Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rebagliati gets into everyone's picture

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VANCOUVER -- I've now run into Ross Rebagliati a couple of times. He's a super nice guy. He also might be one of the most interviewed people at the 2010 Games, a full 12 years after he became the first-ever Olympic snowboard gold medallist in Nagano.

Yesterday alone he did 15 different TV and radio appearances. He carries his gold medal with him everywhere he goes and gets stopped every five steps walking around Robson Square and is asked to be in a picture.

He smiles and pulls out the medal and then does it over and over again. If familiarity wins elections, he'll at least get a few votes in the Okanagan, where he will run as a Liberal in the next federal election.

I spent Wednesday trying to track down the same pants the Norwegian men's curling team has gone international with. I succeeded. And then some. I managed to track down Larry Jackson, the CEO of Loudmouth Golf, makers of the pants.

He happened to be in Vancouver on a business matter unrelated to the Games, and after a few phone calls, I was in a cab to West Vancouver at their soon-to-open Canadian headquarters being presented with a pair of pants he snagged directly from Team Norway, as they had plenty of extras and one of the men on the team is my size. They'll be available in Winnipeg in the spring. Wear them with caution. You will be asked to be in a ton of pictures.

Winnipeg was well represented at the Canada vs. Norway men's hockey game Tuesday night. I recognized two different people dancing on the Jumbotron who reside in the the 204, and another couple from St. Vital that I know made it on the kiss-cam.

There was also a dude on the 'Tron that I didn't know, but I'll assume he was from Winnipeg, based on the fact he was wearing a Jets jersey and was double-fisting. There were also a healthy number of Toews jerseys with the proper "16" on the back, and one with "19", which is unfair to the poor kid who bought it.

The real stars of the Games so far are on the front lines. The volunteers. They are ushers, greeters, they give us directions, keep things light when you're in line for two hours to see a hockey game, answer our questions... everything.

They've been spectacular. Not just good, I mean actually spectacular. They're accommodating, they're fun, they're nice, they're positive, and they're happy to be here.

They're from New Brunswick, born and bred in B.C., Saskatchewan, plenty are from Manitoba, and they're all here doing an amazing job. Yesterday morning I spoke with the CEO of VANOC, John Furlong, and told him the same and made him promise me to pass that along. He seemed to appreciate the good news.

I hear that some people are upset at the British media for their thoughts on the Games so far.

Something about them being a disaster. I'm half English. I've lived in England, so I'll tell you something about the British media that several TV networks should have already known and therefore not run major stories regarding their comments.

You want to know what the British media determines is a disaster? Everything. They are the most over-the-top sensational press in the world.

They're predictable and passé. I'd tell them to go away, but I don't think they're even here. If they were, they'd see a different version of their story playing itself out on the streets, in the bars, at the shows and in the stands. Do your homework. I will still cheer for you either way, England, at the World Cup of Soccer in a few months, which of course will be deemed a disaster.

Ace Burpee is the morning man at Hot 103 FM.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 18, 2010 C2

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