Vancouver 2010 Olympic Cauldron

By Elliot Chan

Formerly published in MeetVanCity.com

courtesy of BBC

courtesy of BBC

In 2010, all eyes were on Vancouver as it hosted the 21st Winter Olympic Games. Fans, athletes and everyone else crowded the downtown core celebrating and enjoying the event. In preparation for the grand occasion, Vancouver went through upgrades, introducing new sport complexes and public spaces and a safer highway to Whistler. Most of what was created for the Olympics is still in use today, such as the Convention Centre and Richmond’s Olympic Oval. While those locations became a regular part of the city’s landmark, the Olympic cauldron is still able to spark memories of the crowded streets and national pride.

Since the day it was unveiled, the cauldron has been a famous icon in Vancouver. So much that organizers were unprepared for its popularity during the two weeks event in 2010. A fence had to be constructed to keep spectators back, until a viewing spot can be built on higher ground. Today, the best spot to see it would be on the upper level of the Convention Centre.

Built to resemble five pillars of ice leaning against each other, the Olympic cauldron is now accessible for anyone eager to get a closer look. During the night, the transparent pillars will illuminate blue and green. Set in the centre of a fountain, against the Coal Harbour backdrop, the cauldron is a photogenic image of the city.

On special occasions, the cauldron would be re-lit. But the initial lighting is what most people remember. During the opening ceremony in BC Place, there were two Olympic cauldrons, the one we know now outdoors and another one in the stadium for the show. At the end of the ceremony, four famous Canadian athletes were supposed to light the pillars of the BC Place cauldron and have the flames travel up to the top of the bowl, but due to mechanical issues, one of the pillars did not rise. It was embarrassing for the organizers and awkward for the audience. Having two cauldrons meant that there would be two lightings. So a pick-up truck transported hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky with the Olympic flame from the stadium to the site of the outdoor cauldron. There, he fulfilled one of the greatest athletic honours in all of sports — lighting the Olympic Cauldron.

Spotlight in Sochi

 Sports_Sochi-2014-olymic-stadium

International hockey teams look for key players to help win gold in Russia

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in The Other Press. Nov. 2013

The Olympics bring out the hockey nations’ most elite players, but when stars in club teams join international teams, not every player will get the spotlight—many accustomed to being leaders in the NHL will have to take on secondary or defensive roles. Players recognized for highlight reel plays might not get the opportunity to showcase their skills on the international stage, but that doesn’t mean they’re a liability—in fact, the unsung players are often those that contribute most to gold medal teams. Without further ado, here’s a quick preview of the top contenders.

Canada: Who is going to get Sidney Crosby the puck? It might not be Steven Stamkos, even though he was a projected line mate before the top goal scorer in the NHL went down with a leg injury. In 2010, Jarome Iginla set up the golden goal, but due to his rise in age and decline in stock, he might be dismissed, making room for an up-and-comer. So who will be the key figure in 2014 flying under the radar? Consider Crosby’s set-up man on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chris Kunitz. Team Canada often tries to be fancy, but I believe team chemistry is more important than talent alone. Head coach Mike Babcock may consider trying out many players with Crosby, but with 27 points in 28 games this season, Kunitz is as good as any Canadian to set up a game winner.

Russia: With home ice advantage and a team known for its firepower, Team Russia is going to do everything they can to reverse their Olympic fortunes. It’s true, the Red Army has been intimidating on paper for many years, but if the Alexander Ovechkins and Evgeni Malkins can’t win games, who can they count on? We might have forgotten about him in the NHL, but Ilya Kovalchuk is still a game changer (when he wants to be), with 30 points in 26 games in the KHL with league-leading St. Petersburg SKA. With Kovalchuk, Russia may be the favourite to upset the two North American teams.

USA: Tasting silver in 2010 was a bitter experience for the Americans even though they arrived in Vancouver as the underdogs. They failed to score the last goal four years ago, but that was not because of their forwards—it was because of their defence. Without Ryan Miller playing at top form there wouldn’t even be silver. But with Miller’s confidence crippled by a horrible Buffalo Sabres team, who can the US count on to stop the opposition? Why not Jack Johnson from the Columbus Blue Jackets? He had been sitting, waiting, wishing for a second chance at gold and this time with healthy experience on a defensively sound Blue Jacket team, he might just be the consistent blue liner to get the USA to the next level.

Sweden: The 2006 champions will not have an easy trip to the podium in 2014. Team Sweden will need both their veterans and youngsters to be at their best for the two-week tournament. Any stalled play will definitely go against their favour and may be impossible to recover. Look for the Colorado Avalanche’s captain Gabriel Landeskog to play a larger role on the international team after turning the Avalanche’s productivity around this year with an impressive 17-5-0 start to the NHL season.

Whether it’s blocking a shot or making a key pass in a tight situation, Olympic hockey is all about talented players doing the little things to win. These players may have smaller roles, but they are far from small players.