Monday, March 1, 2010
The game’s over. The Games are over. It’s Monday morning comin’ down from Sunday’s dramafest. Hockey fans across Canada rode the emotional roller coaster. In Vancouver, those who couldn’t afford a second mortgage to buy tickets from scalpers started lining up at the three major free viewing areas in downtown Vancouver at daybreak Sunday. Bars in the downtown core were jammed long before they could legally serve refreshments. As with the previous Canada-USA game, the streets were almost deserted when the puck was dropped.
Sunday, Feb. 28
So I was listening to the opera on Saturday afternoon (s’truth) on CBC Radio 2 (La Boheme) and Bill Richardson had Michael Farber on as his guest. As in, Michael Farber the hall of fame hockey writer for Sports Illustrated. Turns out he’s as big a fan of opera as he is of hockey. He had been hoping for a Canada-Russia final, with Canada as his pick. Check out his take on the quarter-final game here.
Saturday, Feb. 27
Not even Satan could stand between Team Canada and its date with Team America on Sunday afternoon. Miroslav Satan, that is. Right wing for Slovakia when not lacing his skates for the Boston Bruins. Scored the winning goal against Norway and almost had the tying goal against Canada. That’s why games are 60 minutes precisely and not one second longer.
Friday, Feb. 26
The Canadian ego received a much-needed boost with the women’s hockey gold medal victory over the Americans on Thursday. Walking past CBC Vancouver in the waning minutes of the third period, it was neat to watch CBC’s TV news anchors (they’re broadcasting from the sidewalk during the Olympics), watching the game televised by CTV though the window of the restaurant next door
Thursday, Feb. 25
Downtown Vancouver erupted for joy at the conclusion of the Russia-Canada hockey game. A wall of sound washed across English Bay and over a solitary photographer (me) setting up on Kits Point for some shots of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Vectorial Elevation light show. People yelling from apartment windows, banging pots, blowing horns and whistles, sounding car horns.
Wednesday, Feb. 24
The rain returned on Tuesday, along with the wind, making for a cold and miserable day for those who came outside in Vancouver. You’d think it was the middle of winter. Even at that, there were lots of people out and about on foot downtown. Not the stifling crowds of the sunny weekend, but still a lot of very enthusiastic people braving the elements. You can measure the buzz level by the length of the lineups at several key places. The Royal Canadian Mint has a pavilion the features the process behind the making of Olympic medals and allows viewers to handle the medals. Today’s lineup was down to about 90 minutes from Saturday and Sunday’s four hours.
Tuesday, Feb. 23
Yet another sunny day in Vancouver and Whistler Monday, though the rains are due to return today. So Team Canada lost and the sun rose the next morning. Maybe the fate of the nation is not on the line after all. It was interesting to watch the shock sink in when the U.S. scored in the opening minute. There was absolute silence on a street where seconds before it had been Mardi Gras without the nudity.
Monday, Feb. 22
“Where will you spend eternity, heaven or hell? It’s your decision”. The man was preaching at the sea of humanity surging around him on Robson Street, five minutes before the puck dropped in the Canada/U.S. hockey game Sunday night. I say he was preaching “at” people as opposed to preaching “to” them because he was about as all alone as one person could be in that tide of red and white. Team Canada didn’t appear to have an answer for the question, at any rate.
Sunday, Feb. 21
Now for a word from our sponsors, or how about a few words about our sponsors. As much as VANOC, the IOC and assorted and sundry world media can pontificate about the purity of sport and how the Olympics builds healthy minds and bodies 57 different ways, the reality is that there’s a lot of money changing hands here and if weren’t for those folks with deep pockets there wouldn’t be an Olympics, no matter how much virtue is at stake.
Saturday, Feb. 20
So where’s the military at Olympics? An article in Britain’s Guardian the week before the Games described Vancouver as a military state “more resembling post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland”, given the number of security personnel on the ground and military helicopters buzzing about overhead. The military itself was openly promoting its role in Olympic security, with Vice-Admiral Tyrone Pile, commanding officer of Joint Task Force Pacific and its man at the Olympics standing beside the RCMP at Integrated Security Unit press briefings for the last year.
Friday, Feb. 19
In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, organizers in Whistler said it was going to be New Years Eve every night, while their Vancouver counterparts projected the experience to be like fireworks nights, Grey Cup and all other good things rolled into one – for 17 straight nights. What they didn’t mention was that every Dec. 31 Whistler requires an extra 40 RCMP brought in on overtime to help blow up balloons and spread good cheer. Vancouverites have trouble behaving for one night, let alone 17 in a row. No need for a show of hands from the police, firefighting and ambulance communities about their enthusiasm for 17 consecutive New Years’ Eves.
