Steve & Mark – Olympics Coming to Vancouver

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Steve and Mark get excited about the imminent Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.

Mark: Hi everyone, welcome to another EnglishLingQ podcast.

Mark here with Steve.

Steve: Hello there.

Mark: We have the sun shining today.

Steve: You call that sun?

Mark: Sort of.

Steve: It’s trying to peek out from behind a big, ugly cloud.

Mark: A lot sunnier than it has been and warm; is it ever warm.

I mean, apparently, world wide that’s making the news — that we have the Winter Olympics coming and it’s warm here.

Steve: You know it’s the warmest that I can remember.

I mean, normally, I go cross-country skiing up at Cypress or downhill skiing right through to March.

Mark: Yeah, right.

Steve: So it’s really unfortunate.

Mark: Well, yeah.

Like nine years out of 10 there’s three meters of snow up here.

The only issue is the local Vancouver Mountain where they’re having the freestyle events.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: They don’t have much snow.

We had a lot of snow before Christmas, but it’s been so warm and a lot of rain and it’s washed most of it away or a lot of it away.

It’s the worst possible scenario.

I mean it happens.

We have years like this where they don’t get snow.

Steve: But this is the worst.

This is the worst I’ve seen.

Mark: In a long time.

Steve: Yeah. And, yet, the rest of Canada has been cold with lots of snow.

Mark: Well, I know.

And I saw where, of course, David Suzuki has come out and said that we have no snow because of global warming.

David Suzuki is a local environmentalist…

Steve: Environmental activist.

Mark: …jumping on the opportunity to promote his cause.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: I mean, come on.

Steve: Where was it…?

I think it was in Austria one year they had no snow for the Olympics.

I mean it’s not the first time that this has happened.

Mark: No.

Apparently in Lake Placid they had to truck in snow from a lot further away than here.

Steve: Is that right?

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: Yeah.

You know, I must say, it’s a bit surprising though.

I was on the highway here and I see these huge dump trucks full of snow.

Mark: Oh, yeah.

Steve: Hauling snow in. Normally we haul snow away.

Mark: Right.

Steve: We don’t haul snow in, so.

Mark: I know.

The thing is we get so much rain here that we just need a couple days where the temperature drops two or three degrees…

Steve: Exactly.

Mark: …and then there’s a meter of new snow up on the hillside.

Because we do get warm periods and cold periods every year, but so much snow falls during the colder periods that it doesn’t really matter.

But we’ve had a steady sort of warm period since January when it began and we just haven’t had snow locally.

Although at Whistler, where they’re having all the alpine and the Nordic events, they’ve got lots of snow it’s not an issue; it’s further inland.

Steve: But we often have the experience in the winter, even in February, that we’ll go through like a week of solid rain here and it’s just, you know, cloudy and rainy and dark and then all of a sudden we’ll get a sunny day, but it will cool like zero centigrade and we look up at the mountains and they’re just covered in snow.

Mark: Right.

Steve: It’s almost like this layer of ice cream has been put on top of the mountains.

Mark: Right.

Steve: Whereas, we’ve been deluged with water and we haven’t seen the mountains for a week.

Mark: Yeah, I know.

Steve: And all of a sudden we get a clear day and they’re just covered in snow.

Mark: Most years.

Steve: Most years, but that’s what needs to happen.

Mark: We just need that, but, I mean, you look at the weather forecast; it looks like it’s staying warm.

Steve: I know.

I mean and the worst, too, is going to be if it’s raining and warm and people are up there watching these Olympic events.

And it’s just raining…

Mark: I know.

Steve: …and people are standing there in the rain watching this.

Mark: I know.

Steve: Anyway, whatever.

Mark: Anyway, it’s the worst possible weather scenario, but, I mean they trucked in snow and they’re doing whatever they can; it should be fine.

Steve: Well, whatever it is.

Mark: It will be what it will be, at this point.

Steve: It will be what it will be and since I only care about the hockey, I don’t really care and that’s indoors.

And, of course, we see flags all over the city.

I’m afraid to go downtown because there are so many traffic restrictions and I haven’t checked to see which roads are closed to traffic and which aren’t, so I just stay out in our little suburb here.

Mark: My understanding is that the traffic is fine in most areas.

It’s just some areas that are closed off like around Olympic Village and around the venues and around the Canada Place there, but we’ll see.

I mean people still haven’t started arriving.

Steve: Well, some people are here.

Mark: I mean it’s just the athletes and support staff, but I mean…

Steve: …the bulk of the tourists…

Mark: …the bulk of the tourists…

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: …won’t come until later.

