises to be all those things when it opens to the public Thursday morning.

It also promises would-be thrill seekers the ride of a lifetime, if what happened at the Olympic Games in Vancouver earlier this year is any indication. There, nearly 9,500 people stood in line for up to six hours for a free ride across Olympic plaza in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The zipline was featured in dozens of newspaper stories and TV reports around the world, including the Oprah Winfrey Show. It proved to be so popular, it remained up beyond the 17 days of the winter games, and continued operating through the nine days of the Paralympic Games that followed.

“When we saw how popular it was in Vancouver, we thought: ‘Why couldn’t we do one here, for Grey Cup?’ ” said Mike Long of Capital Power, which is sponsoring the zipline. “We think it’s going to be one of the main attractions of the festival.”

Long offered himself as a “guinea pig” during test runs of the zipline on Tuesday morning, when the temperature hovered around -30 C, without the wind chill. He described the experience in a single word: “Fantastic.” Long said the freezing temperatures didn’t play a factor at all. “Once you start climbing those stairs, you don’t feel it.”

Long was also outfitted with a zipline-cam by Journal photographer Bruce Edwards to give riders a preview of what they can expect.

By the time the zipline begins operating Thursday morning, it will have undergone extensive safety testing, inspection and certification. All riders must sign a waiver. The restriction for ridership is dependent not on age but on weight; riders must be at least 60 pounds, or 28 kilograms. The launching platform is eight storeys high and located near the City Hall clock tower. Riders will be secured into a harness at the base of the platform by members of the military, who are volunteering their time. They’ll then climb to the top, where they’ll be attached to a wire before beginning a 162-metre journey along the east side of Churchill Square/Huddletown, a distance longer than a Canadian Football League field. They’ll reach speeds of up to 60 kilometres an hour before coming to a stop a mere 20 seconds later at a three-storey tower near the Three Bananas Cafe. There is no charge for the ride, but donations to the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre are welcome.

The same company that supplied the zipline in Vancouver — B.C.-based Ziptrek Ecotours — is responsible for the one in Edmonton. The company runs two five-line zipline tours in Whistler, where it has been in business for about eight years. Last year, it opened a zip tour in Queenstown, New Zealand, and is contemplating an expansion to California.

Festival organizers here, meanwhile, have come up with a system designed to get as many people onto the ride as they can, and in as fair and equitable a manner as possible. A set number of wristbands will be distributed three times daily; at 10:30 a.m. for the 11 a.m.-to-2 p.m. rides; at 1:30 p.m. for the 2 p.m.-to-5 p.m. rides; and at 4:30 p.m. for the 5 p.m.-to-8 p.m. rides. (The zipline will close at 2 p.m. Sunday, so no wristbands will be given out beyond 11 a.m.). Once the wristbands are gone, they’re gone.

“We know there’s going to be far more demand than supply,” says Long, “but this is the most equitable way to do it, to ensure that everyone who wants to has a chance to come down and get a wristband.”

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Holy grail of Canadian football arrives in Edmonton

Grey Cup trophy has busy week before Sunday’s game

By Jana G. Pruden, November 23, 2010 10:39 PM

EDMONTON — Dozens of people milled anxiously around Edmonton International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the week’s most important visitor. After a couple of minor delays, it was time.

Coming through the doors, the much-anticipated guest was swarmed as excited onlookers, giddy children and a crush of media moved in close. One man strained through the crowd just for a touch, while others clapped and cheered.

Not bad for a 101-year-old trophy.

The Grey Cup arrived in the city by plane on Tuesday afternoon, and will spend the coming days making appearances at virtually every football-related event in the city in the lead-up to the trophy’s namesake game on Sunday.

This week will be the latest chapter in the storied history of the famous cup.

The trophy has been presented at 97 previous Grey Cup games, and has endured fire, theft, being sat on, a head butt, and a variety of other adventures and misadventures — some well-documented, others only rumours.

The cup is North America’s oldest sports trophy and an iconic symbol of Canadiana, broadly known to many as the Holy Grail of Canadian football.

