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Ben_Cambs

2010 Winter Olympics - Vancouver

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Well we see a lack of snow on the slopes at Whistler and around the Vancouver area, but the Olympic world is in mourning tonight after the death of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili after being killed while practising on the Luge track, and he died after his resulting injuries from his crash. My thoughts are with him and his family, and Im sure this will have some negative effect on the athletes who are taking part in the Games.

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It is sad news, Luge is a very dangerous sport and I do hope there are no further injuries at the track where there has been some concern as safety due to the high speed nature of it.

My thoughts do go out to his family.

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It is a very sad thing and it has cast quite a pall over the celebrations for tonight's (local time) opening ceremonies.

However, I need to point out here that the lack of snow applies to a totally different site, the Cypress Mountain venue near Vancouver where they have set up free-style ski-ing events. That is only 4,000 feet above sea level and has suffered the lack of snow that seems to obsess the media.

Whistler and the events around there have lots of snow, these locations are about fifty miles north of the city and at higher elevations than snow-deprived Cypress, and a base of over ten metres developed in November, so there is no chance of this melting even if it rains this weekend as predicted. There may be postponements of alpine ski events but the weather looks set to improve early next week and frankly it's quite normal for Winter Olympic schedules to be subject to postponements on a fairly regular basis.

The luge track seems to have been set up at a very fast pace that the elite athletes were handling but in all likelihood it will have to be modified before race time or possibly the second tier athletes may have to compete from a different starting point. Let's hope this is not going to become a trend, but with so many extreme sports now becoming popular around the world, these traditional events are being subjected to the same desire for more and more extreme conditions (just like golf courses, truth be known).

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It is a very sad thing and it has cast quite a pall over the celebrations for tonight's (local time) opening ceremonies.

However, I need to point out here that the lack of snow applies to a totally different site, the Cypress Mountain venue near Vancouver where they have set up free-style ski-ing events. That is only 4,000 feet above sea level and has suffered the lack of snow that seems to obsess the media.

Whistler and the events around there have lots of snow, these locations are about fifty miles north of the city and at higher elevations than snow-deprived Cypress, and a base of over ten metres developed in November, so there is no chance of this melting even if it rains this weekend as predicted. There may be postponements of alpine ski events but the weather looks set to improve early next week and frankly it's quite normal for Winter Olympic schedules to be subject to postponements on a fairly regular basis.

The luge track seems to have been set up at a very fast pace that the elite athletes were handling but in all likelihood it will have to be modified before race time or possibly the second tier athletes may have to compete from a different starting point. Let's hope this is not going to become a trend, but with so many extreme sports now becoming popular around the world, these traditional events are being subjected to the same desire for more and more extreme conditions (just like golf courses, truth be known).

The Men's Downhill event has been postponed due to Slushy conditions at Whistler, it has been rescheduled for Monday. This reminds me of a time in 1984, when the Men's Downhill was postponed several times at the Sarajevo games.

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A sickening crash, and I'm amazed those posts were left uncovered. Looking at the speeds they were attaining it is going to be absolutely terrifying to watch the main events there. Imagine what it must be like to compete?

My family and I have really been looking forward to these Olympics after such a good skiing holiday this year.

But now all I can think about is the poor Georgian team coming out, almost in tears whilst the crowd recognised their loss.

Let's hope there are no more casualties.

Steve M

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First Gold Medal of the Games for Norway goes to Marit Bjoergen in the Classical Cross Country Sprint, hopefully the first of many.

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I think with some of the OTT comments we're hearing from the London papers, I should at least present a different perspective here.

First of all, the weather here is extremely mild compared to normal for all locations, for example, it is 12 C and sunny here today, normal is about 7-8 C and cloudy with showers. So in the mountains, where it would normally be closer to freezing, it is actually ideal weather for all the events, as long as the tracks and facilities are prepared properly, because this clear weather produces cold enough conditions at night for everything to be set and maintainable through the warmer daytime conditions. This is pretty much standard operating procedure in all alpine ski and snowboard areas, not unusual or specific to our venues, and the IOC or VANOC have handled the situation as well as they could.

As for trucking in snow, that was the only option available, and a very good call given the long-range forecasts for rain and very mild weather available a week to two weeks in advance. Had they not trucked in snow (to the one venue, Cypress) those events would have been cancelled. All of the natural snow on site melted in January. It's really too bad because eight or nine winters out of ten, there is a lot of snow at this site and in fact I have pictures of snow lying around at that elevation in June a few years ago, and posted them on Netweather at the time (think it was 2006). The higher parts of the Cypress site had some remaining snow and some of that was also used by bringing it down by ski-cat, but actually the trucks were the more reliable method and I don't know if it would have pleased the London newspapers better if we had sent everyone to another venue hundreds of miles away at the last minute, I'm sure they could have found a way to criticize that as well.