Steve: But it’s going to be very interesting.

Right near by we’re going to have a bit of a center here with whatever, so.

One thing I was commenting to you, you know, I see all these Canadian flags everywhere.

My view is, you know, we’re receiving the world, we should have all kinds of different flags out there; be a little more hospitable.

I don’t like it when we get too sort of national…I wouldn’t say nationalistic, I mean it’s all in good spirit sort of thing.

But, yeah, we hope the Canadians do well, but I mean there are athletes from all over and we should welcome them with their flags.

Mark: Well, I don’t know which flags you’re referring to.

I mean I’m seeing the car flags, I don’t see the guy going and buying the…

Steve: No, no, here in Dundarave all the shops have Canadian flags.

Mark: I haven’t been there.

Steve: Alright, okay.

Mark: But the flags I’ve seen are on people’s cars.

I can’t imagine most people are going to go out and put a, you know, Russian flag on their car.

You can only put one.

Steve: I will.

Mark: If they can put one flag they’re probably going to put a Canadian flag.

Steve: No, no, that part of it I agree with; that part of it.

I just think the stores, though, the restaurants and that, should have the different flags.

Mark: Oh, I see, yeah.

Steve: It’s more colorful.

Mark: Which ones should they have?

Steve: Well, the main countries; you know, Italy, France, Austria…

Mark: There are lots of countries there.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: There are lots of countries there.

Steve: Pick some. I don’t know, Japan.

You name it, China.

Mark: I’m sure downtown there must be a bunch of different flags everywhere.

Steve: Yeah. Sure.

Mark: We’ll see. I mean it’s getting exciting.

I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of buzz around town.

Everybody is talking about the Olympics and who has managed to get tickets to what.

I understand there’s going to be a lot of free events and activities and so on, both locally here in our little part of town, but downtown, especially, a lot of big sponsors and governments have pavilions and activities and events, so I’m looking forward.

I think it will be a lot of fun.

Steve: They’re going to have the ‘Cultural Olympics.’

Mark: They are?

Steve: In other words, they managed to get a bunch of, you know, programs.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: I don’t know. I get a little bit cynical about those things.

Mark: Right.

Steve: That’s fine.

We’ll have folk dances from here.

That’s good, the Cultural Olympics.

The trouble is it’s nicer if they have like some kind of traditional stuff that people actually like, but a lot of this stuff is this sort of avant-garde.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: You know; strange music and people dressed as skeletons falling from the rooftops and stuff.

I don’t know, shock, you know?

Mark: Yeah, I have to say, for the most part, it’s the Olympics.

It’s the Olympic Games.

It’s the different sports and the best athletes are here to compete.

Forget the Cultural Olympiad, have that as a separate event.

It’s like they’ve got that…

Steve: They’re piling so much stuff.

Mark: …and then they’ve got the Pair Olympics.

Steve: Well, the Pair Olympics is another issue, but they’re just trying to pile so many events onto the Olympics.

Mark: I know. Yeah.

Steve: But, hey, you know, actually, a majority of people in Vancouver, I was reading, are actually not very happy about the Olympics or something.

That the press is reporting on this — that the people here are kind of jaded…

Mark: Oh, yeah?

Steve: …or somewhat negatively-exposed towards the Olympics.

Mark: I don’t find that in the people that I talk to.

I don’t come across too many people that are anti the Olympics.

Steve: Yeah, but you’re not a newspaper reporter.

Mark: That’s true.

Steve: So if you found one guy who was anti the Olympics that’s your story, right?

Mark: Yeah, right.

Steve: Boy, you know, newspaper reporters are pretty bad.

Mark: They’re pretty bad, yeah.

Steve: They really are pretty bad; always digging for dirt. Not like us.

Mark: No, we always see the rosy side.

Steve: The bright side; the rosy side of things.

Other than that, yeah, we were trying to plan our possible trip in the summer because someone suggested to us that this home exchange was the way to go.

Because then you can go and stay in someone’s house, they stay in your house and then you’re not spending the money to stay there.

But that’s proving a little more difficult to do, because the likelihood that you’re going to find someone where you want to go…

Mark: Right.

Steve: …that wants to come and stay in your house…

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: …at exactly the same period of time and that’s going to find you…

Mark: Right.

Steve: …it’s not so easy.

Mark: No.

Steve: So after our initial enthusiasm…

Mark: But it’s interesting.

I mean never having looked into it before, it’s interesting to see those sites and those kinds of things made possible by the Internet.

Steve: That’s true, yeah.

