If these Games be the worst... - Macleans.ca

If these Games be the worst…

‘Then, very well, let them be the worst,’ says COLBY COSH. ‘We’ll live.’


British journalists are not the only ones raising awkward questions about the multitudinous stumbles that have characterized the beginning of the Winter Olympics. They merely attract the most attention, for reasons that have nothing much to do with the truth or falsehood of their criticisms. These reasons include:

1. Cultural cringe: the inherent Canadian awareness of inferiority, and suspicion of condescension, provoked by anything British-accented. No beast is feebler than the Canadian journalist who wraps himself in the flag and rushes tearfully to his typewriter or microphone upon the first hint of perceived sneering at the colonials. Don’t get me wrong: it’s good copy. I saw the technique, used cynically, work like a charm at the ’01 Athletics Worlds here in Edmonton when a couple of old Fleet Street soaks spoke unlacquered truth about the city’s broad streak of Soviet shabbiness. But to engage on that level is to perpetuate the cringe, and besides, there’s reason 2:

2. Criticisms naturally hit harder when they’re written with great force. British writers are vigorous, direct, unflinching, entertainment-minded, and, in general, better at their trade than ours. (Rest assured—they’ll be, if anything, much harder on their own 2012 Summer Games.) Their newspapers are more fun than ours, pay good writers much more, and are doing better as businesses. They are also rank with ethical failings and obnoxious practices, to be sure, but almost all of those arise from trying too hard to get the story, intruding too far into private matters, competing too viciously, overreacting to perceived injustice. The failings of Canada’s press are all, as a rule, on the other side—the side of compromise, laziness, and political correctness. For instance, look no further than reason 3:

3. Canadian journalists covering the Games have, virtually to a man, accepted the premise that the Games provide an accurate moral, artistic, and technical reflection on Canada as a whole. I don’t remember signing that contract, and if I were going to sign one with a city and its business and volunteer communities, I wouldn’t have chosen Vancouver. Are you kidding? Place is screwy! As it happens, Alberta already staked its international reputation on a Winter Olympics, thanks, and did fine. The rest of you are quite welcome to let yourselves be judged on the basis of this fiasco, but as far as I can see, you haven’t been asked.

I hasten to add that the relative success of the 1988 Games—painfully emphasized by the Great Calgary Zamboni Airlift—is not entirely to Alberta’s credit. After all, Beijing put on a heck of an Olympics, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It put on an outstanding show partly for the reasons I wouldn’t want to live there: crushing social homogeneity, one-party government, lack of civil liberties, central economic planning. If the Games needed a row of shacks in Beijing knocked down, they got knocked down, without a lot of paperwork or argument. If industrial pollution was a problem, mills and factories could be shut down arbitrarily for as long as needed to render the air breathable by gweilo weaklings. Protesters delaying VIP access to the Opening Ceremonies? In China? Forget about it. (Literally: forget about it or you’ll be sent to the laogai for re-education.)

I don’t mean to equate Calgary to Beijing, but the factors that allowed Calgary to succeed as an Olympic host probably did include weak political opposition on the municipal and provincial levels; a small, dominant social-financial elite; a certain degree of cultural homogeneity; and a borderline-inappropriate degree of coziness between legislators, regulators, and judges. What you want in an ideal Olympic city is that it be quite rich, very conformist, and a teensy bit crooked. Calgary wouldn’t be as good a host in 2010 as it was in 1988; it’s a more interesting place now.

And Vancouver may have bitten off slightly more than it can chew, precisely because it’s about the most interesting place in the country, in good respects and bad. It’s not a well-oiled machine, it’s a self-sufficient permanent riot. I have always understood its disorder to be part of its glory. I would have put an Olympics on the moon before I’d have put one there.


If these Games be the worst…

  1. Nice post. Of course, one cannot completely rule out incompetence on the part of the organizers, right? I mean, the Olympics have been held in Nagano, Turin, and a host of many other entirely-livable places too.

    Not having an alternate venue to Cypress in case of a weather emergency — how is that not incompetence?

    • Try understanding what it takes to have an "alternate venue". Not quite as easy as you think.

      • Or try understanding the meaning of the word 'incompetence'. It's a pretty strong label to hang on the organizers, less than halfway into the entire event, given that the vast majority of the events have gone, and will continue to go, basically as planned.

        • Or try understanding the definition of "weather emergency." A bunch of not-so-amateur athletes unable to show off according to schedule does not constitute a weather emergency.

