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Archive for Wednesday, February 17, 2010

There’s a glitch for every gold at the Vancouver Games

February 17, 2010

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— From fire to ice, nothing seems to be going right at the Olympics.

The torch malfunctioned. Warm weather turned the slopes and the event schedule to slop. A Zamboni had to ride to the rescue from Calgary following a meltdown at the speedskating rink.

By Tuesday, the Glitch Games were in full swing: 20,000 standing-room tickets for the snowboarding venue were voided because fans had fallen between the bales of hay under the melting layers of trucked-in snow.

Want to take a picture of the Olympic cauldron? Make sure that camera is pressed up against the chain-link fence — provided there’s room to squeeze in and a Vancouver 2010 banner isn’t in the way.

Organizers expect to unveil a plan today to address the rising public outcry and bring people closer to the flame, the most distinguished and enduring symbol of any Olympics.

“Perhaps,” conceded Renee Smith-Valade, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee, “we did underestimate the degree to which people would want to get close to it.”

Perhaps. At a press conference, a Canadian TV reporter asked organizers why the flame was hidden behind “a ratty-looking prison-camp fence.” And the Globe and Mail newspaper chose to allude to another Olympic city: Berlin.

Addressing the head of the Vancouver Games, the paper cried: “Mr. Furlong, tear down this fence!”

Of course, no scheduling or logistics issue — or sporting event, for that matter — seems significant in light of the death of a Georgian luger on the first day of the Olympics.

And, to be fair, there have been bright spots. Moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau gave Canada its first gold medal in three home Olympics. NHL superstar Sidney Crosby has the Canadian men’s hockey team looking for gold. NBC ratings have been strong.

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