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Vancouver 2010 - the best Winter Olympics ever?


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Were these Winter Olympics the best ever?

James Pearce | 20:04 UK time, Sunday, 28 February 2010

Early in these Winter Olympics a furore was caused by a journalist asking if these Games were turning out to be the worst Winter Olympics ever.

Now I'm ready to pose another question, which will probably provoke just as much debate. Have these actually been the best Winter Olympics ever?

Let me clarify that question a little. In many ways there are always two parallel Olympics which take place - the one that viewers around the world watch on TV, and the one that spectators come to a city to enjoy in person.

For example, the Beijing Olympics were considered to be a great success by the international television audience, whereas many people who witnessed the Games at first hand complained about the lack of atmosphere in the Chinese capital.

I was in Beijing, and I can assure you that you simply cannot compare the spectator experience there with the one here in Vancouver. Vancouver wins hands down.

In Beijing there was little buzz around the city. Yes, they were a fantastic Games in terms of quality of venues and competition, but not in terms of the amount of fun that people were having. Here the street party began on the opening night and it shows no signs of coming to an end just yet.

One senior official from London 2012, who's been in Vancouver, told me that she's learned more from five days in Canada than she had from three weeks in China. That's because, in terms of spectator experience, London will be looking to follow the Vancouver model.

I haven't seen much of the TV coverage, so it's hard for me to judge what your personal opinions of these Olympics will be, but I hope that many of you will write your views here.

In the meantime I'll focus on my experience of the Games, having now spent nearly three weeks in Vancouver and Whistler. So, I should probably refine my opening question just a little: Are these Winter Olympics, in terms of spectator experience, the best ever?

On Saturday I was outside the Broadcast Centre grabbing some fresh air when I saw a large crowd heading down the street towards me. At the centre of the throng was a big Canadian flag being waved proudly in the air. As the people moved closer I could see that the man carrying that flag was Jon Montgomery, a Canadian gold medallist last weekend in the skeleton.

Around him, an impromptu procession had formed - a celebration of home-grown success. The further down the road that Montgomery went, the more people tagged on behind. If this had been a scene in some other countries maybe there would have been accusations of over-hyped nationalism, but this felt spontaneous, natural and very good natured.

I had witnessed just one of hundreds of events that have been taking place on the streets here every day, but for me it summed up one of the successes of these Games.

When I interviewed John Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver Olympics, last week, he said that he wanted the Games to help unite Canadians. Few would argue that hasn't happened over the past two weeks.

These have not, though, just been a Games for Canadians, they've been an all-embracing Games. The Canadian people could not have been more welcoming. All the athletes I've spoken to have said exactly the same.

Foreigners have been welcomed with open arms. It's almost impossible to travel on public transport here without a local coming over to speak to you (admittedly the BBC accreditation around my neck is a bit of a giveaway) and ask how you're enjoying the Olympics. There's a real pride here in Vancouver, as we saw from the strong response to the original articles which were so critical of the Games.

It's going to be interesting in London in 2012 to see if the British people get behind their Olympic team in quite the same way as the Canadians have here. Flags fly in every shop window, and are displayed on hundreds of thousands of shirts and jackets.

My producer, Jon, noticed early in the Olympics that a number of people were wearing red Canadian mittens. He decided that he'd buy a pair to take home for his wife. Two weeks later he's still looking! Every shop has sold out. They've become the must-have fashion accessory of the Games - millions have been bought.

It's just another illustration of how Canadians have united behind their country's flag. Even Oprah Winfrey was excited to be able to give some away on her show the other day.

I can only write about my personal experience in Vancouver, and, as you can see, I have little but praise for the way that this city has handled the Olympics. These are only my second Winter Olympics, so I'm in no position to say that they're the best ever, but in terms of spectator experience they definitely compare favourably with Turin four years ago.

And how about this for a compliment from a man who really should know what he's talking about? The IOC president Jacques Rogge told me in an interview (which you can watch here) that the people of Vancouver had "embraced the Olympic Games like no other city in the world before".

