Archive for February, 2010

what we own
February 28, 2010

I’m posting this hours before “la grande finale olympique” – the Gold Medal Hockey Game, followed closely by “la grande fin olympique” – the closing ceremonies, because whether it’s a gold or silver today, what we have come to own these last two weeks are the moments that will stitch themselves like canada flags on the backpack of our collective memories.

It’s not the podium we own
It’s a new found sense of home

It’s the CAN-ADA jackets we zip
Watching Joannie land a triple flip

It’s the maple leaf tatoos we don
To cheer when the hockey games are on

It’s the pitcher of beer we share
With the fans who helped get athletes there

It’s the friendly face of the volunteer
Who understands our need to be here

It’s the kinder words of the world press
Who now know what makes us different makes us best

It’s the kids who’ll remember the day
Canadian athletes showed the gold way

It’s the mom who tied her little ones skates
And shivered in the stands to watch her get great

It’s the course workers who stayed up all night
To make sure those runs were just right

It’s the zamboni driver going round and round
To ensure that olympic records were found

It’s the friends and the families who together watched
As our expectations of each other got topped

It’s Alex and his brother who remind us all
The biggest steps to victory can be ever so small

It’s the flags and the red and wild can-do cheer
Of a nation we now hold ever more dear

So Go Canada Go. And don’t ever stop
If we can do this, who knows where’s the top!

what a day!
February 25, 2010

the national anthem. twice in one day. one for yesterday’s bobsleigh, one for women’s hockey – and perhaps the greatest medal of all, Joannie’s for her mom.


canada-russia, the way we were
February 24, 2010

Of course, only us digital immigrants will remember the 1972 Canada Cup when Canada beat Russia. I was in Grade two. The TV was on in my school. We watched. It was a BIG DEAL. I remember the 1976 Canada Cup less however except that my parents were out of town and the babysitter was a hockey fanatic. And it seemed to me that every time she told the players to do something, they did it. So I thought twice before misbehaving under her watch. So when Canada met Russia today, I brought all that angst with me.

When I think about these games, I’m often reminded of how much Russia has changed. I remember the USSR. The long names, the fierce competitors, the incredibly moving national anthem. I was an amateur figure skater. When us small town skating club wannabe olympians watched the Russians compete, they were the enemy by virtue of how often they won. What they lacked in apparent personality, they made up for in medal count. Canadian skaters probably would have won too if their coaches were tougher. But we were soft. We couldn’t handle it. Which meant we stayed home and admired the talent on TV.

So is Russia  just like the rest of us now? So preoccupied with capitalism. spending too much time shopping and not enough time training? Even their team uniforms are, well, very western. The big red swirl design pops on a field of white. You can see them in any crowd. Any crowd. I saw a few athletes in Vancouver. They were perfectly coiffed and manicured. They even had a certain hollywood appeal. It was a fascinating surprise and reminder that things aren’t anything like they used to be.

The Russians won the medal count in 1972 and 1976. They were second to East Germany in 1980. They won in 1984 and 1988. Glasnost hit in 1989. They were second to a unified Germany in 1992. Then third in 1994 and 1998. Come 2002, they were 7th. Then 4th in Torino. At this very moment, Canada is just slightly ahead of Russia in the medal count. I can hardly believe it.

I know priorities change. It’s human nature. These days,  I think about laundry and lunches before most anything else. When I skated, I thought about how late I could go to bed and still have a half decent practice at 6 am. Turns out, 9:30 pm was the latest. So much for the social life of a teenager.

The jumps and spins and willingness to be up way before dawn to train have long left me but the wanna be competitor in me is still around. When the Russians are on, I get nervous. I’m just glad it only took a few minutes for Canada to own the rink tonight. And while I should be thinking about laundry and lunches, I might just settle in for a few more hours of Olympic TV watching. I’m a grown up now and if I want to stay up past 9:30, I’m allowed!


February 23, 2010

Quel courage. Quel défi.

What courage. What challenge. To face the biggest event of your life without your biggest fan. Figure skating is almost as famous for its skating mothers as for its skaters. And sadly, tonight, it’s about both. She is every mom’s daughter now. And she is the bravest child. Bravo Joannie. Bravo.

Canada-USA cliche
February 22, 2010

It is cliche of course to say that sports is a metaphor for life. But, in the full day that has past since the end of this memorable hockey showdown, I have come to acknowledge, that some cliches are worth their weight in gold.

1) It ain’t over till it’s over

Everyone watching that game had to know that up until the best empty net goal ever, things could have been much different. It came down to the last two minutes.

2) Being good isn’t good enough

The maple leaf squad is good, no question. But the US Team has lightning fast skaters. You can’t just be good – you have to keep up too. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I was watching hockey or short track speed skating. Really really fast.

3) You can’t just shoot, you have to score

Team Canada out shot the US 4 to 1 last night and scored 3 goals. If it were a battle of effort and talent, we would have won. But it wasn’t. It’s a numbers game. Like sports, life rewards results, not efforts.

4) Locals know best

OK, I’m quite possibly Canada’s newest hockey commentator here at the Blagh Blog – and I know that Martin Brodeur is the winning-est goalie ever – but Vancouver is Luongo’s turf. Always trust the locals. He knows that rink better then any other goalie on earth. I think for this game, he should have been minding that net.