    • Not having an alternate venue to Cypress in case of a weather emergency
      So – how many Cypress events have been cancelled?

    • Hello!!! – every event at Cypress has gone ahead as scheduled – what are you talking about!!!

  2. Interesting perspective on Vancouver, Cosh. I had not thought of it that way but it does appear organizers have been smoking too much wacky backy, that's for sure.

    I think people are crazy if they think Olympics reflect Canada in any way, shape or form. A broken Olympia does not have bigger meaning that reflects on our society or banking system or our efforts in Haiti or whatever.

    The best way to deal with Brits is to return fire, not get all snively. UK does not have a lot to brag about at the moment, there are plenty of criticisms that could be used. And I agree that UK press are just using Vancouver to sharpen their claws in anticipation of London '12. Vancouver has nothing to worry about – it is beautiful city that most Brits would give their left leg to emigrate to.

    And, as an aside, what's with the Zamboni being brought in from Calgary. I find it hard to believe there are no functional Zambonis in Vancouver that could be used.

    • You can't use a hockey Zamboni on a speed-skating venue, apparently.

      • That explains it, thank you. I thought ice was ice, did not know there were different Zambonis with specific tasks.

    • A broken Olympia does not have bigger meaning that reflects on our society

      Well I'd quibble with you slightly on this one, based on the reasons it was chosen. Apparently this model was chosen over Zamboni because it's electric and they wanted the games to be "carbon neutral". It was chosen because of a stupid token gesture to the religion of environmentalism, not because they wanted something that was actually proven to work; and it will now end up being more environmentally unfriendly because of the airlift.

      I mean come on…Zamboni is pretty much the gold standard for ice cleaning is it not? I didn't even know there was an alternative; I thought "Olympia" was just an Olympics-related brand name they gave a Zamboni. And we're supposed to be the country that has elevated hockey to religion status. Why on earth would they even consider anything else?

      • "Apparently this model was chosen over Zamboni because it's electric and they wanted the games to be "carbon neutral".

        Seriously? I did not know that, hahahahahaha. Olympia performed well as everyone was watching – can't buy publicity like that!

        I wonder how 'carbon neutral' it is to bring in proper Zamboni on flatbed truck.

      • Could we get a link on that?

        I thought the difference between an Olympia and a Zamboni was that you need a different type of machine all together for speedskating ice than you do for hockey ice. I'm pretty sure the machines they're using at the hockey venues are Zambonis (Zambinii?), but I could be entirely wrong. I rather assume the machine they'll use at B.C. Place is the one the Canucks use, and maybe I'm off, but I presume it's a Zamboni.

        • Here's the link.


          The ice machine

          The plan: Olympic organizers chose the Olympia brand ice-resurfacers at the Richmond Olympic Oval instead of the more well-known, propane-powered Zambonis. The Implementation: The Olympia machines malfunctioned two days in a row, jeopardizing the 500-metre men's long-track speed skating competition on Monday. Two machines dumped water and snow about 20 metres from the finish line. What was supposed to be a 15-minute holdup stretched to a 70-minute delay.
          The Human Element: VANOC officials chose the Olympias because they are battery-powered, and could help the Games meet their carbon-neutral goal.

          The Fix: After the ice gaffes on Monday, venue operations manager Magnus Enfeldt apologized and acknowledged that the decision has been rethought. He said the Games would bring in a Zamboni from Calgary to take over the ice-resurfacing duties.

          • I read somewhere that the main reason they went with the Olympias is because they're made by GM, and GM is a major sponsor of the games…

          • Yes. Don't eliminate the fact that any commercial square inch is being processed for revenue — the olympias were 'awarded' the contract under the condition of providing the best 'return' ie $ and service. Service not including ability to do the job, apparently.

          • Couldn't be. Not if a more complicated explanation involving a conspiracy has been proposed.

          • Yeah, you read it here on these blogs somewhere. That information is wrong, it was pointed out it was wrong in the comments, yet it hasn't been corrected.

          • I recall reading somewhere that (in the past at least) Olympia ice resurfacers were built starting with a GM truck frame, then stripping off everything that wasn't required and then adding whatever other parts are required to get yourself an ice resurfacer.

            Btw, as far as I know (again) Zamboni does (did?) make an electric ice resurfacer…I'm sure that there was one in use at a facility not too far away.