“This is Canada,” said Air Canada employee Terri Spelliscy, grinning after having her picture taken with the trophy at the airport on Tuesday.

The trophy’s home is the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton.

But the Grey Cup is on the road around the country for much of the year. After the Grey Cup game on Sunday, the winning team will have two months with the trophy before it returns to Ontario.

The Grey Cup travels in an unassuming dented metal box marked with “fragile” stickers. It travels in the cargo hold of the plane, but its handlers are with it immediately after it is unloaded.

The box is unmarked, allowing the cup to travel incognito at times.

Ed Valtenbergs, one of the two men who will accompany the cup this week, says it’s fun when people realize they are so close to the famous trophy,

“It is pretty neat,” he says. “They’re like, ‘I’ve got the Grey Cup in my trunk? I’ve got the Grey Cup in my hotel?’ I think people are just flabbergasted.”

Throughout the week, Valtenbergs and the other handler, Rob Morrallee, will never be much further than arm’s length from the cup, as it is touched, viewed and photographed by thousands of people. Morrallee calls his “the greatest job in the world.”

But caring for an iconic — and irreplaceable — Canadian artifact is also a grave responsibility, one Morrallee does not take lightly.

With the trophy out on display, Morrallee is ever watchful, immediately stepping in if someone tries to pick up the cup, and delivering a firm “no” if someone touches the handles.

“The handles are fragile,” he explains. “Very, very fragile.”

Morrallee wears white cotton gloves when he pulls it out of its case, then quickly buffs it to ensure it is not clouded with fingerprints.

During the evening, the trophy gets the full treatment, sometimes up to two hours of polishing, to ensure it will look it’s best the next day.

“This is what I do all evening. I sit down and put on the TV and I polish it. That’s my evenings with the Grey Cup,” Morrallee says.

“It’s not all glamorous, I’ll tell you that right now. I polish it so that the next day it looks as good as it did the first day it got there.”

At night, the trophy is locked in its case. Morrallee sleeps with the key.

Sometimes, sitting alone with the cup in a hotel room, Valtenbergs says the sheen wears off a bit.

“It’s weird. You see it so often, you always realize how lucky you are, but I guess eventually it’s like being a bodyguard for a celebrity. It’s like, ‘Yep. This is my job,’” he says. “But then there’s the reaction from the people when you go out. It’s a fun gig.”

But Valtenbergs won’t have much alone time with the cup this week.

The trophy has a rigorous schedule for Grey Cup week, with engagements starting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and continuing about 18 hours a day until it is presented to the winning team on Sunday.

“Starting tomorrow, it’s go, go, go,” said Mark DiNobile, executive director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ricky Ng was one of those who stopped for a picture with the cup. Ng said he was surprised he was able to get so close to it, and was nervous because he didn’t want to damage it or knock it off the table.

“It’s really amazing,” he said. “It’s one of the most historic trophies here. I’ve never been so close to a sports trophy ever.”

Working at the airport, Spelliscy has seen plenty of celebrities, but she said being close to the Grey Cup was more exciting.

“It makes me feel very important,” she said. “Like I’m a VIP.”

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Edmonton warms up to Grey Cup

Downtown Hot to Huddle fun for the whole family November 23, 2010 Be the first to post a comment

This illustration shows what Churchill Square will look like for Grey Cup celebrations.

Here are some of Wednesday and Thursday’s Grey Cup Festival activities open to the public:


Hot to Huddle kickoff party, 5:30 p.m. at City Hall

Sneak Peek of Epcor Huddledome and Scotiaband CFL Experience, 6-8 p.m.

Boston Pizza Sports Bar in Churchill Square, 4-11 p.m.

True Grid, a one-act play about football fans, premieres at 8 p.m. at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre


Huddletown opens (99th Street and 102A Avenue), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Capital Power Zipline runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Scotiabank CFL Experience —

family-friendly interactive activities, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Epcor Huddledome — family-friendly interactive games, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

CN Field — in front of city hall, daily football games

Gridiron Zone — Sponsor displays and booths

Boston Pizza Sports Bar in Churchill Square, open to 11 p.m.

