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Tag:Winter Olympics
Posted on: March 2, 2010 4:32 pm
 

Fried: My five favorite Olympic memories

By Ina Fried

Thinking about the top sports moments of the Vancouver Games, there are many images that stand out, but a few performances that are etched indelibly in my brain. Two of the five are events on my list were ones got to witness firsthand and two others I covered live, albeit watching on a big screen. Over the coming days, I plan to write about my top non-sports moments of the games, as well as some of the not-so-highlights.

1. The gold medal men's hockey game.

Sure, the U.S. didn't bring home the gold, but this was an incredible game that left an entire nation (and some additional millions in the U.S.) on the edge of their seats.

After finding itself in a 2-0 hole, the U.S. crawled back, finally tying the game with 24 seconds left. More than that, there was tons of end-to-end action and an incredible crowd that extended beyond the walls of Canada Hockey Place and to every cathode ray tube and collection of pixels in Canada. Although I had an incredible vantage point from the Molson Hockey House pavilion, I'm told it was just as great outside, downtown in neighborhood pubs and elsewhere. 

A close game and a great tournament could help the NHL and might also help the league commit to working its schedule around the Olympics in the future. I was also glad to see a team win it in the overtime. From where I sit, gold medals shouldn't be decided in a shootout.

2. The "Night Train" winning bobsled gold.

America hadn't won a gold in bobsled in 62 years, until Steven Holcomb and team sped through the track at Whistler. Turning in four dominating performances, USA-1 led from the first run and continued to grow its lead throughout the two days of competition. 

The track, which Holcomb and others called the fastest and one of the trickiest in the world made for a challenging Olympic venue. Six teams crashed at some point on Day 1 of the competition, but every bobsled that started on Day 2 managed to turn in a clean run, making for an exciting conclusion.

To claim the gold, the Night Train had to pass up some steep competition including a strong Canadian team and retiring German star Andre Lange who was hoping to go out with a bang, adding yet another gold in his already prodigious collection.

And the fact that Holcomb is a big computer geek, well, that just made it even better. As one of my friends said on Facebook, Holcomb gives hope to every pudgy guy willing to wear spandex.

3. The U.S. beating Canada in men's hockey.

This game set the stage for what proved to be an exciting and wide-open tournament with many countries not expected to fare all that well offering steep competition for the highest-ranked teams. In addition to being an entertaining game to watch, the U.S.-Canada game served as a wake-up call for the Canadians and showed the Americans to be serious contenders.

Though Canada outshot the U.S. by a wide margin, American goalie Ryan Miller came up huge, allowing the U.S. to win the game, even if it appeared to be outplayed at times.

4. Women's figure skating, especially Joannie Rochette.

Clearly the emotional story of the games was Canadian Joannie Rochette, just days after the sudden death of her mother, turning in great performances in both the short and free skate to claim the bronze medal.

The women's event also saw the dominating performance of Korean Kim Yu-Na as well as very nice routines from the Japanese and American women, though there wasn't enough room on the podium for all those that skated well.

But, unlike the men's side of things, there was a lot less bickering and backstabbing once the event was over.

5. Canada's comeback in the medals race.

When the games started, Canada's goal to "own the podium," or lead the medals race seemed highly ambitious. By midway through the games, even its backers were conceding defeat. Then a remarkable thing happened.

Canada, which had failed to win a gold medal in either of the two Olympics it had previously hosted, went on a tear. In the end, Canada went on to win more gold medals -- 14 -- than not only any other country at this year's games, but more than any country at any Winter Games ever. Sure, Germany and the U.S. had more total medals, but Canada definitely managed to change Own the Podium back into a statement as opposed to a punch line.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog "
Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

 

Posted on: February 28, 2010 3:15 pm
 

Curling: Sweeping across the nation

By Brian Stubits

A Saturday night in South Florida and the line is long, with hopefuls arriving seeking entrance. Sounds pretty typical for these club-going parts.

But it's not. Not at all.

You see, these people are waiting for an instructional class on curling, a sport that has seen tremendous growth with the coverage in the Olympic Games.

Curling view. height=

The Florida Panthers and their practice facility, Incredible Ice , decided to begin teaching curling and have been met with a response even they couldn't have anticipated, with booked class after booked class lined up for the next few weeks.