          • I am not to sure why Battery operated machines are considered greener than the propane powered Zamboni . Propane is considered an alternate fuel with low emissions. Unless these so called green Olympia machines are charged via solar power They are actually not all that green . after all when you plug them in they are being charged from electricity created by damning rivers .

          • Agree regarding charging batteries….the benefit of batteries is that it allows us to use the often used "Out of sight, out of mind" technique of dealing with problems.

            Curious about your suggestion that hydro is not green….on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being coal fired electricity and 10 being solar power, how green is hydro?

          • Thanks John G!

            I actually think wanting to use a more environmentally friendly solution is a fine enough factor to be CONSIDERED, but it would seem that performance is decidedly lacking. Of course, is it possible that this was just a breakdown of the machine, unrelated to the electric vs. diesel divide? I mean, Zamobinis can break down too of course. The machine over-flooding the ice surface suggests to me a hose bursting or some such, not the electric engine dying (but then, what do I know?). What makes me wonder is why they have to fly the thing in from Calgary? What do the Canucks use (or is it still that you need something different for speedskating than hockey, but that there are separate Olympias and Zambonis designed for each?). You don't hear about the Olympia breaking down all the time at Canucks games (but again, maybe they do use a Zamboni, but you need a different type of Zamboni for speedskating).

          • But here's a question. This oval's been around AND IN USE for about a year, right? What have they been using all this time to resurface? Have they not tried a rehearsal with these machines on a schedule that would mimic actual Olympic tournament timing? Or have they done all that and this is just really bad luck where the warranties expired in mid-January?

          • I'm fairly sure all the machines have been out there for a while. At least late November, early December. I'm sure they have tried them out on the ice, but I'm going to guess they didn't do it again an hour later–as in tournament timing. I don't know. But I understand all the venues have these machines, and none of the rest of them have any problems. My theory (and I don't know) is that because the Richmond Oval is the biggest surface and these are electric machines, that they heat up in the electronics department (because it's been different electronics problems) perhaps because they don't fully cool down between uses, and what with the extra large surface straining the electric machine capabilities I mean, it's never a problem at the cleaning before any of the races have started.

        • …I'm pretty sure the machines they're using at the hockey venues are Zambonis…
          No, they are Olympias as well, as are many of the ice surfacers in the municipal rinks in the region. The reason for switching from Zamboni about five years ago or so was that the Olympia offered an electric-powered machine, when Zamboni was sticking with (IIRC) propane. The internal combustion engine in a Zamboni raises Carbon Monoxide levels in an enclosed space – the air quality in many ice rinks was a problem, and switching to the Olympia was seen as a solution.

          Note that GM Place has been using the Olympia (named, I believe for the old rink in Detroit – Olympias are, or at least were a GM product) since it was built, and many municipal rinks switched to them well before 'carbon-neutral' meant anything to anyone.

          • Olympia's (some of them anyway) have some GM parts in them, but they are not now, nor have they ever been a GM product. It's like saying your car is a Bridgestone because that's the kind of tires you have.

    • "The best way to deal with Brits is to return fire"

      Return fire? What for? Is this some kind of contest?

      If a journalist e.g. wrote an article on problems in downtown Vancouver, would your first response be:

      a. To examine those issues, see if they chime with your own experience, contest them if necessary with counterarguments


      b. Immediately try to find out where the journalist is from. If he's from Toronto, think of some bad things about Toronto and Torontonians, then "return fire" with a slew of insults to everyone from that city


  3. Point 3 never occurred to me before, and in retrospect it did feel as though Vancouver was brewing up an origami in its corner and refused any input or help from anything East of Vancouver.

  4. Apparently they are having the warmest February in over 100 years, with all-time new temperature records expected for today. I don't think that not accounting for that eventuality, literally a 1 in 100 chance, can be characterized as incompetence. Sure there have been some other problems, but weather has been by far the largest.

    • "can be characterized as incompetence"

      Yes and no. I agree that weather is out of organizers control but I have been reading about warm weather in Vancouver for at least the past two months. It does not appear authorities made alternate plans and just hoped weather would improve.

      • You think they can plan for a new venue in two months? Seriously?

  5. Yeah, they're having the warmest February in 100 years. But it's not THAT much warmer. Ski weather is notoriously unpredictable in the lower mainland, and it's buggered up tournaments before. Why weren't they better prepared for that? Why wasn't the date earlier in the year to account for this? And who in the hell thought it was a bright idea first to deny countless foreign athletes access to our training runs, and then to admit we were doing it "for advantage" to the athletes faces?