Thursday, Feb. 18
As many as 19 people were injured Tuesday evening when a barricade gave way at a live entertainment site in downtown Vancouver. The band Alexisonfire had just started its set in front of a packed house of 7,600 at the LiveCity Yaletown open-air site when the crowd surged toward the stage, crushing those in front against a security fence, which then collapsed. The lead singer joined paramedics and medical staff in aiding victims. Ten people were taken to hospital. Band members are credited with taking a lead role in calming the crowd and ensuring that emergency workers were able to work unimpeded. While the concert was cancelled at that point, it may be another example of Olympic bonhomie in that there was no protest from what had been an energetic and exuberant crowd. A more robust fence has been installed and the concerts will continue.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
Tuesday was the “official” start of the Olympics as the men’s hockey time took to the ice. A comment posted in Tuesday’s TimesOnLine blog says that most Canadians view this Olympics as “a hockey tournament with a bit of skiing thrown in”. Driving along Marine Drive in North Vancouver at 7 p.m. while Team Canada was playing, one could be forgiven for thinking he had somehow landed on the set of The Prisoner. Where was everyone? Glued to a TV presumably, with traffic non-existent.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
OK, I have a confession. I have taken my car into downtown Vancouver and lived to tell the tale. The Olympic traffic plan put together by VANOC, the City of Vancouver and Translink, the regional transit authority, has implored people to leave their cars at home while maximizing transit resources. The plan has been heavily promoted for the past two months, with several designated transit days on which people were kindly requested to give transit a try. Planners were hoping for a 30 per cent drop in vehicle traffic into downtown but could do no better than 11 per cent in the week leading up to the opening ceremonies.
Monday, Feb. 15 - update
See in the Monday morning paper that one of the vehicles in Mr. Biden’s motorcade was involved in an accident serious enough to send a couple of passengers off to hospital. I don’t have any details on the incident but it speaks to that old adage – “stuff happens”. Motorcade driving, especially in a motorcade the size I saw downtown on Sunday, is very much an art. Done properly, it’s more like watching a train in which all the component parts move as one rather than a bunch of vehicles trying to keep up; but, like a train, when it goes off the track it can get really ugly, really fast.
Monday, Feb. 15
Got Canada? Check out downtown Vancouver on Sunday. After Saturday’s rain was succeeded by an overnight monsoon and windstorm, the sun made a glorious appearance on Sunday, drawing a crowd that would have made the Pied Piper envious. We started the day in Chinatown with the annual Chinese New Year’s parade. There was some doubt that the parade would have to be cancelled due to the Olympics, given that a number of the Olympic-related sites and GM Place are only a block or two away. Fortunately there was no hockey scheduled, the parade started two hours earlier than in other years and all was right. Firecrackers, dragon dancers and more than 50,000 people packed into a few short blocks. Red is the dominant colour of any Chinese celebration, signifying good luck, but this year saw even more red than usual with a proliferation of Canada clothing and chants of “Go Canada Go”.
Sunday, Feb. 14
Got out early yesterday morning, long before sunrise, to check out the traffic on the Sea To Sky with the first day of competition in Whistler. It was still raining, all the way up to Whistler, and coupled with fog and low cloud in Whistler the downhill skiing scheduled for Saturday and Sunday was cancelled. Yesterday, it meant 150 or so fewer buses on the highway but it also means a scheduling crunch for event organizers later in the week, not to mention a headache for the transportation wranglers.
Saturday, Feb. 13
Vancouver came alive on Friday as the Olympic Torch Relay wound its way through the streets of the city for most of the day. In a “Canadian, eh” finish to the day, Wayne Gretzky ferried the final torch in the back of a pickup truck at the conclusion of the opening ceremonies at BC Place Stadium to the outdoor caldron at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Heavy rain failed to deter fans who ran through the streets with the cavalcade.
Police in North Vancouver had an early start to their Olympics when a “suspicious package” was discovered at Lonsdale Quay, a major regional transportation hub. You can read more here.
The resulting shift in transportation resources meant a heavier traffic backlog in downtown Vancouver, where several key roads are closed for the duration of the Olympics, and a traffic jam on both bridges from Vancouver to the North Shore.
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