The tremendous reaction has led the facility to begin organizing a league competition for those that are interested. Right now, the plan is only for eight teams of five players each (one alternate) and there are some mixed expectations for league demand.

"I'll be ecstatic if we get 40 people," instructor Mark Watson said.

"Oh yeah, I think we are going to get a lot of people," fellow instructor Matt Redmond guessed.

Either way, it's the making of a future curling club. In South Florida.

"Curling now is divided up into nine regions throughout the USA . We are in what is known as the GNCC, which is the Grand National Curling Club. It runs the whole East Coast from the Northeast all the way down," Vice President and General Manager of Incredible Ice Jeff Campbol said. "There are 40 clubs now, we are not one, but we will become a club, hopefully by the fall we will have a club. It will be known as the Panthers Curling Club."

Tonight's class, some 50 people strong with others sitting above the ice spectating, began with a little instructional session in a conference room.

"First off, remember the obvious, folks. The ice is slippery," Campol began. True enough, and it drew some laughs. But that warning wouldn't make it much easier to actually stay upright.

When Watson asked who had been watching some of the curling in the Olympics, not a hand in the room stayed down. "Well we're not going to look like that tonight," Watson quipped.

After some safety instructions and a quick video, it was time to hit the ice. Literally, for many folks. One thing that doesn't come across very well on television (among many others) is how difficult it can be to stay upright with a slider on. It's a Teflon slip-on below your shoe that makes it incredibly hard to stay standing.

Curling action. height=

The thing that strikes you the most upon actually getting on the ice is how long the course is. It looks relatively short on television, but it's not. The playing surface is over 145 feet long. To help imagine, it essentially runs from defensive zone face-off circle to defensive zone face-off circle down the length of the hockey rink.

Upon the instructions on how to slide, the people in the class were already gaining an understanding of what they were getting into.

"It really makes you appreciate what the Olympians are doing," one student said.

"I wish I could have done this before watching the Olympics, it would have really helped me understand how hard it is," another said.

After some trial runs, it was time for the real fun -- the games. And everybody playing took it up with the zeal of those having a great time.

"SWEEEEEEP!!!!!!"

"LET IT GO!!!"

Voices echoed across the rink.

The instructional section began at 10:30 . And yet, the games continued until 1:30 in the morning. About the only thing bringing an end to the night were some yawns. Oh, and the promise of a frosty beverage waiting in the bar upstairs for post-game social hour, maybe the best tradition in curling. Can you imagine football players meeting immediately after the match and having some beers together? Perhaps the only sport that has a comparable tradition is golf, which also traces its roots to Scotland . Those Scots know how to have fun.

The plan is continue to have these Saturday night sessions at the facility for the foreseeable future. And why not? The interest continues to be immense, with waiting lists three or four pages long just to get in.

"It's really like a cult sport," Redmond said.

When it's catching this well even in the Sun Belt, it's hard to argue.
Posted on: February 28, 2010 3:09 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 8:14 pm
 

Live Blog from Vancouver: USA vs. Canada

By Ina Fried

Editor's Note: Ina has been in Vancouver for two weeks following the Olympics for CBSSports.com and CNET. She has one thing left to do -- watch USA vs. Canada at the Molson Canadian Hockey House and provide live updates all game (rough job, huh?) Get all your updates here: (You can also chat live with our hockey experts)

Well, that was fast, Molson already has a gold medal T-shirt available.

Meanwhile outside the hockey house hundreds mopre fans are watching on the big screen. The crowd can still be heard a football field way at the Sochi House, a pavilion celebrating the Russian city that will host the next games.

"I feel like a million bucks," said Osachoff, the investment advisor who earlier had his heart half-broken. "I could not be prouder to be a Canadian," he said.

OT 13:00 -- Absolute bedlam in Molson Hockey House as Canada gets the gold. Crosby scores the game-winner. CANADA 3, USA 2

OT 15:45 -- Four minutes gone by in overtime in this destined to be classic game. Canada has just had several great chances that had the crowd ready to celebrate.

OT 17:50 --
It's Four on four. Every heart is pounding. Cowbells sure, but nervous cowbells. As US ices the puck. The crowd breathes for the first time in a minute and 11 seconds.

Overtime --
CTV showed a clip of the Canadian that just missed a gold earlier in cross-country. That was not a clip the crowd wanted to see. "Too soon," yelled one crowd member.