5) Don’t assume

The crowd at the game was a lopsided mix of thousands upon thousands of Team Canada hockey jerseys plus 10% navy blue USA gear. Team USA fans were polite, indeed a bit taken aback by the crowd. Some even asking to have their picture taken with the leagues of crazy canuck helmet headed, red body painted, long underwear wearing hockey fans. The party on the way to the party was more than half the fun. I assumed there might be boo-ing. There wasn’t much. I assumed there would be gloating U-S-A chants after the game. Didn’t hear much of that either. Of course, you couldn’t hear much of anything in that arena. It’s as if the USA was, gulp, humbled, by the win. A US fan I met on the bus the day before whispered to me that he “hoped we would win because we deserved it for being so nice”. No kidding. Granted, it’s not a typical american attitude. Or have I been making to many assumptions?

6) You can’t put a price on value

A fellow sitting next to us at the game paid $1,100 for his ticket. We got lucky and paid the actual ticket price. Regardless, our tickets could have fetched us a 2 week holiday anywhere in the world. Was it still worth it even if Canada lost? You bet. Those 60 minutes of drama and the full day of excitment that led up to it will last a lifetime. It was worth every penny. I suspect the fellow who paid $1,100 felt the same way too.

7) If you lose, don’t lose the lesson

And we’ll all stand by and see tomorrow when Canada (with Luongo in net) takes on Germany.


vancouver is at its finest
February 21, 2010

Being at the Olympics here in Vancouver is a bit like being in the world’s friendliest airport. There are crowds and line ups and people from all over the world coming and going. It’s fascinating. There are check points and tickets. There are departure times and arrival times. There are restrictions and rules. And we are indeed flying high! Vancouver is at its shiny best – from friendly transit workers and joyful volunteers who literally, both welcome you to an event, then thank you afterwads as you wait in well managed line ups for the ride home to city streets and event locations gift wrapped in blue and green vancouver 2010 graphics. It really is stunning.

It’s been a wild ride so far! Women’s aerials and short track speed skating made for some incredible thrills and spills. The crowds cheer for everyone. Americans cheer for Canadian Athletes, we return the favour. Win or lose – the crowds response to the efforts of the athletes. At women’s aerials, an athlete fell, lost both skiis and skided down on ski boots across the line. The crowd went wild and her grin told the story of how awesome it must be to compete in the Olympics. But perhaps the greatest cheers await today as we head back into the city for the Canada USA Men’s Hockey Game. And the fun begins far before and after the game. On the trains. In the street. It’s everywhere. I’m beginning to “believe” we were indeed “made for this”!


These blogs make us look bitchy, eh?
February 16, 2010

It occurs to me this morning while watching the Today Show broadcast from Grouse Mountain, that one of the main differences between coverage of the last Olympics vs these ones – a mere 18 months ago – is social media. WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are giving public voices to those who just a year and a half ago in Beijing, had very little. It can be difficult to face the criticism of the world media, especially when we all want to solicit the approval of the world, eh? So interesed are we in doing so that the Today Show devoted a full three minutes and twenty three seconds to an investigative report on the meaning of “eh”.

So which opinions of others have we solicited?  It comes from inside and out. The Downtown Eastside Poverty groups, who are probably in the best position to criticize, have been vocal and significantly disruptive the last day of the torch relay. As for that crazy bunch who smashed the windows at the Hudson Bay Company flagship Olympic store, I can’t see past the vandalism to understand what message they wanted to send. The worst injury of all to me are comments made in the UK’s Daily Mail about our role as a nation in the terrible death of the Georgian Luger. I believe our collective heart broke into 33,311,389 pieces on news of the accident and the tragic outcome. But somehow that didn’t make his blog. On a lighter note (also a favourite turn of phrase at the Today Show), there’s Zambonigate at the Richmond Oval. Great to see Geatan Boucher on CTV this morning noting that prior to the Calgary Olympics, speed skaters had to compete, gulp, on real ice, outside, in real weather. Zamboni, Zamshmonie fellow bloggers.

In researching my own upcoming trip to the games, I have read some terrible things written by actual spectators about the venue at Cypress Mountain. And I’m more than a little nervous bringing my kids up the mountain to face an unreasonable expectation of food, water and bathroom breaks in exchange for the the look on their faces when the aerial magic happens. But risk I will. Because this is a once in a lifetime experience for my family. And while access to the blogging universe means we can read into the minds of the world, it somehow makes it more irresitible than ever to head over the hills and down to the coast to take in the vibe of our greatest olympics moment, eh?

I hope there’s no line ups to access wireless networks. I hope to type updates to this blog throughout the weekend. I’d call them in but I feel  sure you’d never hear what I had to say as the noise of the Olympics are, if nothing else, deafening.

it’s marketing christmas eve
February 11, 2010

Here we are. Hours away from the Olympics in Vancouver. “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (faster, higher, stronger) is the motto of an Olympian. And the same holds true for the marketers who will help pay for the rights to broadcast it. So who will show olympic creativity in advertising? I cannot begin to guess. It’s bad luck to try anyway. But I can’t wait. And I know I will be surprised and hopefully delighted. So I will don my new pjs, and sleep tight knowing tomorrow, on TV, I’ll be in for a big surprise.  I’ve been very good this  year. I hope i’ll be rewarded and enjoy. The milk and cookies are on the table. Let’s see who takes a bite.