The Hudson’s Bay Company Toronto’s Queen Street location hosted a special event featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist, Alexandre Bilodeau. This promotional event enabled fans to get up close with one of Canada’s Olympic favourites–the first Canadian to win a gold medal on Canadian soil.
A couple of days leading up to the event Bilodeau tweeted:
Eager fans lined up early in the special event area of the Hudson’s Bay’s concourse to ensure that they would get a selfie. Chicco Nacion and his sister were the first in line at 10:00 a.m. Although taking the early morning bus from London, Ontario and missing one class, Chicco said that it was worth meeting his favourite Olympic medalist and having picture taken with gold medals.
The second in line was Marianne and Leroy, who arrived 10 minutes afterwards. She attributes not being there earlier due to stopping by McDonald’s to eat breakfast. She questioned whether it was a selfie or if staff were going to take pictures with their cellphones (It ended up being either of the choices, but fans were instructed that they’d be limited to one photograph). Leroy said it was his first time meeting an Olympian. He was very nervous and had spent some time carefully selecting his selfie wardrobe.
With DJ Diego Armando dropping the beats, fans patiently waited for Bilodeau’s arrival. We talked to various individuals in the long line to hear their story. Connor and Erin’s mother had allowed them to skip school for the day and accompanied them to meet their Olympic hero. Ken brought a 2010 Vancouver Torch which had already had signed by Kurt Browning. He hoped that the event wasn’t only limited to selfies (Bilodeau signed the torch). Annemarie said she loved the story of Bilodeau and his brother, Frédéric. As a healthcare worker, she appreciated how Bilodeau has brought awareness, acceptance, as well as decreased the stigma of those with physical disorders.
When Bilodeau arrived the crowd erupted with cheers. A quick message was conveyed by Liz Rodbell, President of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, who presented Bilodeau with an iconic HBC Collection multistripe point blanket as an early wedding present. Fans watched a replay of Bilodeau’s gold medal winning run, and then after a short question and answer period the selfies began. Notable moments during this event included one gold medal being dropped and several individuals forgetting that they were holding a medal and started walking off with it (They were quickly stopped and returned it immediately after a moment of embarrassment).
The selfie session was limited to one hour. Bilodeau was willing to stay longer in order to meet more fans and allow them to get their photographs taken; however, he was whisked away by public relations to conduct scheduled interviews. Prior to leaving the photo area, he posed with his gold medals, allowing fans to take pictures. Creative fans who were not able to get an in-person selfie with Bilodeau found other ways of getting a #SelfieWithAlex such as Kristina Ho’s tweet:
Bilodeau recently retired from his competitive freestyle skiing career after winning his final World Cup in France. He had considered retirement after winning the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games but knew that he could improve to reach his full potential at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. By defending his gold medal, he became the first Olympian to defend a medal in any freestyle skiing event.
After dreaming of winning Olympic gold since the age of seven, Bilodeau is now pursuing new challenges. He will be getting married this summer, after which he will return to studying accounting at Concordia University.
Loyal fans who stayed to watch Bilodeau’s scheduled media interviews were rewarded. Bilodeau thanked them for their patience and ensured that everyone was able to take a photograph with him. He even took an exclusive selfie for Fresh Print Magazine.
He closed off the day with some inspiring words:
If you have the ability to go after your dreams – chase them.