0.0 --
End of regulation 2-2. We will have a full intermission then a 20 minute sudden death overtime. Then, if still tied, a shootout. "My heart just got half broken," said Osachoff. "We're going to piece it together when this game ends and Canada wins."

24.4 --
And the crowd is stunned. 25 seconds from gold and the U.S. scores. Zach Parise knocked it in. USA 2, CANADA 2

54.8 -- Crowd is jumping.

1:17 -- The U.S. net is empty.

2:00 -- Two minutes to go and Coach Ron Wilson will have to decide when to pull Miller. "We want gold," screams the Molson crowd. The screams are constant now.

3:01 -- Crosby had a breakway that could have sealed it. But Miller keeps the U.S. in it with less than three minutes to go. This place is ready to explode.

4:42 -- The crowd is stomping so hard the floor is shaking as "The final countdown" plays during the commercial time out, followed by "We will rock you."

4:54 -- The U.S. is firing at Luongo but he is stopping everything the U.S. can muster. With less than five minutes to go, Miletich is no longer so calm. "Come on you guys," Miletich said. "We need another goal. "

7:45 -- Just how important is this game here? "It's the most important thing you can imagine right now in this country," said Dan Osachoff of Vancouver. What will happen if Canada wins? "We will riot in the streets." If the unspeakable happens? "We're going to go home and cry," Osachoff said.

10:00 -- Ten minutes to go and the cowbells and cheers are getting louder with each save, blocked shot or clear. The Canadian crowd can practically taste gold. "Oh yeah," said Judi Miletich. "We got the gold."

11:30 -- The crowd at Molson Hockey House watches intently as Canada tries to hang on to a 1-goal lead.

16:00 -- But win or lose you get the feeling this raucous crowd is going to help tear down the tent that is housing the Molson Hockey House.

20:00 -- Twenty minutes to go for the gold medal. Team Canada has the home crowd and a one-goal lead.

Editor's Note: For the final period we will post time remaining on the game clock. ENJOY!

4:48 p.m. ET -- CTV shows another series of crowd shots, this time including Molson Hockey House, Robson Square in the heart of downtown Vancouver and Kandahar, Afghanistan, where Canadian troops are stationed.

4:47 p.m. ET -- Second intermission and their playing the hockey song-the puckhead equivilent to "Take me out to the ball game." "The best game you can name is a good ol hockey game," the crowd sings. And of course, they change "The home team wins" to "Canada wins."

4:40 p.m. ET -- With a minute to go Canada had a one-on-none but couldn't convert. The U.S. had a late rush too but couldn't convert and the period ends 2-1.

4:37 p.m. ET -- Three and a half to go and the U.S. nearly ties it. "That's not cool, you guys," said Nathan Harland of Toronto.

4:28 p.m. ET -- U.S. scores to cut lead in half, needless to say no corresponding confetti or cheers at Molson. CANADA 2, USA 1

4:22 p.m. ET -- The U.S. had some golden opportunities on its power play and in the ensuing couple of minutes but Luongop stood tough and keeps it a 2-0 game.

4:20 p.m. ET -- That goal seems to have energized the Molson crowd, which was loudly cheering "Go Canada Go" until Canada picked up a penalty giving US its second power play.

4:17 p.m. ET -- Canada scores just after killing penalty and confetti flies again. Crowd even noisier (perhaps because they have one more period of beer in them). CANADA 2, USA 0

4:14 p.m. ET -- A beach ball is being batted around but it's bad timing. Everyone is way too focused on the game. Meanwhile the U.S. Has killed the penalty and almost immediately the U.S. goes on the power play as Staal called for interference.

4:11 p.m. ET -- Canada will get another power play, its second of the game. Penalty is on Malone for high sticking. Key penalty kill for the U.S. early in 2nd.

4:10 p.m. ET -- The band wraps up just as the puck drops for the second period.

3:55 p.m. ET -- "One is the loneliest number, but it's better than zero," Shaun Verreault says as his band comes back on to play during the first intermission.

3:52 p.m. ET -- The horn sounds and Canada goes into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead as Luongo makes two key stops in the last 30 seconds. Canada had 10 shots and the US 8.

3:48 p.m. ET -- Under two minutes to go, US has killed the penalty and both teams are skating at full strength still 1-0 Canada.

