Winter Olympics

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Terminator

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 5:08 PM

Hundreds of fans gathered early this morning to catch a glimpse of former movie star and body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger. They chanted “Terminator” over and over again as California's Governor made his way along the seawall in Vancouver's Stanley Park. I regret to say I wasn't there to witness the mob overwhelm the security detail around the governor. But I did catch up with the "Terminator" during a press conference later in the day on the Pacific Coast Collaborative.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a press conference today
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  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a press conference today
He thanked British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell for the chance to carry the torch. You can listen here for more of his comments.

I'm a real sport.

Schwarzenegger handed the torch off to former British Olympian Sebastian Coe who’s now the head of the London 2012 organizing committee. The Olympic Torch has traveled more than 26-thousand miles across Canada, making a brief appearance in Washington state earlier this week. Now everyone wants to know who will carry the torch into the opening ceremonies to light the caldron. Mums the word but there’s wide speculation it may be Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretsky.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 10:45 PM

We've all heard the saying "practice makes perfect." It doesn't matter if you're learning to play the flute, ride a horse, skateboard or hurdle yourself down the luge at the Winter Olympics. Practice is everything. It's how we grow from our failures and learn from our successes.

It turns out that everyone at the Winter Olympics practices. I'm not talking about the athletes. That's a given. I was up in Whistler this week. The resort community will host everything from biathlon to the bobsleigh. I'm walking through the village and I hear a sound. It's a female voice. Not just any female voice. It's the voice of any Olympic medal ceremony. What? The games haven't even started and already medals are being awarded?

A crowd gathers around this area that's been blocked off with metal gates covered in fabric. They try and peer through. There's a small opening and we all take turns peeking. Turns out if you're hosting a medal ceremony you have to get it right. Correct. I and dozens of other Whistler visitors had stumbled across a practice medal ceremony.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Early Show

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 10:16 PM

Vancouver, B.C. buzzes with Olympic excitement these days. I'm not overstating here. In fact, I'm probably understating this. Because, really, Vancouver, B.C. and neighboring Whistler are about ready to burst with Olympic festivities. The Opening Ceremonies begin Friday evening but on a Wednesday night you'd think it was happening at that moment. Everyone's out on the streets, snapping photographs on Robson Square where the Olympic countdown clock is. They jump in the metal red bobsled for photos in front of the clock. And they take photos by the fountains in front of the Vancouver Art Museum.

At 9:30 p.m. the ice rink that's just behind the art museum is filled with ice skaters - some graceful, others still getting their legs under them. This will be an Olympic legacy site once the games are over. You can learn to skate as the Canadian Tenors sing and the crowd chants "Go Canada Go!" And to top the evening off, how about a light show against clouds, complete with fireworks and flames. Yes! The Olympics are almost here.

It's hard not to get excited because everywhere you turn, there's some reminder that the Winter Games are about to begin. Some of those reminders are small. Take pin trading. People stand on corners and by lampposts to trade pins. There's a lot of bartering involved and money too. You'll see people walking around with scarves covered in Olympic pin memorabilia.

There are also giant reminders such as photographs of Canadian Olympic athletes that cover windows and sky scrappers throughout Vancouver's city center or the Canadian flag painted on the corner of a downtown building.

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This is all part of the early show - the teaser - before the Winter Olympics get underway and this international city helps get its visitors into the spirit of the games.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Olympics of ebay

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Good luck if you're in the market to buy a ticket to witness Olympic glory this month. Tickets are at a premium if you can get your hands on them. I've been in the market for tickets, any tickets, to any competition at the Winter Olympics. I'm here in Vancouver, B.C. to report on the games. No problem. I should be able to get in to any venue. Not true. I happen to be one of the thousands of journalists from around the world who did not receive International Olympic Committee credentials. So here I am in Vancouver trying to buy my way in to witness a bit of Olympic history.

So I did what all savvy shoppers do. I turned to ebay. I had heard through a friend that I would find cheap tickets there. All it would require was a little patience and fast fingers so I'd be able to outbid another virtual buyer in the last four seconds of an auction. Easy. Least that's what I thought.

Turns out it's hard work bidding on tickets and there's no such thing as a cheap Olympic ticket. Auctions for opening ceremonies which take place this Friday will run you anywhere from $1000 to $2000 on up. Four tickets to men's hockey - the gold medal match - $16,999. Tomorrow, that'll be even higher. Two tickets to go see Olympic figure skating, that'll cost upward of $5,000. These tickets are all out of my league. Sure, I did make a bid to see the opening ceremony. But my $175 offer didn't even hit the reserve price. That's what the seller wants at a minimum. Otherwise they won't sell the item.

After a week of watching auctions I had my heart crushed multiple times. It's amazing I'm still alive. The anxiety and pressure of bidding in an auction's final minute has proved almost more than I can handle.

But at the point where I just about gave up all hope of seeing an actual Olympic event, I scored. No. I won't be at the opening ceremonies and you won't find me watching figure skating. However, you will find me at men's curling on February 19th. And in the final four seconds of an auction to watch women's luge in Whistler B.C. I won two tickets. It cost me $162. Now I only have to meet up with an OR surgeon from New York this Saturday somewhere in Vancouver to claim those coveted tickets.

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