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A fishnet, Barry White and a whole lot of speedskating
Posted by Seattle Times staff
Submitted by Anne McCormack
If it looked like a love fest on TV - it really was! And there was some speedskating and that fishnet from Bellingham, too.
What a great few days of events! Arriving at the Richmond Skating Oval you could not help but see the huge red fishnet draped outside the entrance. It's impressive! Half the height of the building at least. It was made by a company in Bellingham that otherwise just makes commercial fishnets. I had seen a piece about it on local TV prior to the games but had not realized where I might come upon it. It's cool. But, I digress. The real excitement was inside where the women's 5000m long-track event was happening. We watched as the pairs got faster and faster through the first half. The Dutch fans were out in full force, wearing every kind of orange costume you could possibly imagine and cheering wildly. They are a whole sideshow of entertainment all by themselves. Today however, they were to be outdone.
During the ice resurfacing, the time is filled by mascot videos and inane interviews with people picked out in the stands by the arena commentator. But today we were in for a treat when one local man being interviewed turned to his unsuspecting girlfriend and proposed. We all held our collective breath as she stood stunned for a moment and then leaned over to kiss him and say "yes." The crowd erupted in cheers and then over the loudspeaker system came Barry White singing "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Baby"—a significant variance from the three songs all the venues usually play. No doubt the remainder of the races were a blur for them.
Friday night was the big night for short track. As the quarter finals progressed to semifinals and then the finals for each race the tension and intensity of the crowd grew. The ultimate event was the men's 5000m relay, which I liken to roller derby. Five teams, 20 skaters on the ice - it's mayhem for just shy of seven minutes. Everybody was up and screaming (my right ear still hasn't quite recovered). And when Apolo Ohno pulled that trademark surge to the inside to earn the American team the bronze, it was nothing short of extraordinary to watch. Of course the Canadian fans went berserk because they'd just gotten their second gold medal of the night. And that's when all the love started. Charles Hamelin jumped over the boards to kiss his fiance. Olivier Jean ran up into the stands near where we were sitting to pose for pictures and also plant a big kiss on his girlfriend. The USA team jumped up on the boards and hugged all their coaches. Travis Jayner of the U.S. team ran up into the stands and hugged his mom. Flags waved, everyone cheered. After the medal presentation the three teams all posed together and shook hands or hugged their fellow competitors. For whatever rivalries may have been played up in the press, it was obvious that these men all truly respect each other. I almost thought Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" might start playing.
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