Wednesday, January 14, 2009

d3 : Medgames 2009

[Continued from d0, d1, d2]
Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our final day of Medgames (a national sporting competition between Canadian medical schools, hosted in Montreal, Quebec) began with another early morning. Things were a little bit inconvenient because our checkout time was noon, but the closing ceremonies were not expected to end until ~1 PM. We cleaned and packed up in the morning, dropped our stuff off in the "luggage room" downstairs, and checked out before boarding the shuttle one last time for CEPSUM. We were greeted by a familiar brown bag breakfast: chocolate croissant, Clementine, inedible bagel, and a single juice box.

The closing ceremonies were held around a large indoor track. The seating capacity (found on the second floor above the track) was incredibly limited and quickly filled up, so most people ended up sitting on the floor at track level itself. Much to the chagrin of my Anglo friends, the entire ceremony was conducted in French. Luckily, the "closing ceremonies" were little more than an opportunity to hold the cheerleading competition and showcase the winners of the various dance competitions from Saturday.

Still, finding myself at the end of the games, I realized that my conception of Medgames had been completely flawed. I pictured it as a giant party and an opportunity to take in the sweetness of Montreal with my friends. I also was under the impression that it would be a genuinely national event. Much to the contrary, we tasted so little of Montreal it was hard to believe that the games had taken place in such a richly cultured city at all. Indeed, many people were left with the impression that Montreal is a shoddy younger brother to Toronto. Having been to Montreal a number of times before, I know this not to be true - but certainly Medgames did not present the city in a flattering light. As for the games being a national event - they were so only in title. It quickly became clear that these were Quebec games to which out-of-province medical schools were allowed to participate in as a kind gesture. It was still very much their event (I will be commenting on Anglophone-Francophone tensions tomorrow - stay tuned). To make this clear, they were allowed far more participants (UdeM had 400+ competitors across all four years of medical school, almost twice as many as UofT) and had the capacity to compete in contests that out-of-province schools avoided entirely. UofT was the only non-Quebec school to compete in the cheerleading competition, and were completely outclassed.

Sherbrooke and UdeM had by far the most convincing cheerleading routines, involving dozens of experienced people (or in the case of UdeM... over a hundred). What was completely shocking was the sheer number of beautiful, female medical students at these universities. J-Rock seemed to be seriously considering transferring to one of these two schools, despite their entirely Francophone leanings. Sherbrooke won the award for spirit, with their extremely catchy cheer: "Es! Ash! Ehr! Beh! Ehr! Oh! Oh! Ka! Euh!" which was essentially the spelling of their school name in French. Still, Even Kushima had to admit that there was something quite compelling about it, in spite of his accumulated bitterness towards the French language. Sherbrooke took to the cheerleading floor in staggeringly short skirts (shorter on some than others - one size fits all it seems) and low cut tank tops. For my part, I was highly amused by their Pokémon themed shirts, sporting a Pokéball with the slogan: "Pokémed: Gotta kick 'em all." Sure it didn't really make all that much sense, but it was cute.

Toronto put on a spirited performance, compensating for their lack of numbers and experience with a little creativity. Theirs was an interesting routine, using lab coats for a bit of flair. However, while it was entertaining to watch, they simply didn't have the skills to match the other schools. Nor did they have a sufficient number of burly male cheerleaders (only one), or total number of cheerleaders, to pull of some of the more daring manoeuvres.

Interspersed between cheerleading routines were the winning dance routines (solo, duo, 3-5, 6+). My friends had won the 6+ category with their spirited Indian dance, and so had the chance to wow an even wider audience at the closing ceremonies. They admitted however, that it was somewhat more challenging the second time round since the dance floor was so spread out and the loudness of the environment made the tapping of their hand-held wooden sticks inaudible (an integral part of their routine).

There were some pretty gutsy moves at the competition, as schools attempted to jump and drop their cheerleaders from higher and higher. It was impressive to watch, but I had to wonder if anyone ever breaks their neck this way. As a side-note, university cheerleaders always seem to be small and short in stature (key because they're lifted and thrown and such), but professional cheerleaders (like for the NFL) always seem big and buxom... which begs the question, where do they come from?

UdeM won the cheerleading competition that day, and indeed they were impressive by sheer force of numbers - incorporating over 100 people by my estimate. It was also kind of astounding how attractive they all were. Sherbrooke couldn't hold a candle to UdeM on the "hot or not" scale, even after factoring in their little black skirts.

Sitting at the track level, the sound was really quite deafening - so loud that it often completely saturated the speakers, causing a kind of screeching sound rather than actual music. I sort of wonder whether it was the same way from the proper seating on the second floor. After the first few routines, I felt my hearing permanently slipping away and knew that I had to take action.

