February 20, 2010 / 2:01 AM / 8 years ago

Vancouver turns queuing into unofficial sport

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Vancouverite Shannon Ayles waited seven hours for 25 seconds of adrenaline on a zip line ride above the teeming crowds of downtown Vancouver on Friday.

She liked it so much that she is coming back on Monday.

"I was freaking out at the last minute," an exuberant Ayles said of the ride. "But it was great."

The zip line ride, on wires high above central Vancouver's Robson Square, is one of the top free attractions in a town that has gone so crazy for the Olympics Games that standing in line has become something of a sport of its own.

People not waiting for that thrill are in line to catch a clear view of the metal Olympic cauldron on Vancouver's waterfront, or snaking their way to the front of the queue at the Canadian Mint, where they can touch an Olympic medal.

Other lines zig-zag past pavilions sponsored by individual countries or Canadian provinces, prompting debate about whether the beer and bratwurst at the German house is better worth the wait than the giant-screen TV provided by host nation Canada.

The cauldron, with metal legs spiking into a clear blue sky in front of a picture-postcard vista of blue skies and snow-tipped mountains, has been both a key draw, and a key point of contention, after organizers placed it behind an ugly fence that wrecked holiday snapshots and annoyed the crowd.

The fence is still there, but there's now a viewing platform too, as well as a narrow eye-level gap in the chain links of the fence to provide an unimpeded view.

"It's a once in a lifetime event," said Seattle resident Elaine Sells, who drove up to Vancouver for the day on Friday and was getting ready for a one-hour wait for the elevator to the top of the broad viewing platform.

"We're here because we're never going to see this again," she said.

But for some, tired of waiting for everything from toilets, to water, to the ride home on the aptly named Canada Line skytrain, avoiding lines was fast becoming the primary goal.

"I've no idea what this one is for, but it seemed short, so I joined it," local resident Tom Grant said of the queue to get his picture taken in a bob sled. "A picture is all right."

Editing by Ed Osmond

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