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Looking back on Vancouver's Games

This weekend will mark the end of an exciting two weeks for Olympians and spectators in Vancouver. While the Paralymics will keep the city's energy alive, many attractions will close following Sunday's Closing Ceremonies.

As many events and attractions begin to wind down, I decided to spend my morning in the city centre at Robson Square. Despite the rain, many locals and visitors were gathered around the square's ice rink to take part in Olympic-related activities. I spoke to several people who were eager to share their experiences and memories of the 2010 Games gone by. Here's what some folks had to say:

A day at Sochi House

a-scienceworld.jpg The Closing Ceremonies are just a few short days away. It seems like only yesterday when the world came together to watch the Olympic cauldron being lit in Vancouver.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how Russia prepares for a Winter Games of its own in 2014. I made my way down to Sochi House this morning to catch a glimpse of the country's plans for the next Winter Olympics.

My original plan for Sochi House was to see a few exhibits, snap some photos of Russian nationals in their sharp red and white suits and learn about the development plans next Games. Upon arrival, I was surprised to find Russia's Vancouver headquarters in a state of high energy and tight security - Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, was scheduled to attend an official reception on behalf of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee.

Using a combination of charm and journalist-style persistence (which I've conveniently been taught in journalism school), I was able to get my hands on a media pass and direct entry into the building. Knowing that I had only a few minutes before the reception began, I quickly found Rogge's party of IOC officials surrounded by a cloud of international reporters. With camera in hand, I dove in to the madness and followed the president around the exhibits before entering the swanky ballroom for the official reception.

Delegates at the reception spoke of great plans that are in store for Sochi 2014. CEO of the Sochi 2014 Bid Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko discussed the next Winter Olympics, speaking highly of Vancouver's success.

"We learned here that the great atmosphere is crucial for the success of the Games," he said "We must reach [it] in Russia, of course with our own Russian touch, to demonstrate the real Russian hospitality."

Star struck, I left the official reception only to run in to Evgeni Plushenko, figure skating silver-medallist and Russian heartthrob, surrounded by a mob of girls (who turned out to be local figure skaters invited to an autograph session with the Olympian). Unfortunately, Plushenko was not wearing his silver (or platinum) medal, but it was an exciting moment nonetheless.

From the few short hours I spent roaming around Sochi House, I am now convinced that the Russian Olympic Committee will pull all stops to transform its subtropical port city into a place of glam and glory for the 2014 Winter Games.

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan
It's been an emotional roller coaster for Canadian hockey fans since men's hockey began here at the 2010 Games.

A dark cloud of disappointment hung over the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday night when Team Canada fell to the United States by a score of 5-3. But when our men trounced Team Germany 8-2 at Canada Hockey Place last night, the general mood amongst fans seemed better than ever.

ollie2.jpgI watched last night's game at a small pub in the city amongst a group of initially subdued spectators. Wary of the game's importance in the quest for gold, the atmosphere of the crowd was understandably tense. But once the teams took to the ice, Canada's assault on the German net and Luongo's strong presence between the pipes brought a renewed sense of hope for Canadian hockey enthusiasts.  

As someone who doesn't follow the regular hockey season like most of our notoriously hockey-obsessed nation, the Winter Olympics - specifically men's hockey - fascinates me. Like no other sport, the country comes together in front of the television screen (or at the rink for lucky ticket-holders) to cheer on a team that holds our national identity and pride on its shoulders.   

CBC News reported this morning that the average street price of tickets to the men's hockey finals is currently  $3500 and this price is likely to increase if (or should I say when) Canada makes it to Sunday's game. CBC Calgary also reported last Thursday that demand for Team Canada hockey jerseys is skyrocketing, with many stores unable to keep the beloved jerseys in stock.

Vancouver's streets, restaurants and pubs are crammed with Canadians proudly sporting our nation's hockey jerseys. Did Team Canada know what they were getting into when they landed at Vancouver International airport in early February? Each night they step on the ice, these boys play the emotions of their fans. I avoided calling home to Ontario on Sunday night in fear of my youngest sister's (our family's hockey enthusiast) reaction to our team's devastating loss to the US.

We've won gold in skiing, skating and snowboarding but Canadians will not rest until we win gold in men's hockey. "This is our sport," fans said to me after the game last night. "This is our medal."

Crosby and Ovechkin will meet head to head tonight and the future of our men's hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics will be decided. For the sake of our country's pride and . . . well, for the sake of the moods of my hockey-loving friends and family, I hope we win. Go, Canada, go!

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan

Loud curling fans are facing public scrutiny after Denmark skip Madeleine Dupont was brought to tears after Denmark's team fell to Canada  on Sunday. Media outlets are describing Canadian crowds as disruptive and ignorant for their behaviour at recent Olympic matches.

"Such boorish fan behavior is normally considered unacceptable in the genteel world of curling," said a columnist for Yahoo! Sports yesterday.

I made my way down to the Vancouver Olympic Centre - the official curling venue of the 2010 Games - to catch fans coming out of the curling matches this morning. Was there too much noise at the curling rink for Olympic curlers to fairly compete?

