Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hitting the Olympic Wall

It happens every Games. Its nickname: The Wall

And it's a bummer! Lots of it going around, sadly.

"The Wall" of the Olympic world is, of course, sheer Games fatigue that sets in after one's second or third week of nights with fewer than four hours of sleep.
This is the antithesis of "Olympic Fever" when folks who are otherwise Olympic fanatics start to pick mundane activities such as laundry or household chores as "a welcome break" from Olympic activities.

What is sad is that, in a few weeks or months (or even years), looking back at the Games, many will kick themselves asking "why was I worried about laundry when I could have been at an Olympic event?!"

For the first-timers enjoying their premiere Olympics, a.k.a rookies, "The Wall" during Vancouver (and past Games) started to show up in conversations around February 17-18.
Sophomore class Wall conversations in VanCity started popping up on February 20-21.

Senior class wall (for those at their third, fourth or more Games) is dropping in right about now (Feb. 24). And tomorrow brings "the final stretch" to the Closing for everyone (for the brave veterans, could mean little or no sleep for 2-3 days to tap the Games for every last bit of fun).

It's a marathon, not a sprint. Bell lap comes around on Saturday.

Two "walls" for me this Games struck thus far ... first, I hit a brick wall when my laptop crashed last Friday, costing me about three hours of precious work. The second wall came yesterday, after about the third instance of slapping myself across the face to stay awake! I also sold a couple of tickets to figure skating on the street, and accidentally left my Feb. 24 speedskating ticket in the envelope handed to a complete stranger (a $200 mistake -- DOH!)

Fortunately last night I got a few more hours of rest. Today was OK. But the rain makes me tired. Can hardly believe this time next week I'll be back in Atlanta, and a week after that in Dallas and Oklahoma City!

Lots of very, very cool experiences have not yet been written for the blog. I hope there won't be another "wall" and to post the interviews with Carl Lewis, Kristi Yamaguchi, B.C. Premiere Gordon Campbell (press conference) and visits to hotspots including USA House, Visit Britain's media night, the B.C. to Sochi mayor's handover presser, speedskating, pin trading, condo dwelling and new friends made.

Here are a few activities that are highly recommended for the home stretch:

-- Check out the Swiss House on Granville Island.

-- Pop into the Panasonic pavilion at LiveCity Yaletown (both the pavilion and LiveCity are clients of Edelman, the P.R. firm where I work). Be certain to view the video of Sarah Brightman created just for the Vancouver Games.

-- Head over to False Creek for the very fun Saskatchewan House (a pleasant, very laid back pavilion that had some great home-province musicians and one of my favorite Olympic pins for the Games).

-- Find a way into Sochi House, the preview pavilion for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. I really hope to get there (the only "access denied" venue for yours truly at the Vancouver Games ... but I will get in!).

-- Walk around B.C. Place to view the Olympic-colored lights installed around the base of the inflated dome (a nice touch).

-- Count the Canada flags on the high rise apartment buildings. On one tower alone near Yaletown and the Marina, there are more than 30 Maple Leaf emblems on display.

-- Take the bus through East Vancouver to the Pacific Coliseum, and be sure to view the statue celebrating the two runners who completed the perfect mile in the same race.

-- Snap some photos of the Allstate U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame chalk artwork, visible from the corner windows of USA House (on Seymour across the street from Irish House).

Hoping to make it to one of the mountain events on Saturday. Tickets, anyone?

Thank you for reading the blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Double Buble! -- Michael Buble, at Club Bud in Vancouver, Talks about The Colbert Report Taping; Dares The World To Criticize Canada!

I gather for most Canadians, running into Michael Buble once is a big deal.

Saturday night at Club Bud in Vancouver (a client) afforded me an encore, er, "Double Buble" encounter on the heels of filming him (and snagging the least legible celebrity autograph since meeting Ennio Morricone in Torino) backstage at The Colbert Report taping in Vancouver.

If you have not yet seen that Stephen Colbert and Michael Buble video, it's right here.

Buble impressed me -- he is quite calm and really made time to speak with fans at both Vancouver sightings. Observing his other red carpet interviews, one could sense that Buble is bursting with Canadian pride. He commented several times on the massive crowds throughout downtown.

According to Buble, he dined with NBC's Tom Brokaw and Lorne Michaels just the night before singing dueling national anthems with Colbert -- not surprising that Colbert earned Buble's praise as "a class act."

