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Posts Tagged ‘2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games’

Ed Hula in Vancouver

Sochi and London organizers tell us it’s too early to glean lessons from the experience of the Vancouver Olympics, but we have some ideas for them to think about.

Don’t underestimate.

For the past week, VANOC has blamed some glitches on underestimates. Whether the wave of Vancouverites eager to see the Olympic cauldron or the muddy conditions at the Cypress snowboard venue that led to cancellation of general admission tickets, VANOC says it could not foresee problems until they became an issue.

Fortunately, VANOC has managed to respond with solutions before reaching peril.

The burgeoning crowds in Vancouver (so far handled without serious incident) are a sure signal that crowd control might be one of the potential issues London would be careful to manage ahead of time.

A metropolitan area five times the size of Vancouver means there are enough Londoners to choke the city in pedestrian gridlock in 2012. Tube capacity – often maxed-out for daily commutes – will be stressed as never before.

The Olympic Flame in the cauldron in Vancouver. (Getty Images)

For Sochi, the 2014 Olympic theater is spread among three stages. Two of them — the venue cluster for ice sports and the venue cluster for snow events — are relatively close together. But the resort city of Sochi itself, with hotels, restaurants and other diversions, is 20 to 30 minutes north of the Olympic sites. A new bypass road will make the journey quicker by rubber-tired vehicle and a swift train runs to the site.

What Sochi cannot underestimate is the need for these transit links to work without a hitch. Unlike Vancouver, walking won’t be an option should the bus be missed or the trains are delayed. And slow-moving transit will test the patience of media and spectators. That would be an inauspicious debut for Sochi, which hopes to impress as a new travel destination.

We like the seemingly more relaxed security routine for Vancouver media that makes entry to Olympic venues a pleasure. Random screenings for reporters means no lines to get in, a liberating experience that we hope London and Sochi can emulate.

The economic downturn seems to have hit Vancouver hard when it comes to decorating the city in the so-called “look of the Games”. Street pole banners are tiny and often inconspicuous, while building wraps simply do not exist. The feel that the Olympics are taking place is confined to areas where events are being held, which are also the only locations where the look of Vancouver takes hold.

London and Sochi, with more ground to cover than Vancouver, have some thinking to do about how to give their locales an Olympic feel without spending more on banners than sport.

But for what Vancouver may lack in graphic display, the people of the city and the throngs from around the world are creating a buzz that’s sometimes been missing from recent Games. London and Sochi, we hope, will be people’s Games, too.

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Written by Ed Hula in Vancouver.

For general comments or questions, click here.

Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.

(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)

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Ed Hula in Vancouver

Ok, Vancouver is taking a stumble or two as it tries to hit full stride for the remainder of the Games.

But there are also a lot of good things to say about these Winter Olympics, despite the early miscues.

The good of Vancouver starts appropriately with arrival at the Vancouver airport. Even before the Olympics, it was one of the easiest airports in the world to use. Volunteers and staff at desks just past passport control quickly processed accreditations, making Olympic visitors good to go well before hitting baggage claim.

Those airport volunteers – and their colleagues across the Olympic theater — are giving these Games a big boost with their enthusiasm and willingness to help. The volunteer corps is always the backbone of Games-time operations, and in Vancouver they are keeping things running.

Security is unobtrusive. So far it’s been incident-free, except for the anti-Games hooligan attack last weekend.

Volunteers jokingly refer to themselves as "smurfs" due to their bright blue jackets. (Getty Images)

For media, Vancouver organizers have delivered a special treat: freedom from a mag and bag check to enter the Main Media Center. The bag and x-ray are still there, but only employed on a random basis.

At the transport mall underneath the MMC, media pass through the mag and bag so that they are cleared before arriving at the venues.

It’s also hard to emphasize the pleasure that comes from being able to move easily and quickly from one place to another, whether venue or party. Unlike Beijing, where attending anything often required an all-day commitment, here it is possible to attend a competition, a party or two, and still have time to finish the day’s work.

I know these are the Winter Olympics and the Cypress Mountain is crying out for snow, not rain. The mild city weather makes everything and everyone run better.

The climate is good for the people buzz of the Games. Bustling crowds in downtown Vancouver and in Whistler give these Games a festive feel. The popularity of the legacy cauldron on the waterfront has apparently caught VANOC off-guard, with thousands of people streaming to Jack Poole Plaza every day.

The tastes of Vancouver are many and varied and well-priced. This may be the best food city of any recent Olympics, summer or winter.

The men’s hockey tournament is underway, the event of these Games that may turn the heat on high for the kettle of Olympic spirit in Vancouver. A new drama is underway in Vancouver as the Canadian team seeks the gold in the national sport.

But hockey aside, the gold medal won this week by moguls skier Eric Bilodeau is the early sports highlight of the Games, ending Canada’s drought of home Games gold. The fans, we hope, will be twice as noisy when the next Canadian stands atop the podium in the coming days.

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Written by Ed Hula in Vancouver.

For general comments or questions, click here.

Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.

(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)

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