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The Winter Olympics are so happy that when someone tries to be disagreeable, they have to bring in the Summer Games. So it was that Samaranch met in Calgary last week with Kim Yu Sun, president of the North Korean Olympic Committee—six North Korean competitors were in Calgary, six more than are slated to be in Seoul. The IOC chief told Kim, all right, he was trying to be as patient as possible, but he had had enough.
Meanwhile, back at the Winter Games, sweetness and light reign. These Games figure to make money—Calgary estimates a $35 million profit—so there were laser shows. And country-and-western shows in the opera house. Church bells rang. The Calgary Tower was made over into a 626-foot-high Olympic torch. Jamaica brought a bobsled team, which started a land-office sale of JAMAICA BOBSLEIGH TEAM sweatshirts, with proceeds going to buy (you guessed it) a bobsled. And look, there's Dr. Ruth. Happy Valentine's Day, Ruth. A bow for the King of Spain. A curtsy for the King of Sweden.
Hi, Howdy! Howdy, Hidy!
Let the Games sparkle.
And here comes the official XV Winter Games snowflake. It is made entirely of C's, for Calgary and for Canada—and maybe for chinook.
A couple of weeks ago, few folks south of Medicine Hat or east of Red Deer knew a chinook from a Canuck, a Shmoo or a Zurbriggen. Then, instantly, visitors to Calgary became overnight Eyewitness News weatherfolk informing the world about chinooks. In fact, chinooks are weird winds that blow east over the Canadian Rockies and warm everything up for a few days. They come so regularly to Calgary that here, in this space, we are going to provide appropriate Olympian names for chinooks that might come in during these Games: Chinook Sonja, Chinook Barbara Ann, Chinook Toni, Chinook Jean-Claude, Chinook Eruzione, Chinook Torvill and Chinook Dean.
Early in February it suddenly got so frigid in Calgary that had the opening ceremonies been held just a week earlier, spectators would have suffered mass hypothermia. But last Wednesday, Chinook Sonja blew in, driving the thermometer up 61�—from 10� below zero to 51� above—in little more than a day. "Senator" Dave Broadfoot, a local comedian, quipped that there had been a dreadful accident out on the Olympic slopes—a skier ran into a lawn mower.
Let the Games sweat.
Now understand: Three of the 10 Winter Olympic sports have now been moved inside, and for what's left outdoors, there was enough snowmaking equipment on Mount Allan alone to bury 1.3 acres of brown grass under a foot of snow every hour. So substance is not the issue. The Winter O's are style. The Winter O's are fantasy. Opening ceremonies in shirtsleeves in Canada in February? That would not do.
Luckily for everyone, it turns out that in those odd moments when Pat Robertson doesn't have God's ear about the weather, Calgary evidently does. Citizens swear that for the opening day parade at the Stampede in July it never rains. Never. And sure enough, for the Winter Olympics, only a couple of hours before the ceremonies started, Chinook Sonja drifted off, and the thermometer fell to a perfect 32�—it later dropped to 19�—with even a few postcard flurries in the air. Whew! All was right with the Winter Olympics again.