It's all over, and it ended more with a whimper than a bang. The bronze medal game finished 4-0 for China, with South Korea never looking dangerous and China scoring one goal in each period plus an empty-netter right at the very end. And the gold medal game went haywire during Canada's first power play of the game, with the score still 0-0 just over halfway through the first period: the USA scored a two-on-none shorthanded goal to take the lead, and then 25 seconds later, the Canadian goaltender came well out of his crease passed the puck right to the USA's Brody Roybal, who basically scored into an empty net for another shortie to make it 2-0. Just a catastrophe, and the USA went on to win 5-0; I'm virtually certain the USA would have won anyway, but that was brutal. Canada came closest to scoring when Sami Jo's husband Billy Bridges hit the post; I was trying to watch the first period highlights on the OBS Player website during the first intermission and couldn't get the Player to work, so I went to YouTube and accidentally found the live CBC feed on which Sami Jo was actually being interviewed that very minute, so that was weird! (I was WhatsApping her yesterday before and during the game, and she seemed pretty nervous and anxious; haven't heard from her yet since the game ended.)
I was pleased with my performance in both medal games. After having been terrified of providing color commentary during the Olympics, I think I've really embraced that role during the Paralympics and was getting rather good at it by the end, although I think part of my confidence in that was knowing that far fewer people know more about para ice hockey than me now relative to the number of people who know more about non-disabled hockey than me. I think the reason I was most disappointed by not being able to call the gold medal game was for resume-related purposes - e.g., I'd like to be able to demonstrate that I was picked for the final on merit, whereas it's tougher to explain that (and expected to get work because) I was picked to do color for the final because I was really good at it - rather than because I desperately wanted to call the game myself. And as it happens, I wound up leading (doing PxP on) the Victory Ceremony with Rob in a supporting role, a suggestion I made which Rob readily agreed to, on the grounds that a) I was more familiar with the running order for the medal presentations from the Olympics, and b) I had all of the stats and player information in a form whereby I could rattle through every player on all three medal-winning teams very quickly and leave Rob just to chip in regarding the star players, rather than the other way around. I think that was the cleanest medal ceremony I've been involved with, and that too was a reason I'd wanted to do PxP on the game itself, because I knew I could help the postgame stuff flow really well.
Anyway, I managed to snag a ticket for the Closing Ceremony that was on offer, so that was my first opening/closing ceremony I've attended at an Olympics or Paralympics - and I'm so pleased that I got to do that, despite all of the logistical hassles involved. The ceremony itself started at 8 p.m., but the last media bus to the stadium left at 5:10 p.m., so there was a lot of chilling out (literally and figuratively) before anything started happening. But I managed to sit very near to where our commentating trio was positioned, at the ARD/ZDF (German TV) commentary position that wound up not being used, and had a monitor I could watch in addition to the live spectacle unfolding in front of me - a perfect way to enjoy the show. And it was a very tidy ceremony, over and done in about an hour but with some lovely moments and touches. (The sequence beginning around 40 minutes in with the timpani players on the virtual clock on the stadium floor beneath them was particularly breathtaking, and worth seeking out on YouTube etc. if you haven't already seen it.) After taking many bus detours early in the day, particularly insofar as I'd left my ticket in my hotel room and unexpectedly had to go back to fetch it, we got back to the IBC surprisingly quickly after the ceremony was done...
...and then nearly all of us wound up hanging out in a third-floor common area before going down to the (24-hour) hotel restaurant to order food and watch the Arsenal-Leicester match on my laptop via Sky Sports and my VPN connection until nearly 3 a.m. There were only 10 of us commentators and two supervisors involved with the Paralympics, and everyone got along brilliantly together - not a bad person in the bunch - so it was a wonderful social experience in addition to a fun commentary experience. We've got one last block of time together between when we're all done packing and our bus to the airport at 9 p.m.; Rob is already gone, but the majority of us are on the same Beijing-to-Istanbul flight departing at 12:50 a.m. overnight. And when I get back home, the first thing I'm going to do is make a volleyball demo tape, because Clayton - my HCM who is a former Team GB player and oversees a lot of international volleyball commentary - says there is work available in that regard. And Clayton is also involved in picking commentators for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile next year, and he has a contact at the Asian Games who will know what might be happening vis-a-vis Hangzhou later this year, and I might have some Korean baseball on the go when their season starts in a few weeks' time, and so on...the merry-go-round never ends, but I certainly seem to be getting a firmer seat on it as time goes by.