My arrival in Vancouver couldn't have gone smoother or quicker. In 23 minutes, I went from my plane to a shuttle bus headed for downtown. I cleared customs in 45 seconds. I thought the Beijing Games would remain the gold standard for decades when it came to moving the Olympic masses, but I may have to reconsider after my experience today.
The Vancouver airport was well staffed with well-informed Olympic volunteers in bright turquoise jackets They seemed to anticipate your every need and question whether it concerned the Olympics or not. Every passport check was filled with agents from across Canada. The woman who cleared me for entry said she usually works in Montreal, but had been transferred to Vancouver to work there during the Games.
Once people cleared customs and claimed luggage, there was plenty to get visitors into the Olympic spirit, from Olympic-themed advertising to what appeared to be groups of arriving athletes to international colors all around. But the big attraction was a pair of Canadian Mounties just outside the airport entrance. A small crowd was gathered waiting to pose for pictures with the Mounties.
The only thing putting a damper on the good mood is the light rain now falling. Not good news for the crews trying to pile snow onto nearby Cypress Mountain, where the moguls competition gets underway shortly after the Opening Ceremonies. As I ride to downtown, it is striking how green and snow-less Vancouver is.
But after my quick and easy airport experience, I figure the Canadians will have their snow problem under control in plenty of time.