Friday, February 19, 2010

Whirl Around Vancouver Update

Brodeur saves the day

Quick take on Team Canada and you can read plenty of painful analysis online. In both games this team looks incredibly slow (Chris Pronger, would you mind not conserving your energy to play 30 mins and play a little more like a balls-to-the-wall Bobby Orr?).

Being there live at the Swiss game, you notice both Jonathan Toews and Eric Staal trying to beat defensemen on the outside and getting easily manhadled by the Swiss defensemen. It's also well and good to have a big center like Ryan Getzlaf but is he still injured?

To top it off it now looks that despite getting 40+ shots mostly in close on Jonas Hiller this team lacks finish. Where are the guys who can fire laser beams and shoot from anywhere? It also lacks a guy who can actually get his shot through on the powerplay (can you say "Mike Green"?).

Why exactly is Brendan Morrow on this team? I get you need grit but he looks small and easily pushed off the puck...and his skill level seems to be on a par with a Jim Sandlak.

Of course, a win against the USA and all is right with the world until they play a European team with a high level of skill and the flaws maybe will outweigh the Crosby. Plus who doesn't expect Team Canada to give us all fits? They did in 2002. They did even in the 1987 Canada Cup Final (the OT Game 2 when the Gretzky Marios stood on the verge of elimnation). They did in 1984 (thank you, John Tonelli!) and they certainly did in 1972.

Until Feb. 21 in the Grand and Atrium Courts of Metropolis Mall at Metrotown, there are NHL trophies (is the Stanley Cup making an appearance?), artifacts and more whatnot. Check it out.

Hockey Gear
What? No Team Norge?

In Canada Hockey Place they have stands and the Canuck shop is now all international gear. There are T-shirts of almost every Team Canada player, but choose wisely. You don't want to be stuck with the #44 Bertuzzi like so many were in '06. Prices are high but, if you need that Slovakia cap, get it now or forever be kicking yourself years from now.

Rekha reports that early morning (like 2 a.m.) they had a good band in there. So maybe worth a second look at any of these Houses that allow the public in late (note, most are closed to the public at night for official functions).

Olympic Clock Area
Hey, Mom, how do I steer this thing?

Located on W. Georgia between Hornby St, and Howe St. (backside of the Vancouver Art Gallery). Take a pic in a bobsled, check out the massive art covering across the back of the Vancouver Art Gallery or watch Native wood carvers in action.

Big Screens
Where are they? Unlike, say, soccer's World Cup Finals where they have this down to a science, it's a challenge to find a viewing area with a big TV screen. Sure they have them in the LiveCities and pricey Molson Hockey House and some of the "Houses," but most involve lining up for awhile. If you're out and about downtown your best bet is the local bars and restaurants or my couch.

Korea House
The big Korean screen of nothing

Located on 2F of the Hyatt Hotel on Burrard near Georgia. Brutal. Went there one day right at 5 pm hoping to see the short track speed skating with a bunch of crazy South Korean fans. Uh, not so much. They don't even show the Olympics on their fancy high-tech screens there. A total joke.

Canada Line
Byron and Deanna report they saw Richard Zednik heading to the Olympic Village so maybe it's worth hanging out at the Olympic Village stop on the Canada Line if you want to do some athlete spotting or autograph hunting.

Located off Commercial Dr. near Parker St. (seven blocks north of 1st Ave). This is where the men's hockey teams are practicing. The rink itself is off-limits to all but accredited media, invited local kids groups, etc., but you can always sit on the patio at Sunrise Pizza and wait for players to show up as there is a team bus stop there.

Also, for all the fuss over using Britannia Rink the anti-Olympic activists raised the impact has been so inobtrusive it's almost unnoticeable. You can still access the community centre and library the same as usual. In fact, if you aren't even looking, you'd miss the security guard at his post off the side lane.

Also, other East Van rinks at Trout Lake and Killarney are being used by the short-track speed skaters and possibly the figure skaters.

Granville Street Art

Try to light the night on fire

Located on Granville St. between W. Georgia St. and Robson St. Go see the sculptures at night. they're so much better lit up. There are also great photo ops in these "Hole In The Wall" type participatory art cutouts of skiers skiing and skaters skating that kids go crazy for. Think the cardboard box the toy comes in--that sort of bizarre obtuse joy kids take in empty spaces they can fill in. It'll all make sense when you go down there and see it.