I was surprised that toward the end of our conversation at Club Bud, Buble seemed to be throwing down a dare to, um, just about everyone outside of Canada!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Blog Pin Offer -- Get 'Em While They're Hot!

Olympic pin trading is everywhere in Vancouver, from the "official" trading areas in department stores and the airport, to casinos and Yaletown tents, to impromptu swapping (and discreet sales) spots on Granville Street and other points of interest.

Now the sport of Olympic pin trading is here on this Olympic blog with a special offer:

The first five readers who post a comment -- describing your favorite place to trade pins in Vancouver -- will receive a free Olympic blog pin for (as shown with this post).

You must post a comment on this blog to qualify. I'll either deliver the pin to your suggested Vancouver location or mail the pin to those first five to comment.

There are only 500 of these Olympic blog pins (numbered by hand), and I'm getting down to the last of them.

Happy writing, and thanks for reading the Olympic blog.

Tara Lapinski at Club Bud in Vancouver

As noted in previous post, "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm was only one of the red carpet walkers at Club Bud (client) on Saturday night at the Vancouver Olympics.

Nagano 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski arrived at club bud ready to talk with media and fans.

Lipinski is a real trooper with media, enduring several interviews with repeat questions. She also politely navigated some potentially awkward (but handled with good cheer) moments with the friendly Brad Blanks, a reporter for New York's "Scott & Todd in the Morning," who's memory drew a blank regarding Lipinski's Olympic glory (on par with my own naivete about most of the young TV stars who arrived at Club Bud -- we had a good laugh about it in the media row).

Lipinski shared brief details on some of the special children's causes she supports, and she discussed the post-Olympic experience including participation in two Olympic torch relays.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mad Man at the Olympics!

Last night at Club Bud, perhaps the most exclusive Olympic-time party venue in Vancouver, the stars were shining as tens of thousands of Canadians took to the streets. (disclosure: Club Bud is a client of Edelman, the P.R. firm where I work)

"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm was among numerous celebrities who took in the sights and sounds of Club Bud, and he was also nice enough to speak with Enjoy the video!

More interviews to post later, that's for sure! (come back for interviews with Olympic figure skating legends Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski, Hayden Christensen, Michael Buble and others.

Heading now to speedskating.

And living the dream!

(P.S. If any "Mad Men" writers are out there and spot this interview, please, please write the Olympics into an upcoming episode!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Backstage at The Colbert Report Olympic Edition

Per my post last night, a colleague and I set out Wednesday morning on behalf of several clients.
Our mission was a success, but more details on that will have to wait until next week's air dates for "The Colbert Report" Olympic shows filmed in Vancouver.

Mr. Colbert was great! We made eye contact twice, and that gleam in his eye on TV twinkles even brighter in person (perhaps it was the sunlight reflecting off the "Iceholes" in attendance).
His crowd interactions met deafening applause at every step. It was cool that someone in the audience of thousands brought their Vancouver Olympic Torch and loaned it to Colbert for the show's opening lines.

I was so pleased to also see Canadian singer Michael Buble, as well as "Miracle On Ice" Miracle Worker Mike Eruzione (who shared a very brief impromptu interview shown in the video) and NBC Sports legend Bob Costas (has it really been 21 years since his broadcasts from the Seoul Olympics?). This was not the first time encountering these stars (Buble was in Atlanta recently, Eruzione appeared at Olympic pin trading in Park City, Utah, in 2002, and Costas was steps away in the Bird's Nest at Beijing's Olympic Closing Ceremony), but it was perhaps the most fun!

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Heroes Squared

Today I witnessed two heroes of speedskating, and both experiences left me breathless.

This afternoon at the Richmond Olympic Oval, Team USA speedskater Shani Davis won the gold in the 1000m race (astounding!), while this morning, U.S. Speedskating sponsor Stephen Colbert played to a staggering outdoor crowd gathered for "The Colbert Report" taping on the banks of False Creek in Vancouver.

I don't want to spoil the surprises that Colbert unleashed on the show taped to air next week, but let's just say that Mr. Colbert was absolutely hilarious both on stage and backstage, where my Edelman colleague Shari and I were staked out to deliver some client news and information to Colbert's producers (we happened to also visit with two of several attending media there, too, including LA Times reporter/Olympic blogger Mr. Chris Erskine and Ms. Tiffany Campbell, doing the online thing for The Seattle Times).