Many other seasoned Winter Olympic observers are also putting Vancouver right at the top of their list. Are they at the top of yours?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/jamespearce/2010/02/worst_ever_these_olympics_may.html

What a difference a fortnight can make! B)

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Though not perfect, certainly Vancouver I think is to date my favorite Olympic Winter Games ever. Why? The spectacular setting, the enthusiasm and friendliness of the host city, the look of their medals (by winter games standards), the official "look of the games", the opening ceremony that (while not entirely perfect) was I think overall the coolest winter opening ceremony ever.

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Salt Lake is still #1 for me, in terms of Ceremony, the Look...and per the experts in terms of organizations and hardly any glitches at all.

Sure, Vancouver's bigger, the tapestry has been opened up more...but at the same time, allowed for more glitches, both manmade and nature-made.

So, 2002 still ranks #1 in my book.

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Vancouver came close to topping Lillehammer - but didn't get there in the end.

We may never see another Lillehammer- unless Annecy wins 2018.

The small town, magnificent venues, awe inspiring hospitality (Vancouver did have this :)) and flawless delivery.

Of the recent Games -

1. Lillehammer

2. Vancouver

3. SLC

4. Albertville

5. Torino (did not attend in person - so based on the TV coverage)

6. Nagano (simply atmosphere wise - a very dull experience)

For example, the Beijing Olympics were considered to be a great success by the international television audience, whereas many people who witnessed the Games at first hand complained about the lack of atmosphere in the Chinese capital.

In Beijing there was little buzz around the city.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/jamespearce/2010/02/worst_ever_these_olympics_may.html

Just on this article point - what city was he in during the Beijing Games? The city - much, much larger than teh previous few Games - was a huge party.

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We may never see another Lillehammer- unless Annecy wins 2018.

Hope Annecy will be allowed to do as good as Lillehammer... but we could not compare the 2 cities...

Annecy City (as our administrative definition) is twice bigger than Lillehammer (in term of population), The Annecy Agglomeration is the size of all Lillehammer region (Oppland) in term of population and the Annecy's Region Rhone Alpes has more inhabitants than Norway....

So in term of organisation, I think there is more possibility...

But in term of sport... Norway is doing very well... we have to copy them !!!

Back to the subject... i went to all the games during these last 10 years (summer & winter) and for me Vancouver in term of organisation and public participation has done the best of the WOG and regarding summer is doing as well as Sydney & Beijing ....

Go VANOC Go !

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What I meant by my Annecy comment was not that Annecy would be the same as Lillehammer - but that an Annecy win may steer the Games back to smaller venues - thus eventually we may get back to Lillehammer sized Games :)

I could also say that of Pyeongchang but I dont want to. ;)

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From the other side of the world and relying on both conventional media (which waxed and waned in its reporting quality) and online resources (including here), I'd say the Vancouver Games were a little behind SLC and definitely not as good as Lillehammer. In some ways these were the schizoid games, with some serious faults (some controllable, some not) being overcome with some brilliant sport and great spectator buzz, and of course the generosity of most Canadians. Sad to say there will always be a tarnish to Vancouver 2010 due to the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, and as long as certain people in the organisational structures of the games play pass the buck that'll remain. But you can't fault the effort and enthusiasm from almost all who participated or watched. And to end as they have with one of the greatest match ups in Olympic history in the ice hockey, well the kudos are well deserved.

And Sochi has a heavy, heavy burden for 2014!

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What I meant by my Annecy comment was not that Annecy would be the same as Lillehammer - but that an Annecy win may steer the Games back to smaller venues - thus eventually we may get back to Lillehammer sized Games :)

I could also say that of Pyeongchang but I dont want to. ;)

That's where you wrong... Games in Annecy would not have the size of Lillehammer Games, as Annecy's area has the availability to accommodate more people than Lillehammer's area. So venues will not be as small as Lillehammer. And some, in the pre-applicant file were even bigger than some of the actual ones in Vancouver. Due to problem of transport, VANOC has reduced capacities of some venues between the bid & the delivery.

