Canadian athletes ignoring reports about Games glitches, says COC

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

VANCOUVER - Renowned Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes has seen a lot of global competitions in her storied career, so the 2010 "Glitch Games" don't bother her at all.
Every Olympics has its problems, said Hughes, who carried the Canadian flag into the opening ceremonies last week and has won multiple medals in past Games as both a champion cyclist and a star speedskater.
But persistent media reports about bad weather, equipment glitches, dangerous conditions and ticketing snafus are not really affecting the quality of competition at the Vancouver Games, she said Wednesday.
And while the death of a Georgian luger hours before the opening ceremonies last week was "unfathomable," the spirit of the competition remains strong.
"I've been on the media side of the Olympics and creating controversy is part of the media," said Hughes, the 37-year-old from Winnipeg who is the first athlete to win multiple medals in both the Summer and Winter Games.
"This has been a fantastic Games and every person I've talked to and run into is really enjoying it. There's a great spirit here. There have been things that have happened, like the death of an athlete which is just unfathomable, but the Games themselves specifically have been fantastic, and it's just typical media."
Chris Rudge, chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Association, said the more than 200 Canadian competitors at the Games are probably ignoring the negative reports, in part because they've been trained to avoid outside distractions during competition.
"One of the big things that we do with our program in athlete preparation within the COC is focus very much on distraction management," Rudge said in an interview.
"When you get into the village, the athletes get into their moment and are really focused on what they want to accomplish. I don't think they pay attention to these other things going on."
Some reports in the British media have suggested the Games are on their way to earning the dreaded "worst ever" label, thanks to a litany of troubles - from the shocking death of 21-year-old luger Nodar Kumaritashvili to problems with the Olympic cauldron.
On Wednesday, the British media continued to hammer the Games, accusing members of the Vancouver organizing committee of burying their heads in the sand.
One of the headlines on the London Telegraph website blared: "Winter Olympics 2010: Officials Whitewash Their Mountain of Problems."
The Guardian's Lawrence Donegan, who has been vocal in his criticism of problems at the Games, continued his assault under a headline that read, "Shooting the Messenger Will Not Right the Wrongs at Vancouver 2010."
"The IOC could do itself, and the Olympic moment, a favour if rather than attacking those who report such problems they actually sorted the problems instead," Donegan wrote.
Readers of Ben Smith's story on the Times website were hit with the following headline: "Melting Ice the Latest Problem to Beset Winter Olympics."
"Of all the unforeseen disasters to befall the Winter Olympics in Vancouver over the past week, a lack of good quality (speedskating) ice must be among the most unexpected," Smith wrote.
The quality of the ice got mixed reviews by the athletes at the Richmond Olympic Oval, where troubles with an Olympia ice resurfacer caused race delays two days in a row before the problem was solved.
"Everything for us, as far as an athlete goes, has run pretty smoothly, minus Zamboni problems and stuff like that," said American speedskater Elli Ochowicz. "As far as the organization of competition goes, I think it's great."
However, 5,000-metre champion Sven Kramer complained that the changing ice conditions at the Olympic Oval have been driving him "crazy" as he chases two more gold medals. The Dutch star said the ice at Wednesday's training session again felt different from the surface he skated on to win his first gold on Saturday.
Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust said things went fine for her despite the flubs by organizers.
"I know they have made mistakes but not in my events, it doesn't matter to me," Wust said. "I'm enjoying being at the Olympics, I'm not comparing to other Olympics. It's a good village, it's good food and it's a nice rink, and today the ice was good."
A German competitor also wasn't too worried about the ice, but had some criticisms for the long delays between competition, which happens at every Olympics.
"It's a little bit sad, of course, because if there are such big breaks between the races, for the 500-metre men it was horrible," said Monique Angermuller.
"You have a schedule and you think about the schedule, and if this happens at the Olympic Games it's really sad. But everything else is perfect. The people are really nice, it's not distracting me at all."
Winter athletes are accustomed to dealing with quirky weather and dangerous ski hills, the COC's Rudge added.
"This is not unique that we have some issues here," he said.
"In Torino, the issues accrued much more to the athletes ... where - of all places, in Italy - the food was a disaster. And the food is probably the most important thing to an athlete who is competing at the Games. And the food here is tremendous."
British skier Chemmy Alcott said she's not surprised at the criticism directed at the Vancouver Games by the English media.
"British people love to build you up and they love to criticize you," she said after Wednesday's women's downhill race. "That's the press back home for you."
Added Alcott: "It's a challenging Olympics. Everyone knew Whistler in February was going to be tough. But look at how good this hill is. This is the best downhill hill I have ever skied. It's so challenging. You wouldn't find this hill anywhere else. That is the reason we are here. We'll get through these Olympics just fine."

Organizations: Canadian Olympic Association, Richmond Olympic Oval, London Telegraph IOC

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Winnipeg, Torino Italy Whistler

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page