The proud Canucks I met this morning called for more cowbell!

Communities unite for 2010 Winter Games

Boisterous and often intoxicated crowds have filled the streets, bars and restaurants of downtown Vancouver since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games began on Feb., 12. If you were out in Vancouver yesterday evening, it was impossible to miss the hordes of sports enthusiasts flocking to the Olympic houses and local watering holes for the highly anticipated Canada-USA men's hockey game.

living2.jpgDown at the West End Community Centre on Denman Street, a less rowdy but equally excited group of people came together to cheer on Team Canada. Since the beginning of the Olympics, the West End Community Centre - along with 29 other locations in Metro Vancouver - has served as a "Community Living Room" for local residents and visitors.

The City of Vancouver provided thirty locations with 50-inch plasma screen televisions to community centres and neighbourhood houses across the city as part of the Host City initiative. The televisions were up and running for the Opening Ceremonies on Feb., 12 and will be available to the public until the end of the Olympics. A select number of locations will be showing the Paralympic Games beginning on March 12.

I made my way down to the West End Community Centre this morning to see what this program was all about. When I arrived, a small group of people were sitting together, watching the men's cross country skiing event. I sat down next to one elderly gentleman who told me that he had been watching events at the centre since the games began.

"It's great that they have the screen here," he said. "It's really nice to watch the events with other people cheering around you."

living.jpgI spoke with the manager of the Community Centre, who was eager to share his enthusiasm for the program. "It's been a great success," he said. "We had nearly 80 people show up to our Opening Ceremony celebration and it's been crowded for many of the major events."

After spending a half-hour watching the cross-country skiing with a few others, it' was easy to see the value in the "Community Living Room" initiative. For those living alone or without a television, the community screening of the Winter Games is a great way to bring the Vancouver community together and show team spirit. People of all ages can celebrate the games together without paying exorbitant prices at downtown restaurants or dealing with long lines and rowdy crowds in Vancouver's bars.

Looking for somewhere to watch the next big event? See the map below to find a "Community Living Room" near you!

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan

The word on the street

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan:

It's not every day that the streets of downtown Vancouver are crowded with people from different countries around the world. I hit the town this morning to meet some of our Olympic visitors.

This is what people had to say:  

Arkells light up Ontario Pavilion

The Olympics have brought not just athletes and spectators into the city, but also some of Canada's top musicians. Free live music around the city means that locals and visitors alike can celebrate the Games together - with or without Olympic event tickets.

arkells2.jpgI made my way down to the Ontario Pavilion last night to see Hamilton, Ontario's Arkells perform live. Arriving hours before show time, I managed to avoid notoriously long lineups that have been seen around the city in the past week. By 10pm, the pavilion was packed with over 600 people and a line. Max Kerman and fellow Arkells members gave an energetic performance and by the end of the set, the band had the crowd shouting for more.

If you missed last night's concert, worry not! Arkells will be busy crowd-pleasing in the next few days:
  • Richmond O Zone Thursday Feb 18th (tonight) at 8:30pm
  • Holland Park on Friday Feb 19th at 7pm
  • LiveCity Yaletown on Saturday Feb 20th at 6:30pm
Last night's concert was one of many free concerts taking place in and around Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games. According to the Georgia Straight, there are over 160 free concerts. Many of the Olympic houses - including the Ontario Pavilion, Atlantic Canada House, the Maison du Quebec and the Alberta House - are showcasing great Canadian music every night of the Olympics. Talented Canadian bands like Blue Rodeo and Sam Roberts Band are performing at the LiveCity locations, which are also free to the public.

Did you follow CBC Radio's Best High School Rock Band competition in November? Contest winners This Means Nothing in Mexico will be performing live at the Richmond O Zone on February 26 at 4:45pm. Come out to the free event to support local talent.

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan

Colbert comes to town

He's here! American satirist Stephen Colbert followed up on an invitation to come to the Vancouver games after a mock feud with Canadians on his show and while here, he's taping a number of episodes for Comedy Central's The Colbert Report.

colbert.jpgAfter hearing about the Colbert taping, I decided to make my way down to Creekside Park this morning to see what the madness was all about. Thousands of people had already crowded around the stage set up along the seawall. When Colbert took the stage and saw the masses of people gathered on the grass, he joked: "Isn't there anything else to do in Vancouver?"

Colbert's set featured a life-size moose, fake snow, skiis, a totem pole and a large "Defeat the World" poster with Colbert riding a bald eagle. Between the Michael Bublé interview and NBC reporter Bob Costas riding a moose, the comedian managed to get the already-ecstatic crowd roaring with laughter. While Colbert has poked fun at Canada during his late-night TV show in recent months - calling Canadians 'syrup suckers' and 'iceholes' - he praised Vancouver during the public taping.

