at the Opening Ceremony
BY ERIC WILLIAMS
Everything about the Vancouver Games Opening Ceremony was big, including the line to
get in. Working 60,000 people through airport-like security checkpoints to attend the first
Olympic ceremony of its kind to be held indoors took some time and manpower.
In order for the entire audience, including journalists, to be in our seats in time for the hourlong audience participation rehearsal, media was loaded up at the Main Press Center at 3 p.m.
on Feb. 12., though the show wasn’t scheduled start until three hours later. After a thorough
security check before loading the bus, we took a two-mile bus ride for 45 minutes.
Waiting for me at my seat was an octagon-shaped box containing a flashlight, a white paper
poncho and a battery-operated candle. Had the fear of guffaws from my fellow journalists not
stopped me, I would have gladly put on the poncho and waved my flashlight for the whole three
hours of Olympic Spirit and such.
Though we were embargoed from releasing any information ahead of the live show, we members of the media were also given a three-ring binder with more than 100 pages detailing everything that would happen in the show. Of course, I spoiled the surprise for myself and rifled
through the guide for the big names. No Neil Young — dang.
With rain shuffling the alpine schedule around by the minute, some skiers, including Lindsey
Vonn, opted to skip the four-hour trip to and from Vancouver and watch the proceedings from
I found out later that U.S. speed skier Leanne Smith was in attendance to celebrate her first
trip to an Olympic Winter Games. “You can always try to expect something like that, but you’re
never going to be right. It’s always way better than you’d imagine,” said the Conway, N.H., native.
“It’s a cool moment, and it’s something you can’t really recreate. We’re all really, really lucky to
be a part of it.”
“It was awesome; I don’t even know how to explain it,” cross country skier Liz Stephen later
said. “Coming out and hearing everyone cheering was so cool. I couldn’t even believe it. It was
definitely the biggest stadium I’ve ever been in.”
Alpine racer Alice McKennis got a special treat as she was able to walk into the stadium with
her former coach and five-time Olympian Casey Puckett, who will be participating in the Olympic debut of ski cross this time around. “Before we walked out, I was getting butterflies, chills,
and that kind of thing,” McKennis said. “When we finally walked through that doorway, it was
amazing — the coolest thing I’ve ever done. That was cool to be here with him. It was special and
a feeling that I’ll never forget.”
And one I won’t either. Plus, I got a pretty handy poncho.
From an iPhone cheering device
to tweeting on ice, it’s a virtual
Vancouver Games BY ERIC WILLIAMS
At the Torino 2006 Games, tweets belonged to songbirds
and apps belonged on a dinner menu. Now, Vancouver fans can
reach into their pockets to find out what the medal count is and
what Lindsey Vonn had for breakfast. They can even find a cus-tomizable cowbell on their miniature Ma Bell carrier. Oh yeah,
there’s an app for that.
With an announcement by VANOC officials that there would be
no restrictions on athletes for Twitter or Facebook, the information
has flown. Fans following Vonn, Aksel Lund Svindal and hundreds
of other athletes don’t need to wait for a press release to discover
that downhill training has been cancelled. They get it from the
source: a sweet (or not-so-sweet) little tweet.
Cowbells have long been the favorite cheering device for skiing
fans, but now a 99-cent iPhone application called Cowbell 2010
lets fans ring it out for the racers without having to stash a metal
bell in their packs. You can even dress your virtual cowbell in the
flag of your country. (Ski Racing editors loved the concept, but
found the sound too faint during the men’s downhill.)
Meanwhile, Guide 2010, the official VANOC iPhone app, provides
maps, schedules and results for fans trying to squeeze it all in at
Vancouver or keeping tabs from afar.
Games fans can also participate in the Cultural Olympiad art
festival through the Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition (CODE). The
collection of websites allows anyone from anywhere to view live
concerts and performances going on around Vancouver and Whistler. Visitors can also post photo and comments by participating in
the online scrapbook that is shown on large screens at competition
venues and stages around the Games. The site also offers free
digital souvenirs of the Games.
Stay tuned for some of Ski Racing’s favorite Olympic tweets during the next, special Games wrap-up issue.