Vancouver rocks, but Whistler's got the Olympic feeling...Olympic one-liners
WHISTLER - Crazy hats. Alpine views. Packed bars. And Olympics everywhere you turn.
Had a chance to check out Whistler on Monday, and one of the first things I did was run into Cindy Burr from Tourism B.C.
After a few hours of checking out the village, riding the gondolas with fellow Star scribbler Dave Perkins, dining on burritos at the Rendezvous Lodge near the top of Blackcomb Mountain and generally soaking up the atmosphere, I was struck by a thought (it happens, albeit rarely). Vancouver has been a great, raucous party for the most part. But it's largely Canadian in flavour and doesn't feel quite as, well, Olympic.
That's not a diss on Vancouver. The Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre and the hockey games are downtown, and there are foreign "houses" such as Russia House and USA House and Heineken House for the Dutch. But they're spread out a bit. And when Robson Street or Granville get flooded with folks at night, most of them are Canadians.
You'll see folks in bright yellow Sweden hockey jerseys and bright yellow, braided hats with pigtails, and there are lots of Russians in red-and-white and Americans decked out in the colours of Uncle Sam. But the overwhelming majority of people you see are draped in Canadian flags or Hudson's Bay gear, although how they found the hours to wait in line for the official clothing I have no idea. It's great, but it almost feels like Canada Day in February.
Whistler, on the other hand, is more compact. You'll pass the Swiss pavilion and a few feet later be surrounded by crazy Icelanders in goofy hats, or Norwegians in Viking caps. There's lots of Canada gear, of course, but it feels more international; with athletes in their national duds sprinkled heavily among the guys who've attached Canadian flags to hockey sticks.
It's also far more compact, so you can walk past two stages with live music within a few hundred yards of each other, then check out Jennifer Hedger getting her makeup on prior to going on air for CTV. (If you prefer you can probably watch Michael Landsberg getting an injection of pomposity, but I'll take Hedger, thanks).
Of course, Whistler also gets the benefit of stunningly beautiful, snow-capped mountains for that Winter Olympic feeling. But the sidewalk pubs and bands and flags and Olympic rings that folks stand in front of all day long make a big difference. Unlike the Olympic cauldron in Vancouver, this is a symbol that's made for getting up close and personal with.
If you still have a chance to get up there this week, go for it. It's a wonderful way to spend a day.
There's lots of funny comments floating about anytime you get this many young people gathered in one spot. I particularly like a couple of the quotes I found today on the Olympic News Service, which is a fabulous intra-net tool that most of us scribes couldn't live without.
Cross-country ski gold medallist Oeystein Petterson was asked about his nickname, The Sausage.
Wonder if the Canadian alpine team might want to give it a shot?