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Everything posted by Athensfan

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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...)
  6. 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.
  7. 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...
  8. 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.
  9. Totally in synch w/ you beebee. Agree with everything you posted.
  10. 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.
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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?
  17. As you all may be able to guess from my username, the Athens Olympics were one of the highlights of my life. I cannot imagine a better Olympic host. No matter how spectacular Bejing turns out to be, the Chinese will not be able to equal the magic and the poetry of Athens. The charm of Greece and its people is undeniable. People were friendly, helpful (though not always knowledgable), and extremely welcoming. The city itself is a wonderful blend of style, history, and laid-back sloppiness. Where else can you see an impeccably groomed woman in Prada heels walking over broken pavement, past a cluster of stray dogs, beneath a balcony that is overflowing with laundry, while still seeing the Parthenon in the background. Its just an absolutely fantastic atmosphere. The transportation was excellent. Directions were clear and trains and buses moved efficiently. The venues were gorgeous. Calatrava's roof, arch, animated wall, velodrome were all magnificent. I will never forget how my fellow passengers on the train to OAKA let out a collective gasp as they took in its beauty. It was audible admiration. Being a very visual person, I especially appreciated the Look of the Games, which I believe is unparalleled. It was quintessentially Greek -- a vibrant Mediterranean palette that oozed with enthusiasm coupled with a relaxed graphic style that evoked history and Athens laid-back style. I firmly believe that the Look is one of the most important elements to creating an Olympic atmosphere and Athens nailed it. "Welcome Home" was the perfect motto. The other key ingredient to creating a signature Olympic impression is, of course, the Opening Ceremonies. As others have noted, these ceremonies were by far the best of any Games. They were inventive and yet perfectly encapsulated the unique place of these Games in history. Many ceremonies are disjointed collages. While sitting in the stadium I was awed by how seamlessly the elements were woven together. They made artistic and conceptual sense. Admittedly, Bjork was the weak point, but I'm willing to overlook her. I will never understand the complaints I've heard about the music in the Ceremony. I really loved it and wish a CD had been released. Athens certainly had its flaws. I met a lawyer from the UAE who sprained his ankle by stepping in a hole at OAKA. On a few occasions I had to dodge dangerous pieces of rebar prodtruding from the concrete surrounding the venues. Most of the volunteers were very polite, but knew almost nothing and were of very little help. The food at the venues was inexpensive, but terrible. (Why did they put gyros in hot dog buns?! Ugh.) And of course the patriot missile launcher parked behind the canoeing, kayaking venue was a bit disconcerting. Still, I can overlook these things. The core of the Games was so good, that the problems can be ignored. It deeply saddens me that more people did not appreciate the Athens Olympics. The empty seats were so disappointing. Yet the media made such a fuss about how Greece wouldn't be ready and terrorists would be lurking in every corner. It's not surprising that people stayed away. If I were Gianna, I would be insanely proud of myself and hugely irritated with the press. As for the legacy, I hope the world rediscovers Greece. The price tag of the Games was astronomical. Had the first three years not been wasted, I believe more cost-effective plans could have been found. A better legacy could have been thought through. Time became such an issue that it's no wonder that the legacy suffered. All the focus had to be on the Games themselves. Now, unfortunately, the Greeks are paying the price. I do my part. I tell everyone I know how much I love the country and how much everyone needs to see it at least once. I hope the tourism picks up. Others have commented about the Games returning to Athens. To be honest, it's not something I've thought about much. I hope the Olympics return home again in my lifetime. I hope the venues don't fall into such disrepair that they can no longer be used. I hope that Greece can do it again. It may be fifty or sixty years, but if I am able, I will be there.
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