3:44 p.m. ET -- With a one goal lead, Canada gets the first power play of the game.

3:40 p.m. ET -- Canada scores as horn sounds and confetti falls here at Molson. CANADA 1, USA 0

3:35 p.m. ET -- US had a great chance, puck got by Luongo but defenseman kept it from going across the line as we hit the midway point of the first period.

3:33 p.m. ET -- More chances each way, but Miller and Luongo up to the task. Still scoreless with nearly 9 minutes gone in the first period.

3:30 p.m. ET -- CTV pans to a live shot from here at Molson and from Wayne Gretzky's restaurant in Toronto, all packed.

3:29 p.m. ET -- Just over 5 minutes in, chances each way. Crowd at Molson is living and dying with each shot, turnover, check or save.

3:22 p.m. ET -- And we're under way. Huge cheers half a minute in as Canada gets a couple early shots.

3:13 p.m. ET -- Now on stage is speedskater François -Louis Tremblay , five-time medal winner including a gold medal at these games.That leads to a singing of the national anthem at Molson. Their anthem, not mine. Guess we'll hear that later. I'm kidding. I'm objective. Now there's confetti everywhere. And it's just about time to go to the game

3:03 p.m. ET -- Wide Mouth Mason is wrapping up and getting the crowd ramped up for the game. "We want the same color as beer," said lead singer and guitarist Shaun Verreault.

2:08 p.m. ET -- It's just over an hour til game time. They are passing out "Go Canada Go" thundersticks--those inflatable tubes you bang together, as if we needed anything to make things louder.

Plus, I can't believe I didn't hear about this sooner, but there's an iPhone app that plays a Cowbell noise when you shake it. "I just downloaded it from the App store this week, said Sonny Magon of Vancouver. Magon also has an air horn.

Meanwhile the folks sitting next to me are using beer to put on their maple leaf flag temporary tattoos. Well, it is the Molson Canadian Hockey House.


Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried







Posted on: February 28, 2010 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 3:12 pm
 

Canadian hockey vet shut out of big game

By Ina Fried

Gordon Robertson won a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics but even he didn't land a ticket for today's big game.

It's now about two hours until game time and all of Vancouver is staking out their place to watch the gold medal hockey game.

While lots of people think they deserve tickets, Gordon Robertson has a pretty good case. He was part of the 1952 Canadian gold medal-winning team.

The 83-year old was popular outside Canada Hockey Place where hockey fans took pictures with him and rubbed his gold medal for good luck. But he didn't have a ticket for the big game.

"I wish they had invited our team, Robertson said. "I'm not mad, just disappointed."

Robertson's team went undefeated in 1952, though they did tie the Americans. Robertson noted it was a lot like the first US-Canada game in Vancouver.

They outshot the American team by a two-to-one margin but the U.S. had a hot goalie.

"That's me as a young guy," Robertson said, pointing to a picture of himself in a 1952 team photo.

I don't have a ticket to Canada Hockey Place either, so I'll be watching the game from Molson Canadian Hockey House -- the same spot where I watched the first US-Canada hockey game.
Follow live here

Most of the folks hanging outside Canada Hockey Place were either selling stuff-flags, unofficial T-shirts, etc. or looking to buy tickets. I did hear one guy offering to sell a pair of tickets for $2,800 Canadian.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried


Posted on: February 27, 2010 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2010 11:46 pm
 

U.S. Bobsled Blog

By Ina Fried

Editor's Note: Ina has been following USA-1 and Steven Holcomb the last few days in their quest to earn a gold medal for the first time in 62 years. Here is her recap:

Steve Holcomb stood proud as he and his four-man bobsled team were honored with the American's first gold medal in 62 years.

Then, for the press, he did his now famous Holcy dance. Unfortunately, CBS doesn't have broadcast rights, so I can't show you that.

In an interview, Holcomb told me that he's done a lot of crazy things in his life, but said "This is a better high than anything." The huge adrenaline rush makes him understand why retiring German sledder Andre Lange stuck with the sport so long. "It's addicting."

Teammate Steve Mesler said hearing the National Anthem after winning gold was an amazing feeling. "It was kind of everything I hoped it would be. His one complaint: "It didn't last long enough."

In the hours after winning gold, Mesler was so excited tweeting and sending messages that his phone battery ran out of juice. "I had to shut it off," he said.

