This January has been one of, if not THE warmest in recent history and people are concern with the lack of snow up in Cypress, where it will host Freestyle skiing and snowboarding. But regardless of what happens weather-wise between now and the 12th, the games will go ahead. The perfect weather scenario, IMHO, would be dry, partly/fully sunny conditions with temperature below 5c. That way it still feels like a Winter Olympic but would allow the natural beauty of Vancouver to shine through.
I’m starting to feel the buzz around the city. Work crews have been busy putting all the finishing touches together. Road closures are in full effect and the Olympic torch is making its way back to the Lower Mainland. Over the weekend, Pie Pie Lo and I headed downtown to the Olympic Superstore and it was packed with people. We also noticed all the different languages being spoken around us. At one point, I saw a group of 3 wearing Team Russia jackets heading out the store. Ready or not, the world is starting to descend upon Vancouver.
But what really got me excited was the tour I had at the Richmond Olympic Oval on Sunday. As part of my volunteer training, I got access to see off limit areas such as the press area and the actual ice surface where the speed skaters will be during the competition.
For those who attended the Richmond Winter Fest last Feb, the Oval today looks nothing like what it was a year ago. The venue has been completely transformed and looks amazing. The sight lines are good and the atmosphere is rather intimate.
Here are some interesting facts I found out during the tour:
– The total capacity is 8,500 with 6,500 of them for ticket holders.
– The ice for long track speed skate is the coldest/hardest amongst all the ice related sports where it’s maintained at around -9c. Comparatively, figure skating ice is around -3c and hockey ice is around -5c.
– What’s even more interesting is that within a long track, the ice temperature between the curves and the straightaways are different. The curves are about 3c degrees “warmer” for better traction when the skaters turn the corner.
– A speed skater can reach a maximum speed of around 60 – 70 km/h.
– After the games, some of the seating will be moved to the PNE as part of the temporary stadium on the old Empire site. As well, the long track ice will be removed and in its place, 2 international size hockey rinks, amongst other facilities, will be installed.
I left the Oval tour in awe and wished I had bought long track speed skate tickets because the venue struck me as one that will be the most memorable in these Olympic games. I, like a lot of my fellow volunteers, will not have access to catch any of the competition but may be allowed to watch some training sessions.
I can’t wait to get started now…….
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