    If I were Campbell, I'd promise a commission of inquiry in a week or so.

    • Can we sue Mother Nature? Somebody ask Warren Kinsella

    • Still, I'm pretty sure Vancouver's NOWHERE NEAR the Olympics record for delayed/canceled events yet. As you say, this sort of thing happens all the time, and they usually just push events back, sometimes from the first week into the second week. Also, I hear the problem at Cypress today is snow (LOL).

      There have certainly been problems in Vancouver, and criticism is justified (though I think sometimes just a bit overblown) but keep in mind that we're also on Day 6 of a 16 day event here, so it may be a bit premature to judge the Games as a whole just yet.

      • I agree: a lot of this is journalistic hyperbole (though I've made the Atlanta comparison myself, it was more a sign of possibility instead of current assessment). But some things sting more than others: the Zamboni-I mean Olympia-fiasco is clearly a VANOC decision-related problem. And delays on the hills don't look as bad as taking out the grandstands: a big number like 28,000 makes a lot worse press than a one- or two-day delay.

        An alternate freestyle skiing and boarding venue is silly though: the other mountains in Vancouver are not going to be in better condition, and the athletes and spectators would not be pleased to be told they'll have to commute to Whistler (or find accomodations there) if they put a backup over there.

      • yeah, but even the non-weather related problems now seem to be multiple times per day events. here is the latest:


        but i am still not sure how noting such problems jumps to an attempt to provide "an accurate moral, artistic, and technical reflection on Canada as a whole".

    • Few things:
      1. It's the warmest in 150 years, not 100
      2. It's been like 4 degrees warmer. That's 50% more than the average of 8 degrees.
      3. It is unpredictable, but if the Olympics were here last year, the problem would have been too much snow on Cypress.
      4. The weather that's buggered tournaments at Whistler before was always too much snow. Down-hillers don't like that.
      5. The Olympics are in February to avoid conflict with other events in January, and you can't hold them in 2009.
      6. I dunno about the training runs. I hadn't heard that.

      • [Puts on nerd glasses]
        12 degrees centrigrade vs 8 degree = 54 degrees Fahrenheit vs 46 degrees (+13%)
        You can't calculate percentage changes when the zero point is arbitary.
        If we use kelvins (ahem), the difference is 1.5%.

        • Rankine, what about rankine? ;-)

          • 1.5% as well, since they both start from absolute zero. Actually, you CAN use percentages for kelvins and rankine: since they start from absolute zero, they are a measure of the average thermal energy per unit mass. That's why they're "kelvins" not "degrees kelvin".

            Stop baiting me with nerd questions. :-P

          • Couldn't resist…I'll try harder…:-)

  6. First Off! I was at Montreal, Calgary, Salt Lake etc etc etc .. Vancouver is a well greased machine comapred to the previous ones – there is no issue with these games … there is ONLY ONE FACTOR that is important we got GOLD and will get more GOLD .. period …

  7. Seems to me like a lot of whining from journalists without a real story to chase. VANOC needs to arrange for a distraction and fast! Either that or ferry them around from pub to pub in taxis. The UK press are like piranhas in this kind of situation.

    And I am with Colby's disavowal of the whole exercise as being "Canadian" in some way. This is a city or at best a province hosting the games not the country, and they would have made their opening ceremony a lot simpler and more coherent if they had kept that in mind.

    • "… province hosting the games not the country…" as indicative by the $10-million Chicago made tent called Canada Pavillion. I think Canada should have just contracted some Pennsylvanian amish to build a red and white barn at a quarter of the price and we'd have something more representative and entertaining — but that's our 'noncommittal federal government' for yah.

      • "Chicago made tent"
        The "Canadian" headquarters of the Chicago company, is two blocks from the CBC building in downtown Vancouver.
        The Canadian subsidiary of the Chicago company, had 200 Canadian employees build the structure in Vancouver. By your regurgitating underhanded Harper hating, you in turn must believe TD Bank should not be operating in the US or Bombardier should not assemble trains in China.

    • This is a city or at best a province hosting the games not the country.

      I live in Ontario. Where do I apply for my federal tax refund?

      • You neo-con collectivity-hating b@st@rd, you…


        • LOL,

          O course, I don't actually WANT the money back, just making a point.

