OLYMPIC VENUES COMING ALONG
There's still a bit of work to do, but the Olympic venues for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler are proceeding along very nicely, thank you.
The Star yesterday was on a jam-packed tour of the snowboard and aerial-skiing sites on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, and it's a lovely drive to the top. A little foggy yesterday and there wasn't time to pull over on the bus and take pictures (it would've taken them an hour to get a bunch of reporters and photographers back onto a bus) but it's a terrific drive up the hill; about 40 minutes from the Pan Pacific hotel on the waterfront.
The main media centre looks quite nice; right on the water. And the Richmond skating oval is a stunner; bright and airy and topped with a lovely, lattice-work roof that features wood from trees damaged by pine beetle infestations. It's almost certain to be the most-talked about venue of the bunch.
Unfortunately, we can't say the same thing about some of the other spots. GM Place, where the Canucks play, looks okay for hockey. It's not the Air Canada Centre in terms of modernity and all but it's fine. The Pacific Coliseum, where short-track speedskating and figure skating will take place, is pretty basic but they've done what they can, and good for Vancouver organizers for not building huge, new Taj Mahals when they've got basic infrastructure already in place.
But they're going to have to do something about BC Place, home of the B.C. Lions of the CFL and the site where opening and closing ceremonies and some nightly medal ceremonies will take place. It's tired and, well, a little dirty. Especially the roof, where it looks like big streaks of dirt cloud what's supposed to be a white roof. There's talk they'll do some fixing up after the Games and that they'll do their best to make it look good for the big ceremonies, but you wonder why they didn't do more.
We didn't have time to get to the bottom of the story on the BC Place top yesterday but will endeavour to do so as we get closer to the Games.
Funny, but when the media buses (there are a couple hundred journalists in Vancouver this week for a press operations briefing) pulled out of the parking lot at the Pacific Coliseum on Tuesday the bus drivers guided us downtown via Renfrew and East First Avenue instead of taking Hastings, which seems like a more direct route. Of course, a trip down Hastings would've taken us through the infamous downtown east side and the crack addicts and all, so perhaps tour organizers wanted their visitors to see a softer side of their city. Just a guess.
YVR TOPS YYZ
Vancouver's airport is getting a big facelift. But it's already way, way better than Pearson. One nice feature we noticed the other day is that when you're waiting for people to emerge from customs at the international terminal, you can look up at TV screens and see a closed circuit feed of folks who are approaching the doors into the main terminal waiting area. It gives you a minute to wipe the grime off little Johnny's face so he can give grandma or grandpa big hug when they come out to the kiss and cry arrival section. Nice touch.