Monday, 27 January 2014


Unabashedly Canadian, eh, the Winter version of the Olympics has always been my favourite. Turin, Salt Lake City, Nagano, Lillehammer, I have avidly followed them all.  Quite frankly, though, I am struggling at the moment to make any kind of emotional connect with Russia's Sochi.  Perhaps it is the staggering and obsene fifty billion dollar cost of these games or should I more correctly say, Putin's games.  A "gross misdirection of the country's limited resources" is how the Globe & Mail refers to the price tag. And we thought two billion was a hefty price for our Vancouver games. Rampant graft, baksheesh, and bribes have become new Russian Olympic events.  Sorry, how cynical of me.  Perhaps it is the Russian government's heavy-handed repression of gay rights.  Bravo to the world leaders who are making a statement by remaining home and to the German Olympic Team for its "rainbow uniforms". Kudos to the Americans for appointing openly gay Billie Jean King to lead the U.S. American Team delegation to Russia.  Now that is what I call a strong statement!

Perhaps it is the very real Islamic terrorist threat and the resultant armed camp these games have already become. Worry for the safety of the world's finest will overshadow, for me, any true enjoyment.

Or perhaps, it is simply my nostalgia for our Canadian Vancouver 2010 success and the excitement of welcoming the world's athletes to our soil.  And so.....on this snowy, extremely cold winter afternoon, I am indulging myself, remembering my favourite Vancouver Winter Olympic moments. Why not join me and see if you agree.

The Olympic Torch Relay from sea to shining sea, from north to south. Eager to be part of the pre-games celebrations, Jim and I stood on Yonge Street in Thornhill and witnessed the passing of the flame between two relayers. Emotion packed? For sure and I freely admit to teary eyes.  But then they had had me at the original announcement of the Vancouver Games.

Iconic Vancouver Winter Olympic Mittens.  Two million pairs were sold before the Olympics with another one million on sale during the games. Sold out!  A runaway best seller!  Like little red Canadian exclamation points emphasizing our love of country, these mittens were donned by adults and young alike.  We enjoyed an epidemic of cheery red hands. So popular were they that Oprah Winfrey even mentioned them on her show. Bet HBC loved that promotion!!
I Believe. Niki Yanofsky's rendition of CTV's Olympic theme song accompanied by video clips of our Canadian athletes caused many a heart to burst with emotion.  Count me in on that!  I cannot tell you how many times I viewed "I Believe" on You Tube, each and every time enjoying overwhelming feelings of support for our national team. I still get goosebumps when I watch it.

K D Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" while clad in a white tuxedo and standing in bare feet atop a column surrounded by millions of twinkling lights. The tragic death earlier in the day of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritasvili, made this rendition heartbreaking. Her performance? Mesmerizing!

Opening Ceremony Entrance of the Canadian Team. Need I say anymore?

Alex Bilodeau on Day 2. Finally, an Olympic Gold won on Canadian soil. Thank you Alex for breaking the ice for the remainder of our team. And boy, was that jinx broken as our Canadian athletes surpassed all expectations and the medals poured in.

Jon Montgomery and his stroll through Whistler chugging a celebratory pitcher of beer.  Criticized in some corners, I loved this.  He had just won Gold in Skeleton, ladies and gentlemen - a death defying plunge head first down an icy sled run.  Go for it, Jon.  Celebrate!  You earned it.  And what could be more quintessentially Canadian than a tasty cold beer after a sporting event?

Figure skater, Joannie Rochette's Mother flew from Quebec to Vancouver to cheer her daughter on. Falling victim to a fatal heart attack, Mrs. Rochette tragically did not live to watch her daughter compete.  Joannie could easily have bowed out of competition and a sympathetic nation would have understood.  But no, courageously, she skated to a bronze medal and into the hearts of all Canadians.  I will never forget the painful tears Joannie finally allowed herself to shed at the end of her long program.

Women's Olympic Hockey Team.  I love these girls.  Not full time professionals earning hefty incomes, these ladies give of their time, schooling and jobs, to train in the sport they so love. Team Canada quite simply wanted this; they could taste it. Their 2 - 0 defeat of the Americans in the final game won Canada its impressive third consecutive gold medal in Women's Olympic Hockey and inspired a generation of young women to don hockey skates. Way to go ladies!

Sydney Crosby's Overtime Goal.  Canada's sport.  Canada's passion.  Canadian home ice.  An entire nation watching.  To win was a dream.  Crosby's heart stopping overtime goal won a hard fought game and the Gold medal for Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey Team.  From the far reaches of Vancouver Island to St. John's, Newfoundland, from Nunavut to Toronto, streets filled with revellers.  Horns honked, bells rang and a delirious nation celebrated. This was the icing on the cake of a successful games run by an extraordinary city.

Post hockey win singing of our national anthem. Canada Hockey Place on its feet, tears streaming down cheeks, joy radiating on faces, flags waving, the red and white clothed arena, with voices husky from boisterously cheering on their team, belted out our national anthem with a passion that made my heart swell.

Well, those are my cherished moments.  Did I miss any of yours?  The countdown to the February 7 Opening Ceremonies in Sochi has begun.  I wish for the Russian people a safe, secure games, joyous celebrations, and the overwhelming love of country we so enjoyed as host Canadians.  

Go Team Canada! Bring it on!

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