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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Apparently I’m not the only one missing the Olympics. All over the net, I’m running into blogs and articles and posts about the amazing two weeks here, and I’m not even out looking for them. They just seem to turn up.

One thing I’ve seen a couple of times is major kudos to Canadians for being so warm, friendly, welcoming and being such good sports even when we were booing the US hockey team. At first I didn’t know what they were talking about. I watched every minute of the final game, and I didn’t hear any booing. And then I realiized. Most of you have probabaly heard the explanation by now, but since I’m still seeing comments about it online, clearly not everyone has.

If you hear anyone mention the booing, pass it on. Roberto Luongo, goalie extraordinaire, was not only the gold medal goaltender for Team Canada, but he’s also the number one netminder for the Vancouver Canucks. And his nickname is Bobby Lu. Every single time that man touches the puck, especially if he happens to be making a spectacular save at the time, the crowd yells, “LUUUUUUUUUUUU.” Which, admittedly, sounds very much like we’re booing the opposition for having a good scoring chance. But no. We’re just acknowledging our goalie for stopping it. Watch a Canucks home game sometime and you’ll see what I mean.

The video quality’s terrible here, but you can hear a little of it during a shutout celebration:

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After the Olympics

Like many Vancouverites I know, I’m suffering a bit of Olympic withdrawal today. I sat down with my cup of tea first thing this morning, mentally all set for my morning Olympic update, and there was, of course, none to be had. Back to reality.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about what I want to say about the Olympics. It was a pretty amazing couple of weeks, one that gave Canada a chance to celebrate – right out loud – being Canadian, something we’re not known for, to put it mildly. At the beginning of the games, we’d never won an Olympic gold on Canadian soil, despite having hosted two previous Games in this country. At the mid-point, we’d passed that hurdle, but some people worried, in fairly typical Canadian fashion, that the money put into the Own the Podium program had been wasted, because the results just didn’t seem to be happening. I was part of the wait-and-see camp, convinced we shouldn’t judge the outcome until it was over. And by the end of the games, Canadian athletes earned more gold medals than any nation has at any winter games. Ever.

I’ve said before that I’m a sucker for the stories of the games. It’s not all about gold, but something came over us as a nation as the golds and silvers and bronzes racked up. The community spirit that shone through during the thousands of kilometres of the torch relay intensified every day of the games. By the time the Canadian men played the US for hockey gold on the last day, it’s estimated that 80% of Canadians watched at least part of the game. Eighty percent. And when Sid the Kid scored the overtime winner, the cheer went up simultaneously coast to coast to coast. It was something to see, and I’m glad I’ll be able to say I was here, watching.

Some of my favourite moments, in no particular order:

– skating at the outdoor ice ring at the Richmond O-Zone with my family and our best friends. Outdoor skating may be old hat to the rest of the country, where they really do have winter, but here in the mildest little corner of our nation, it was a novelty, and we loved it. Great friends, cheery music, and the ice under our blades. Awesome.

– spending my daughter’s tenth birthday in downtown Vancouver, taking in the festive atmosphere. We were at the Olympic cauldron when John Montgomery won the gold for skelton, and we all cheered. We may even have initiated an impromptu singing of O Canada, in which we were joined by a large part of the crowd around us. Thanks to the volunteers announcing things we might want to see, we didn’t miss seeing the red Olympic rings on the water change to gold to celebrate the medal. And everywhere around us, people were cheerful, friendly, celebrating, and patriotic, whatever their nation. It was a giant, multi-cultural, family friendly party, and we had a great time.

– watching the footage of the Slovenian athlete taking bronze in cross country and then having to be helped onto the podium by a paramedic because she’d skied after cracking four ribs and collapsing a lung in a fall during a practice run.

– Joannie Rochette’s short program. It broke my heart to watch her holding back the tears as she got on the ice for that skate and sobbed as she finished, but it was a performance I’ll never forget.

– Moir and Virtue’s free dance was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen on ice since Sale and Pelletier took gold (eventually) in Nagano. They mesmerized me, and the program seemed to go by in seconds instead of minutes.

– Watching the German speed skater in the team pursuit react when she fell and slid across the finish line, first devastated, sure she’d ruined her team’s chances, and then elated when she realized they’d made it to the gold medal final.

– the footage all through the games of families and lovers and fans reacting to the performances of their people.

– sitting with kc over dinner during the Canada/Russia game, watching and listening to the crowd react to every call. We got a table because we gave up being able to see the TVs, but who needed them? Every nuance of the game was reflected on the faces and in the voices of the hundreds of people around us.

– seeing wide shots of venues where people gathered to watch the gold medal men’s hockey game, taken when the OT goal was scored. Hundreds of people, thousands, all raising their arms in celebration at once.

I could probably go on all night, but I’ll leave it there. It was a spectacular two weeks. Thanks to all the athletes, volunteers, film crews, and everyone else who made it so special.

There have been some wonderful summaries of the games. This one by Lloyd Robertson, longtime CTV news anchor, shows clips of a few of the moments I’ve mentioned here. It’s slow to load, and may only be available in Canada, but you can find it here: http://watch.ctv.ca/news/ctv-national-news/feb-28/#clip270699

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Before the opening ceremonies exceeded even my loftiest expectations and before Frederic Bilodeau and the rest of Canada got to celebrate his little brother’s gold medal, Canada’s first at an Olympics on home soil, my week was already wrapped up in Olympic celebrations. It’s been a lot of fun.

First, last Wednesday, my dad got to carry the Olympic torch for a leg of the relay in West Vancouver. We all drove up to watch him go past. It was a miserable day, pouring rain and chilly, but the rain stopped just long enough for us to stand out on the sidewalk for an hour, waiting. The skies opened again just as he finished and passed the flame to the next runner. Good timing for us from Mother Nature. I think the best part was watching his face; he clearly enjoyed the experience, and that made it pretty special.

And then Friday, my daughter participated in the Richmond Olympic Choir, kicking off the opening celebrations at the Richmond O-Zone. The combined band and choir, made up of school students, numbered about 3500. It was something to behold. When I dropped her and a friend off at the security point, the street and parking lot were a mass of kids in matching outfits. At the fire hall next door, the firemen stood outside their building, grinning at all the kids going by. The sheer number of kids was impressive and gave a real feeling of community that was really wonderful.

During the actual performance, the crowds made it difficult to get photos or video, but this clip from the dress rehearsal gives a sense of the scale of the choir. At one point, the camera pans left and shows the choir stretching across the field. The same was true to the right of the camera position.

And then it was on to the actual Olympics. I’m a fan of the games. They have their negatives, sure, the cost and the commercialization chief among them. But there’s something magical about so many athletes from so many nations coming together in primarily good sportsmanship to fulfil, in many cases, a childhood dream. I love watching the intensity and sheer athleticism of the athletes, the joy when things go as well – or better – than they could ever have hoped, and even the heartbreak when they fail. But most of all, I love the stories behind the athletes, and there’s never any shortage of good ones.

Speaking of stories, I loved the opening ceremonies, which I think did a beautiful job of telling a story about Canada. I saw my Canada in it, and everyone else I’ve talked to about it did, too. It was great. One of the best parts to me was Shane Koyzcan, the slam poet, talking about what it is to be Canadian. The video quality here is poor, but just in case you missed it:

Go Canada!

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