Years of planning, hard work and expense were evident in the successful 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver was a gracious host and the 17-day event survived human tragedy, mechanical glitches and a lack of snow to triumph.
PERHAPS the best indicator of the success of the 2010 Winter Olympics is the evident pride behind a raucous attempt to appropriate Vancouver’s event as Canada’s national triumph.
Record gold-medal production on home snow and ice and a win for the ages by the men’s hockey team have all of Canada trying to crowd onto the podium for a share of Olympic glory.
No one could have imagined such an outcome after the tragic opening day of Winter Games XXI. The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili will forever mark the international gathering, but the genetic spirit of the 17-day event revived and prevailed.
For all of the grousing about NBC’s tape-delay broadcasts, soap-opera story lines and wall-to-wall commercials, the entire planet was tuned into the games. Viewership was huge and the competition was tracked online from half-pipe to skicross.
The capacity of the games to attract and hold so much attention for sports that virtually no one participates in or understands is a marvel and proof of the seductive power of the Olympic brand, for viewers and hosts alike.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know Vancouver and British Columbia have been planning for the games — well, forever. Money was poured into improving infrastructure from border crossings to roads, hospitals and power plants. Expanding Vancouver Convention Centre was only a piece of more than $600 million in construction projects. Olympic amenities become civic assets.
These Winter Olympics attracted 5,500 athletes from 80 nations. Some of the best call Washington home. In the timeless essence of sports, short-track star Apolo Anton Ohno became the most medaled American winter athlete, but young medal winner J. R. Celski served notice he was in hot pursuit.
Now the burdens and opportunities fall to the Russian city of Sochi in 2014. One expects the planning is well under way.
Vancouver set a gold-medal standard.