        • LOL,

          O course, I don't actually WANT the money back, just making a point.

  8. There are a lot of armchair quarterbacks here that no absolutely nothing about what they speak. As someone who was even slightly privy to some of the inside planning for these games – none of your solutions to these so called problems are feasible.

    Does anyone have any idea how many different organizing levels, how many clearance reports, how much bureaucracy is needed to affect even one change?? There are IOC, COC, Federal, Int'l Sport Fed, levels that all need to sign off on everything.

    Try thinking a little outside the box and try understanding a bit more than what you read in the newspaper.

    • There are a lot of armchair quarterbacks here that no absolutely nothing about what they speak.

      You realize you're scolding the internet, right?

    • > There are a lot of armchair quarterbacks here that no absolutely nothing about what they speak.

      I no exactly what you mean. I HATE people like that.

    • Heh heh. Okay, I'll try thinking outside the box about all the inside-the-box junk that needs to be dealt with in order for the Olympics to be better.

  9. Gweilo is Cantonese – You mean waigoren.

    • Nice catch!

    • Laowai (Mandarin) would better capture the colloquial style of gweilo (Cantonese). Unfortunately it looks similar in spelling to laogai, despite sounding nothing alike in a tonal language.

  10. Good column, until this:
    "crushing social homogeneity, one-party government, lack of civil liberties, central economic planning."
    Suddenly an Albertan talking about these of another nation seems a tad obtuse…

    • …or it would, if I didn't in fact go on to detail common factors between the two places. Congratulations on your Read Before Commenting prize.

    • You can't possibly be comparing Alberta to China. Talk about melodramatic; they aren't even in the same league.

    • Calgary is now the most diverse city in Canada – if that is an important measure for you.

      • Bwahahahahahaha!

        Best laugh today.

      • Awesome! That is the funniest, most untrue statement of the day.
        Calgary! Hee!
        Thanks for that… I enjoyed it. Did Peter from Family Guy say that? Should've.

  11. It kind of reminds of real expensive wedding where the bride and her family get all tweaked out over how perfect it has to be.

  12. Moon Olympics is an even better idea than Prince curating a superbowl half-time show in perpetuity. The figure skaters could jump so high they could do octouple jumps, and probably add backflips!

    And of course British journalists will be better at their trade than whatever our trade is. :)

  13. You're not making this boring topic more interesting, li'll Colbly. I've read this column at least a hundred times over the last two decades.

    • At least a hundred? Why?

      • In a triumph of hope over experience, Anon keeps hoping the hundred-and-first column will suit his fancy. Alas, s/he is foiled again.

  14. "British writers are vigorous, direct, unflinching, entertainment-minded, and, in general, better at their trade than ours."

    British journalists are not hamstrung by the miserable layer of political correctness coating all Canadians, and by extension, Canadian journalists. That's the real difference.

    • It's true, the british journalists are not as politically correct (except the BBC, which is the queen of PC). However, the rest of British society is more PC than anywhere else.

      Makes me wonder how that happened.

    • Re: "British journalists are not hamstrung by the miserable layer of political correctness…"

      Yeah, I would argue they are just miserable (most of them, anyways).

  15. I gotta say, I agree with Colby, them be weird people in Vancouver :-) Like, for instance, who on earth would have thought ofputting a fence around the flame preventing anyone from coming within a hundred yards? What's the point? Are they afraid those crazy anti-poverty zealots are gonna douse it? Weird.

    • "Are they afraid those crazy anti-poverty zealots are gonna douse it?"

      What other explanation would there be? Of course that's the reason. Also, even before the fence modifications, there was no problems getting a good look at the flame. This is a made up story.

      • I saw a picture, the story is not made up. Let people have their pictures taken next to the flame. Canada, tear down that wall!

  16. Cosh:

    First off, re: "British writers are vigorous, direct, unflinching, entertainment-minded, and, in general, better at their trade than ours."

    Hilarious! There are some good Brit journalists writing about the Games (e.g., Hawton in the Independent, for e.g.) but overall the majority of what I've read from the Brit hacks bears no resemblance to reality of Vancouver 2010, or in general does not accurately reflect the city that I live in. Their stories are riddled with inaccuracies, hype and outright mindless derision.

    And re: "I would have put an Olympics on the moon before I'd have put one there."

