Feb 28, 2010

Olympics are over.

Well, they’re over: The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in our home city of Vancouver, Canada.

It was such a long awaited, anticipated event with such mixed emotion from the people who live here. Now it’s over, in a blink of time. We know of many who left town to bask on a tropical island while renting out their houses for a small fortune for two weeks. Others swapped houses with people of foreign lands. So they missed it, the wonderful excitement of it all. Because no matter what you think of a circus coming to town, or your city hosting the biggest party in the world, the atmosphere itself is something to bask in.

We played our part. We attended the opening event; ski jumping at the brand new Whistler Olympic Park. We also attended the preliminary pairs figure skating at the Pacific Coliseum where the Chinese couple began their skate for Olympic gold. Throughout the games we were glued to the High Definition TV, broadcasting on a 24-hour schedule. NBCs “Today” show built their facilities high on Grouse Mountain, and CTV broadcast all day every day with their affiliated stations. We could watch almost every run and re-run of each Olympic win all day and all night.

The opening ceremonies were spectacular. We were on the edge of our seats wondering how this opening event could ever compete with the standards set by the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, especially in the relatively small, BC Place stadium. But they did it. It was sensational and distinctly Canadian. When the Games started, we needed snow badly up on Cypress Mountain. It was warm. British writers said that this was the worst games ever. But we got the snow and we won gold medals up there. During the first week, Canadian officials were worried that we were not winning as many medals as we should. But by the second week, the athletes were proving they were great in every sport. Canada won gold, and we won more gold and more medals than ever before. There was victory, there was pride in achievement and pride in country.

Then there was the Canada vrs. USA hockey matches. The first one Canada lost. This gave them the practice to beat the others teams in the running and come back to go for gold with the USA. What a match. All the country was watching. Hockey is not just a sport in Canada, it’s a religion that unifies this diverse nation. Canada won and the nation celebrated and basked in the glory. In all, Canada won: 14 Gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze medals, an Olympic record for any country winning gold and a Canadian record medal count of 26.

We sang the national anthem more than any other time. Patriotism. Moments. Magic filled the air, and Canadians came together with excitement and enthusiasm, cheering our teams and politely acknowledging and sometimes cheering another country’s win. We bought the clothes: The toques and the now world-famous mitts. Vancouver was splashed with red and white and Olympic Hudson Bay clothes everywhere. The Olympic spirit was embraced by the whole country. What an exciting time to be here. What a glorious experience.

And the ones who left? They probably returned and their lives were none the wiser, having missed life itself: The greatest show on earth.

“Hockey is not a sport in Canada. It’s a cult.”

- Brian Burke. (USA men’s team GM)

“The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.”

- Peggy Fleming (American figure skater, 1968 Winter Olympics)

"What is next? I don't know. Sleep, and then take on the world."
Shaun White (American snowboarder , after he won gold)