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Originally published Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 10:00 PM

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Ron Judd

Vancouver conductor refuses to play games at Opening Ceremony

The long and short: The conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra reportedly has issued a firm "nyet" to producers' requests to record music for the 2010 Games Opening Ceremony — music that would be mimicked on stage by other musicians, and, apparently, another conductor, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Vancouver countdown

54 days to the start of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., on Feb. 12

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The Games are still almost two months away, but we already have our first lip-sync scandal.

Well, not exactly lip sync. Conduct-sync, or something like that. Flute sync? Orch-sync?

The long and short: The conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra reportedly has issued a firm "nyet" to producers' requests to record music for the 2010 Games Opening Ceremony — music that would be mimicked on stage by other musicians, and, apparently, another conductor, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Which raises all sorts of questions, including:

• Did Vancouver organizers learn nothing from Beijing honchos, who got smoked in the global press when somebody leaked the fact that that adorable little girl who sang the adorable little ditty in the Opening Ceremony at the Bird's Nest (you remember; last year, about a bajillion degrees?) was, in fact, not singing, but lip-synching to a recording made by a less-adorable little girl with a superior voice?

• Does this mean that Vancouver Symphony conductor Bramwell Tovey, had he agreed to perpetuate the fraud, would have indeed been replaced on stage during the ceremony by an adorable little Chinese girl?

• Given organizers' confession in the telling of this tale that "the audience will at times hear more musicians playing than appear on stage," should we be expecting "O Canada" to be sung by Milli Vanilli? Ashleigh Simpson?

• What about those Royal Canadian Mounted police? Are they really going to be mounted, or is that just a dose of James Cameron CGI?

More on this later, after we've finished listening to our dose of the Gordon Lightfoot Experience.

More Oly news

An Olympic Sigh of Relief

She was nervous about it at first, but Blaine's Karen Thatcher came on strong in recent weeks to sew up a spot on the U.S. women's hockey team for the 2010 Games. Thatcher, who has racked up a lot of playing time on a line with twin forwards Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota, joins a U.S. squad with ample work to do in the weeks leading up to the Games.

After a strong start in the fall, in which they beat archrival Canada multiple times, the tables have been turned in exhibition games of late, with Canada winning four straight, in games that haven't been close. The U.S. has suffered from an anemic power play, among other things.

Still plenty of time for coach Mark Johnson, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and one of the nation's top collegiate coaches (Wisconsin), to turn it all around. And you have to believe Canada will be feeling the weight of the world playing on home ice in the Olympics.

The ongoing Qwest Tour runs through Feb. 7. Team USA takes the ice against China on Valentine's Day.

An Assemblage of Greats

In a rare joint appearance, all 12 U.S. Olympic figure skating champions will be at Spokane Arena for the Sunday, Jan. 24 exhibition at the conlusion of the U.S. Figure Skating Trials.

For those of you who can't repeat it from memory (we got 10 of them), here's the gold-medal roster: Dick Button (1948, 52), Tenley Albright (1956), Hayes Jenkins (1956), Carol Heiss Jenkins (1960), David Jenkins (1960), Peggy Fleming (1968), Dorothy Hamill (1976), Scott Hamilton (1984), Brian Boitano (1988), Kristi Yamaguchi (1992), Tara Lipinski (1998) and Sarah Hughes (2002). For tickets and other info, see www.spokane2010.com.

Olympic News Release of the Week

From USA Boxing: "Flyweight Louie Byrd (Denver, Colo.) enjoyed a victorious debut at the 2009 World Cup of Petroleum Countries on Friday in Khanty-Mansisysk, Russia." Apparently, they are not making that event up.

This Week's Question: What's the longest-running win streak at the Winter Games?

Answer: It's a many-way tie for individual sports. But when it comes to nations, it's tough to beat the lock on pairs figure skating enjoyed by Russia and/or the Soviet Union. Skaters from that country have won the pairs contest in each of the past 12 Olympics. The streak will be at 46 years when the skaters take the ice at Pacific Coliseum in February.

The 2010 Winter Games will be the seventh covered by Ron Judd, author of the keepsake guide "The Winter Olympics: An Insider's Guide To The Legends, The Lore, And The Games." Reach him at 206-464-8280 or rjudd@seattletimes.com.

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