Mark: I mean it’s neat, connecting different people all over the world and families and people tell a bit about themselves.

If you do find the right situation I mean I think it will be great.

You get to use people’s bikes and cars and the house and they use yours and, obviously, it’s a very economical…

Steve: Finish off their liquor cabinet?

Mark: Finish off their liquor cabinet.

Obviously, it’s a very economical way to travel.

So, I mean we’ll see what ends up happening there.

We’ll keep you all posted, of course.

Steve: Right.

Mark: But it’s just interesting.

Steve: But even, you know when I went traveling with my wife, Carmen, in Portugal and Spain, the Internet, this, was just so useful because they rate the different hotels.

You can find it by price level, by nearby hotels and then there are so many people that use the site that the ratings are very up to date.

So someone will say, you know, this hotel is very nice, but it’s very noisy because they’re building next door.

And this is like two weeks before you’re planning to go or a month before, so it’s very up-to-date information.

So, yeah, it’s tremendous.

I think the Internet is…I mean it’s amazing.

Well, we lived without it, you know?

Mark: Right.

Steve: We could go back to living without it, but it is tremendously convenient.

Mark: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: Absolutely.

Steve: I mean any time you think of something… It’s almost a distraction, because you’re reading something and it talks about some issue in history.

For example, I like to read about history and then I sort of say gee, I’d like to know a little more about that.

I drop my book, I go to the Internet and I look it up.

Mark: And an hour later you’re still there.

Steve: Well, yeah, that can happen.

Mark: Now you’ve gone and checked your email and this and that and, yeah.

Steve: So, it does tend to invade your lives.

Mark: Plus, what about when you go on the Internet and you can’t find what you’re looking for that should be there?

Steve: I know.

Mark: How can that not be on the Internet?

Steve: Well… Although, I must say, you know while the quality of the information on Wikipedia is sometimes a bit spotty, it is there just about all the time.

Mark: Yeah, it is.

Steve: It’s amazing.

Mark: Yeah, it is.

Steve: Whatever you put up you get a Wikipedia.

Mark: I know, yeah, yeah.

Steve: And I mean, in most cases, it gives you what you need.

Mark: Exactly.

Steve: It’s really quite amazing. Yup.

Mark: Oh, did I tell you that my old hockey coach from Switzerland might have a ticket for me…

Steve: Wow!

Mark: …to the Canada-Switzerland hockey game?

That would be pretty good.

Steve: Well, you know I have a ticket to Russia-Latvia, I’ll trade you.

Mark: Yeah, for sure.

Obviously, the hockey tickets for games where Canada is playing are very hard to come by, so if that comes through that would be great.

Steve: Well, the level of competition, too, for the hockey is going to be unbelievable.

I mean there literally are six teams, any one of which could win.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And for all we know maybe Slovakia or someone is going to sneak in there, but I don’t think so.

Mark: Right.

Well, I mean Canada is going to win.

Let’s get serious.

Steve: Okay.

Mark: No, as you say, there’s lot of…

Steve: No, you know I think people are quite realistic.

Mark: Oh yeah, for sure.

Steve: I asked my buddies on the Old Timers Hockey Team (this is our over 60 group) and they said they think that’s it three teams…

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: …Sweden, Russia, Canada.

Mark: Right.

Steve: But any one of them could be in the final.

And, for all we know, it could be the Czechs or the Americans or the Fins, who are not to be discounted, so…

Mark: Right. Yeah, I mean that’s the thing.

I mean in Italy Canada came seventh.

Steve: Yeah, pretty bad.

Mark: That’s pretty bad, so there’ll certainly be a fair bit of pressure on them here.

Steve: There will be.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: There will be, indeed.

But, I mean, the Olympics has some pretty spectacular events like sky jumping.

I mean that is pretty spectacular.

Mark: Yeah, I like it.

I enjoy them.

The speed skating, long track and short track I really like.

I think the biathlon is a neat event to watch.

There are lots of events that are fun to watch.

I mean it’s fun.

I like watching the Winter Olympics.

The downhill skiing and…

Steve: Yeah, the downhill is pretty exciting.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: And there are just so many events.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: Ah, in a way, I like them better than the Summer Olympics.

I mean you can’t say that, you’ve got gymnastics and stuff that’s pretty good.

Mark: Especially because Canada does a lot better in the Winter Olympics.

Steve: Canada is way down the list in the Summer Olympics.

Yeah and then there’s countries like Norway, they’re amazing.

I mean they do very well.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: You know?

Mark: Yeah, they do.

