Flag-bearers of each nation parade into the closing ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Another in a series looking to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada--here's a look at the host city and the venues.
Otherwise, not a lot of natural outdoor ice to talk about as its been warm in the US this late fall. In other news, the elite World Cup skating circuit moves on with the conclusion of the Short Track World Cup last weekend and the third installment of the long track speed skating World Cup's in Hamar, Norway, site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, this weekend. Already, US speedskater's have done very well, with Shani Davis sweeping 1st place finishes in both the 1000m and 1500m events with track records in both Berlin, Germany and Heerenveen, Netherlands. In short track speed skating, Apolo Ohno for the men, and Katherine Reutter for the women, have placed among the top skaters overall.
On to Vancouver itself as the destination for the games and thoughts on attending the 2010 Winter Olympics. Since the games are in drizzly Vancouver, much of the games will now be held indoors. A little bit of magic will be lost moving so much inside, but as to the events, indoor ice will aid in the integrity and quality of the competitions. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at BC Place, a 55,000 seat stadium with an air-supported roof in downtown Vancouver. Next door is "Canada Hockey Place", a 19,000 seat arena that will fill up with hockey-mad Canadians (as an aside, General Motors, the auto company that is now a ward of the US government, actually has the naming rights to this NHL arena, but for the games it will be known by the neutral moniker, Hockey Place). Short track speed skating and figure skating will take place a little bit east of downtown in the 14,200 seat Pacific Coliseum, the original home of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks in 1970, which was renovated for about $20mm for the games. The ice sports venues represent a contrast to the 2002 Winter Olympics, where short track and figure skating were at the larger downtown arena while hockey was at a smaller facility a bit outside of the main downtown area. For the 2010 games, it's Canada, eh, home of ice hockey!
Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver
East of the airport and south of downtown, in the suburb of Richmond, is the impressive new facility for long track speed skating. I'll post later on this magnificent venue. Finally, just south of downtown is 5,600 seat Vancouver Olympic Centre, home of the curling competition.
The alpine events will take place further from Vancouver. Snowboard, snowboard halfpipe, and freestyle skiing will be held at Cypress Mountain, which is fairly near to Vancouver, less than an hour's transit time. The remainder of the alpine skiing events, along with cross-country skiing and biathlon, ski jumping, and the sliding sports (bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton) will be held at the mountain resort area, Whistler, for which spectators will board buses in Vancouver and travel a ride of up to 3 hours to the venues.
Men's slalom held at Deer Valley Ski Resort in the 2002 Winter Olympics. The slalom was spectator-friendly as you could see the entire course from the grandstands. (Also in the photo, at the extreme right are the snow ramps for the aerials in freestyle skiing.) By contrast, for other alpine events, such as the Men's and especially the Women's Downhill, spectators watched most of the runs on a giant video screen and saw only the final portion of each run. For the women, the skiers popped over the final jump in their tuck and quickly finished, for the men you could see more of the mountain (maybe the last 15 - 20 seconds of the run), including Bode Miller's bobble and bounce off his left hip, with his recovery enroute to a silver medal in the Men's Combined.
Enjoy the games if you are headed to Vancouver as a spectator. I've heard Canadians, in reference to the high cost of living of the area, have jokingly said that BC stands for "Bring Cash". It'd be great to go, and while the travel and ticket costs (due to "secondary markets") are affordable for many events, lodging is probably a challenge. I paid a lot for lodging in Salt Lake City, but was able to obtain tickets at face value very easily--but I don't know what the situation will be with "secondary markets" for Olympic tickets for 2010.
The distance to Whistler may mean that two-event days combining an alpine or sliding sport with a skating event might be difficult whereas in Salt Lake City this was easy. For the games, Vancouver recently finished construction on an elevated tram line that runs from the airport and from Richmond to downtown. From one of the tram stops, its not a long walk (about 1km or 0.6 miles) to the Richmond oval. There are a lot of hotels in Richmond given its proximity to the airport, so that's certainly a place to stay if you are focused on speed skating. To be in the excitement of the festivities, staying downtown and taking the tram to the oval might be a better call. No matter where you stay, arrive early and expect to wait in a lot of fairly long lines.
Ski jumping venue at the 2002 Winter Olympics. This is a steeper mountain face than many people comfortably ski--pretty amazing to think that the athlete's will actually be airborne for much of the distance as they fly down the mountain.
Editor - Jim
This blog weighs in on topics such as long-distance skating, the Illinois canals, cycling, and a variety of related (and occasionally not-so-related) topics. I'd like to correspond with others interested in skating the Hennepin and I&M canals.