While most Canadians were glued to their TV sets watching the gold medal hockey game between Canada and the U.S.A., Const. Dennis Munroe was in an airplane, heading home after his own Olympic experience.
The Advocate resident officer was one of the few RCMP officers selected for the security detail during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. As a sports fan, he said he was pretty excited to find out in January that he had been selected.
"If I wasn't there, I would have been watching it on TV, so it was one or the other," said Munroe, who arrived back home on Feb. 28 after a 22-day assignment at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Munroe was part of a contingent that provided perimeter security around the venue, which hosted the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events. Located a bit further up the mountain from the entrance, the officers focused on maintaining the integrity of the secured area, making sure no one got in who was not supposed to.
"Where I had trained with snowmobiles with the RCMP, they used to do a perimeter kind of thing, and that was basically our role," he said.
Although Munroe was not present when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a tragic practice run on Feb. 12, he said the death impacted everyone there, placing a gloom that affected the venue and everyone involved with it.
However, once the Games began to roll, he said the positive atmosphere created was something he had never seen before. Even though he and the other officers remained focused on their work, it was impossible not to become a part of that positive vibe.
"You can't help but get caught up in it a little bit," he said. "Our duty is to look after, but, at the same time, everybody is aware of how the Canadians are doing all around us at different venues."
Although he did not get to witness moments like the gold-silver finish for the Canadians in women's bobsleigh, or skeleton racer Jon Montgomery's gold medal win, he felt it.
"You could tell the energy and the support for Canadian pride kept going up and up every time something would happen," said Munroe. "Unfortunately, the gold and silver for bobsledding was a little overshadowed by the Canada-Russia hockey game, but that was the first time that happened to Canada in a sliding event, so it was pretty special, and the same for when Montgomery won his gold."
Looking back, he said he thought the security effort went incredibly smooth, especially considering the logistical planning that would have been necessary to manage the 15,000-member detail.
The demands of switching from day shifts to night shifts resulted in long hours and not a lot of off-time, Munroe soaked up what he could in the Whistler village. While some of his mates had tickets to events or went skiing on the mountain, he spent a lot of time picking up souvenirs for folks back home.
While he does not have any particular "star moments," he said it was just nice to see all the athletes enjoying the experience.
"Enjoying sports so much, you see athletes so much on TV, but then you see them walking down the street like you and me," he explained. "That was quite an amazing thing for me to see the athletes doing their souvenir shopping like everyone else."
His only regret seems to be missing that gold medal hockey game, which he described as the perfect way to end the games from a Canadian perspective. He called home during a stopover at a Montreal airport and learned the result from his wife.
Overall, he is thrilled to have had the experience.
"I worked a lot of long hours, but at the same time I was pretty happy," said Munroe. "It was pretty special, and those are memories that I will always have."