The Whistler region sites are all holding up quite well and were never short of snow, as you can see from the TV coverage, the area normally gets 8-12 metres of snow and this winter was on that course before the milder spell in January held conditions about even. We are now into a long dry spell with daily sunshine, which is going to mean excellent racing conditions but they may have to try for fairly early starts to give everyone equal chances.

Some of the other things that were criticized are fairly minor, and yes they were a bit of a SNAFU (like one of the rods not extending at the opening ceremonies, but as we say around here, three out of four erect rods is about all you can really expect for government work, I'm sure it's the same everywhere else). Our "own the podium" campaign was really all about marketing the games to Canadian fans, and not some new idea about excluding other athletes from practice facilities, which would be unsportsmanlike -- Canada has a good international reputation for sportsmanship in general, the one big exception being the Ben Johnson business which went under the radar of our Olympic committee. The hypocritical thing is that some of the larger countries have routinely cheated their way to large medal counts in the past, and our country has always tried to play by the rules, same as I have done here with my forecasting (and with about the same sort of reception from the big fish). People from smaller countries will recognize what I'm saying, sometimes it's a case of we'll play by our rules, you play by the official rules, and we'll see who wins.

Now, as to this tragic incident with the Georgian luge rider (luger, whatever) ... apparently, he had completed at least twenty training runs, and the place where he flew off the track was not the most dangerous spot on the course but very near the upslope ramp at the end. It is reported (here at least) that he had told family that he was frightened of the track, which at the same time was described as excellent by the top luge people from Europe (and this is essentially a European sport). The German and Austrian luge teams complained when the track was shortened, and some of them called the new track a "children's track" so I'm not sure where the truth lies here, but it seems to me that perhaps the unfortunate young man from Georgia was a bit out of his league on this facility and we really have to trust the national federations involved in these events to make sure they are sending people at least minimally capable of handling world-class facilities -- the days of Eddie the Eagle are somewhat numbered in this day and age of extreme sports, and if there were ever an extreme sport, it would be hurtling down a hill at over 150 km/hr on a sled. Nobody forces anyone to do this, you won't see Roger J Smith on the ski hill or the luge track, for example, because I am more comfortable cross-country ski-ing on flat terrain.

One other thing I could say, and I hope somebody from a London newspaper reads this, people who are actually here, who attend a lot of these events, say this one is relatively well organized. Somebody from the USA said in Whistler that it was better than Nagano or Torino, and gave it eight out of ten, which knowing that they would automatically think Salt Lake City was better, seemed like a pretty good report. With the good weather, it's ideal for the many visitors to the city here where the arena events are taking place.

I don't want to get into an exchange of unpleasantries with anyone, and I'll say that I hope the 2012 Summer Olympics go off well and get good press, because you don't really want these comments from the peanut gallery after putting a lot of time and effort into holding one of these mega-events. However, if there are any imperfections at London 2012, we'll be counting on the London newspapers to sniff them out. I do have to ask this -- where were all these ace reporters when global warming was unravelling? Seems that they missed that story entirely.

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Leaving AGW aside, you can bet that 2012 will be the wettest summer ever and everyone will be complaining how cold and wet the UK is....

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I'm really surprised that the sports fans on the forum seem not to have picked up on this-its a fantastic achievement-not like ice skating and curling-good as the medals have been over the years-this one is right into the top notch-no real facilities in the UK-one starter training track and she beats the rest of the world with tracks in their own back yard-in my view a brilliant achievement.

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Absolutely delighted for Amy Williams winning a Gold at Whistler! biggrin.gif Shows that even little Blighty, with no sliding track of its own, can mix it with the best of them and win.

Is skeleton our national sport yet? nea.gif

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Delighted to see Amy winning the Gold in the Skeleton bob, our first individual gold medal in 30 years.

I have been watching as much of this as I can including quite a lot on the BBC website, and I have been watching the Norwegians doing very well in both the Cross Country skiing and the Biathlon, and of course, Svindal getting silver in the downhill and Gold in the Super G.

Rob Walker is an absolute legend in the Biathlon coverage, and I love his catchphrase.

"If it's all white, it's all right."

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Did anybody else see the the crash in the 1st run of the bobsliegh last night with the British team so dissapointing, yet Liechenstien got through because they managed to get across the road.

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I've been following the winter olympics avidly but I have to say with the exception of Amy Williams some of our performances have ranged from disappointing to embarassing!

One of the worst performances I have seen was Jenna McCorkell in the ladies Figure skating. She came 2nd from last which to me wasn't surprising as her performance was dreadful. If she is the best figure skater in the UK then we might aswell pack it in. Im not referring to when she fell flat on her face because this can happen to anyone. What im referring to is her general skating ability.

Speaking of embarassing performances one of the funniest performances I have seen is the womens Bobsleigh and im not referring to when they crashed yesterday. Watch the video below!

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