Monday, November 30, 2009

Skating Through Vegas

When last I posted, my team from Edelman was on site at Las Vegas working with our client the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009.

Whew! Time flies!

That week was a blur of early morning live TV reports, long walks on miles of aisles of exhibits and evenings with IAAPA members or communications peers (and, I must admit, a trip or two to some roulette tables during brief down time throughout the week).

Though there was no energy to post to the blog that week, and Thanksgiving week is traditionally an "IAAPA recovery" week (this year my "recovery" included a 2,000-mile round-trip holiday drive to Oklahoma for family time), tonight I must post some IAAPA highlights to keep things timely. Thanks to all for patience during the break since the most recent post.

About Las Vegas: Still trying to decide my mixed bag of love, fear and loathing from the experience.

There's plenty to love -- the Strip impressed me, as did the Bellagio fountains, the Venetian, the airport, most of the hospitality/taxi drivers and "locals," the Las Vegas Convention Center and the grand scale of so many other places (the massive hotels reminded me of Beijing's skyline and grandeur).

I'm still speechless about the Cirque du Soleil show "O" which we witnessed from the third row -- breathtaking. (Disclosure: Cirque du Soleil is a client of Edelman, the P.R. firm where I work.)

Will also remember fondly the night flight into the city and the departure flight takeoff over The Strip, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon as I collapsed with sheer exhaustion from the Vegas experience.

A review of some favorite Vegas films is in order, with "Casino" and scenes from "Rain Man" coming out of the archive for viewing later this week. I was happy to view "The Hangover" last week, and seeing it post-Vegas gave some new perspective.

So, in Las Vegas with IAAPA, I was determined to find "IAAPA's Olympic connection" for the blog. By day three of the Expo, things were not looking too good -- not even a plush toy with some vague reference to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic mascots.

But then one of my colleagues pointed out that the exhibiting company Xtraice was in da house.

"What is Xtraice?" I wondered.

Turns out, it is a waterless surface on which anyone may "ice" skate -- on figure skates, speed skates or any other skating blade -- on what is billed as "ecological ice" on a synthetic, near-ice-slick surface.

I was impressed to learn that Xtraice is now used for sports training by some of the official governing bodies for skating sports worldwide, and the Xtraice surface may also be useful for tropical nations like Aruba or Guam to train for winter Olympic sports on ice.

The IAAPA:Olympic connection was further affirmed when I learned that two-time Olympic figure skater/two-time World silver medalist Surya Bonaly was on site at IAAPA Attractions Expo skating in the Xtraice booth!

Olympic figure skater Surya Bonaly was one of the friendliest Olympians encountered to date. In addition to being a great sport (showing up for a very early morning live TV segment), she took time to speak with IAAPA attendees (including bloggers) throughout the week. Turns out she is now a Las Vegas resident, as she became a U.S. citizen a few years ago. It was cool to learn more about her Olympic Oath experience in Albertville (representing all athletes in the Games in Bonaly's home nation, France), and her Olympic Village visits in Lillehammer (see video).

One of my teammates later informed me of a Vegas adult establishment with an Olympic theme, but I will have to save research of that establishment (if it still exists) when we return to Las Vegas for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011.

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