Ken and his kids give it the thumbs up. I'll give you his quick report:
"That worked out okay. No crowds compared to the zoo downtown. We went tonight before it started to rain. The girls had fun in the circus tent and in the activity centre tent chasing the green lights. You know the whole parking issue is kind of a joke. We parked at Lansdowne Mall where there is always lots of free parking - mall is open until 9:00pm during the Olympics and with lots of restaurants tied into the mall, they have no idea if you are a customer or park-riding. We spent some time in the mall before we took the Canada Line to the O Zone and then the bus back."

Canada Hockey Place Security Update
OK, figured out the whole Carrall St. deal. This is in reference to the majority who are coming via Skytrain. If your tickets says Gate 7 or 8, you go to the far end security gates of Carrall St. closer to False Creek. Any other gate you go through the first security gate you see on Carrall St. as you come in.

Post-game after either early games, those of you Gate 7 or 8 people can only really get out the same side you came in, but you can walk either way towards Yaletown or Chinatown. You do have to do the up-and-over again across that temporary pedestrian bridge, but they let you on the road the team/VIP buses sit on.

The long lineup you see everyday is not to get in. It's to "touch" an Olympic gold medal. You can blow by the lineup and walk in and look around at the other stuff or buy overpriced coin sets.

Definitely hit it when there are Germans involved in events they have a shot at medals or German hockey games. It's just brats and beer and basic, basic, basic but its location (next to Waterfront) and the fact it's happy Germans, it's Oktoberfest in February.

You don't need to be on the official Olympic Bus Network bus to get up there. During the day try a Greyhound bus. After 6 pm anyone (repeat, anyone!) can drive up there. Go up at night and experience the scene and drive back anytime you want as southbound traffic has no restrictions 24/7. If you can't find accommodation, this from Franz, an Austrian tourist I met at the O Zone who just updated me from Whistler, rough it and sleep in the car overnight or stay up all night and party like you're feeling like you're almost 16 again. I'm not saying you should do that, but I've done crazier things and seven layers of comforters can do wonders in a backseat.

Robson Square
Zip it good

Yes, there are the yahoos, but overall it's a happy buzz without an overwhelming hordes of idiots.
There is a laser light show mixed with fireworks every night at 9:30 pm and 11 pm.
During the day the mascots put on a skate show at 1, 3 and 6 pm. Take the kids. Guaranteed fun!
Plus the beauty of Robson Square is, you just show up. No need to line up and waste hours doing that.
The Zip Line, though, is well worth the however many hours' wait. A thrill and a half!

The Bay's Olympic Superstore
Hiromi spent an hour in line just to get in only to find what she wanted (a scarf and a jacket) sold out. Hey, some of us shopped there months ago. Anyway, go to any other Bay or Zellers in town and Shoppers Drug Mart has plenty of the mascot goods. Just look around elsewhere, folks, and you'll find stuff. I even saw mascots for sale in Granville Island shop windows.

Also, I found out a way to skip the line entirely and I'm probably revealing too much. Go into the Bay up to any floor. Take the east elevator down to the first floor. Doors open and you're smack dab in the middle of the Superstore. No one was "guarding" the elevator the day we showed up so I have no clue why anyone lined up at all.

Plus on the 5th floor they had a ton of other teams' hockey gear, previous Winter Olympic hoodies and tees as well as a Team Russia meets Sochi 2014 store.

Venue Ticket Booths
Although all events are "sold out," veterans of these big events know that's not true. Yet who wants to pay scalper prices and you don't. Go to the venue and wait. Franz, reporting in again, went to the Richmond Oval on a whim. Thirty minutes prior to the start of that day's races, they were told by the person at the box office that no tickets were available but to wait. Five minutes after the scheduled 1:00 pm start, tickets at face value were to be had from the box office.

Giant Banners-A-Go-Go
Support us or else we are coming for YOU!

A whole bunch of building from the major banks to the Bay to the main post office to the Vancouver Art Gallery have large ad banners of athletes or flags.

Cambie St. Bridge
Always open to foot traffic, walk across the east side of the bridge and get a clean shot at the Olympic Vilalge and snap a pic of the Aussie boxing kangaroo banner and the various nation's flags hanging from the room balconies. Walk back along the west side and you have a great shot of the pontoon blockade and police boats guarding False Creek as well as a fantastic panorama of the Pacific Ocean out in front of you. (Why I don't have a pic of this? Uh, the batteries died that day...later on that one, but thought I'd get that info out there now.)

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