Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Canada fails Ice Prep 101

What's the world coming to when the Daytona Speedway can't pave a track and the Canadians can't prep ice? Did the pasta-makers malfunction in Turin? Did the Chinese run out of chopsticks in Beijing? It's a world gone mad.

Ice preparation should be to Canadians what channel surfing is for Americans -- quick, effortless and enjoyable.

There have been two days of speed skating at the Richmond Olympic Oval, and two days of delays due to, of all things, ice resurfacing machine malfunctions.

(And let's be clear, these aren't American-made Zambonis; there are Canadian-made Olympias. The word Zamboni gets tossed around like Kleenex, literally, but it's a brand name, like, well, Kleenex. CTV, the consortium of television networks covering these Games for Canada, knows the difference; its story began "Maybe they should have gone with a Zamboni." Ouch.)

It's the Olympics, for Pete's sake, and we're in CANADA. Shouldn't there be an extra one just sitting around? Doesn't every Canadian have one in his driveway?

Sunday, during the women's 3,000 meters, a rough spot near the finish line caused a 10-minute delay. Monday night, during ice prep between the two halves of the first round, only one machine was functional. Mayhem ensured.

Well, mayhem, Canadian style. Volunteers smiled vacantly and announcers babbled vacuously and "Golden Years" played incomprehensibly over the public address system as the lone machine kept circling. TV cameras, however, showed close-ups of the ice and it looked like a roiling ocean that had been flash frozen.

Another machine was eventually retriever from somewhere -- Gretzky's garage? -- and pressed into service. But it wasn't decorated with Olympic mascots and sponsors and such; somewhere Jacques Rogge was shuddering.

Meanwhile, skaters emerged from their lair beneath the arena floor, took a quick look around and headed back down the stairs again, perhaps to check out the pairs figure skating long program.

Speed skating coaches gathered in clusters, pointing at various spots and shaking their heads, like a bevy of neurologists clustered around a particularly troubling MRI. Then they donned skates and began testing the ice themselves, gliding along behind the machine to test its work. All this resulted in a 69-minute delay.

There have been bus problems at these Olympics -- and in fairness, many of the buses are American. But Canada didn't invent buses, and it doesn't expend a lot of energy bragging about how it is the birthplace of buses. It isn't chest-bumping during "Bus Night in Canada."

These are the feel-good Olympics, put on by a country that cited its good manners during Opening Ceremonies. I'm from a small town in Kansas; I can "please" and "thank you" with the best of them, and I excuse myself when I belch even when I'm alone. But I'm also fairly fond of organization and planning. It's incomprehensible to me that the Canadians can't get the ice in competition shape in a timely fashion.

Maybe they should call in the curling team to help.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 15, 2010; 11:01 PM ET
Categories:  Speedskating , Vancouver 2010  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Live Olympics chat: Day 4
Next: My Olympic failure


Yeah, I thought that was pretty funny. They said they had 3 machines, and none of them were putting down a good surface. They called in the mechanics and the top ice "specialist". I'm all for going green and supporting local companies, but this must be considered a fiasco within the speed skating contingent.

Posted by: EllenK1 | February 16, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey, just heard on CBC radio (I know I'm a total Olympic geek) that they are calling in the Zambonis --the real deal this time. They have given the Canadian machines the boot.

Posted by: EllenK1 | February 16, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Snowboarding, figure skating, costume-modeling, camera-mugging, and Zamboni-driving -- these, and other subjective Olympic events seem better suited for the circus or cable comedy shows.

Posted by: kinkysr | February 16, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company