Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saint John Furlong of Canada

John Furlong is the head of VANOC, Canada's Olympic Committee. Since the very beginning of Vancouver's bid, John has been spearheading the Canadian effort to get the games.

These days he's looking very stressed. One Murphy's Law after another is being broken with these games. Old Crow was telling me about some of them the other day. It hasn't stopped.

Yesterday, Saturday the 13th of February, 2010 it rained incessantly all day. It's raining tonight as I type. In Vancouver we know rain. Years ago the Inuit of the North had hundreds of names for different kinds of snow. We have names for different kinds of rain. There's the 360 degree rain that you don't bother to take an umbrella for because it's coming at you from all angles anyway. There's the light rain that you totally ignore. Vancouverites generally ignore rain.

And then there's this rain. I call this rain the "Sea to Sky Rain" because it can result in a closure of the Sea to Sky Highway. The Sea to Sky Highway is a narrow ribbon of road that curves along the coast between Vancouver and Whistler. It is the only route to the village. One side of the highway overlooks the Pacific Ocean while the other side is perched on the edge of the Coastal Mountain Range. At the best of times, it's a treacherous highway--many a tired young driver has lost his life crossing over the median while returning from a weekend of skiiing and partying at Whistler.

The rain we have now is coming down in relentless torrents. Small streams that cascade down the mountainside into the ocean are doubtless swollen beyond capacity. Years ago this frequently caused mountainsides, bringing huge chunks of rocks, earth and trees crashing down onto the highway. When that happens, it takes DAYS to clear the debris. In the past few years, the highway has been widened and the streams have been damned and strengthened with cement culverts--but the danger is always there.

John Furlong must be tearing his hair out with fear and trepidation that there will be a mountainslide. But he can't spend too much time worrying about what might be....he has to deal with one heart-pounding reality after another as it is. Yesterday, a band of about 200 dark clothed, balaclava-masked thugs went marching down the mainstreets of Vancouver with hammers, rocks--and a ladder. They smashed store windows up to the third story. They said they were anti-Olympic protestors but the police say otherwise. The Police say they were "not locals". Where were they from? We don't knoooooooooowwwww. In the old days, the media would find that out in a flash. After all, seven WERE arrested. But we still don't know who the thugs were or where they came from but it diverted a lot of attention away from the athletes.

I watched the Olympic round up on CTV last night and, believe it or not, the Olympic sports coverage is fabulous. The short track and long track skating was superb. I tried to assure myself that if we can just focus on the Olympic SPORTS, things will be all right.

Incidentally (or maybe not) the United States is the only large nation that does not have an Olympic Pavilion. Russia has taken over the "Science Ball"--the Iconic Geodisic Dome bordering the Olympic Village at False Creek. That's the top spot. China has a pavilion while other nations opted for beer gardens and other public venus. The United States has opened a small Olympic apparel and souvenir shop on a side street. They have some offices above, but those are not open to the public. The stated reason for this is that the US "does not want to steal Canada's thunder" by having a big pavilion. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

One type of rain we generally don't have in Vancouver are thunderstorms.


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