The team is off to the USA House to celebrate with fellow athletes and backers of the U.S. Olympic Team before heading to Vancouver late tonight in order to do the Today show on Sunday morning.

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Though clearly excited at winning a gold medal -- the United States' first bobsled gold in 62 years --Steven Holcomb wasn't quite sure what to say.

"I think I"m supposed to say I'm going to disneyland."

In reality, the avid gamer and computer junkie is far more likely to go home and play xbox than visit Mickey Mouse. As for future plans, Holcomb said he wants to stay with bobsled as long as he can. "I'm a lifer," he told reporters.

Teammate Steve Mesler also said it was impossible to describe the feeling of winning a gold medal.

"This is a moment I have waited for my entire life," Mesler told reporters just after the race.

There was something different in that fourth and final run, though.

"I actually heard the crowd for the first time in years," Mesler said. It's been years since I heard the cowbells in the crowd."

One thing that helped was that, even though the US team was the reigning world champion sled, a lot of the focus was on retiring German star Andre Lange and his team.

"We never really thought of ourselves as the team to beat," he said.

As for the track, Holcomb and Mesler agreed that it was fast and tricky, but Mesler said he has only good things to say about it. "It's my favorite place in the world right now," he said. "That's not to forget the Georgian luger who lost his life here."

Mesler said that to blow off steam last night he and teammate Curt Tomasevicz did play Rock Band. "I was on guitar and mike; Curt was on drums."

Coach Brian Shimer, himself a bronze medalist, fought back tears as he praised Holcomb. Shimer noted that it took him five olympics to win a bronze, while Holcomb claimed gold in only his second Winter Games.

"He kind of followed in my footsteps, but he passed me up."

Mesler said the reality might kick in by the time the actual medals arew handed out. That is scheduled for a ceremony at 11 p.m. ET in Whistler.

Below is a live account of the final two runs by team USA:

7:17 p.m. ET -- There were a lot of choked-up people in the US bobsled program as Holcomb and team crossed the finish line. "There's obviosly a lot emotion" said Darren Steele CEO of US Bobsled and skeleton federation. Steele said that things stayed pretty quiet over the last couple days. "We don't celebrate until the final run, until the sled crosses the finish line," Steele said. "This is a great day for the US and our program."

7:03 p.m. ET -- Lange's german teammates have entered the media zone wearing T-Shirts that say "Thank you Andre for all the famous moments." Although he took home Silver, lange has been an Olympic force having won the two-man here and previously winning the two-man and four-man at the same Olympics. "Andre you are a legend," screamed one fan.

7:01 p.m. ET -- Crowd, cheering the Canadian performance has broken out in a wild, if only partly on-key performance of "O Canada"

6:35 p.m. ET -- Holcomb has won the gold ending the 62-year gold drought -- 3:24.46. Germany silver, Canada bronze

6:32 p.m. ET -- Canada was one one-hundredth of second slower than germany so lange is time to beat. 3:24.84 is what holcomb needs for gold. Huge cheers as he takes the track too.

6:30 p.m. ET -- Lange total time 3:24.84 for the four runs. Canada-1 up now, was in 2nd. Huge cheers for the home sled. Can-a-da. Can-a-da cheers the crowd before the run begins.

6:27 p.m. ET -- Three sledders to go; germany's Lange on track. This is it!

5:26 p.m. ET -- So after three runs, here are the official standings:

Holcomb and USA-1 are in first with a total time of 2:32.94.

In second is Lyndon Rush and Canada-1, with a time of 2:33.39, that's .45 of a second back. In third is Germany-1, piloted by Andre Lange a further .09 seconds back, at 2:33.48.

Fellow countryman Thomas Florschuetz has Germany-2 in fourth place, with a time of 2:33.95, while Canada-2 is in fifth place with a time of 2:33.95

Starting the fourth run will be Croatia 1, followed by Korea-1 and Great Britain-1, all more than five seconds back of the leader

6:30 p.m. ET -- Lange total time 3:24.84 for the four runs. Canada-1 up now, was in 2nd. Huge cheers for the home sled. Can-a-da
Can-a-da cheers the crowd before the run begins.


6:27 p.m. ET -- Three sledders to go; germany's Lange on track. This is it!