Edited by memorabilia
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Yeah to be honest, I thought this was probably the best Winter Olympics since Lillehammer. I think they set the bar so absurdly high during those games, that it's almost impossible to re-create.

These games were funny, largely because they were so all over the place. They started off poorly, with the cauldron flop, the death, and the crappy weather, but I felt like they rebounded well large in part due to the fact that from a sheer action standpoint, they might have been the best games I've ever seen winter or summer. Just great competition, atmosphere, human interest stories, controversy.. they had everything you'd want. A lot of the venues were truly breathtaking as well. I enjoyed the ceremonies, but they weren't blow-away for me. Sure, the technology used was pretty cool, but they really didn't have the organic feel that past hosts have.

Overall, a very good games, probably the best winter games since Lillehammer. The only one I'd compare to it since then would be Salt Lake, but I think I enjoyed these more. Torino was a pretty drab games and Nagano was probably the worst once I can remember. So who knows. That's my two cents though.

Sorry for the double post... but here's a heavy 'second' to hoping the Winter Games go back to more intimate venues. That was always part of the appeal. These big city winter games don't have the charm that places like Lillehammer and Albertville did.

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Definitely not the best Games, IMO. For various reasons.

I didn't like the mountain venues...the slopes on the Whistler/Cypress Mts were in horrible conditions for the athletes who hardly could do the training.Too much rain and fog that made everything look a bit sad.

Also I missed some nocturnal (evening) races in Whistler like for example for ski jumping and men's slalom.

The Whistler Sliding centre...there's no need to add anything.Simply unacceptable.

Then there was the odd Canadian "Own the podium" hysteria, it seemed a little bit arrogant and unsportsmanlike for me.Against the Olympic values.

I'm sure that there was a great atmosphere for who was there in person, but it's very different to see them (games) on tv at home...

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Definitely not the best Games, IMO. For various reasons.

I didn't like the mountain venues...the slopes on the Whistler/Cypress Mts were in horrible conditions for the athletes who hardly could do the training.Too much rain and fog that made everything look a bit sad.

Also I missed some nocturnal (evening) races in Whistler like for example for ski jumping and men's slalom.

The Whistler Sliding centre...there's no need to add anything.Simply unacceptable.

Then there was the odd Canadian "Own the podium" hysteria, it seemed a little bit arrogant and unsportsmanlike for me.Against the Olympic values.

I'm sure that there was a great atmosphere for who was there in person, but it's very different to see them (games) on tv at home...

Oh please, obviously given your history around these boards you don't like Vancouver trampling over Torino.

loll...you can't blame a host city for bad weather...and there has been worst weather at some previous Games.

Whistler Sliding Centre. Athlete error.

"Own The Podium". It's just a name. Would you prefer that we call it the "2010 Winter Games Athlete Training Fund"? :rolleyes: And FYI, EVERY Olympic host nation has a program/fund like that leading up to their Olympics so that their athletes excel at the home games. Every nation uses their home field advantage. Keep whining...

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Did I hear a little boy whining over here?

When you grow up a little bit you'll learn that exists many different opinions, not only yours. Maybe your mother should teach it to you one day.

So, stop crying and get over it.

OK?

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Did I hear a little boy whining over here?

When you grow up a little bit you'll learn that exists many different opinions, not only yours. Maybe your mother should teach it to you one day.

So, stop crying and get over it.

OK?

There educated opinions...and then there's ignorant opinions, like yours.

Oh yea, those Olympic rings were from Torino. :rolleyes:

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That's where you wrong... Games in Annecy would not have the size of Lillehammer Games, as Annecy's area has the availability to accommodate more people than Lillehammer's area. So venues will not be as small as Lillehammer. And some, in the pre-applicant file were even bigger than some of the actual ones in Vancouver. Due to problem of transport, VANOC has reduced capacities of some venues between the bid & the delivery.