As an Olympic fan and a Colbert Nation member, I am in awe of the Colbert team of writers for their creativity and for their hard work. We're heading back tomorrow to delivery the next batch of client details, and hopefully there will be time to post photos, videos and more details from Feb. 17, a day of Olympic heroes.

Congratulations, Shani Davis! What an amazing race!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sounds of the Olympics

Our team recently worked with a National Public Radio reporter in Vancouver, introducing her to several clients for the sports-themed show "Only A Game."

Her first report from the Olympics, regarding the sights and sounds of the Games, aired on NPR last weekend, and I was delighted to listen to it online earlier today.

Speaking of "sounds of the Games" -- each night the crowds in Central Vancouver are bigger and bolder. Tonight's ice hockey match pairing Canada vs Norway has folks screaming and honking, and there's been an air horn or two in the distance.

While exiting USA House last night, it was fun to hear the Irish House throngs singing "O Canada" when the nation's first gold medal was presented across town at B.C. Place, a scene soon to be repeated with Canada's second gold confirmed today.

My favorite "Oh Canada" performance took place last Thursday when about 150 guests of Hudson's Bay Company (a client) and the Canadian Olympic Committee got a special post-Oprah private performance by The Canadian Tenors (check out the video for the full tune!).

This exclusive event marked the official opening of Canada Olympic House atop The Bay, downtown's home of the Olympic Superstore.

Don't Fence Me In

David Byrne (who celebrates his birthday on May 14, like yours truly) recorded my favorite version of the Cole Porter tune "Don't Fence Me In," and apt melody for news coverage of VANOC's ludicrous decision to place the 2010 Olympic Cauldron in a location "off limits" to the masses in the Olympic City.

I'm sorry, but for all their successes, VANOC's and the RCMP's decisions on this topic remain just plain stupid.
Their explanation of the decision (I suspect infused with messaging from the feds) perhaps takes things to the "galactically stupid" level.
We need SNL's Seth Meyers and Amy Pohler incredulously asking "Really!?!" at VANOC's next press conference on the Cauldron/fence topic.

Fortunately, some sensible passersby or helpful security guards near the International Broadcast Center in Vancouver took it upon themselves to "tear down this [fabric bunting-covered] wall [chain-link fence]" to provide some visual access of the cauldron from a distance. At least one may now place their camera lens up to the fence to get a shot of the VANOC staff hanging out under their cauldron.

The cauldron, in my opinion, is interesting and beautiful. When they fired it up in the Opening Ceremony, the building was warm and spirits were aglow. One can feel the same heat outdoors at the "public" location.

The design reminds me of the "Fortress of Solitude" that grew out of the Arctic ice when Clark Kent tossed the green crystal in "Superman: The Movie," the film that had the great John Williams-composition "Can You Read My Mind."

VANOC and RCMP, can you please re-read the minds of tens of thousands of your customers (the world, which you are hosting)?

Take down that fence!

Pumped About New USOC Sponsor

With thanks to the USOC's communications team, this evening included a quick peek inside USA House for a press conference to announce BP will be a sponsor of the 2010 and 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, as well as the 2011 U.S. Pan American Team (the complete press release is available online).

The event took place in the smartly-dressed and conveniently-located (but closed to the public) glass tower across the street from a "rowdy with 'O Canada' singing" crowd at neighboring Irish House pavilion.

I was happy to learn that BP, among the world's largest energy companies, is on board for the current Games and upcoming London 2012 experience. According to the USOC's CMO Lisa Baird, as well as the BP executives in attendance, the BP and USOC negotiation was discussed prior to, but really took off when the 2016 Olympic host city, Rio de Janiero, was selected in Copenhagen in October.
It will be interesting to see how BP engages across the U.S. and compare it to their activation as a Tier One partner of London 2012 and a partner of the British Olympic Association.

Jolly good show!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Whad'Ya Know -- JOE!

So, after a day at the office, this evening I was walking down the street in Vancouver to visit a friend, rounded a corner and BAM!

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's motorcade (including at least a dozen trucks) was parked in front of a strip club!

Actually, his motorcade was parked across the street from the strip club and Irish House (a party pavilion) as Vice President Biden was visiting USA House, which is located in an unmarked new mixed-use glass tower that opened a few weeks ago.

