March 10, 2006 Features & Images » Feature Story

Scenes from the Games 

From colliding buses, empty seats, the log man, and O Solo Mio, Pique editor Bob Barnett observes lessons learned for Whistler from the 2006 Winter Olympics.

click to flip through (4) Italian fans cheer at the women's downhill in San Sicario.
  • Italian fans cheer at the women's downhill in San Sicario.

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It’s at the venues themselves that security was tightest, although "tight" seems to be one of those words whose meaning is subject to various regional interpretations in Italy. At one athletes village a Whistlerite managed to wangle his way in despite having no accreditation. At another, a Whistlerite was told he couldn’t even photograph the buildings.

The log man

The return of the log person

One of the best characters in David Lynch’s weirdo TV series Twin Peaks was the Log Lady. Her male counterpart is apparently Swiss.

The men’s alpine ski races were some of the signature events of the Winter Olympics, particularly for the nearby countries that share the Alps: Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France. For the men’s super G many fans came dressed in the colours and costumes of their nation or alpine region. The Germans were decked out in red, yellow and black and furry animal headgear. The Italians sang while they waited for the race to start. The Norwegians sported Viking helmets with horns.

And one Swiss fellow brought his log.

With a thick beard, an alpine felt hat and a Swiss flag he already looked like a mountain man, but on his back he had a small canvas pack – with a log strapped to the top of it. The hinges on the log suggested the inner contents may have been schnapps rather than wood.

Blizzard of opportunity

One of the lessons Whistler businesses may take from the XX Winter Games is that a problem for organizers may be an opportunity for them.

A case in point was the women’s super G. More than 5,000 spectators and a few hundred journalists were packed into the finish area at San Sicario Fraiteve watching the snow come down and waiting for what seemed an inevitability: the canceling of the race and re-scheduling it to the next day.

When the word finally came down at noon, all those spectators and reporters were free to escape the secured confines of the finish area, and the Budweiser, Coca Cola and other official Olympic nourishment. And the restaurants and bars in San Sicario did well.

Unfortunately some of the retailers missed an opportunity. Many retailers close in the early afternoon while they go and have lunch themselves.

Business as usual

One of the biggest questions Whistler seems to have about the Olympics is how will the Games affect business, and how should businesses prepare for the Games.

It’s one of those trick questions, for which there is no right answer. The best we can do is observe.

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