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Talk of the Games

The medal standings tell only part of the sports story of what's happening at the Games. For the rest, check out the latest dispatches from The Seattle Times' sports crew of columnists, reporters and producers.

February 15, 2010 at 4:33 PM

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Ice issues delay men's speed skating 500 meters

Posted by Bob Condotta

If there's a country where you'd think they could find a zamboni that could work, it's Canada.

But in an Olympics threatening to become known more for the screwups off the fields of play than the competions itself, the men's 500 meters speed skating competition at the Richmond Olympic Oval has been delayed by about an hour because the machine that treats and smooths the ice in between sessions --- and it's actually an Olympia model not a Zamboni ---- apparently broke down.

As I type this at 4:35 p.m., the competition is scheduled to begin again at 5 p.m. with the second half of the first session, which consists of 20 two-man heats. Competition began at 3:30 p.m.

UPDATE --- At 5 p.m. it was announced competition will not resume until 5:30 p.m.

UPDATE, 5:23: --- Official statement said the delay was due to "ice resurfacing machine technical problems.'' Assuming the event starts anew at 5:30 there will have been a 66-minute delay.

UPDATE AT 5:34 --- Competition finally resumed after a 70-minute delay.

As is the regular routine, there was a brief break to treat the ice after the first 10 groups had competed --- and that's when the problems began.

It's the second straight day there have been issues here treating the ice between sessions --- yesterday it was the women's 3,000. Problems with that Zamboni left only one available for today, and then that one that began to have problems. The Zamboni left some piles of slush in the turn near where I am sitting --- which is also the front straightaway.

The PR staff said there was no official comment at the moment and likely wouldn't be until after the competition. An announcement over the in-house PA --- which itself is fittingly hard to hear --- confirmed that it was an issue with the Zamboni. They are now using a different one to try to get the ice ready to go.

The final session was supposed to begin at 5:28 but that won't happen now.

Maybe the biggest tragedy of all of this was seeing bored fans forced to do "the wave'' in a deperate attempt to pass the time.

UPDATE 5:05 --- Here's a picture of a Zamboni that finally appears to be working treating the corner were there appeared to be the biggest issues:

100_1224.JPG

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