As you'll see in the video, most of the folks waiting outside the USA House entry were curious Canadians anxious to see who all the fuss was about; naturally, the only RUDE arrivals were fellow Americans shoving through the Canadians while trying to b.s. their way into USA House (hey, I've been that guy), unaware that Mr. Biden was about to exit, which he did -- BAM!

Donning a Team USA ball cap, Biden took a few minutes to sign autographs and dodge questions from Olympic bloggers and others shooting video and snapping photos. Biden was fairly subdued, not at all the chatty type as he is often portrayed on late night comedy sketches.

Also, Biden appeared in remarkably good spirits in spite of the apparent motorcade vehicle incident that injured Olympic skating star Peggy Fleming and others (all are now OK).

It was exciting to witness the U.S.V.P. motorcade in action, and impressive to see Mr. Biden in person (hope he stays in town for more Team USA festivities). If timing and work schedule permit, tomorrow there's a return visit to USA House on my calendar for late afternoon (an event with Picabo Street!).

Only at the Olympics can one walk down the street, round a corner and come within steps of a national hero -- BAM!

Photo via Yahoo! News Canada and Associated Press/Elaine Thompson

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frustrated Francophones, and a Closing Ceremony Prediction

Yesterday it was vandals posing as protesters who grabbed a few headlines from Olympic media in town.

The Olympic media bandwagon today jumped on word that some French Canadian officials politely griped that there was, in their view, not enough French in Friday's Opening Ceremonies.

C'est la vie.

One report on this topic brought up Celine Dion's absence from the Opening Ceremony as an example of "could've provided more French feeling" performer, but also mentioned that Dion's manager/spouse reported it was a problème discutable (moot issue) since the award-winning (and 1996 Atlanta Opening Ceremonies "Power of the Dream") singer is apparently in hôpital for assistance to conceive a child.

I'm going to go out on a limb, er, hors sur une branche (or "hors sur un membre") and state here that there's something fishy about Dion's alleged "unavailability" -- I think it is a ruse (much like VANOC's John Furlong stating Wayne Gretzky would not ignite the cauldron), and she will in fact appear in the Vancouver Olympic Closing Ceremony to sing the duet "Immortality" with one of several male Canadian stars (a la Bryan Adams' duet with Nelly Furtado in the Opening Ceremony).

You might recall, Dion recorded "Immortality" (infused with the theme/words "we don't say goodbye") with the Bee Gees a few years back (for an all-Canada extravaganza, perhaps Leonard Cohen or Michael Bublé would stand in for Gibb two weeks from tonight).

"Immortality" provides appropriate "farewell" lyrics to send-off the athletes of the world, much like "Amigos Para Siempre" at Barcelona's spectacular Ceremony in 1992 (Sarah Brightman's first Olympic appearance).

So, you read it here first: Closing Ceremony including Celine Dion and the lyrics "We Don't Say Goodbye" two weeks from tonight.

For this evening, au revoir!

Photo of Celine Dion performing in Atlanta's Opening Ceremony via this site.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Opening Ceremonies

Spent most of today at my computer for client work, so no new updates from the Olympic City (though heading to client LiveCity Downtown shortly).

But wanted to get a new shot from last night up for perusal -- the photo on this post is via the LA Times, and that is yours truly, bottom-left corner of image about third person up (in the snazzy white holding up camera as Team USA cruises into B.C. Place).

More blogging time on Sunday, or so I've pencilled in on calendar.

C'est Magnifique, Both Sides Now, Hallelujah

What a day! Oh, what a night!

A couple of years ago it seemed Beijing delivered an untoppable Olympic Opening Ceremony. Tonight, Vancouver answered with a magnificent, moving evening, the memories of which I will always cherish.
So many moments. So much poetry, via spoken word and in motion.
And, what music! Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" brought tears to those in my party. Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado. The Aboriginal dance and Four Host Nations drumbeat. Nikki Yanofsky's rendition of "O Canada." Sara McLachlan -- brilliant! And finally k.d. lang singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" -- an astounding encore Olympic performance.
I am most grateful that my assigned seat (absolutely devine intervention and/or sheer luck) was in the section immediately to the right of the snowboarder, and later the Olympians', grand entrance, affording me numerous stops on the lower corner of the seating area, often staring up the tunnel at legends of the past and legends in the making.
Singer Anne Murray high-fived me with one hand while carrying the Olympic Flag with the other.

Donald Sutherland, who narrated much of the voice overs for the grand Canadian showcase was steps away, too.