Telus Streetfest (99th Street) — entertainers include Brian Melo, The Dudes, Helix, Stereos, George Canyon, 12:15 p.m. to 8 p.m.

True Grid, a one-act play about football fans, 6 p.m. at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre

Pro Player’s Award Show After Party — 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Edmonton City Centre Mall, underground parking lot. Live DJs

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Saskatchewan Roughriders arrive in Edmonton

By Murray McCormick, Leader-Post November 23, 2010 11:09 PM

EDMONTON — The Saskatchewan Roughriders recorded the first touchdown of the 2010 Grey Cup.

The CFL's West Division champions did that Tuesday at the Edmonton International Airport after making the 60-minute flight from Regina. The Montreal Alouettes, who are to face the Riders in Sunday's game at Commonwealth Stadium, were to arrive late Tuesday night.

"It feels great,'' Riders quarterback Darian Durant said after being greeted by a small but boisterous group of fans. "You play the game to get to this point. You set yourself up in the regular season and ultimately this is where you want to be.''

It has been a whirlwind two days since the Riders upset the host Calgary Stampeders 20-16 in the West Division final at McMahon Stadium. The Roughriders returned to Regina late Sunday after their flight from Calgary. They spent Monday and Tuesday preparing for the trip to Edmonton.

"I've gotten some sleep, but I don't know about my assistant coaches,'' said Riders head coach and vice-president of football operations Ken Miller. "They've been hitting the football beat pretty hard. I've been doing a lot of things not related to football.''

The Riders' nine assistant coaches didn't accompany the players. They were to arrive later Tuesday evening.

"This way, they were able to stay in their offices and use copiers and printers,'' Miller said. "That way they could come at the end of the day, instead of breaking it up. They are also heading into an unfamiliar environment and this allowed them to work in peace and quiet.''

Workmanlike was the Riders' demeanour as they walked into the arrivals area. They acknowledged the cheers of the fans and then took time to sign autographs as well as dealing with the media.

Most of the players were dressed in suits. If not for the reception, they could have passed for a group of large and very athletic-looking businessmen.

"We came here last year and it was my first time and I didn't know what to expect,'' Durant said. "I know what to expect this year. We'll take a different approach this time and try to come out with the win.''

It's the third time in four years that the Riders have reached the Grey Cup. The Alouettes beat the Riders 28-27 in the 2009 Grey Cup in Calgary. Montreal advanced to this year's Grey Cup with a 48-17 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in Sunday's East Division final.

Durant said Tuesday that he has benefitted from his experience as the Riders' starting quarterback in 2009.

"It helps because you know how to handle practice schedules, the media and the different obligations that may come about,'' Durant said. "The main thing is knowing how to spread your time out. You have to do what you need to do football-wise and fulfil your other obligations.''

The Grey Cup festivities officially kick off this morning with the head coaches' media conferences. The Riders are scheduled to practise Wednesday, 9:45 a.m., for the first time since Sunday's win.

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Edmonton's Grey Cup party kicks off

Festival kicks off at Churchill Square

By Mariam Ibrahim, November 25, 2010

EDMONTON — Her face painted red, white and blue and a giant team flag in her arms, Miss Alouette hollered and cheered as she anxiously awaited the kickoff for Edmonton’s Grey Cup Festival in front of City Hall Wednesday evening.

“I came here in 2002 and we won,” said Miss Alouette, Daniele Beaulieu. “I came this year and we’re going to win again.”

All around, pounding pop music greeted football fans who flocked to the downtown core to take in all the excitement.

“I love the game atmosphere,” said Beaulieu, who travelled to Edmonton from Montreal for the festival and game. “The people are really fun. The CFL football fans are really the best”

Against the backdrop of the iconic City Hall glass pyramid lit in green and gold, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon helped kick off the festivities to cheering approval from the hundreds gathered.

