Olympic athletes rate their new Vancouver digs

One flamboyant figure skater has already started to redecorate

Vancouver’s Olympic Village is winning rave reviews from athletes of all countries. And no wonder, the waterfront complex at False Creek is green in every sense of the word. It’s environmentally green, being constructed of recycled Popsicle sticks and repurposed chewing gum.

Well, we exaggerate, but it’s got plants on the roof, grey water in the toilets and it reuses the heat from the sewers. And with a $1 billion price tag it uses plenty of that green, too. But what is money, other than recycled paper and a bit of cotton?

Vancouver taxpayers are less enthusiastic. They’re on the hook for cost overruns that the city hopes to recoup when the units go back on the open market in April, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1 million each. Senator Nancy Greene, who had some success as a skier a few years back, joked the city should paste real estate listings on the back of the apartment doors, just in case.

But for now, it’s all about the athletes. American hockey player Julie Chu, a veteran of three Olympic Games, went out of her way to praise her digs as exceptional. Marcel Aubut, the president-elect of the Canadian Olympic Committee, calls the complex: “The most beautiful village in the history of the Olympics.” Canadian snowboarder Caroline Calve’s only complaint is that the walls are bare of pictures. But she figures that gives her a chance to put up a few posters.

And then there’s Johnny Weir, the flamboyantly flamboyant American figure skater. He’s already been on a shopping spree and has accessorized his apartment with pink bath mats. Well, it’s not technically his apartment, though he had hoped for his own room. “I’m a bit of a diva when it comes to living situations,” he told the Olympic News Service. “When I made the Olympic team I said, ‘OK, I need my own room in the village, I don’t know how you are going to do it, but please do it – and can I have my own bathroom?’ ” Nope.

Well, he gets a bathroom but he’s sharing the two-bedroom apartment with U.S. ice dancer Tanith Belbin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He gamely predicts she’ll be the best roomie ever, as long as they keep out of each other’s hair. “I am just going to make everything smell nice when Tanith gets in,” he said. “I’ve got candles lit at all times.”