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Everything posted by Athensfan

  1. I thought it was probably the best rendition of the Olympic anthem I've heard. It was as good as the anthem in Singapore was bad. Cool hair too.
  2. I have to say that I think this new scoring system is an improvement. It may be complicated, but it does a good job of trying to evaluate every aspect of a program as carefully as possible. It is MUCH less subjective than the old system. Most importantly -- the right athletes are winning the medals. I've felt that way throughout the GP season and through the Olympics as well. THRILLED that Lysacek won. Somewhat disappointed that he skated so carefully. Would have preferred to see a little more fire and freedom. A little surprised they gave him a level 4 on his circular step sequence. It's been a 3 all year. Then again they awarded Plushenko a level 3 where previously he's gotten a 2. Plushenko was definitely not his best either. It was clear that whoever won, the margin of victory would be small. Personally, I believe Lysacek totally deserves his gold. Glad for Johnny Weir's personal victory, but it's true that the transitions and choreography were nowhere near the complexity of the other skaters. I think his placing was pretty fair, though I think his performance/execution score and his skating skills should have been higher.
  3. I think we have to consider the source on both sides of this issue. Dick Pound and the IOC aren't going to say anything negative, even if they're thinking it. The British papers are notoriously abrasive and incendiary so of course they will make everything look as bleak as possible. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between. No VANOC can't control the weather. However, the cauldron has been a mess, there could have been more safety precautions at the luge track, some of the bussing issues are disappointing, the ice at Richmond oval should never have had so many problems, the biathalon scoring mistake was avoidable -- these things aren't good, but they are far from a travesty. I don't doubt that everyone is having a wonderful time. It's the Olympics! How could you not? I was incredibly ill when I was in Athens and I was determined to enjoy myself. Sick or not, it turned out to be one of the highlights of my life. So the fact that people are enjoying themselves doesn't say a whole lot except that there have been no horrifically bad missteps -- which I think is true. We will have to see how the coming days unfold. My impression is that Vancouver has done a respectable job, but that it there have been some weaknesses. Granted, the weather seems to somehow magnify the shortcomings.
  4. I absolutely agree that Vancouver has experienced more than their share of bad luck. However, not everything is beyond VANOC's control. Take just one example: the cauldron. The two cauldrons were a bizarre concept to begin with. The design within BC Place did seem overly ambitious and was a bit strange looking under the best of circumstances. It was too bad that Catriona LeMay Doan couldn't take Gretzky's place in lighting the outdoor cauldron. Would've been a nice way to make up for the disappointment of the malfunction. Then VANOC decides they have to fence off the outdoor cauldron so nobody can get anywhere near it. NBC was just saying that the cauldron is very difficult to see if you're not in the broadcast center. Poorly conceived all the way around. Too bad, considering the flame is such an icon of the Games.
  5. Vancouver is serving as a reminder that winning the right to host the Games is a mixed blessing. The Games attract international attention. Some of that attention will result in glory for the host nation, however, some of that attention may also result in embarrassment. There is no way to predict what issues may arise shortly before or during the Games. Think of the disgraced sprinters in Athens, terrorism in Munich, boycotts in Moscow and LA, weather and luge tragedy in Vancouver. There are also the flaws that show up in the organization and planning, such as transportation in Atlanta, various operational snafus in Vancouver, human rights abuses in China and gross cost overruns in Montreal. We all know that the Games bring honor and prestige to the host. We should not forget that they also bring great expense, varying degrees of dissension, the risk of embarrassment for the organizers, and various challenges that may be all but impossible to foresee or predict. How many bid cities conveniently forget these realities as they make their appeals to the IOC?
  6. I don't think Vancouver is "cursed." I also don't think that the media is out to get Canada. At least here in the U.S. NBC's coverage has been very flattering. In my opinion NBC could have made some harsher observations if they wished to. It does seem that Vancouver is experiencing more than their fair share of challenges. Many of these challenges were out of the organizers' control and people recognize that. Transportation was a concern with Vancouver from the time they bid and it does seem like some of those concerns were justified and VANOC could have planned a bit better. It also seems like there was a better way to address the concessions troubles. The weather and the protests are clearly beyond VANOC's control. Perhaps wiser decisions could have been made regarding the cauldron and the luger, but there was no reason why they should have expected things to go as badly as they did.
  7. Cauldron really laid an egg. The second outdoor cauldron seemed like a sad afterthought. Very sorry for Vancouver. I'm sure it isn't what they hoped for. Maybe future hosts need to consider scaling back a bit and going with something a little more sure-fire (pun intended).