    That's why you are a minor blogger and not an Olympics game organizer. The Vancouver Olympics are going to turn out fine, and then the various dyspeptic reporters will have to find something else to write negative stuff about…

    • I'll add that the so-called "minor blogger" has been paid to write for close to two decades, and for my money he's one of the most talented and entertaining bloggers in the entire country.

      • I'm just suprised to learn that such people have to choose between blogging and organizing Olympic games. I hope the high school guidance counselors are steering them appropriately. You'd hate to get that kind of thing wrong.

        • Heh. You can't trash a hockey player in writing in this country without some miffed whiner saying: "I'd like to see you play as good as he does!", and apparently you can't be skeptical about the execution of the Winter Olympics in this country without some wounded patriot retorting: "I'd like to see you run the Olympics, you second-rate hack!".

      • "for my money he's one of the most talented and entertaining bloggers in the entire country."

        Good thing CC's writing is free to access.

        • Good thing I pay for the magazine that pays for his writing.

      • Teacher's pet! Teacher's pet!

        Oh wait. You're actually on target. But you're still the teacher's pet! Teacher's pet!

    • Headline: faceless internet crank says, in words nobody paid him to write, that "minor blogger" is unimpressive. STOP PRESS

      • Oh, sorry… I was away for awhile enjoying the Olympics (Czech/Slovak game was quite entertaining, including the fans…) and I missed all these wonderfully self-righteous zingers back from the folks holed up in their basements. Or do you occasionally go outside, Cosh?

        Methinks the Cosh doth protest too much. Lots of people get paid money to generate dross (for e.g., many of those British hacks that Tony Blair aptly described as akin to a "feral animal"), including Maclean's writers that come to mind. Cosh, I rarely read your posts anymore due to their exasperating nature and I haven't bought a Maclean's magazine for years, mostly because of the writers Kenneth Whyte has insisted on hiring in recent years (like yourself). Judging from Maclean's plunging profits I imagine some of the editors and writers on staff have something to do with the magazine's declining fortunes.

        • Yes, I know you rarely read them. That doesn't stop you from commenting on nearly every single one, of course, as anyone here can confirm.

          • No, actually I ignore most of your stuff (I've learned from experience). I just tend to comment on your more egregious departures from rationality and common sense. I've got better things to do with my time.

  17. Well said!

    It's certainly true that there have been problems. Beyond the hyped examples of weather and venue issues are things like a lack of things to do for the thousands of visitors and locals in the city leading to massive queues for everything from LiveCity to even just the Bay Store! And as a resident of downtown Vancouver at the centre of the festivities, I can't help but agree that there's an obnoxious element to the crowds, with their incessant flag flapping and shrill woo-hooing.

    With that said, these British writers are primary concerned with filling newsprint not scientific accuracy or even-handedness. As Cosh points out, they're very good being provocative and sensationalist. It sells papers and gets people talking. But I've just come back from Britain and the trashiness and celebrity-obsession of their papers is just shocking. Even 'The Province', a low-brow tabloid here in Vancouver has more real news in it than almost anything you'll pick up on the street in London or Glasgow. We might seem dull and boring by British standards, but the fair, sober and well-written style of Canadian journalists is as good as anything Britain has to offer.

    • Rubbish. There are no world class Canadian newspapers – nothing to hold a candle to The Telegraph, the FT or the Independent. And don't confuse the British tabloids with the broadsheets. The former are more like a daily version of People Magazine, with a smattering of real news, plus sports coverage. Those kinds of vehicles just never really took root in Canada in a newspaper-style format.

      The Province is a complete joke. It reads like a media arm of the BC real estate industry, padded with some stories about gang shootings and traffic accidents.

  18. Don't you mean, "stop the electronic posting"? :)

    • The internet never stops!

      • It does, sporadically, when Bell is your service provider. At least at my house.

  19. 49-2. That's Canada vs opponents in hockey so far. Looks like the women could have spent their afternoons at Insite and still have won their games so far.

    • Wow. Now if only any nation other than Canada cared about women's hockey, or made any concerted effort to play it, our country would have some real bragging rights on its hands!

