SALT LAKE CITY - What were the 2000 Winter Olympics like? Kind of a wild cross between Disney World and Guantanamo Bay.
There were hundreds of trips of shuttle busses run so efficiently you could set your watch by them. At almost every stop, there was a line, either for security or souvenirs.
Every venue was surrounded by three to five rows of fencing and barricades with guard houses manned 24-7 by soldiers and policemen. Everything was searched, sometimes by hand. The change in your pockets, the zippers on your jackets could set off buzzers.
Periodically, as you viewed events or worked in media centers, bomb-sniffing dogs would go by on patrol.
Sure, there were controversies. When you put thousands of spirited competitors - some in sports that seem to pop up every four years - in a vacuum with some of the best and largest of the world's media that's inevitable.
Actually, it was refreshing that the people who were vilified the most here were figure skating officials, not terrorists. It's also an interesting irony - in the shadow 9-11 - that the biggest call for security in "Mormon Country" was a riot caused by pushing and shoving at a beer garden.
Overwhelmingly, the memories of Salt Lake are wonderful. Here are a few:
Sure, these Games had scars. But at virtually every turn, when the focus was entirely on the athletes and their spirit and their dedication, the result was heartwarming and inspiring.
As the fireworks peppered the Wasatch Mountains at Sunday's closing ceremonies, dedicated athletes tossed aside months of stress and had fun.
A perfect finish.
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