Security concerns derail Olympic cauldron viewing...Jenn Heil - I think I love you
VANCOUVER - It's a shame when you let the protesters win.
The giant Olympic cauldron that Wayne Gretzky lit after Friday night's Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony sits down on the Vancouver waterfront. It's a scenic spot at the bottom of Thurlow St. on what's called Jack Poole Plaza, named for the late president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.
It should be a real gathering spot for locals and tourists, being right next to the International Broadcast Centre and right on the Burrard Inlet, with great views of Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the mountains of North Vancouver. But it's surrounded by a 3-meter high chain link fence and blue signs that say "No Trespassing."
"I guess I understand but it's too bad people can't get closer," said one local this morning. "The Olympics cost a lot of money and I'd like to enjoy it."
Folks, of course, are still down taking photos. But it's not the same when you have to look at it through a wire fence.
"It's for security," a police officer told the Star. "Besides, NBC owns it. They paid for it."
No offence, but it's also, um, rather ugly.
Vancouver organizers are having a press conference today and we'll ask them about it. They'll undoubtedly talk about security concerns and the rioters who ran amok in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, smashing windows and such.
But Canadians are spending $900 million on security for these Games. Surely there are enough cops and military types around to guard the main Olympic symbol that folks who don't have $500 for hockey tickets can go down and enjoy.
"I remember people standing at a considerable distance from the Olympic Stadium
to have their picture taken with the Olympic flame at both the venues" in Turin in 2006 and again in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, said VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade. "I think
it's remarkable people can get as close as they can to this legacy cauldron
we've placed at the far end of the International Broadcast
Smith-Valade said the decision to place the cauldron within the security perimeter was made months ago after the death of bid chairman Jack Poole and over the past few months, infrastructure was put in place including the necessary gas line.
“It was a beautiful place to put the Flame as part of that developmet. We do want the Flame to be secure and safe and it's obviously a safety issue for people getting too close to trhat location. It is within a secure zone.”
“Our venue team is looking at what may be possible to maybe replace the chainlink fence with something that may change the security so people can see it and take pictures. We'll be looking at how we can adjust that.”
JENNIFER HEIL - THE EPITOME OF CLASS
Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta. comes off the moguls hill at Cypress Mountain on Saturday night and has a great run. A minute later, an American nudges her off the top of the podium with a fabulous performance. No shame in a silver when you've done a great job but get beaten out by someone who has the ride of their life. But here comes a CTV reporter tossing a camera in Heil's face and interrogating her about her failure to win gold.
Ask if she's disappointed, sure. That's your job. But at least be pleasant about it and don't make the poor kid feel badly. She didn't do a face plant. She didn't fall down or swear at a judge and get disqualified.
Heil could've got mad. But she was about as nice and bubbly and pleasant as you could imagine, in case you missed her on TV. Just fabulous. And what a great smile.
Her comments about the support she got from Canada and the picture a little girl sent that showed Heil on a podium were great. But what impressed me most was the end of the interview. After asking a bunch of questions, the interrogating reporter started to end the interview. But Heil stopped her.
"I just want to," Heil started, and I thought she was going to thank God or thank her family Instead, she said, "I just want to thank the people who worked so hard to get the course ready," or words to that effect.
She just got blindsided by an overly aggressive reporter, just lost out on a gold medal, and just missed out on a chance to win Canada's first-ever gold medal on home soil. The interview is over. And she stops the reporter and insists on thanking volunteers who help get a rainy course into Olympics shape? How classically Canadian is that?
I think I love this kid.