The 2010 Winter Olympics - A Canadian Perspective
With the glitch in the opening ceremonies, the fourth arm of the cauldron not rising, and the difficulties at the Speed skating oval with the icemakers, the world started criticising us and our attempts to make this the best Olympics ever. Bob Costas called our troubles "unacceptable". We were dissed for our lofty claims that we would take the most medals in the Olympics and taunted when the Canadian men's hockey team lost to the USA team. Posts of "screw you Canada" appeared, and the disdain continued.
Through it all, Canadians country wide held their heads high and ignored the taunts and persevered. Slowly, people of other countries let their respect for Canada, our citizens and the Olympic efforts shine through the disdain and arrogance of the others. People became vocal in their applause for the Olympic effort and the continuing efforts of the Canadian athletes.
Living in Canada, we have a few National television stations and we've always been able to access the American stations. Because I have been, first and foremost, a North American fan, I've watched many of the events on whatever American station has carried the rights for the Olympics in the past. This year, however, NBC has provided very poor coverage in my opinion. The coverage has been even more US oriented than ever, with very little attention paid to any other country's efforts. Granted, it is a station obligated to provide coverage for the American athletes to their American fans. Unfortunately, NBC seems to have taken this to a whole new level. Add to that, their insistence to show daytime competitions three hours later than they actually occur to the fans on the West Coast, and I think they failed their US fans miserably. However, as i said, that is my opinion, and much as Bob Costas opined that the speed skating oval problems were 'unacceptable", I will do the exact same and state that I felt their coverage was "unacceptable".
Luckily for me, Canada had CTV, TSN and Rogers Sportsnet all providing coverage for the Olympic games, so at any given time I could watch a contest, performance, rival game or perspective, live as it was happening in Vancouver. Canada even stepped up and provided some decent commercials, a definite rarity.
But, the Olympics is all about excelling at your sport. The Canadian athletes may not have said goodbye to these games with the top medal count, but they have 13 Gold medals, more than any other host country ever. As the last day of competition finishes up, the Canadians have an opportunity for two more gold medals, although realistically, the hockey game is the event on everyone's mind. The Canadians entered in the Men's 50Km Cross Country skiing event under way as I write this. They are not expected to reach even the top ten, although as every Canadian has, they will give it their all.
Throughout the games there have been some memorable moments. The death of the Georgian Luger, in the very early hours of Olympic practice was tragic, and led to more criticism, but the Vancouver and IOC officials did what they felt was necessary to ensure no further such incidents would occur. And none did, thankfully. It doesn't lessen the occurrence of his death, and because of it, the Vancouver Olympics will never be deemed a success. My sincere condolences are with his family and friends.
Joannie Rochette arrived in Vancouver, her hopes high to attend these games, knowing her chances for an Olympic medal were the best Canada had seen in decades. Unfortunately, her mother suffered a massive heart attack just as they reached Vancouver and succumbed before the day was done. Through her grief, Joannie decided to skate, doing what her mother cheered her through during her younger years. She said her mother was always her biggest fan. She performed a nearly flawless short program and went on to the free skate in third place. Her free skate performance was moving for everyone, and the Bronze she accomplished even sweeter, knowing her mother would be proud.
The Canadians and the US also showed the Russians how the direction of Ice Dance has changed, dominating the sport through all aspects. It was so close at the end, with the Canadians taking Gold, while the US took silver. The teams trained together and are friends, so in my mind, the finish could have gone either way. The Canadians of Virtue and Moir just skated a tad better, and thankfully took the gold for Canada.
Canada defeated Russia to get to the men's hockey final and, for many Canadians, that was the biggest accomplishment of these games - a 50 year rivalry ended in our favor on our home soil. We were defeated by the Russians in 1988, in Calgary, something that has been eating at us since then. The redemption this year is something all Canadians continue to celebrate.
Curling and the performances by both the Men's team of Kevin Martin and the Women's team of Cheryl Barnard made fans of people who had never watched a curling match before in their lives. Martin's team grabbed the Gold, while the Bernard team settled for silver, but both teams made Canada proud, and showed the world how exciting the game can be.
The Canadian Women's hockey team defeated the US Women for the gold medal (and celebrated in a manner deemed unacceptable by many, save Canadians who see these celebrations after every win). And as we head to the Men's hockey final this afternoon, all eyes will be glued to the televisions. Mine too, although this means less to me than some other competitions. After all, just as the Summer Olympics features a basketball competition made up of NBA players, the Men's Olympic hockey teams, since a 1986 ruling, are made up primarily of NHL players. This is something which, again - in my mind - is not keeping with the spirit of Olympic competition. I just feel the hockey teams, and the basketball teams in the summer Olympics should be made up of Junior players, not the pros.
Whether Canada or the US wins, it doesn't really matter to me, as long as it is a good game, and not a blow out by one team, I will enjoy the hockey - it is after all, just a chance to see some of our favorite NHL players display their skills in a different venue.
The Closing Ceremonies will take place this evening, bringing an end to the 2010 Olympic Games, until the athletes meet again, in 2014 in Russia. Through all the adversity, the ciriticism and the stellar performances, I can honestly say, I am PROUD to be a Canadian.