  8. On the positive side... First of all, congratulations to Vancouver for having the courage to budget one tenth of what Beijing spent. I mean that sincerely. I have great respect for commitment to quality on a budget. I liked the quick video homage to the previous hosts following the countdown and the snowboarder was fun if not quite as spectacular as some other ceremonies' introductions of the Olympic rings. I thought the poem was the best part of the "entertainment." Well written. Well delivered. Surprisingly potent. I like the way the entertainment segment concluded in modern-day Vancouver with a well-articulated vision of modern-day Canada. The projections were a beautiful, relatively low cost means of radically transforming the space and making strong visual statements. The whales were extremely effective on tv. Enjoyed the snow. On the negative side... The first nations introductions in the beginning seemed prolonged and a little bit dull. The ice sculpture greetings left me totally cold. The entertainment section was very poorly conceived. I'm not at all impressed by Mr. Atkins. Unlike Beijing, this ceremony did not follow a clear progression of thought. It seemed like a very loose collage of vaguely interesting impressions. Content does not cost money. It just requires time and forethought. In my opinion, that careful planning was obviously missing. Instead, there was a mishmash of seasons and geography. I thought the autumn section was by far the weakest. The floating canoe, the tapping, the maple leaves. Nothing seemed to hold these disparate elements together. The prairie squares that followed were visually odd as well. The sloppy superficiality of the bulk of the entertainment paled miserably in comparison to the strength of the concluding poem. Cauldron delays and malfunctions have already been noted by others. Agree w/ the statement that Atkins is 0 for 2. Really not impressed. Very, very sorry for Vancouver. A noticeable embarrassment. Even if the cauldron had worked perfectly, it was strange. Especially w/ the secondary, outdoor cauldron. The sound seemed very questionable -- even on tv. Much of the filler music was rather bland and unimaginative. I got the strong feeling that the ceremony was much more effective on tv than in person. One significant failing seemed to be the scale. The ceremony often seemed to rely on a single individual or a small number of performers. I can't imagine that this read very well inside BC Place. In summary.... I think the ceremonies fall somewhere between a B- and a C+. This ceremony is just further evidence that the type of product delivered by Atkins and the "turn-key" collage approach to ceremonies will never achieve more than semi-slick mediocrity. It will never deliver a distinctive yet unified artistic vision. It will never communicate with real power. In my opinion, the greatest success of Beijing was the strength and integrity of the concept. Vancouver did not follow suit. I hope future hosts will take note.
  9. Depends where you live. I've lived in the U.K. and there it is all about gold. In the U.S. it never has been. This is not just because of China's gold medal haul in 2008. For as long as I can remember, U.S. networks have arranged the medal table according to total medals. I may be mistaken on this (I'm sure someone will let me know if I am) but it seems to me that 2008 is the first time there's been such a noticeable difference between total gold medals and total medals of any color. More often than not, it seems the two go together or if they go to different nations the margin is slimmer than it was in 2008. The U.S. is nowhere near as strong in the WOGs anyway and, as near as I can tell, nobody's predicting anything close to a chart-topping haul in Vancouver.
  10. El Moutawakel will be president someday. It's just a question of when. She's very experienced, obviously very well-liked and she's a woman from a Muslim nation. What more could you want?
  11. I agree that the cool colors make complete sense for Vancouver and for the graphic identity they've chosen. They are very calm and serene, though. Not adrenaline pumping -- something I usually associate with the Games.
  12. It's definitely a more complex graphic look than we've seen in previous games. Limiting the palette keeps it from becoming too busy. Unfortunately the cool colors don't have a whole lot of energy. It's an attractive, serene look, but very restrained. It doesn't feel exciting or celebratory. (Of course that graphic wouldn't make any sense in orange and magenta...)
  13. I don't see figure skating leaving the Olympic program either. Much as the endless calculations of the new scoring system are somewhat tedious, I do think it yields more accurate results. I haven't seen a competition under the new system where it seemed like the medals went to the wrong skaters. Japanese complaints are unfounded. Yuna Kim has a target on her back because she's a one-of-a-kind talent. Whether or not she skates her best at the Games, she is an extraordinary athlete for whom figure skating appears as natural as breathing. Nobody can match that innate grace, musicality and characterization. She is one of a handful of skaters to stun me with a truly magical performance. If nerves get the better of her and she falters on her jumps, I'm confident that the scores will reflect that. The truth is that for all their athleticism none of the Japanese skaters has her poetry and they know there's nothing they can do about it. Even if they beat her on points, I don't see any way they can beat her on soul.
