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Berry Tramel


Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure: Day 10

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm •  Published: February 19, 2010

Old pal Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, on his 10th day in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, where he is a media volunteer:

“More from Nicki Hancock, on curling: ‘We had to stand in line for 20 minutes waiting to go through security, but no one griped or even said anything negative. It was well organized in S-curve lines divided by fencing, and one man said, ‘It’s just like Disneyland, eh?’

“Commute: Rode in mini-van. Sure not as much fun as walking. Breakfast: Banana. I love to walk around the Main Press Center, visiting the newspapers’ offices. Today the guys in one office were playing hackey sack. A woman in another office was sleeping with her head on her desk.

“Still photographers need to be part mountain goat if they want to shoot ski races. They can either climb up to their positions alongside the course, using crampons, or ski down from the top of the mountain. (For my fellow Okies, crampons are spikes that strap onto the bottom of boots.) Then the photographers are basically stuck in their spots all day.

“At regular intervals along the side of the course, there are platforms where electrical power and wired high-speed Internet are available. They photographers plug into the Internet and transmit their photos to a workroom at the base of the hill. Other workers there select the best pix and transmit them to officers here in Vancouver. From there, the photos are sent around the world.

“Lunch: Crackers, banana, candy. Question from home: ‘what the heck are you doing there, anyway? Are you on the USA’s candy-eating team?’ Answer: I’m a volunteer with the U.S. Olympic Committee, taking care of special ticketing for the media. At some of the events, the press box (‘tribune’ in the Olympic jargon) isn’t big enough for all of the writers who want to attend. Then the IOC prints tickets and distributes them to each country’s Olympic committee. My job (working with the PR person from each sport, and using guidelines that the USOC set up) is to figure out which USA media get our tickets. It works the same for photographers. Papers with hometown athletes have top priority, then papers that covered the Olympic trials in the sport, then papers with full-time Olympic beat writers. It’s a very fair system. Some media doesn’t cover Olympic sports — or much sports at all, for that matter — and so they’re pretty-much out of luck. Some of them are pretty lost, and so I feel sorry for them. Normally about 30 percent of the writers who request tickets actually get them. So mostly what I do is explain to people why they can’t get tickets. Everyone seems to want to go watch figure skating, of course. Can’t squeeze blood from a Nutri-grain bar.

“Factoid from Olympic historian extraordinaire Jim Constandt who joins Nicki Hancock at the help desk: Dwight Davis, 1904 tennis Olympian, donated the cup honoring his name and served as Secretary of War from 1925-29. Volunteer du jour: Brynna, 25-ish and, yes, pleasant. Security-gate helper, which means she tells people to empty their pockets. Said nobody has yelled at her.

“From Bob Condron’s opening blog: The MPC is like something like Disneyland Meets the Press. It’s basically a cruise ship stop located on the bay in Vancouver. It juts out into the beautiful salt water. There’s an area you can walk around with five large sails visible for miles. Cruise ships land all the time. Seagulls land on the railing. The first time I walked around the building, I was looking towards Cypress Mountain, watching a seaplane take off, and a … bald eagle landed on the light pole next to me. That’s never happened to any MPC I’ve been a part of. Maybe a bald sportswriter…”

“Weather: Another bright, sunny day. Breezy. The pines-and-ocean fragrance on the deck outside our office is a cool combination of Beaver Creek and Provincetown. Nicki and I posed for photos alongside Samuel Seagull on the railing outside the office. High 48, low 34.

“Stayed in the office all day. Won’t make that mistake again. Vancouver Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Around $30 million was spent on a heating system for Vancouver’s Olympic village; it uses heat recovered from sewage waste to provide about 70 percent of the heat required for the complex. Dinner: Triscuit, banana, almonds, cookie from USA Today.

“Watched figure skating with the staff in the office. Much cheering. A media agency had two extra hockey tickets and dropped them off. Nicki went to the game and is sure to have stories.

“As you know, Sochi, Russia, will host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Forecast high temperature there tomorrow? 57 degrees. These people are SO friendly. And understandably proud. The electronic signs on the front of some buses, when they don’t read ‘Downtown via Oak Street’ say ‘Go Canada Go.’ What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. With glowing hearts, eh?”

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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