Last November, Colbert gained attention for calling out Canadian "iceholes" for not providing American speed skaters enough ice time at the Richmond Oval. Since then, he has accepted the position of official Olympic ombudsmen, offered by the City of Richmond, in order to prevent American discrimination. In a now-famous letter sent from Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend to Colbert, Townsend urged Colbert to "find yourself some sled dogs and venture forth to our great frozen wasteland."

And ventured to Vancouver is exactly what Colbert has done. The public taping of The Colbert Report this morning - with another taping scheduled for Thursday morning - adds to the Olympic mania that has taken hold of Vancouver. Keep an eye out for Colbert's Vancouver 2010 "Defeat the World" posters, which are being plastered all over the city.

Were you at Creekside Park to join in the Colbert Nation frenzy this morning?

From the files of CBC intern Niamh Scallan

rsz_boys.jpgCBC intern Niamh Scallan is hitting the street to capture the Olympic fever in Vancouver.

From spectators packing into events, to Canadians decked out in support of their team and the pin mania hitting the streets of Vancouver, our gallery features the people and the faces of the Winter Games in Vancouver.

You can check out the photogallery here. Check back because we'll be updating the gallery and adding new pictures over the next few weeks.

We also want to see YOUR Olympic moments.

Do you have Olympic fever? Share some of your photos to show us how you're showing your Olympic spirit.

Bilodeau takes home the Gold

rsz_bilodeau-crowd100215.jpgOn Sunday night, moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau captured an Olympic gold medal ... the first by a Canuck on Canadian soil in 34 years.

The country is abuzz after the win, with Canadians from coast to coast to coast expressing their joy and pride on online, and on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

We want to hear your thoughts on the win. Where were you when you heard? What did you feel as you watched it happen? What does this victory mean to you? What do you think this medal means for Canada? What do you think of Canada's medal chances in the Games?

Post your thoughts, comments and cheers for Canada's athletes below.

Weekend in review: anti-Olympic protests

bc-100213-vancouver-olympic-protesters-3.jpgAnti-Olympic protesters took to the streets in downtown Vancouver this past weekend.

On Friday afternoon, the gathering of an estimated 1,500 people in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery remained relatively peaceful and organized.

But on Saturday morning, a smaller group of protesters turned violent, smashing windows and intimidating passersby on West Georgia Street. Vancouver police and the 2010 Integrated Security Unit dispersed the group and arrested seven suspects. 

Did the anti-Olympic protests affect your weekend? Does the protesting dampen your Olympic spirit?

How did the police handle the weekend's events? Are they doing enough to control the violence? Do you think we need more security during the Games?

Post your comments, and read what others have to say, below.

Opening Ceremony

rsz_bc-080306-bcplace.jpgThe opening ceremony at B.C. Place Friday night officially kicks off the 2010 Winter Games.

If you don't have tickets to watch the ceremony, you can watch the whole thing go down on the big-screen at either of the LiveCity sites, in downtown Vancouver and Yaletown, or at Molson Canadian Hockey House.

We want to hear what you think of the opening ceremonies, whether you're watching them from B.C. Place, one of the LiveCity sites, or from the comfort of your own home.

We want to know what you think of the show, the music and the performers.

Share your thoughts and experiences below.

Olympic Fever

With the Games just one day away and the Torch Relay winding down, we want to know if you're experiencing Olympic Fever.

Do you have tickets to the opening or closing ceremonies, or any sporting events? Do you plan to head out to any of the free concerts going on in and around Vancouver over the next few weeks?

We want you to share YOUR Olympic plans and tell us what you're most excited about.

Post your comments below, and check back for updates posted by the Hub Moderator in the comments section.

Opening Ceremony Rehearsals

rsz_bc-100209-olympic-rehearsal-2.jpgThe thousands of people who attended rehearsals for the opening ceremony this week were wowed by what they saw.

While keeping tight-lipped about the details, spectators told CBC News the show was impressive and spectacular.

We want to hear from you. Were you at the opening ceremony rehearsal? What did you think of the show? If you weren't there, what do you imagine Vancouver has in store? Do you think it will top Beijing's opening ceremony?

Post your thoughts, comments and impressions below. And be sure to check back for updates and posts from Twitter posted by the Hub Moderator.

Torch Relay

rsz_1bc-100208-olympic-torch-maple-ridge.jpgThe Torch is winding its way through the Lower Mainland this week.

From Aldergrove to Richmond, to North Vancouver and downtown Vancouver, the Torch will pass through dozens of communities before arriving at B.C. Place for the opening ceremonies on Friday.

Have you already seen the Torch pass through your community? Do you plan to head out to see the Torch in the coming days? What do you think of the Torch Relay so far?

We want to hear your stories. Share your thoughts, experience and impressions below.

Plus, check back for updates and comments from Twitter posted by the Hub Moderator.

Welcome to The Hub

generic-mountains.jpgAs B.C. welcomes the world, The Hub is the place to interact with others, engage in discussions and share your thoughts.

From traffic snarls and tips, to Games highlights and moments, The Hub is the place to share your experiences.

We want to hear your story. Post your thoughts, tips and tricks below.

Plus, check back for updates and comments from Twitter posted by the Hub Moderator.