“It’s amazing,” he said afterward. “The people in Edmonton know how to rally around a great event.”

Fans got a chance to catch a glimpse of the Grey Cup as it travelled through the crowd to the podium, just before hundreds of volunteers burst into a choreographed dance set to tunes like House of Pain’s Jump Around and Guns ‘N Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle.

As the mob’s dance moves wound down, necks craned toward the sky to take in a dazzling fireworks display that ended in a noisy and colourful confetti-like finale.

Churchill Square has been transformed into Huddle Town, where football fans can take in a variety of indoor and outdoor displays and activities until Sunday’s big game. Activities will be open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for people to see our great city, but it’s really about the Grey Cup,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel, who was on hand for the kickoff. “It’s really a Canadian institution. It’s about having fun.”

And there’s no shortage of fun to be found in Huddle Town.

For people willing to brave the frigid temperatures, a thrilling ride 24 metres in the air on a 159-metre zipline will give riders a blast of adrenalin and sweeping views of all the action.

For those more inclined to enjoy the football frenzy without risking frostbite, Huddle Town features plenty of heated tent space.

The festivities also include a Canadian Football Hall of Fame display and the Scotiabank CFL Experience, an interactive football activity zone.

Having been to Edmonton for a Grey Cup festival once already, Beaulieu said she knows she can expect to have a lot of fun with other football fans from across the country.

“The people in Edmonton, you’re good hosts.”

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ridermania sweeps Edmonton Grey Cup parade

By Jennifer Fong, November 27, 2010 7:01 PM

EDMONTON — Officially, it was a Grey Cup parade.

But it might have been more accurate to describe Saturday’s cavalcade through the heart of downtown as a show of Rider Nation.

All along the parade route looping west from Churchill Square down 102nd Avenue and back east again on 103rd, fans — dressed predominantly in green and white — waved Roughrider flags and held up paper signs that read “Go Riders!”

Before the procession even started, crowds were breaking out into impromptu “Let’s go Riders” chants.

In the parade itself, there was even more Saskatchewan mania, represented by cheerleaders, a pep band, a marching band and contingents that seemed to have no official designation, except that they were backing the green and white in Sunday’s championship game against Montreal.

“We want the Cup! We want the Cup!” went the cheer from one such group, bearing signs that read “Sky of Blue; Sea of Green” and “Canada’s Team.”

What the Alouettes thought of that claim was uncertain — few signs of the Montreal red and blue colours could be seen on the streets and the Als’ cheer team created only a minor blip as they marched by.

“Every corner of Saskatchewan has Rider pride,” explained Brad Martin, here from Regina.

“Everybody cares and it brings people together. That’s what being a Rider fan is,” added his wife Deb. “You can go in a strange city, see a flash of green, and you’re going to acknowledge each other.”

Seeing the Canadian Forces Snowbirds zoom overhead was a highlight for the longtime Riders fan, who was also looking forward to seeing her team’s pep band go by: “They’re awesome, and that’s when the Rider fans get in behind them and you join the parade.”

While the Tycholis family are Winnipeggers, they too were here cheering on the Riders — most of them, anyway. Ten-year-old Hunter Tycholis is a B.C. Lions fan through and through, because “my first Grey Cup I went to was in 2006 and (the Lions) won it.” Despite having a broken arm, Hunter was adamant about making his third pilgrimage to the Grey Cup and hopefully, get some autographs from his favourite players.

The Grey Cup parade is always a good time, said mom Estelle Tycholis, no matter who you’re rooting for.

“It’s part of the Grey Cup spirit,” she said. “Every time, we try to make it out to the parade. It’s part of the weekend.”

Indeed, the parade represents the entire CFL, said Patrick Mongovius, in town from Saskatoon with his twin brother Paul.

“Being here symbolizes a nation coming together,” said the 18-year-old. Fittingly, the parade ended with a giant Canadian flag.

Still, there was no denying what brought Mongovius and many of his fellow fans here. “My favourite part so far?” he said. “Anything to do with the Riders.”

