Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vancouver - Take 9

Let the Games begin.

The Opening Ceremonies are over and certainly there have been lots of comments and reactions. The Globe, the New York Times and others were very positive while the Guardian was one of those very critical.  Some liked that they tried to do something very different to Beijing.  I think they tried very hard to ensure the first nations were appropriately highlighted but seemed to miss other parts of Canada.

It was great to see the ceremonies live. The atmosphere was fantastic and, until the lighting of the cauldron, all the performances and all the technical aspects went off without a hitch.  Opinions were very split on the singing of the Canadian anthem.  Some were pleased that Celine Dion was not the one singing it.  The common complaint was that a more traditional version would have given the audience a chance to sing along.  It was a very emotional moment when all in the audience stood for the Georgian team.  When the Canadian team came in at the end of the parade of athletes, the place went wild.  That fact that one of the pillars did not rise for the lighting of the cauldron was not so obvious to many in the audience. People wondered if there was supposed to be three or four.  I have not seen CTV or NBC coverage of the Opening but, from all accounts,  CTV coverage was not good.  Many wish that CBC had not lost out to CTV for the rights.

The day after the Opening Ceremonies, the producer explained why the President's box was disorganized at the beginning.  The Governor General and the four first nations chiefs were delayed by protestors and up to 45 seconds before the start there was a chance all would have to be delayed.  I am not sure why the police and those responsible had not taken steps to ensure all the dignitaries were in place well ahead of schedule.  During rehearsals, we stand-ins had to be present there two hours before the start.  Volunteers and performers reported that Graham's stand-in for the event (Jacques Rogge) was not as good and have suggested that I take over for the closing.  Also, in spite of comments from some "friends"  in Ottawa, I was not responsible for the malfunction of the cauldron.  I did not drop something into the gears and I was not distracted and talking to someone at the critical moment the mechanism had to be operated.

On Sunday (February 14), it was the first of the Victory ceremonies.  British Columbia was responsible for the show before the medal presentations and I was asked to help out.  I had my longest shift (13 hours) with a different group of producers.  It was not my best experience. Those in charge did not seem to have any idea of what we were supposed to do and their attitude to the volunteers left a lot to be desired.

In addition to the Opening Ceremony, I have seen a Figure Skating practice session (Mens and Pairs), the Canada/Norway hockey game (a blow-out for Canada) and one session of mens curling (including Canada against Germany) - some of the shots were truly amazing.  I would give the Van 2010 organizers very good marks for the arrangements to get spectators to and from the venues.  Once you are at an event, getting though security and getting into the venue is quite a challenge.  For the Canada/Norway hockey game, once through security, we were herded into an outside enclosure with thousands of other waiting spectators.  Thankfully it was not raining!  Once we given the OK to enter, we all had to walk up a narrow temporary staircase, across a bridge and down another staircase.  Added to the enjoyment were many stopping to take pictures of all those tackling the obstacle course.  Since the bridge went over a road that had been closed for weeks, I have no idea why they did not open a way across the street - it would have been so much easier.  You can imagine how much fun we all had before we even got into the stadium.

Today, the sun is shining and the forecast for the next few days is sun, sun sun. The organizers must be breathing a big sigh of relief with, hopefully, no rain for a while.

The city is certainly hopping every night.  Lots going on and the visitors seem to be having a great time celebrating. 

We are now into rehearsals for the Closing Ceremonies and I don't have any shifts until the 19th.  I'll take the opportunity to walk around, visit some of the pavilions, and take in the Olympic atmosphere.

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