Sigh.

I didn't mean venues as in the arenas - I meant as in the locale.

Annecy is a much smaller venue for the Games as a whole than Vancouver, Torino, Sochi, SLC, even Nagano.

Town size wise - not sporting arena wise.

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Oh please, obviously given your history around these boards you don't like Vancouver trampling over Torino.

Well, mr x, we could say the same for you. Given your history here, it comes to evidence your "anti-Torino" attitude and btw it's you who started those obssessive comparison threads between Vancouver and Torino, remember? :blink:

Lehari was volounteer in Torino. She may be a little bit too emotional about it but surely she experienced Torino games better than anyone else.

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X, you can't blame the city for the bad weather, but nor can you deny that it does colour some people's assessments as to whether this was the best games ever (a title people aren't going to give lightly). Unfair on Vancouver, possibly, but that's the way it is. Own the Podium was a horribly unfortunate name (in retrospect) for a perfectly acceptable and normal scheme. I do think, though, it's terribly unfair people have leapt on this as a criticism of these Games. I'm not comfortable with putting the luge death solely down to athlete error, but we've discussed this a lot already in other threads.

Having said all of that, I think it's still probably the Winter Olympics I've enjoyed watching the most. I think that just goes to show how good the good things were that they're able to outweigh the problems to such an extent. When Vancouver got it right, they really got it right. I don't remember Lillehammer as I was only 9, so I can't properly say whether these were the best Games ever, but they were my favourite of the ones I've watched. That's my honest assessment, no agenda. :)

Edited by RobH
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Well, mr x, we could say the same for you. Given your history here, it comes to evidence your "anti-Torino" attitude and btw it's you who started those obssessive comparison threads between Vancouver and Torino, remember? :blink:

Lehari was volounteer in Torino. She may be a little bit too emotional about it but surely she experienced Torino games better than anyone else.

I don't have an anti-Torino attitude, nor have I "obssessively" compared Vancouver and Torino. I'm quite sure others like lehari have done much more than that than I ever have, and other forumers can confirm that. And it speaks to me and others that you guys have insecurities.

But I will say that I do have an anti-ignorance attitude. ;)

I also have to say that I'm quite looking forward to Sochi 2014, and in many aspects I do expect and hope that they will either mirror or exceed the successes of Vancouver and previous Olympics or perhaps even create new successful aspects of the Games like what Vancouver has done with live sites.

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I don't have an anti-Torino attitude, nor have I "obssessively" compared Vancouver and Torino. I'm quite sure others like lehari have done much more than that than I ever have, and other forumers can confirm that. And it speaks to me and others that you guys have insecurities.

But I will say that I do have an anti-ignorance attitude. ;)

I also have to say that I'm quite looking forward to Sochi 2014, and in many aspects I do expect and hope that they will either mirror or exceed the successes of Vancouver and previous Olympics or perhaps even create new successful aspects of the Games like what Vancouver has done with live sites.

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I don't see how you can hold the weather against the Organizing committee. It's just not something they can control. I could see people judging them based on how they reacted, but no more, no less. I thought they did a pretty good job all things considered. As for the death of the Georgian luger, yes it was his error and yes, the Olympic officials are at fault a bit, too. I think it's pretty clear he should have never been sliding in these games. It was their job to weed those guys out. While these are mostly amateur athletes, this isn't 'amateur hour', either. Only the best. So there's a measure of responsibility of which both both sides are accountable for.

The thing I WOULD hold against the committee would be the ticket lines, the chain link fence at the cauldron, the cauldron not working. Those are things you can hold against them. The rest.. not so much.

Again, if I were to compare this to a past winter olympics, I'd say that Salt Lake would probably be a reasonable one: Mostly a very good Olympic games with some obvious marks going against for stuff in the background. No more. no less. Lillehammer is still the standard bearer, IMO.

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