Local couple take in disputed skating event
Greg and Alice Greenwood capped their six-day stay at the Games by watching the pairs competition.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
SALT LAKE CITY -- Greg and Alice Greenwood of Howland can be counted among those who were shocked Monday when the Winter Olympics pairs figure skating judges awarded the gold medal to Russians Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya.
The Greenwoods capped a six-day trip to Utah by attending the pairs' long program Monday in the Salt Lake Ice Center (also known as the Delta Center, home of the NBA's Utah Jazz).
"Everybody was upset," said Greenwood of the audience's reaction when Canadians Jamie Sele and David Pelletier were given lower marks by the judges from Russia, France, China, Poland and the Ukraine.
"There was not one person in the arena stands that didn't think the Canadians had out-performed the Russians," Greenwood said.
"No one seems to understand how that judging goes down," Greenwood said. "Someone near us said that it would be easier to take if they could look at a Seiko clock and see the numbers."
Guests: The Greenwoods, owner of the Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown, were guests of Chevrolet for the first five days of the Winter Olympics.
Also visiting Utah as Chevrolet guests (for winning a corporation sales contest) were Beth and Randy Kimble of Hubbard. Kimble is the general manager of Hubbard Greenwood Chevrolet.
Events they witnessed included the Opening Ceremony, the men's 5,000-meter speedskating race and the men's Alpine downhill race.
Greenwood said security delays and transportation problems that have plagued the first few days of competition are getting better.
"When we arrived, it was nice because they had set up a corporate gate in a Delta hangar at the airport," Greenwood said. "That helped speed things up."
Opening ceremony: Staying in Park City in the mountains east of Salt Lake City where the snowboard, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events are being staged, Greenwood said they had to leave "very early" last Friday to have enough time to get into the city and Rice-Eccles Stadium for the Opening Ceremony.
"We witnessed a transportation problem Sunday," said Greenwood of their trip to Snow Basin near Ogden where the Alpine skiing races are held. "We noticed that a large number of spectators didn't get through security until about halfway through the race.
"By the time we got in, we only saw about seven or eight skiers come down," Greenwood said.
"We've heard about how people would like to see two events in a day, but to tell the truth, because of how spaced out the venues are, going to anything seems to be pretty much an all-day event."
Improving: Greenwood said visitors are being told by the Olympics organizers that the transportation problems are improving.
But after Sunday's experience getting to the downhill, the Greenwoods passed on Monday's scheduled women's downhill in favor of the pairs skating finale in downtown Salt Lake City.
Although he won't forget the outcome of the pairs skating, Greenwood said his favorite memory was Saturday's 5000-meter speedskating race where unheralded American Derek Parra won the silver medal.
"I really enjoyed the collegiate atmosphere at the [Utah Olympic] Oval," Greenwood said. "Everybody had a good seat where you could see the races and understand the sport. It was easy to identify where the [skaters stood among their competitors]. It was quite interesting."
Impressed: Visiting Utah for the first time, Greenwood commented on how "stunning it is" that such beautiful scenery in a remote location "is so accessible to civilization. It probably takes less than 35 minutes under normal conditions to get to the mountains."
Another highlight was meeting gold medal skater Peggy Fleming at a Chevrolet-sponsored gathering.
"I had a flashback the other night when I met Peggy Fleming at a dinner reception," Greenwood said. "I thought back to when I was 10 years old watching her skate at the Grenoble Games of 1968.
"That's one thing this trip has done for me, spurred memories of growing up in Ohio being glued to the TV set when the Winter Olympics were on with Jim McKay," Greenwood said.