Free the Flame!

The Olympic flame has been creating a lot of controversy lately.  This is because it has been fenced off allegedly to protect not it, but the International Broadcast Center which sits next to it.

Momentum is building to try to “free” it from behind the chain-link fence.

This is as close as you can get to the Olympic Flame
Police kibitzing with visitors at the flame

Stair Climbing Exercises

Cypress Mountain has 4 hill configurations:

  • Moguls
  • Aerials
  • Ski Cross/Snowboard Cross/Parallel Giant Slalom
  • Halfpipe

Aerials and Moguls are together are grouped in the left side stands.  The remaining events are on the right side stands.  Both of these are after a 1km hike from the bus drop-off point.

Getting up to the right side stands was quite the climb.  There are over 200 stairs to go up to the stadium.  The advice from the volunteers was to “take it slow”.

Eddie is looking at the scenery waiting for me to catch up on the hike up to the venue
Many stairs to climb up to the Half-Pipe and Cross events

Robertson takes Silver at SBX

It was a great day for the Snowboard Cross (SBX) event.  The skys were partly coludy and the winds light at Cypress Mountain.

There were nearly 4000 disappointed fans because the general admission area was closed due to poor snow conditions.  Apparently people were sinking up to their waist in the ground which was made up of snow and straw.

Less fans meant less lines at the concession stands. Only 30 min in the lunch line.  The chilli was decent. (Buses home had about a 30 min wait as well, but they were organized today.)

View from section 202, row 23

For those unfamiliar, snowboard cross event rolls out like this:

  1. There are two timed runs.  Best one counts.  This is to get the field down from 35 (in this case) to 32.
  2. The competitors are organized into heats of 4 depending on how they finished in the timed runs
  3. In each heat, the top 2 move on, the bottom 2 drop out.
Rank Country Name
1 United States WESCOTT Seth
2 Canada ROBERTSON Mike
3 France RAMOIN Tony

Medals, Medals… Who Gets Medals?

BC Place and Whistler were both home to the first medals ceremony.

But waiting for the ceremony to start, there were cheers heard in the audience.  A few seconds later, my mobile phone chirped with a twitter update: Canada won the first goal metal on home snow: Bilodeau in the men’s moguls at Cypress Mountain.

Once we got to the presentations, they alternated between BC Place and Whistler so no matter which locale you were at, you got to see all of the presentations.   The ceremony took longer than the scheduled time, though I’m not sure how they could have really sped it up.

Two Canadian medals were presented:

  • Heil => Silver in Ladies Moguls
  • Groves => Bronze in 3000m Speed Skating

Following the ceremony, Nelly Furtado jumped on stage.  Her music was “Rock Concert” loud and that turned off an number of people who left thought her performance.  Of course, the “mosh pit” was filled with die-hard fans.  I knew a few of her songs.

Medal presentation for Groves

Patience Required

Following the event at the oval, we got a bite to eat at the Richmond Center mall.  Then it was back in line to get on a train to get to BC Place for the medals ceremony.

The trip entaled:

  1. Walk to a bus near the oval
  2. Bus to the O-Zone  (lines were to long to the O-Zone to get in and have any time left)
  3. Walk to the Richmond Center mall
  4. Grab a bite
  5. Walk over to the Richmond-Brighouse station
  6. Wait 30 min in line
  7. Take the Canada Line to Roundhouse
  8. Walk over to BC Place
  9. Ignoring the suggestion to walk around BC Place to get into the shorter security line (which if you include the time to walk around, would really take longer)
  10. Waiting for them to open the security line
  11. Going through security
  12. Getting into BC Place
  13. Finding our seats

The trip took 50 minutes from getting on the train, which is very reasonable.

Groves takes Bronze at 3000m Speed Skating

Today at the Richmond Oval, I was in section 120 row 8 which has a great view of the finish line.  The start line was in the far corner and out of view.

Canada had 3 competitors in this race.  Kristina Goves took the bronze medal even though it is not her strongest event.  I expect to see more Canadian more medals at the oval.

In other news, the Czech Republic’s Yaromir Yager and other members of the Czech team were there (6 rows behind me) to cheer Martina Sablikova.  However, Yager left before it was confirmed she won a medal, or maybe event before she skated the second time.  (The media probably got to him.)

Great view of the finish line

Richmond Oval a work of art

Valentines Day weather was beautiful in Richmond. So much better than standing in the rain from last night.  Early in the morning I headed over to the Richmond Oval to see the woman’s 3000m Speed Skating.

The lineup to get into the rink was on the dike that protects Richmond from the Fraser river and in view of YVR airport.  The line moved fast and efficiently and we were inside the building in no time. There were no line-ups for food.

The award-winning facility itself is a work of art. It uses pine-beetle infested wood for the roof. After the Olympics, the oval itself will be dismantled and the building will house hockey rinks and other sports activities.

Outside the Richmond Oval
The ceiling is remarkable. The first time this kind of construction has ever been used.
Czech Republic

SABLIKOVA Martina
Germany

BECKERT Stephanie
Canada

GROVES Kristina

Organizers Ill-Prepared for the Crowds at Cypress (2)

Inside the venue there were crowds everywhere.  Trying to fit thousands of people in the space allocated was next-to-impossible and lines were long

Quick summary of the challenges at Cypress:

  • The warming tents (actually I saw only one) were not big enough to hold a freezing cold crowd
  • Apparently one of the heaters broke down in the warming tent
  • For those who had general admission tickets, there was nowhere to sit to take a break.  Standing was required for the entire time.  (I guess you could sit on a porta potty)
  • The line food was impossibly long.  People were waiting more than 1.5 hours.  There was apparently a power outage in the food prep area which contributed to the delays, but generally there were just not enough food stations.
  • But never mind the power outage, they simply ran out of food.

You can imagine after standing in the hungry and cold and rain that once the event finished, people wanted to get home as quickly as possible…  well…

There were buses and then there were none.  People waited in line for more than 1.5 hours because buses had to drop people off and then return to the venue.  When the buses arrived, things seemed very disorganized as staff tried to marshal the buses to the correct locations (for where the people were standing).  There were loud words said on both sides of the fence.

Let’s just hope it was opening-day issues.  I’ll report back on Monday on how it went.

[Sorry, no photos]

Organizers Ill-Prepared for the Crowds at Cypress

The organizers at cypress mountain seemed a bit disorganized yesterday.  You could see there was a plan, but either people were not following the plan or the plan set out was not working.

First off, to get to Cypress Mountain, everyone is required to buy a bus ticket. There are three departure areas, and I chose to leave from Lonsdale Quay.  To get there, I took the Canada Line from Richmond and then the sea bus.

Matthew on the Sea Bus to Lonsdale Quay

I got my bus tickets in advance as was recommended.  When I showed up at the departure area 15 min ahead of schedule, there was a long line.  Each ticket had a departure time, but that was ignored by the organizers and people just queued in the order they arrived.

Once at the start of the line, one of the volunteers counted off the number of people to get on a bus, but then they split us up and put some of us on the last bus.   The bus was then declared “full” and off we went, never mind the hordes still standing in line.

Half-empty bus

Once getting to Cypress, there was the required security check.  Things here went well as compared to the day before at BC Place.

More to come in the next post…