5:20 p.m. ET -- There have actually been zero crashes today after six on Friday.

4:57 p.m. ET -- After 3 of 4 runs USA-1 bobsled pilotted by Steve Holcomb still in 1st, followed by Canada and Germany. The track is a bit slower today with the sun peeking through. That's meant somewhat lower top speeds! But also a whole lot fewer crashes. Interesting note, in addition to sweeping the snow at the start after each run, today they are also pulling down what look like giant window shades to keep the track ice temperature as consistent as possible.

4:15 p.m. ET -- The second-place sled of Canada is just slower than Night Train with a 3rd run of 51:24. Holcomb's clean run means he is likely to be in the lead as he enters fourth and final run.

4:04 p.m. ET: As the race leaders, Holcomb and the Night Train sled are up first. They set the pace with a time of 51.19 seconds. Up next is Canada, which finished Friday in second.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

Posted on: February 26, 2010 8:11 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2010 8:31 pm
 

Holcomb has team if first after two runs

By Ina Fried

Proving that he has the rare combination of athletic prowess and computer know-how, USA-1 bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb put the four-man bobsled team in strong position to win gold in Vancouver, which would end a 62-year-gold medal drought in the sport.

After two of four runs, Holcomb's Night Train team leads by four-tenths of a second over Canada 1 and 0.44 seconds over bobsled legend Andre Lange, who is trying to be the first man to twice win the two-man and four-man events at the same Olympics.

Holcomb, who is a computer science major and Microsoft Certified Professional, has the U.S. two runs away from ending a 62-year gold medal drought in bobsled.

After the race, Holcomb said he was pleased. "It takes a little bit of pressure of tomorrow," he told reporters. But, he quickly added that he planned to go back to the tape to try to find a few more things to adjust. "We can still make some improvements," he said.

Team member Steve Mesler said he was surprised the track stayed so fast as wet snow fell throughout Friday's runs. For his part, he just wants tomorrow to be a repeat of today. "We don't need to improve anything; we don't need to change anything," he told me. "We just need to do the same thing."

As for the team's plans for tonight, several said they planned to play a little Rock Band, while Mesler said he would also catch up on Facebook and e-mail and "eat a lot."

Mesler and Holcomb both said they were aware of the several crashes from other teams, but said they just focused on the job at hand.

"There's TVs all over the start house," Holcomb said. "You can't let it get to you."

Mesler concurred.

"It is what it is," Mesler said. "It is a sport. It doesn't phase you."

The final two runs will take place at Whistler Sliding Center on Saturday and I'll be here again to cover it live.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

Posted on: February 26, 2010 1:24 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Notebook: Microsoft exec avoids the penalty box

Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop looked up as he delivered a presentation to his top managers on Microsoft's campus on Wednesday.

As Elop had been speaking, one of those managers, Kirill Tatarinov, had groaned several times.

"Was it something I said," Elop asked Tatarinov, who runs a division that creates business software for midsize companies.

Sheepishly, Tatarinov confessed that he had been watching the Russia-Canada Olympic hockey game. If Tatarinov worked for some other bosses at Microsoft, that could have been what is known in Redmond as a "career limiting move." Luckily, Tatarinov works for Elop, himself a huge hockey fan.

"I respected his choice of priorities," Elop told me. "He didn't take a ding on it at all."

Plus, it was hard to be too mad. Each groan meant that Elop's beloved Canadian hockey team was winning.

"I was more pleased that Canada was winning," Elop said.

Elop even managed to wrap the meeting up a bit early so that he, Tatarinov, and the rest of the team could catch the action at the nearby Spitfire Grill. When the Russians finally pulled their goaltender after the deficit grew to 6-1, Elop lovingly put his arm around Tatarinov.

And being the hockey fan that he is, Elop, of course, found his way to Vancouver. In a bold move of his own, Elop showed up to the USA House on Thursday, hours before the gold medal game, decked out in his Team Canada jersey, getting quite a bit of ribbing from those at the U.S. Olympic Committee-run pavilion.

Part of the visit, Elop said was business. In a brief meeting Thursday before he headed to watch the gold medal women's hockey game between Canada and the U.S., Elop noted that he is Microsoft's executive sponsor for Bell Canada--a major telecommunications customer for Microsoft and a sponsor of the Games. But, he agreed a big part of the trip was also about hockey.

