Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Checkpoint Charlie Brown Olympic Security Update

Thanks to a certain relative, three of us (by "us" I mean Agent X who files this report and owes me big time for getting her and two of her friends the freebie tix to this--Hogging Dogs vanilla with almonds and strawberries is a start) were able to attend the full rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony. Can't really say much as the local Stasi are watching, and we are all sworn to secrecy. You all will just have to wait until Friday at 4:30 for it all to be revealed, but "Wow!," "Ooh!" and "Ouch!" pretty much sums it up.

Can say one thing about a universal concern: The security gate lineups.
They were insane!
The lone entrance to BC Place is now sort of under and to the left of the southbound span of the Cambie Bridge. Just walk straight down Nelson St. and you'll see it. Puts it a block or two away from the actual stadium.

When we arrived the line stretched across Expo Blvd., up Nelson St., hung a right at Beatty St. and went the full block to the light at Smithe St. and was spilling into the intersection or trying to morph east along Smithe back to Expo Blvd.
The good news is it only took 30 minutes to get through security despite what at first look like a Cal Clutterbuck of a line.
That line did move fast but bring along a book, iPod or your best material to keep friends amused.
All three of us had large bags that they screen (as they did at Nagano 98) a la the airport X-ray machines you know.
You walk through a metal detector and you're in.

Sir, I'm going to have to wand you

And, FYI, one person among us had a full bottle of Coca-Cola. That made it through so bring along the Mentos and it's it's a 2 for $4 Mama burger party!

Also, for Vancouver the shocker was people actaully made the effort to be fashionable and not fashionably late. The various Canada gear ranged from a 1972 Team Canada jersey through to a 1998 very sharp Nagano 98 Team Canada jacket to everything you see selling at the Bay's Olympic superstore. Not a single UFC T-shirt, CC Sabathia sideways baseball cap wearing doofus with his pants on the ground nor even fashion challenged folks like these were to be seen. Very disconcerting as it felt like we were transported to a galaxy far far away called New York or Tokyo or Barcelona.

It was a different sort of crowd. They were "into" the Olympics. They actually cheered without some Jumbotron instructing them to and then suddenly stopping when said Big Brother Video Screen no longer ordered them to "Make Some Noise."

Make some noise or I'll run for president again

Having said that the acoustics in BC Place are still horrid. There's nothing the Olympic organization can do about that.

Anyone attending the Opening Ceremony, you'll have to work for your dinner as there is some participatory flash carding/semaphore hand clap signalling and they prefer you wear a white top. (I guess if we can't get real snow we go Winnipeg Jets Whiteout).

All I can say is hold onto your hats, Vancouver, you ain't seen nothing yet. (My vote is the short track speed skating Korean fans and the Dutch speed skating fans will be the hits of the Games as well as the Latvian hockey fans...just be forewarned, these are people who know how to make noise and have major league fun.)

Update on Feb. 16 after the Russia-Latvia hockey game on how goes it with the security lineups at hockey games.

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