  20. Being an immigrant myself, and from Nov 08, 1988 until the rest of my life, a very proud Canadian, I cannot understand why Canadian's put so much stock in what the English (and British) say about us. The empire is dead. The British have done nothing of note in the last few decades. France, Spain and Germany by way of the European Union, will further diminish England. The English, specifically, are intellectually bankrupt. Their youth are binge-drinking morons on a scale that no Canadian student could comprehend. I could go on but there is no point. I work for a company that's full of British expats…accents from parts of Ireland, Scotland and various parts of England. These people obviously left for a reason. Though I have to admit that I often think they would not get hired so readily if they had some kind of Caribbean accent…think Russell Brand in Hollywood and without the accent… he now simply a buffoon.

    • "I cannot understand why Canadian's put so much stock in what the English (and British) say about us. The empire is dead. The British have done nothing of note in the last few decades"

      What is REALLY astonishing is that slews of people from this country have taken a few articles written by a few journalists in the UK as a personal attack on all Canadians by all Brits, and have turned, as a FIRST resort, to name-calling based on stereotypical cliches, to obviate the need to address the issues under discussion. I mean, imagine if a colleague at work claimed that you'd been doing substandard work recently, and your only response was, "Oh yeah? Well, you're ugly and have bad breath!"

      It's truly embarrassing to behold – we've come across as insecure, angry morons with no class and no maturity.

  21. Dee et al., you can boast about how great these games are but the only thing that will be remembered about these games are that a kid died because of a ridiculous oversight at one of the venues and a shoddy, embarassing cover up by VANOC and the IOC.

    As far as the articles out of the UK please list the inaccuracies that they are riddled with, and while you're at it why not check out any major news outlet in the US and see what some of their journalists are saying about the games. Are you going to trash talk every country that tells the truth about the shortcomings of the 2010 games? Get a life, stop looking for a reason to feel hurt and enjoy the Olympics.

    • Uh, actually I am enjoying the Olympics very much, thank you.

      There's no doubt about it that the death of the Georgian luger was a huge black mark on the Games. Full stop. But to say that will be the only thing people remember afterwards, years later? History tells us this is certainly not the case.

      The American and Canadian media have actually been quite balanced in their Games coverage, overall, I think. Talking about the inevitable problems and hiccups, along with the triumphs, great performances and great spirit of the fans here in Vancouver. The Brit press overall though, are another story (there are a few Brits that have been more objective, as I pointed out)… as other journalists have noted, this has probably something to do with their upcoming games in London in 2012.

  22. They had a bombing in Atlanta and also severe transportation problems . How many Athletes Died in Munich in 1872? I found this list of athletes that have been killed at the Olympics
    Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, Georgia – Luge – 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver
    * Nicholas Bochatay, 27, Switzerland – Speed Skiing – 1992 Winter Olympic Games, Albertville
    * Jorg Oberhammer, 47, Austrian Team Doctor – Ski Collision – 1988 Winter Olympic Games, Calgary
    * Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki, Britian – Luge – 1964 Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck
    * Ross Milne, 19, Australia – Downhill Skiing – 1964 Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck

    Summer Games Fatalities

    * Knut Jensen, Denmark – Cyclist – 1960 Summer Olympic Games, Rome
    * Francisco Lazaro, 21, Portugal – Runner – 1912 Summer Olympic Games, Stockholm

    I am Canadian and I may not totally agree with Vanoc but I would say that the organizers have done a great job of keeping the games going even with the warmest winter that I can remember.

    • I forgot about that crazy speed skiing event. Competitors that fell down often ended up with their uniforms melted into their skin.

    • "How many Athletes Died in Munich in 1872?"

      I doubt there are accurate records going back that far.

  23. I would think the 1936 Berlin games would be the worst ever.

  24. I never felt there was an inherent Canadian awareness of inferiority but I do despise the English accent. They are taught to keep and honor their accent no matter how awful it is. Coronation Street is a good example, a show that I can't watch let alone listen to.
    Why don't the Brits straighten out their vowels, the dictionary will show them the correct pronounciation. After all the English language came from there and I for one would like them to be proud of 'correct' pronounciation.
    Is their attitude one of arrogance or inferiority!!

    • "Why don't the Brits straighten out their vowels, the dictionary will show them the correct pronounciation."

      That would rather depend on the dictionary, wouldn't it? A North American dictionary would show North American pronunciations, which are influenced most heavily by Irish and English West Country accents.

      Are you one of these people who thinks that Canadians and Americans have no accent? (Laughs.)

      "Is their attitude one of arrogance or inferiority!!"

      I assume that's a question, despite having no question mark.

      Yours is the most arrogant post I've seen on this page, so if there's some law of excluded middle going on here, it looks like the Brits will have to settle for the inferiority option.

