Curling rink in the right spot
By Terry Jones
VANCOUVER — The ice is nice.
And location, location, location.
Say whatever you will about the controversial curling venue at Vancouver 2010, you have to say that first.
“It’s pretty near perfect ice,” said world champion David Murdoch of Scotland. “Finally an Olympics is going to have some good ice!”
Switzerland’s Ralph Stoeckli says it’s an advantage for Canada, but he loves it.
“If it stays like this, it will be a great event,” he said. “We won’t be able to blame the ice. We had bad ice four years ago in Italy. Straight ice. But the game is called curling. Here we’ll be able to hide the rocks instead of hurling them.”
Great ice. And a venue that isn’t a road trip to reach.
It was the first day for the Olympic curlers on the ice at the venue located in Richmond. And at the very least, you had to admit they did a fantastic job at putting lipstick on this pig. In baseball terms, you’d have to credit VANOC with a “save.”
The temporary seats, in what will be a recreation centre after the Olympics, hold only 5,675 which is disappointing to some of the players who have played before 14,000-plus fans at other events in past competitions.
“It could be double the size,” said four-time Olympian Andy Kapp. “But for us from Germany, any time we play before more than 100 people that’s great.”
American skip John Shuster admitted to being disappointed with the small number of temporary seats in the $8-million dollar building, which includes a swimming pool.
“It looks good now. It’s actually beautiful. There’s an Olympic feeling. And the crowd is going to be right
on top of us,” said Canada’s Kevin Martin.
It’s like a small European soccer stadium in that regard. There’s an intimacy to it.
And it looks good.
“Looking good on TV is what it is all about,” said World Curling Federation
president Les Harrison of Moncton.
“We can’t wait to see how this is going to do in China. We had 57 million watching the women’s world championships on Chinese TV last year. The potential in Asia is huge. What’s happening in the USA is huge.”
Harrison said the positives of the trade-offs here trump the negatives.
“We’re in the core of the city where we wanted to be,” he said of the venue, which is closest to downtown other than G.M. Place. T
The curling rink was an hour train ride from Torino; an hour drive from Salt Lake in Ogden; nearly two hours out of town from Nagano in the beautiful resort town of Karuizawa; and an equal distance away and up a treacherous mountain road at Albertville, when curling was a demonstration sport.
It’s like they were always trying to hide curling away somewhere. Not here. Not this year.
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