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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

Your Questions: Steve Armitage Q & A

steve_armitage.jpgCBC sports reporter Steve Armitage brings a vast arsenal of experience to his coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

During his 38 years with CBC Sports, Armitage has covered virtually every sport, announcing for World Cup soccer, Export A Skins Golf, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, Olympic Games, Pan Am Games, Canada Games and the Grey Cup.

Now, the CBC personality and sports reporter extraordinaire is taking YOUR Olympic questions. Whether you want to know what he thinks of Canada's chances of taking home the Gold in men's hockey, how Vancouver stacks up to other host cities, or if the Own the Podium program really works, send your questions our way.

Simply email your queries to bcnews@cbc.ca and put "Steve Armitage Q & A" into the subject line.

Check back regularly, as we'll be posting Q & A's through to the end of the Games.You can read the questions others have submitted or post comments of your own.

Comment or continue reading Your Questions: Steve Armitage Q & A.

Ranking the Hospitality Houses

pavilions.jpgHitting all of the hospitality houses in and around Vancouver is an Olympic-sized job. With so much to do and so little time, we decided to check out the houses getting the most buzz and help you pick the best place to show your Olympic colours.


We chose to profile five houses getting a lot of buzz. We've given you a brief a profile each, including the average line-up and the cost of one beer.

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