In addition to that women's hockey game (the outcome of which means I now owe Elop a beer), the Microsoft executive also plans to attend both the bronze and gold medal men's games.

We did spend a minute or two talking shop. I pressed him on rumors I keep hearing that Microsoft is working on a version of Office (or some Office applications) for the iPad and iPhone, but Elop slipped the check with a flat no comment.

He did assure me that those reading Microsoft's move with Windows Phone 7 Series as a move away from the enterprise are misunderstanding. While the new interface is designed to appeal to consumers more than other versions of Windows Mobile, he assured me his unit is investing more in software for Windows phones than ever before. "The business division is more involved than ever before," he said.

A quick recharge
One of the coolest gadgets I've run across in Vancouver is the rapid battery-charging machine from Samsung. The company has them stationed at venues across the city. The units, which are free to use at the Games, allow many different types of cell phone batteries to be charged in 20 minutes or less.

A Samsung mobile charging station, one of more than 60 such machines located in various hotels, Olympic venues, and other spots across greater Vancouver and Whistler.

According to Samsung, the chargers use a processor that detects the battery voltage and applies the same or slightly higher voltage to increase the rate of charge, allowing for a process that normally takes a few hours to be done in a matter of minutes.

The Korean electronics giant -- and big-time Olympic partner -- has installed a total of 67 charging stations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, in hotels, press rooms, athlete's villages, competition venues, and other locales.

To use the machine, you need only make sure your battery works -- it has to do with where on the battery the conduits are located. Then choose a three-digit pin to secure your battery, pop in the battery, and come back 20 minutes later to find your once-depleted battery ready for more action. The stations came in particularly handy for me on Tuesday as I spent the morning covering hockey and then shifted to an evening of writing about figure skating.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

Posted on: February 26, 2010 1:14 pm
 

The Olympics run on Windows (XP)

By Ina Fried

The good news for Microsoft is that all the PCs powering the Olympics are running Windows. The bad news: it's the older Windows XP operating system.

Windows 7, it seems, was a bit too new to be used, while Windows Vista was, well, Windows Vista. So, instead, all the PCs are running an operating system that was first released before the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

Representatives for Acer confirmed that the more than 6,000 notebooks and desktops that they delivered to Olympic organizers were all running Windows XP.

"It was the operating system requested by VANOC (the Olympic organizing committee) and Atos Origin" (the technology integrator managing the Olympics tech operations), said Todd Olson, who manages Acer's tech work in Vancouver.

To be fair, the Olympics tends to be conservative, even in the IT profession. Its mandate to suppliers was to "deliver a flawless Games" not try out the latest in new technology.

And as an Atos Origin executive said last week, so far the games have been, if anything, boring from a technology perspective--which has been the goal.

"My goal is to make sure that nothing happens that has to be reported on," Olson said. "We're here to be behind the scenes."

Out of the 6,200 computers, Olson said there were just a couple of trouble tickets as of Tuesday. Perhaps the most interesting incident came when an Olympics worker got excited during one Olympic event and stood up to cheer, spilling soup all over the laptop. She quickly shut it down and it ended up continuing to work.

Acer offered to get the worker a replacement machine, but she decided that if that machine was hearty enough to survive soup, she didn't want to part with it.

"That's been about the most exciting thing," Olson said. "So, as you can tell, it's been pretty smooth."

Acer and organizers also opted to go with a lot of desktops, but those are small desktops, which Olson said meant less shipping costs and environmental impact.

"We're helping out to decrease their logistics by giving them smaller equipment," he said.

But Acer's goals for the games extend beyond just keeping its technology out of the headlines. After spending a considerable amount to become a global partner of the Olympics, Acer is also looking to make the most of the marketing opportunity. The company has released some limited-edition laptops and monitors with the Olympic logo and also has set up an "Acer Showcase" at one of the main gathering places in central Vancouver. That pavilion, Acer says, is getting about 5,000 visitors per day.

Meanwhile, the Acer brand can be seen all over the games, from the sides of buses to the Internet cafes the company has set up in the athletes' villages and main press center.

That should help the Taiwanese company, which has grown into a leading global and U.S. computer maker, but lacks the name recognition of a Dell or Hewlett-Packard.

"We are very unknown at this point," said Anton Mitsyuk, who manages Acer's sponsorship on the marketing side.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com