Steve: And Germany, Russia, Norway.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: But Canada did quite well the last time; they were up near the top.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: So, figure skating is fun; although, I find it a bit boring after a while.

It’s pretty much the same after a while.

Mark: Yeah, I always have trouble with the sports that are decided on judging alone, because it’s kind of arbitrary.

It doesn’t seem fair.

I don’t know them that well.

Steve: I can’t tell.

I see some girl that finishes ninth and, to me, she did just as well as the girl that finished first.

Mark: Well, I know.

And a lot of it’s based on who you are and what you’ve done before, but a lot of people that’s the event for them in the Olympics is the figure skating.

I mean everybody has different preferences.

Steve: For some people it’s curling.

Mark: For some people it’s curling.

Yeah, I know. I know.

Steve: I know, especially in small town Canada, western Canada.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: I mean in the Town of Manning where we have our mill, I mean to them the big event is curling.

Mark: That’s a big event?

Steve: Yeah.

I don’t even know the names of the Canadian curlers.

Mark: No, I know.

Steve: But they know.

Mark: They know them all.

Steve: And the whole lead up, the elimination to get there is followed almost like religion.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: I mean that’s all they talked about up there, so…

Mark: Right.

Steve: But it’s good that people are different…

Mark: Absolutely.

Steve: …interested in different things.

Mark: I heard that downtown the Australians, whatever athletes are here already, have put out some huge flag they’ve hung from their dormitory, which is causing some kind of issue.

Steve: They have a Winter Olympics team?

Mark: Apparently.

Steve: Oh.

Mark: Well, they have that Canadian guy that skis the moguls for them…

Steve: Oh, okay. Oh, that’s right moguls, yeah.

Mark: …who used to ski for Canada and then, for whatever reason, left and went there.

Steve: Hey, there is a guy who skis… You know there’s a Ghanaian skier?

Mark: Really?

Steve: Yes and he’s like legit.

He’s not like Eddie the Eagle.

Mark: Oh, really?

Steve: Yeah, he has actually beaten some people.

Mark: Really?

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: Downhill skiing?

Steve: Downhill skiing.

Now I think he was not born in Ghana, but he has, obviously, a Ghanaian name…

Mark: Right.

Steve: Kwame Nkrumah or something.

Mark: Right.

Steve: But he’s genuinely a competitive skier.

Mark: Wow.

Steve: And he called himself the Snow Leopard and he wears… You know how they all have these tight uniforms?

Mark: Yeah?

Steve: His is like a leopard skin type of thing, right?

Mark: Really?

Steve: He says his main objective is to have somebody below him, you know?

Like when he first skied in international competition he finished last.

Mark: Yeah?

Steve: But then the last two times there were two people below him.

So, I mean, which is great, you know?

Mark: I know. I mean those kind of stories make it fun.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: Eddie the Eagle was fun…

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: …even though he was a notch below the rest of the field.

I think they brought in rules where he wouldn’t be able to…

Steve: No, you have to qualify.

Mark: Right.

Steve: So this Ghanaian guy has legitimately qualified.

Mark: Well that’s good. That’s fine.

Steve: And the first Ghanaian African.

Do they have any snow-capped mountains in Africa?

Do you think they would have any areas?

Mark: I have no idea, they must.

Steve: I have no idea, they must.

Mark: Do they not?

Steve: I don’t know. I have no idea.

Mark: I have no idea.

Steve: No idea. Anyway, we’ll probably report back in a couple of weeks on the Olympics.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: We should know a little more about snow conditions at Cypress.

Mark: They should be in full swing by then, yeah.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: With any luck, the temperature can drop here a few degrees and we can start to see some snow up there.

Steve: Yeah.

Mark: I mean the very tops of the hills are getting snow, but obviously not where they need it.

Steve: Not in the local mountains.

Mark: No.

Steve: Anyway, we’ll see.

Mark: Yup.

Steve: We’ll see how the different countries and how the different competitors do.

You know we mentioned this before, there’s like a billion dollar security budget, so I gather everyone has to, you know, be at their bus three hours ahead of time.

Mark: It sounds it.

Steve: It’s just going to be unbelievable, unbelievable.

So, hopefully, there’s no incident.

Mark: Well, I think that’s for any of the events that require busing into it like they’re doing for the local mountains and I think they’re also doing for Whistler; that you’re not allowed to drive there, unless you have a parking spot or a place to stay or something.

So, anyway…

Steve: …we’ll see.

Mark: We’ll see. We’ll let you know how it’s going.

Steve: Absolutely. Okay.

Mark: Talk to you next time, bye-bye.

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