Felt like I was walking into the stadium with Team USA (more high-fives, this time from Olympians marching to competition). Thought I was full-blood Canadian when their flag entered the arena.
In China's Opening Ceremony, a few thousand assigned drummers brought down the house. In Vancouver, more than 50,000 audience members got the pleasure of beating to their own drum (the audience participation kit itself was a clever cardboard drum set)
There have been plenty of "big moments" of pride working at Edelman, and witnessing our client, a Paralympic gold medalist who spent the last 25 years as the "Man In Motion" raising more than $200 million for spinal cord injury research, carrying the Olympic flame -- WOW -- to be even remotely connected to that and have the opportunity to work again at the Olympics is just unbelievable! I am so proud and thankful to be part of the Edelman team.

So happy to be at the Olympics again.
Living the dream. Go Canada Go!

Friday, February 12, 2010

2,417 Days Ago ...

Paraphrasing today's cover story of 24H newspaper, 2,417 days ago the IOC announced Vancouver to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. At long last, today is the day they begin.

Walking along False Creek this morning, with the Olympic Village across the water and B.C. Place all decked out on the horizon, was incredibly inspiring. And on the streets people are all smiles and proclaiming "It's finally here!"

For all the preparations, for all the planning, for all the anticipation and chasing the Olympic starting line, it's time to quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables, who proclaimed (after pursuing a bootlegger from the Canadian border crossing to a little log cabin, calling a halt to their chase), "Alright! Enough of this running sh*t!"

Another news source this morning also posted word leaked from the Opening Ceremony rehearsals, affirming at least four of the Canadian performers listed in the survey to the right of this column -- a nice mix of new faces and Olympic veteran performers. We could hear one of them singing as we walked to Gastown on Wednesday night. Can hardly wait. Hours away.
There are dozens of items I need to post from the last 48 hours: Sarah Brightman at the Panasonic (client) pavilion; the Canadian Tenors singing "Oh, Canada" at Canada House last night; chatting with Olympic legend Dick Fosbury; Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton. I will endeavor to post more during the weekend.

Have a great Olympic Day, Vancouver, and world. The best is yet to come!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Conversation with IOC Member H.S.H. The Sovereign Prince Albert II

Tonight VISA and the World Olympians Association opened Vancouver's Olympians Reunion Center with an amazing event at which numerous International Olympic Committee members, heads of state, TOP Olympic sponsors, Olympians and other dignitaries were in attendance.

I'm burning the midnight oil and need to sleep, so will post more details from the event tomorrow. But I could not shut off the computer without posting tonight's conversation with HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco (the second IOC interview du jour!).

This was not the first time the Prince and I spoke, but it WAS the first time we chatted since my purchase of a FlipCam, arguably the best invention since ... well, anything. (For those curious about the initial conversation with Mr. Grimaldi, visit this post.)

The IOC member and five-time Olympic bobsleigh competitor explained briefly some of his travels to Canada and return visits to Calgary, site of his first Olympic competition in 1988. He also shared praise for the hard work and successes already realized by VANOC.

Off camera, I asked Prince Albert to explain his earliest childhood memory of the Olympic Games. He replied that during the 1968 Summer Games of Mexico City, at age 10 he had to sneak out of bed to quietly turn on the TV (the Prince's Palace of Monaco being several time zones ahead of Central America) so he could keep watching late-night reports from the Olympic City.

All I could think while he was talking (channeling SNL's "The Chris Farley Show" interviews here): That is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

More WOA event videos to follow -- interviews with those other Olympians at the VISA Olympians Reunion Center. But now, must rest.

Please forgive the bad audio at the beginning of the video (I dropped in captions to help).

IOC Member Dick Pound Talks About Olympics Returning to Canada

Perhaps I buried the lede in my previous post.

IOC Member Dick Pound took time to talk about the Olympics returning to his home nation Canada during an International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) event in Gastown, Vancouver today.

His comments on Calgary and the snow (or lack thereof) around Vancouver sort of made me think of that great Tears for Fears lyrics, "I wanted to be with you alone, and talk about the weather."

Tell you what, I was indeed Head Over Heels to speak with an IOC member about Vancouver's Games.

The best part is, later in the day, another International Olympic Committee member shared a few minutes, too.

