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COLUMN: Vancouver Games

Samantha Elliott

Issue date: 2/16/10 Section: Sports
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Although it seems like the world just watched Michael Phelps swim his way to an Olympic record eight gold medals, it has actually been almost a year and a half. Now it is time for the Winter Olympics.

I absolutely love watching the Olympic games whether it's winter or summer games. I do watch more sports in the summer games but some winter games are interesting. My favorite sports have always been figure skating and speed skating. Speed skater's skates just fascinate me and I am always amazed at how easy they make it look. My absolute favorite figure skater is Michelle Kwan, so growing up I wanted nothing more than for her to win gold at the Olympics. However, it always seemed like other skaters bested her.

This year would have been her last Olympic games but she chose to get a law degree instead of going for the gold.

Anyway, the 21st Winter Olympics are in Vancouver, Canada this year and opening ceremonies were Friday, Feb. 12. The ceremony cost around $30 million, which was far short of Beijing's $300 million ceremonies for the last games. They were watched by 32.6 million people, up 48 percent from the 2006 games in Turin, Italy. It was the first time in history that an opening Olympic ceremony had been held indoors. The show was entitled The Fire in the Ice and was dedicated mostly to theatre events. Some were quite dull although the whales coming out of the floor and the tap dancing violinists definitely had my attention. So did the various outfits some of the countries had.

The ceremonies were not all fun and happiness however. The final scene with the giant torch lighting didn't go quite as planned. First, the cauldron took longer than expected to rise out of the floor. Then four matchsticks were supposed to rise up to help light the large cauldron but the fourth one never came out of the floor. Kind of unfortunate for Canada but the nervous "what do we do now" look of Wayne Gretzky made up for it.

The most tragic event took place before the opening ceremonies even started. Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was only 21 years old, was taking practice runs on the track that was said to be the most dangerous in the world. There had already been several crashes on it before Kumaritashvili took his final practice run and on turn 16 lost control, went over the side and was killed.
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