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D & Y
125,407 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alouettes win second straight Grey Cup

By Mario Annicchiarico, November 28, 2010 10:55 PM

EDMONTON — The offensive showdown never materialized, but that certainly didn’t detract from a hard-hitting, exciting finish as the Montreal Alouettes claimed their second straight Grey Cup title, a 21-18 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Avon Cobourne’s two-yard run at 7:14 of the fourth quarter allowed the Alouettes to pull away and become the first team to repeat as champion since the Toronto Argonauts did it in 1997, also in Edmonton, and also in a win over the Roughriders.

This victory came before an announced crowd of 63,317 fans, the largest crowd to watch a Grey Cup final in Edmonton and the fifth largest attendance in the Canadian Football League championship game.

It also came against the Riders in a repeat of the 2009 Grey Cup in which the Alouettes won on a last-play field goal after Saskatchewan was called for too many men.

Cobourne’s insurance-scoring drive, that went seven plays for 81 yards, was extended when an interception by Saskatchewan linebacker Byron Bullock was called back as he interfered with Ben Cahoon with less than 10 minutes remaining. Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo then found Jamel Richardson for a 37-yard catch down to the two yard line where Cobourne finished it off to make it 21-11.

The Als needed the insurance as Darian Durant connected with offensive lineman Marc Parenteau on a two-yard touchdown pass at 11:32 of the fourth quarter to cut it to 21-18.

Montreal kicker Damon Duval had hit a 42-yard field goal 1:37 into the final quarter to give the Als a 14-11 lead. Duval missed a 40-yarder in the final two minutes.

The Riders had a final chance, but Durant tossed up an ugly interception to Billy Parker with 55.7 seconds left, after escaping a sure quarterback sack. It was the only turnover of the game.

What certainly began like it could have been an offensive explosion quickly fizzled out as the Roughriders’ peculiar brand of defence caused fits for Calvillo and Co.

The Alouettes opened up a 7-0 lead 5:39 into the first quarter on a three-yard run by Cobourne as the Riders were pinned deep for most of the opening 15 minutes. Then Duval missed a 31-yard field goal, wide right, to make it 8-0 Montreal at 11:14.

The momentum seemed to shift from that point on.

Saskatchewan running back Wes Cates went airborne from one yard out to cut it to 8-7 on the final play of the first quarter. The score was set up by a pass interference call on Montreal defender Chip Cox in the end zone.

Warren Kean then gave the Riders their first lead of the game at 10-8 on a 27-yard field goal at 3:10 of the second quarter as Darian Durant started to find some success, picking away at the Montreal secondary.

Saskatchewan punter Eddie Johnson recorded a 53-yard punt single with 59.8 seconds left in the opening half and the teams went to their respective dressing rooms to attempt to adjust with the Riders up 11-8.

Riders’ linebacker Jerrell Freeman made the biggest impact in the opening 30 minutes with three tackles, including a quarterback sack and two pass knockdowns, the second looked like a sure interception but he failed to squeeze it.

Local product Keith Shologan, of Rochester, Alta., just an hour north of Edmonton, had a pair of sacks for the Riders, who fell behind for the fourth straight time.

Durant was 11 of 19 for passing in the opening half for 143 yards including a 40-yarder to Cary Koch. Calvillo, after a strong start, was 11 of 18 for just 116 yards in the first 30 minutes.

Penalties cost the Alouettes dearly as linebacker Cox was called for the pass interference to set up the Riders’ first score and he was also tagged for a face masking call in the second quarter.

Montreal’s defence, which vowed to put pressure on Durant, failed miserably in that regard. The Saskatchewan QB had so much time that Bachman and Turner – the halftime show — could have written a new song.

Duval tied it up at 11-11 at 9:26 of the third quarter on a drive kept alive by a direct snap to Eric Deslauriers.

NOTE: Alouettes receiver Jamel Richardson was named the outstanding player and Shologan was named the top Canadian.

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