Olympic notebook: The glitchy Games

A cauldron controversy, torch issue, ice-resurfacing problems and weather-related ticket cancellations have the Vancouver Games off to a rough start.

Sunny skies top the runs at Whistler Creekside in this file photo. VANOC

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--As the sun rises into a bright blue sky here, it's hard to imagine a more picturesque setting for the Olympics. But the sun is just one of many problems that have marred the start of these Winter Games.

Even before the Games began, the weather had caused problems for course builders at Cypress Mountain, sending them scrambling to use straw and other innovations to make up for a lack of snow. Since then, organizers have had to cancel thousands of general-admission tickets at Cypress, saying weekend rains had made the standing areas unsafe.

On the day of the opening ceremonies, there was the luge accident that took the life of a Georgian athlete. And at the opening festivities themselves, part of the torch-lighting ceremony failed to work properly in a high-profile mishap.

The torch has continued to ignite controversy since the opening, with visitors and residents complaining that officials hid the publicly displayed cauldron behind fencing--something organizers are now scrambling to rectify.

Then there was an issue with the ice resurfacing at the speed-skating arena in Richmond. The Olympia brand ice machines didn't work properly, forcing organizers to send in better-known Zambonis.

Despite all that, organizers say the press is really to blame, focusing on the negative.

To some degree, they are right. Public transit has been smooth and efficient, crowds so far are well-behaved, and the Canadians are unfailingly polite hosts. And, in just a few days, the Games are already full of the highlights and lowlights that make the Olympics special.

CNET's Ina Fried got her hands on some hard-to-find mittens. VANOC

Plus, just look at that blue sky.

Into the Games themselves
I have my first chance to go to an event today, having bought a ticket from a scalper for a men's hockey game, with Finland taking on Belarus.

Assuming that the ticket works, I'll let folks know what the Olympic experience looks like from the seats, in addition to the behind-the-scenes approach on which I have been focusing.

Getting my mittens on some mittens
One of the hardest things to get one's hands on in Vancouver, besides tickets, are these red mittens. Olympic organizers have already sold millions of pairs, and as soon as the Olympic stores get more, they sell out quickly. I did have the good fortune of catching a pair thrown into the crowd as a giveaway at Monday's medal ceremony in Whistler.

About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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