clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2010 Winter Olympic notes: When it comes to celebrity stargazing, George Clooney tops the list

USA's Evan Lysacek sakes at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
USA's Evan Lysacek sakes at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Amy Sancetta, Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canadian celebrities are all over the Vancouver Games, but local stargazers have been abuzz over someone else — George Clooney.

One rumor had the "Up in the Air" star in the city for a few private functions. A fan posted on Twitter that he was staying at the posh Fairmont Hotel. But there was no official confirmation.

Clooney or not, there's no shortage of celebs in town.

The opening ceremony alone featured singers Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang, along with hockey great Wayne Gretzky and Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carried the Olympic torch, as did NBC's Matt Lauer.

Cindy Crawford was in town appearing at an event for Omega, the official timepiece of the Olympic Games. Michael Phelps, the star of the Beijing Games, and actress Nicole Kidman were also expected to make appearances for the company.

The band Barenaked Ladies was performing at the Molson Canadian Hockey House on Saturday.

Canadian singer Celine Dion is not at the Olympics, even though it was widely speculated she'd perform in the opening ceremony. Her husband, Rene Angelil, told the Canadian Press news service that Dion was in New York for treatment to help her conceive a child.

FRONT AND BACK: U.S. figure skaters Evan Lysacek and Mirai Nagasu sought different viewing areas for the opening ceremony.

World champion Lysacek preferred being at the back of the U.S. delegation, while Nagasu rushed for a spot near the front.

"The opening ceremony was awesome," said Lysacek, competing in his second Olympics after placing fourth at Turin in 2006. "I walked in with (speedskater) Chad Hedrick and (NHL defenseman) Jack Johnson and the women's hockey team. The women walked in last. They wanted to. They walked in last and won the gold in '98 and haven't won it since and haven't walked in last. The snowboarders beat them to it before. So they did it this time."

The 16-year-old Nagasu, at her first games, eagerly anticipated being among the first Americans to enter the stadium Friday night. Didn't happen.

"The thing I remember most about the opening ceremonies was standing at the bottom of the pit for, like, four hours in white pants, so we couldn't sit down," she said.

"Basically it was a fight between all the athletes because we all wanted to be up front, so we were just pushing and shoving and it was really hot, so we were all sweating. Finally, I'm out there to the world, just so happy to be waving to everyone even though I was sweating like I was in a sauna."

LA BOMBA: The soggy weather that has settled over the early days of the games almost makes three-time Olympic gold medalist Alberto Tomba wish he were racing again.

The retired Italian slalom star known as La Bomba loves wet, slushy snow — precisely the conditions right now at Whistler, where alpine events will be held, if the rain ever stops. His last win on the World Cup circuit came on mushy snow just like this in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. It's a date he still remembers well.

"Fifteenth March, 1998," the 43-year-old Tomba rattled off. "The conditions were the same."

Tomba is in the area doing some broadcast work for Sky Sports Italy. He dropped by the mountain Saturday to check out the venue.

Like everyone else, though, he didn't get to see a race. The men's downhill was postponed due to the weather and moved to Monday.

"The weather can change quick like this," said Tomba, who won 50 World Cup races and five Olympic medals in his career. "We hope it will be better next week. We're just waiting for the temperature (to drop)."

So, can the skiers compete — fairly and effectively — on this type of terrain?

"Yeah," Tomba said. "Why not?"

WITHER THE FLAME?: Some Olympic visitors were disappointed to find that the majestic outdoor Olympic cauldron is off-limits to the public.

The flame on the Vancouver waterfront was lit Friday night by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky following the indoor opening ceremony, where a replica cauldron was lit.

On Saturday, the outdoor flame was mostly obstructed by a chain-link fence festooned with Olympic banners.

Phil Nease, who was visiting Vancouver with his family from Maple Ridge, B.C., told Canadian Press it was sad the flame wasn't accessible.

"Look at the impression that it makes — you are behind a fence, a chain-link fence. No thanks," he said.

The cauldron sits in Jack Poole Plaza, near the Olympic broadcasting center. Only credentialed media and accredited officials are allowed.

David Guscott, executive vice president of celebrations for the committee, said it was important the cauldron be erected at its permanent home, even though the area is restricted. He vowed officials would try to make it possible for people outside of the secure zone around the main media center to see the flame and get photos.

"I thought it was interesting that they proclaimed this as Canada's Olympic symbol and yet it's behind a big fence reserved only for the broadcasters," said Craig Merrill, visiting from Pismo Beach, Calif.