  14. I have to say that I think Davis & White and Belbin & Agosto are the best teams out there BUT..... I LOVE Virtue & Moir's Free Dance I think it's by far the most beautiful choreography and I think that with the home crowd cheering them on they could well win. I still think it's more likely than not that there will be 2 American teams on the podium...
  15. I have to admit, Plushenko's artistry has improved. It was better at Cup of Russia than in Torino. I still think he is far weaker in that department than the likes of Lysacek and Oda.
  16. Totally in synch w/ you beebee. Agree with everything you posted.
  17. Evan hasn't looked streaky for the last year and a half. Prior to that I'd agree with you. I also think that Plushenko is a pretty safe bet. As for those who are betting on Takahashi over Oda -- I'm really surprised. Oda has two GP wins and the silver in the final. He's consistently fun to watch. Takahashi seems to have a major conditioning problem and has been extremely shaky. Of course, there's still time for things to come together so I'm not necessarily ruling him out, but as of now I'd have to say that Oda looks polished and Takahashi looks ragged.
  18. It seems to me that there are more talented male figure skaters now than at any other time in recent memory. In such a close race, who do you think will win the gold? I think the following are the prime contenders (in alphabetical order): Brian Joubert Evan Lysacek Nobunari Oda Yevgeny Plushenko All four of them are incredible skaters and at least one of them will be left off the podium. At this point I'd back Lysacek to win, but the truth is that Oda or Plushenko could grab gold too. The difference is this -- although Oda skates with tons of charm and personality, because of his small stature his jumps don't project as much athleticism and drama as Lysacek's. Plushenko's jumps are spectacular, but the artistry -- though much improved over 2006 -- still pales in comparison to Lysacek. Joubert is the best athlete of the bunch and he's truly awesome when he hits, but the artistry is definitely not as strong. If he flubs a jump or two -- forget it. Whoever wins, I still think this is the most talented group of men I've ever seen skating at one time. And I haven't even mentioned Jeremy Abbott, Takahiko Kozuka, Daisuke Takahashi or Johnny Weir -- all of whom could surprise and medal. Sadly, Patrick Chan looked awful at Skate Canada, but he will have the home crowd behind him and he still has a few weeks to pull things together. No matter how it all shakes out, I think it could well be a matter of splitting hairs to decide the medals. Opinions?
  19. We Americans are masters at trotting out celebrities to camouflage a lack of content and forethought. Please don't borrow that from us. Your country has SO much more to offer. Leona Lewis, Jimmy Page and Becks (even w/ his weak kick) were a nice addition, but the whole presentation didn't hang together. I don't really think this is worrisome because, frankly, I'm not usually inspired by the handover portion of the CC. It tends to feature the upcoming host city at its least prepared. Beijing wasn't terribly exciting either w/ it's giant lantern, little girl and mini-clad musicians. Basically, I don't really think the handover is much of an indication of anything except what an organizing committee can throw together in relatively little time with relatively little money and virtually no rehearsal. I'm sure we will see a VAST improvement from London's OC.
  20. When I wrote that I hoped London didn't "talk down" the world audience, I meant that I hoped they wouldn't cater to the lowest common denominator by producing a simple, mindless entertainment. I hope they try to do something with depth and artistry. Regarding the bus -- the concept was better than the execution. The interior covered w/ phony turf just didn't work. A technical glitch can only partially account for the dance debacle. It was underwhelming.
  21. I take it all back, oaky. We do agree on something. In terms of spectacle and grandeur, Beijing was (and may well remain) unparalleled. However, I agree that Athens really managed to create a work of art. The Athens ceremonies really set the tone for those Games that Rogge called "unforgettable dream Games." No question about it. Money helps. A lot. I do not envy London's task of having to follow Beijing's act. All I can say is that London must take a very different approach. Some of the world's greatest theater artists reside in the UK. I hope the organizers take advantage of this fact. I'm not just talking about Trevor Nunn and his West End extravaganzas. Some of the best theater I've ever seen was produced at the Young Vic -- work full of thought, sensitivity and humanity -- reasonably low budget productions that used creative invention to serve human stories. Obviously such work will not literally translate in an Olympic stadium. But that high level of artistic integrity will. THAT is what London must bring to the stage in the opening ceremonies. They should not "talk down" to the world audience, but should create a rich, challenging and beautiful work of art. But by all means, no more unfolding double-decker buses surrounded by chaotic, pseudo-arty dancers. PLEASE.
  22. One reason: the structure is unique and iconic and people are excited. Every Olympic host should be so lucky with the design of their main stadium.
  23. As far as I'm aware no CD of the Athens Opening Ceremonies was ever released. Does anybody know how I might be able to get recordings of the music?
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