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Martin Rogers

Ice scream: Men's speedskating delayed by broken ice resurfacer

Fourth-Place Medal

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Here's a note to any decent Canadian mechanics – grab your toolkit and get yourself to Vancouver, pronto.

First it was the Opening Ceremony embarrassment of the fourth pillar of the Olympic cauldron failing to lift, then Monday brought an embarrassing delay in the men's speedskting caused by a failed ice machine.

The 500 meter competition ground to a halt for more than an hour when the machine, supposed to smooth out the skate marks and fill holes in the ice made by the first batch of racers, suddenly stopped functioning properly.

The sorry situation prompted red faces all round. First there was the embarrassment of Olympic officials, who stood looking sheepish as a small technical crew scratched their heads and tried to solve the problems.

Then there was the understandable – yet still darn funny – fury from a posse of speedskating coaches, outraged their athletes' preparations had been so severely disrupted.

At the time of the delay 19 of 39 athletes had completed their first of two runs. Americans Shani Davis and Tucker Fredericks are still to go, while their teammate Mitchell Whitmore would love a re-run, having slipped on the second turn to record one of the afternoon's slowest times.

Rumor around the press tribune has suggested that the machines were not supplied by Zamboni, the company synonymous with this type of equipment, because the organizing committee had struck a deal with Olympia, a rival company.

Either way the mildly ludicrous situation once again brought to mind the word which is becoming most associated with these Games.

Oops.

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