      • I use the Oxford English dictionary as well as Websters and others.
        My ancestry is English, as is my husband and a sister-in-lay. I graduated from the Trinity College of London in music befor doing furthur studies and two relatives attended Oxford. Besides that I grew up in an English colony, becoming Canadian in 1949.
        Being so pro- English this accent thing bothers me but I might as well forget it as no one seems to agree with me.
        A German professor once told us that English is the fastest changing language of the world and I assumed he meant the 'new world' due to the immigration factor.
        Where I live the Univ. gave classes to students with accents in view of changing them or else they would have trouble getting jobs as teachers and clergy.
        I am proud of the English language and would like to see it used properly.

  25. Very boring article … I could hardly finish it. It was so narrow minded and focused on listening to it's own voice that it was hard to take. I am so glad I can make a note of Cosh's name (easy to remember) and never bother with another of his.

  26. Do we still care what the British think?

    • Why isn't it simply a question of caring about what a particular JOURNALIST thinks, and addressing the arguments and accusations, rather than treating that individuals piece as being somehow representative of an entire nation? What a bizarre way for an adult to look at things!

  27. Saying that this is the warmest winter or month in 100 + years is just a little bit disingenuous. Warm weather combined with rain that causes melting of snow at the lower elevations is not uncommon on the 'wet coast' where I live. It was just a few years ago when these conditions caused nearly all west coast ski hills to cease operations. Mt.. Washington on Van. Island as an example, which this winter has had well over 300 cm of snow, was forced to totally shutdown which resulted in only a few weeks of operations all winter. Putting any weather dependant venue in the Cypress Bowl (only recently was it renamed 'mountain') was a big gamble with it being only at 900 ft above sea level. They could not predict well enough in advance when the next El Nino would take place as it is nearly a certainty that the Cypress venue will melt in every El Nino winter.

  28. Good planning would have been assuming the worst and building a new venue at much higher elevations north of Cypress. Calgary, with the provincial government, built a completely new alpine venue at what was named Kananakis at high enough elevation to ensure that the conditions would be cold enough. Yes they too had trouble at Canada Olympic Park but nothing compared to the Cypress Bowl fiasco. Vanoc's senior management lacked experience in construction of major facilities and operating them also.
    Let's see the Vanoc mangement publish actual Cypress Bowl's winter conditions for every winter since Vancouver was awarded the games, my guess is that they will find an excuse for doing so.

  29. I think Vancouver is the perfect place for the Winter Games, the city is beautiful and the scenery is fantastic!
    I am from eastern Canada but have taken several tours of Vancouver and was never dissapointed.
    From my vantage point everything is going fine and I still marvel at the scenery!

  30. Narrow-minded article indeed. Mechanical failures and human errors in judgement and refusal to hold anyone responsible when tragedy strikes cannot be equated with terrorism or political differences (yes, differences, just because we pride ourselves in democracy it does not mean that it is the only one that works for every nation). In the end, terrorism and however the Chinse government decides to run its own country has nothing to do with how the game's run. Our mistakes are preventable and directly affect the athletes, whom the games are ultimately about. Our carelessness directly resulted in these embarrassing outcomes, and we need to hold ourselves responsible or we'll never learn. And last but not least, Calgary's glory happened when I was 2, that was over 20 years ago, move on already.

  31. What? Calgary is anything but conformist, and what's with the crack about being 'a teensy bit crooked?' Oh, right…wait for it…
    the author of this article, Colby Cosh, lives and works in…Edmonton. Rolls Eyes. Maybe next year, Oilers.

    • That would explain Cosh's article sounding 'a teensy bit partisan.'

  32. Nice comments about the kind of cultural homogeneity needed for an "efficient games". Vancouver, my new home, has done a good job, considering the relative lack of the almost fascist tendencies, so correctly described in the blog entry, needed to pull this off without a hitch. It is also correct to note that there is a complete and somewhat annoying unwillingness to incorporate any ideas gleaned from east of the kootenays, in the planning process. This hasn't helped.

    But as for the weather, everyone knew it could be an issue. Vancouver was chosen despite the weather issues. It was chosen, because it is a complete and utter departure from the kind of European chalet mentality that has tended to dominate the host choices, plus the opportunity to have a winter games, in a cosmopolitan, and beautiful metropolis. On this score Vancouver has succeeded mightily.