It was my understanding that Stewie had brought a few pairs of earplugs to Medgames. He had one left, which he had tentatively promised to Kushima after our frustratingly disruptive bus ride to Montreal. Nonetheless, I turned toward him (sitting several persons away) and gestured in an ear plugging motion with my index fingers. After a few tries, he managed to read my lips and tossed me the earplugs. Ah bliss.

You know, as my sister got older, she told me that she started carrying earplugs to rock concerts. The strange thing, she said, was that she found that after she started doing this, she could actually hear the music better (including what the vocalists were actually saying!). Since, I've never been to a rock concert (yes, you heard that correctly), I only really understood what she was saying based on what I could imagine. But at Medgames, I found this to be absolutely 100% true. I really could hear everything better once the earplugs were on.

The earplugs were made of foam and you squish them up before stuffing them into your ears. Then, they expand, dulling the sound transmission. In pathologically loud situations like the Medgames closing ceremonies, it is the most joyful sensation possible to feel the sounds become more and more bearable as those little devices inflate inside your auditory canals.

After the closing ceremonies were done, we mosied our way back to the buses, and loaded our luggage. They'd actually wanted us to stick to our original buses, but nobody really wanted to do that. We rearranged to share a bus with all our friends and it worked out fine. One shocking thing did occur though - while we were waiting for our bus to leave, another bus rammed us from behind. We all felt the jolt. It didn't do much damage (just a bit of a dent), but it made our bus driver extremely anxious to get the trip over with during the whole ride back to Toronto.

Once again, the riders were determined to watch movies on the way home. This time, they had a DVD with a whole bunch of pirated films. I was vaguely interested in watching Brad Pitt's the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. While I don't approve of the piracy itself, there's not much I could've done had they chosen to play it. As it turned out though, they ended up playing Slumdog Millionaire, a film set in India about a lowly IT guy who wins "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." He is taken in, beaten, and interrogated to decipher his means of cheating, because nobody believed that such a "slumdog" could know all the answers. The movie, from my understanding, spends much of its time explaining how the events of his life led to him knowing all the answers to the questions. I was quite interested in watching, but the movie was subtitled with itty bitty words that were very difficult to read off the bus television screen. Furthermore, the sun was at just the right angle to blind me (despite the tinted windows). After a little while, I gave up. Inserting my newly acquired ear plugs and putting on one of those eye masks they give you for airline flights, I went to sleep. Apparently, I was quite a sight - eye mask on, ear plugs inserted, head tilted flaccidly, and jaw dropped wide open. Thankfully, no photos of this experience have surfaced on Facebook... yet.

Our bus made a 30 minute stopover at a service station. It was about 4 PM - an awkward time smack dab between normal lunch and dinner. Still, since most of us had only eaten breakfast, we were more than happy to disrupt our normal meal times in order to satisfy our bellies. The service station only had a Wendy's and a Tim Hortons. Needless to say 200+ medical students disembarking at one time flooded the lines and the washrooms. While we were waiting in a horrendously long line for Wendy's, a friend and I were distracted by a nearby "crane game."

In particular, we were interested in a sign that said "every play is a winner." Crane games are notoriously hard, so we wondered if this meant they would let you continue playing until you won something. We observed carefully as another group of our peers tried their hand at the game and indeed did win. We then decided to give it a shot ourselves, so inserting a toonie we began navigating the crane. Our target was a fantastic little stuffed monkey nestled in the bottom left corner. Unfortunately, the crane controls seemed somewhat defective and our crane would not come down along the saggital axis properly. Meanwhile, a timer was steadily counting down. When it hit zero, the crane came down by itself. Because of our dysfunctional crane, we were nowhere near the location that we wanted to be, and instead ended up with... a purple turtle with a flagrantly rainbow shell.

Apparently, what they mean by "every play is a winner" is that the crane grabs with powerful enough force that no matter where you are, you are likely to pick something up. We decided to call our turtle, Barney, an evolutionary step up from his purple dinosaur ancestor.

We got back on the bus and made our home stretch for Toronto. The sun had gone down, so I ended up actually watching the second movie that they played. I felt much better after actually acquiring some rest during the first couple hours. The second movie was Office Space, a vaguely comedic story about a disgruntled employee at a late 90's tech company whose attitude it turned upside down by a botched hypnotherapy session. It was actually pretty amusing, and featured one of Evey's favourite actresses, Jennifer Anniston.

The bus arrived in Toronto around 7:30 PM. I hung around at Kushima's until around 9 PM, when I was able to get a ride home. During that time, I watched while Kushima unpacked (an act that I have yet to complete myself). I got home around 10 PM, ate, blogged, and went to sleep.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty much my entire Medgames experience. It took many hours and four days to summarize, with schoolwork whizzing around me, and sleep deprivation accumulating. These days, I feel like I spend half my life living it, and the other half writing about it. That's probably true.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

Jennifer Aniston's name is spelled in correctly. Not that it matters anyways, because she's a terrible actress who should stop making horrible movies.

I also like your medgames shirt. Because it feels nice. You also feel nice.