Lots to like during Vancouver Olympics

By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — Virtually every day there’s been a story that’s made Vancouver 2010 a gloomy Games.

The death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. The malfunctioning arm of the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony. The outdoor flame being located behind an ugly chain-link fence. The early weather woes and 28,000 standing-room ticket cancellations at Cypress.

A British writer’s claims that these are the worst Games ever. The early transportation mess. The protest-turned-riot. The failure of ice-cleaning machines at speed skating and the need to truck in a Zamboni from Calgary. The empty seats at figure skating. The sudden shift in the fortunes of Canadian athletes after a great conversion rate early.

The Canadian cops getting shipped home amid allegations of shoplifting and fighting. The necessity to close downtown liquor stores at 7 p.m. to prevent trouble. And now the death of the mother of Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette.

There’s no shortage of dark moments.

But there have also been bright spots, and maybe now — into the second half the XXI Olympic Winter Games — it’s time to focus on the positive moments in Vancouver.

I like the 70,000 people on Robson and Granville every night who aren’t drunken louts, chanting “Go Canada Go!” regardless what happened at the venues, bursting into the national anthem.

I like the bus route past The Bay every morning where thousands of people, in good weather and bad, are lined up for a minimum of two blocks, often wrapped around the corner and up the next block, to buy Olympic souvenirs.

I like the great group of girls at the bus venue departures area, teaching international visitors how to Texas two-step and line dance.

I liked taking trip up to Whistler to cover bobsled on a gorgeous British Columbia Saturday on the Sea to Sky Highway and wish a trip to Whistler should be made mandatory for everybody covering these Olympics.

I like how the trip from downtown Vancouver to downtown Whistler took one hour and 58 minutes and how there hasn’t been a peep about moving people to and from Vancouver despite all the angst about the potential for problems.

I like how happy my colleagues seem to be covering events that are mostly in the day and are deadline-friendly for papers out east.

I like how they’re able to take a cable car to work when they’re covering events at the sliding centre.

I like the TV beauty shots of Vancouver that are being shown around the world. I remember the TV shots from diving in Barcelona but there’s a stunning scene from almost every venue at these Olympics.

I liked covering snowboard cross and watching ski cross. I like the way the Americans have carried themselves here, at the venues and away from the venues.

I like the daily e-mails on the numbers of Canadians dialed in to watch the Olympics on TV, creating Olympic dreams from coast to coast. Imagine 7.4 million watching the Hamelin brothers miss the medals in short-track speed skating and 4.24 million watching Jon Montrgomery get his medal.

I like the guts and the will of Rochette to go on and practice Sunday.

I like the class and emotion of Mellisa Hollingsworth for calling a press conference to say she’s sorry for not winning a medal in skeleton. She’s a winner in defeat.

I like the fact that despite not winning a gold medal in Montreal 1976 or Calgary 1988, Canada could still end up with more gold than anybody else out of these Games

I like the fact that Canada had a seven-day winning streak of winning a medal to start these Olympics. The longest streak we ever had before was four days.

I like the fact that for all the mistakes they made, VANOC has done an excellent job fixing almost all of them.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

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