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Olympic Outsiders

If you can't be inside the Olympic Games, then follow Seattle Times producers, reporters, videographers and Olympic fans as we take you to the streets of Vancouver, B.C., to show you what's happening on the ground and give you a taste of the scene swirling around the 2010 winter games.

February 24, 2010 at 4:35 PM

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On the 2010 Olympics Quatchi watch beat

Posted by Tiffany Campbell

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Sasquatch lives. He doesn't appear in Harry and the Hendersons or in some woodsman's collection of plaster foot casts, and he doesn't frequent Northwest locales like Bigfoot Java.

He's actually squarish, squashy, delightfully cheerful (though still hairy) and sports bright blue earmuffs, at least according to the Vancouver Organizing Committee who created "Quatchi" as an official 2010 Olympic mascot. And I haven't seen a person yet who hasn't smiled or squealed at the sight of the giant plush Bigfoot, child or not. You either love Quatchi or you just haven't seen him yet.

According to VANOC, "Quatchi is a young sasquatch who comes from the mysterious forests of Canada." But he's also a cuddly ball of anthropomorphic cuteness that fans just can't get enough of.

He has friends — Miga the sea bear and Sumi the animal spirit — who are also popular, but nothing reaches the frenzy that erupts everywhere Quatchi goes. So, I started documenting all my brief brushes with the Qautchi madness.

At Pacific Coliseum, Quatchi was literally hustled through security by his handlers:

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But they were nice enough to let he and Miga pause briefly so people could snap photos:

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His Olympic handlers (otherwise known as Olympic volunteers calling themselves the "smurf brigade" or "avatars" to go along with their bright blue hats and coats) often have to call out directions, as it appears the mascots can neither see nor hear well. Once, Miga was tottering dangerously off course toward the wrong exit, while his handlers yelled and waved frantically: "To the right, Miga! Right!!"

I would have had a picture that time, but rabid Quatchi fans waving cameras jostled into me as they were manuvering for a shot and all I got was a big blurred mascot. The disappointment on their faces was palpable when his handlers said, "No pictures, now, please."

Quatchi and his image are in stores, on the street, and glimpsed at events in Vancouver. Stephanie Clary, Genevieve Alavarez and myself have collected some of our favorites here.

Quatchi at ice dancing:

Quatchi on the bus:
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Quatchi on maple syrup:
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Stuffed Quatchis on sale:
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Even if you're not in Vancouver, you can follow Quatchi Watch, a blog of everything Quatchi. And there is no end to what you can buy with Quatchi's image stamped on it.

Even though we ask everywhere we go, no one seems to know exactly why Quatchi is so popular. The hair, perhaps? All I know is that when Quatchi and Miga made a surprise visit to the Main Press Center yesterday, the exhausted international press corps nearly mobbed him:

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In other mascot news, there is a movement to bequeath other Olympic-related creatures full mascot status.

But Quatchi has stolen many of the hearts here. Ending with a personal favorite of a Quatchi attack:

quatchi_attack.jpg

Lead photo by Genevieve Alvarez. Other photos by Tiffany Campbell and Stephanie Clary.

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