The 2010 Olympic Games started off inauspiciously with the tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, a Georgian luge slider. That same night, at the Opening Ceremonies, the hydraulics of the torch failed leaving the torch inside BC Place missing a leg.
Soon we were hearing of serious snow snafus. Spectators were literally falling through the snow, sliding through the bales of straw that had been placed between the ground and the heli-lifted snow at Cypress. 28,000 spectator tickets were canceled with a refund policy that left anyone buying on the secondary market (most people) SOL.
Then there was the furor over the outside Olympic Cauldron, where a chain link fence was erected to keep spectators at bay (for safety reasons – that flame is HOTTTT!!!!). No one had apparently thought that chain link doesn’t provide for a good photo-op. But, VANOC moved swiftly and “resolved” the problem with the attractive cut-outs featured above.
We got to witness first-hand the snafus that arise when you turn your nose up at California made Zamboni. Lots and lots of delays when your non-Zamboni breaks down.
Spectators at the Pacific Coliseum were stuck nightly in transportation limbo, waiting 2+ hours to board city buses back into downtown Vancouver. We were lucky enough to avoid that debacle by walking a few blocks and catching a cab.
Live City Yaletown was shut down one night when the stage was rushed and 19 people were injured when they were pushed through the flimsy barricades. This to us, was the most interesting snafu of all because it highlighted the real differences between Canada and the US.
You see Canadians are nice. They are polite. They are helpful and genuinely kind. They are the type of people who organize a torch run with minimum security so that you can get close and personal with the torch runner (or in my case, so the torch walker can try to get closer to me – that Michael Buble is relentless, he’s now coming to Seattle to continue his stalking with a concert as a cover). They are in short the kind of people who are surprised when people rush the stage at a concert.
How Un-American! Back here in the good ole U S of A we know how to prepare for a crowd. We would have had that torch route barricaded, plexiglass walls erected around the Olympic Cauldron (for its protection against taggers), and enough security guards at that concert to handle a full-scale mosh pit. In the USA we expect the worst and we are prepared for it. After all, we regularly strip a baby of its bottle and a mom of her shoes, handbag, and makeup remover in 60 seconds in the name of “national security.” The Canadians let Colbert in through the border!
The Olympics are now officially over. The Canadians took the most golds, the Americans took the most medals. And apart from the luge incident (ok, and Cypress), there were no other major catastrophes despite Canada’s un-American approach to crowd control. Moreover, most everyone I met in Vancouver who was from out-of-town, wanted to go back. I doubt the foreign tourist visiting LA would feel the same.
We may have taken 37 medals but the most valuable thing we can take back with us from the Olympics is Canadian hospitality.