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  • The View from Here: Good Things for Vancouver


    02/17/10

    Ed Hula in Vancouver
    (ATR) 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.

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

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