Tune in, turn off, iPod generation finds perfect haven
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - An electronic graffiti wall, Wii consoles, DJ mash-ups and iPods for massage time -- the Vancouver Olympic Village is plugged in to this generation of hip, digital athletes.
Home to one of the most environmentally conscious places in the world, Vancouver has also gone to great lengths to make a "green" village, with low-flow toilets, compostable dinnerware and ubiquitous recycling.
Green, however, does not mean that 2010 Winter Games athletes will be deprived of luxury. Quite the contrary.
Sheets are 240-thread count, beds are plush and bathroom fixtures are worthy of a boutique hotel. The buildings are sleek metal and glass construction, in keeping with contemporary architecture popular in the Pacific Northwest.
Ah, and then there are the great views of Vancouver and its snow-capped Canadian mountains in the distance.
"It's awesome," chimed simultaneously Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux, 20-year-old twin sisters on the U.S. Women's hockey team, blessed with views from their bright, seventh-floor apartment.
"There are two girls on our team who are in their fourth Olympics and they say this is the best set-up, by far," said Monique. "So, we are in for a treat."
The treat, however, comes at a cost to Vancouverites.
The village, which will mostly be sold as high-end housing, was one of the biggest controversies in the preparations for the Games.
The city was forced take over financing of the C$1 billion project in 2008 when lenders froze funding to the private developer in the economic downturn.
A second athletes village up in the high-mountain Whistler resort, which will be turned into mostly affordable housing, suffered no financial setbacks.
'A PLACE TO DISCONNECT'
The snowboarders, skaters and hockey players are not likely to see any signs of economic distress at their state-of-the art compound, where recreation rates high in their priorities.
The Lamoureux twins, unfortunately, have to study at night, so they probably will not get as much time to hang out in "The Living Room" -- the place for the 3,000 athletes and team members to forget the rigors of competition.
Housed in a converted salt warehouse, The Living Room pulsates with loud DJ or live music, while athletes dance, crash on giant floor pillows or leave their tags on the digital video wall.
Two U.S. women athletes tried their hand at "Rock Band" with mini drums and guitar.
"It is meant to be a place to really disconnect," said manager Jordan Kallman.
Before the Games open on Friday, Kallman said "there is nothing too crazy right now" because athletes are very focused on competition.
But as medals are won and the competitive pressures slip away, he predicts the athletes will relax and the hook-up scene could thrive.
For the moments of true chemistry among the young, sculpted athletes, organizers have made sure that there will be more than enough condoms on hand.
"We definitely have enough in the village," said Polyclinic staff member Landon James. "We won't run out but I don't actually know the amount."
Now, back to the Olympic sports. The Winter Games run February 12-28.
(Editing by Jon Bramley)
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