International Society of Olympic Historians Presents Awards in Vancouver

Today in Vancouver's historic Gastown neighborhood, in a cozy coffee shop/basement restaurant named the Salt Tasting Room, the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) presented three awards for lifetime accomplishment in the preservation of Olympic history.
The 2009 ISOH Award was presented to author/historian Robert K. Barney, while two 2009 Vikelas Plaque (named for the first IOC president) awards were presented to Olympic Order recipient/Emmy Award winning filmmaker Bud Greenspan and former USOC press chief (and so much more) C. Robert Paul, Jr.

This was the second time I've seen Mr. Greenspan in person, and though he is much older (now 83, unfortunately unable to speak) than our first conversation -- in Atlanta in 1997 at the premiere of his Centennial Games film -- he was in good spirits and visibly appreciative of the honor. The film company he founded in the 1960s, Cappy Productions, apparently provided some consulting to VANOC for capturing footage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

His more senior fellow honoree, Mr. Paul, shared some amazing stories, as did ISOH officer and Olympic author/NBC contributor David Wallechinsky, who introduced the pair of honorees by explaining that Mr. Paul helped a young and then-Olympic-first-timer Greenspan to secure his last-minute media credentials at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

As a public relations practitioner, I was fascinated by Mr. Paul's additional stories from the front lines of old-school media relations on behalf of Team USA. He shared that at the Innsbruck 1976 Winter Olympics there was an "incident" (P.R.-speak for S.N.A.F.U.) when the last-place ice hockey team trashed a restaurant and they had to sneak the players out of town to avoid an international incident (over lunch we briefly talked about how their sneak-away tactics might now be foiled by instantaneous social media posts).

Also of note was how Mr. Paul invented the tradition of a U.S. Presidential phone call to gold medal winning athletes.

As the story was told, Mr. Paul planted that idea with a New York Times sports writer (Paul knew the White House press chief read The Times religiously) by convincing the reporter to include a closing paragraph about the lack of presidential attention to top Olympic performances (wouldn't you know it, the next day President Ford telephoned the day's U.S. gold medalist!).

Wallechinsky also noted that Mr. Paul was the USOC archivist when the younger historian began work on his first Olympic book, and the pair concurred that "the camaraderie is not the same as it was back then" (early 1980s) at the Team USA home office in Colorado Springs.

The biggest surprise of the event: Spotting IOC Member to Canada Dick Pound, who arrived just in time for lunch! (HELLO!!!) Pound took time to answer a couple of questions for this Olympic blog. THANK YOU, Mr. Pound! (and thank you, ISOH, for hosting a great event!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gov. Arnold and the Olympics: Together Again!

I heard from several sources today that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be a 2010 Olympic torchbearer on Friday, Feb. 12, in Vancouver's famed Stanley Park.

This is a curious selection on a number of fronts, but I have to wonder if Schwarzenegger is getting some overdue payback for his past connection to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Village.

If you read VANOC's "defense" of selecting Schwarzenegger, it does not appear VANOC CEO John Furlong has any idea about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Olympic connections from 13 years ago.

During the summer of 1996, Atlanta's Olympic Village was the site of the world premiere of Arnold's film "Eraser" -- as an Olympic Village employee that summer, it was my understanding that Olympian Willie Banks, the entertainment manager for the Village, secured this entertainment offering that was screened with thousands of athletes viewing a big screen on the field at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.

As a witness to Arnold's arrival and speech to the athletes (with "Eraser" co-star Vanessa Williams), it was surprising to learn (and I am certain those in attendance on Friday in Vancouver will concur) that Schwarzenegger is shorter than he appears in most of his films (at the moment, I don't believe sources that report Arnold at more than six feet tall). But he did share some inspiring remarks with the Olympians, who were thrilled to see him in person (it was pretty darn cool that he made time to meet the athletes that summer). Of course,
Schwarzenegger stated at the event, "I'll be back" -- maybe even then he knew something regarding planned or offered torchbearer activation?

"Eraser" turned out to be an utterly forgettable film, but it is remotely possible the IOC or other Olympic Torch Relay officials recalled Arnold's past Olympic ties and presented the honor of torchbearer duties to Mr. Olympia (oh, yeah, there's that Olympic connection, too).

Hopefully the only "juice" Schwarzenegger will take (for carrying the torch) will be some product from Atlanta's hometown beverage bottler (which happens to be a co-presenter of the Olympic Torch Relay).
See you at Stanley Park!

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