Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Favorites from the Sidelines

When it comes to the Olympics--summer and winter--I'm obsessed. A healthy obsession, at least in my mind, but you'll definitely find me glued to the TV for the two weeks of competition. And now in the electronic age, I'll also be online, hunting for any and everything related to the Games: gear, footage not televised on prime time, athlete bios, random facts, you name it. One thing that has been a favorite since I started tuning into the swimming events in 1992 is the Olympic fashions, especially those goods that Team USA sports during the two weeks of competition.

In 1992, it was the warm-up jacket the swim team sported atop the medal stand--don't laugh but I even tried to create the jacket myself with cloth-friendly markers and a Tyvex-like jacket that came in a kit. During the 1996 Atlanta Games, I had to have a set of warm-ups made famous by the women's gymnastics team when they won gold. Let's just say I was thrilled when I tracked down a replica at a Champion store near my aunt's house--still have the pants in my closet. And I bought some random Roots gear to support Team USA for Athens 2004. For Salt Lake in 2002, I managed to resist any purchases outside of Olympic pins but we might all remember how trendy those Roots berets were. The same holds true for 2006 and 2008, where I mostly ogled the designs and only wished for a reason to add them to my collection.

Not to bore you with all this history, but I thought it might help explain my shopping spree wish-list for the 2010 Games. When the Games opened last Friday, I was already pumped from some pre-Olympic goodies and gear information, but the opening ceremonies only fueled my fire. Here's some of my Olympic favorites, gold-medal worthy in my book:

Nike. I was hooked from the time they announced the medal stand look, but their Olympic collection has a few other favorites as well. The men's knit hat, the track jacket ($80) and the medal stand jacket ($175). Or the Zoom Fly Sister One+ ($110) with its special USA pattern unique to these Games and given to the athletes when they arrived in Vancouver.

Lululemon. It's not official Olympic gear, but the Lululemon hockey hat is one cool toque. It may look odd off the head, but it works. This Vancouver-based company almost had to come up with something to offer when the Olympics came to town, and they scored with this hat complete with tooth grease to make you grin like a hockey player. Also check out rest of the cheer gear that doesn't have to go into storage when the Games end.

Polo. Ralph Lauren is the official outfitter of Team USA for the opening and closing ceremonies and one look at the outfits Friday night and I'm hooked. For Torino, I was all about the Roots USA vest; this time I'm hooked on the Polo sweater and hat worn by the U.S. Olympians during their march into BC Place. The sweater is available online for $425 (a little out of range for my tastes unfortunately), but my eyes are still out for how to score the knit hat. It's not part of Polo's online collection of Olympic gear, but Meredith Vieira sported one on The Today Show, which leaves me hoping that they're out there somewhere.

Olympic Pins. Always favorites at the Games are the Olympic pins. From the basic to the unique, there's a pin that catches everyone's eye--or trade for one that does. Some of the best can be had at official Olympic stores especially those on-site in Vancouver, or check out what's available at this Canadian retailer.

Red mittens. The world is smitten with these mittens that made their debut during the Olympic torch relay. So much so that the media liked to report that they were flying off the shelves and hard to come by. These red mittens adorned with a white maple leaf in the palm and Olympic rings on the top of the palms are in high demand--already sold out online and hard to find in Vancouver--but available in vast quantities in other Canadian provinces. I should know--I desperately wanted to score a pair and lucked out when a family friend went shopping in Windsor, Ontario. Plus, what better way to help support Canadian athletes?

Olympic mascots gear. How can you not love the adorable mascots for the Vancouver Games? Quatchi the sasquatch, Miga the sea bear, Mukmuk the marmot and Sumi the animal guardian spirit are everywhere from T-shirts to plush toys to pins where they participate in Olympic sports. I love these guys!

It's a good thing I already purchased some pins and a mascot T-shirt when I visited Vancouver in October. Otherwise, I'd be rushing to purchase more than just those popular red mittens. What are some of your favorite 2010 souvenirs? Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

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