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Finally, some competition. And what an event it was!

Nordic Combined. Not your typical NBC TV prime-time featured event. Maybe this year's results will change that.

The venue was Whistler Olympic Park, about a 30 minute bus ride from Parking Lot 5 in Whistler, which in turn was maybe a 10 or 15 minute walk from our digs. At the venue, there was a short walk to the security check points, and then another 10 or 15 minute walk from there up to the ski jump arena, nestled into the woods on a secluded mountain side.

We arrived with little time to spare before the scheduled 10 AM start and queued up in the 'express' checkpoint line for folks with small or no bags. I reached into the deep pockets of my sunday best green plaid pants, and came up with my giant swiss army knife. Whoops! Prohibited item! Vickie had no sympathy. She gave me my ticket and proceeded through checkpoint charlie with WIlliam, while I ran bak to the bus arrival area to find a secret snow bank where I could bury the contraband until after the events (and hopefully find it again). Even without my blade, my trademark attire still set off metal detector alarms, and I was subjected to the wand. I practically had to bare my chest before they let me pass.

We paid the big bucks for grandstand seating for this venue, and I finally arrived at my seat by jumper 6 or so out of 45. The show moved at a rapid clip, and was all done by 11. Jumps were off the small hill and averaged around 95 meters, with one Norwegian popping of a massive 105. But who was in second, with a respectable 100.5? US skier Todd Lodwick. And in 4th, also at 100.5 meters? American Johnny Spillane! Brett Camerota also just cracked the top 10, and favorite Bill Demong ended up tied for 24, which in nordic combined terms, placed him a minute 20 behind the leader. All in all, terribly exciting. 

During the competition, the weather varied from fog to sun to overcast. And just after it ended, the rains came down again. Then changed to snow, then back to rain, and then finally stopped and the sun came out. We took some tourist photos and ate some concession food and bummed around until it was time to enter the cross country venue.

This was a real treat. We had second row seats almost at the finish line. The 2.5 K course twisted and turned and climbed and dropped in front of us. The mood was electric, with cowbells and costumed spectators and jumbo screens and all the hoopla you'd expect at an Olympic event. The race was a 10KM sprint -- four laps of the course. A staggered start, with the stagger based on the jumping results.

We had no idea this would be so exciting! The leader had a massive 34 second head start, which he essentially lost in the first lap when he crashed during a downhill curve back into the stadium. Americans led 1 and 2 for half the race. Bill Demong made up his 1:20 deficit by the middle of the race, catching the leader pack. And the finish was photo-finish close. All too cool for words. And all over in less than 30 minutes. Who won? Watch your TV to find out -- if you can (no fair peeking on the web!)

We stayed for the flower ceremony and slowly followed the crowds back to the busses. I recovered my knife, we waited in the longest queue of the day. Headed back to town. Despite the mere 90 minutes of competition, the whole shebang took us all day. 

Back in the room, we switched on the box and watched the finish of the mens luge. Then Brain Williams (CTV anchor) announced that men's moguls where coming up next on CBC (whoops, he rejoined. Not CBC this year, CTV!). So William and I headed for the street to watch on the big screen. Well, the big screen was showing some kind of non-event nonsense, so we gathered in front of the 'small' screen -- a 50 or 60 inch plasma monitor on one side of the CTV broadcast platform. There we stood, with maybe a hundred of our closest Canadian friends, jumping up and down as Canada won their first gold of the games. It was almost like being there live.

Whew, what a day, and its not over. We;re still supposed to go out in 30 minutes to watch guys jump through hoops of fire, then be over Creekside tomorrow morning sufficiently before 10:30 AM start time to find an unobstructed view of the DH finish line. No rest for the Olympic weary.

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