Vancouver View -- Ski Jump Appeal, Olympic Jobs, Ticket Sales

(ATR) Women ski jumpers appeal their exclusion from the Olympics ... another try this weekend for ticket sales ... nearly 21,000 jobs created by the 2010 Games.

Fourteen female ski jumpers are in the British Columbia Court of Appeal trying to reverse a July verdict keeping them out of the Vancouver Olympics.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon found VANOC should be governed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the Swiss-based IOC is not bound by the same equality code. What’s more, she agreed the IOC is ultimately responsible for programming the Games, despite VANOC’s role as a government-ascribed organizer and financier of the event.

Lawyers Ross Clark and Jeffrey Horswill claim in a court filling that Fenlon “failed to address the real issue, which is whether VANOC is prohibited by the Charter from hosting the discriminatory men’s ski jumping events. Therefore, her conclusion that VANOC is not ‘in breach of the Charter’ cannot, with respect, be sustained.”

Seven of the plaintiffs and Women’s Ski Jumping USA president Deedee Corradini are expected to observe as Justices David Frankel, Harvey Groberman and Anne Rowles preside in the two-day hearing.

Try Again

VANOC will try again Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. Pacific when the third Canadian phase of ticketing resumes.

Tickets.com CEO Larry Witherspoon apologized in a VANOC news release more than three hours after 100,000 tickets were supposed to be available online and by phone on Nov. 7.

Embarrassed-VANOC blamed "difficulties with the configuration between the virtual waiting room and the ticketing transaction site” and claimed a few hundred tickets were sold, mainly by phone.

“The website was brutal, it was really slow,” said Andrea Burton, one of the few customers who successfully bought tickets online. “I was just clicking refresh and at one point I got to the log-in page. I did my log-in, the main page where you can buy tickets opened but not all of the icons came.”

Burton said “the Olympic gods were smiling on me” because she ordered pairs of tickets for the men’s hockey final, men’s figure skating long program and closing ceremony.

Meanwhile, an Angus Reid Strategies survey commissioned by VANOC found those who bought tickets in previous rounds bought an average 10 tickets and more than 90% of respondents said they will attend with family or friends. Most non-British Columbian attendees from Canada will be 18 to 34, while U.S. visitors will be in the 35 to 54 bracket.

Emergency

The B.C. Ambulance Service paramedics strike officially ended Nov. 7 after an all-night sitting of the B.C. Legislature. The governing Liberals used their majority to pass a bill ordering 3,500 unionized paramedics to return to full-service after they worked-to-rule for seven months.

Health Services minister Kevin Falcon claimed Nov. 2, that the H1N1 flu was behind the law. But VANOC’s medical director told several bureaucrats, including Falcon’s deputy minister, in a Sept. 14 memo that the Games were in jeopardy unless the dispute was solved.

"At the latest IOC Coordination Commission review in August, the BCAS strike and uncertainty was raised as one of the three major risks to the Games from the IOC's point of view," wrote Dr. Mike Wilkinson.

Paramedics were voting on the latest contract offer when Falcon announced the mandatory one-year deal and 3% raise retroactive to April 1. Two-dozen off-duty paramedics caused postponement of an Olympic security training exercise on Nov. 5 in Vancouver and protested outside the VANOC headquarters the next day.

Games Economic Impact Examined

Vancouver 2010 created as many as 20,850 new jobs from 2003 to 2008 and could add $4.2 billion CAD to the economy over 18 years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

Four volumes of “The Games Effect” were published Nov. 5. The spinoffs are more modest than governing politicians have boasted. The B.C. workforce numbers 2.2 million while the province’s gross domestic product exceeded 199 billion Canadian dollars in 2008.

PwC project leader Ed Mansfield said the report is not a cost/benefit analysis, but he said future reports will analyze negative impacts, such as Games-related disruption to businesses and the drop in Whistler tourism because of fears over price-gouging and construction delays.

“I would expect to see some impact of the recession in subsequent reports,” Mansield said.

The report is dated September 2009 but only analyzes a period through Dec. 31, 2008.

Paralympic Relay Route

The 10-day Paralympic torch relay will begin March 3 at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. VANOC released the nearly complete route on Nov. 5.

Other stops include Quebec City (March 4), Victoria (March 6), Esquimalt and Squamish (March 7), Whistler (March 8), Lytton and Hope (March 9), Maple Ridge (March 10). A central Canadian community will be added for March 5. The ultimate destination is the opening ceremony in B.C. Place Stadium on March 12.

Olympic torch relay co-sponsors Coca-Cola and Royal Bank are doing the same for the Paralympics, completing VANOC’s $30.4 million torch relays budget.

Fueling the Flame

VANOC moved into B.C. Place Stadium after the Canadian Football League B.C. Lions ended their home schedule on Nov. 5.

A natural gas pipe was installed in the stadium’s east side and is visible next to section 227 in the east entrance to the field of play. Workers dug and covered a 20-foot shaft at the center of the floor in May for a hydraulic lift and cauldron to be used at the Feb. 12 opening ceremony.

The stadium will close after the Games for a half-billion-dollar renovation and application of a retractable roof. The project was announced a year after the air-supported, fabric roof ripped and collapsed in January 2007 when the snow-melting system wasn’t used during a storm.

Metro Vancouver Powerhouse Paradise

Nine municipalities will host 100 executives from 50 companies during the Games in a bid to woo investment.

“We compete with city regions around the world many of whom are well organized and well armed with resources, however they don't have the 2010 Winter Olympics,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Robertson helped launch Metro Vancouver Commerce on Nov. 8 under the slogan Powerhouse Paradise. North Vancouver City and District, Port Moody, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge are also members. Regional confederation Metro Vancouver, venue municipality West Vancouver and Burnaby, the region’s third-largest city, did not join the coalition.

Talks are underway with VANOC to secure tickets, venue tour passes and parking and transportation privileges. Prices reported in U.S. dollars unless noted, based on 1USD=1.0518CAD.

With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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