Monday, March 1, 2010

Good Morning: The Gold Standard

Ah the Olympics. After 17 days of ups and downs for Canada, the 2010 Winter Olympics came to a close last night with a rousing ceremony in Vancouver that honoured everything that is great about our country (and some things that aren't - Simple Plan? Avril Lavigne?). But the story of the day - the incredible overtime win by Sidney Crosby and Team Canada - was momentarily forgotten as Catriona Le May Doan lit the cauldron and Joannie Rochette, who lost her mother earlier this week only to then compete and win a bronze in figure skating, bore the flag.

Despite VANOC's promise to "own the podium", Canada looked poised for failure early on after the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili and its failure to medal in promising events like skiing and some speed skating events. But there were bright spots. Alex Bilodeau's gold medal in freestyle skiing captured the nation as the young Montrealer became the first Canadian to ever win a gold on home soil. And then it started. What will be considered the first Canadian Gold Rush in over a century quickly changed Canada's role from questionable-Olympic-host to Olympic-record-holder. This is what did it.

With Sidney Crosby's goal to win the hotly-anticipated (what an understatement!) men's hockey final between Canada and the USA, Canada became the record holder for most gold medals at a Winter Olympics with 14 and a perfect ending to the Games. The ensuing pandemonium is well-documented on Blog TO but I will say that my friends who were there told me it was absolutely insane and something they'd never experienced before.

That was my little summary of the Olympics. Everyone has different memories from the past 17 days because sports fan or not, Canadian or not, everyone seems to love the Olympics. On a more personal note, I'll forever remember these Olympics games. This was the first time in my life that Canada was really put on a global stage for longer than a quick mention in article here or there. People from around the country, and around the world, went to Vancouver to check out what we had to offer and then finally, when it counted the most, we were able to grab a legendary victory that will be one of the defining Canadian moments in my lifetime, if not for longer.

On my way home after the game, my bus driver honked all the way down the road, with no regard for the people in the community we were passing through. Then as I waited for the subway, I could hear the honks on Yonge St. even though I was underground on the platform. When I got out at my station, Yonge St., even though I was nowhere near downtown, was blaring from the constant stream of car honks and spontaneous cheers from passerbys. Soon after, the radio announced that Yonge St. had been shutdown due to the crowd. Last night will forever more be a "Where were you when...?" moment.

So congratulations Canada, we may not have finished first in the standings, but we set a Gold Standard that will be hard to top.

Alexandre Bilodeau - Moguls

Maëlle Ricker - Snowboard Cross

Christine Nesbitt - 1,000m Speedskating

Jon Montgomery - Skeleton

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - Ice Dance

Ashleigh McIovr - Skicross

Kaillie Humphries & Heather Moyse (Gold), Helen Upperton & Shelley-Ann Brown (Silver) - Bobsleigh

Women's Hockey Team

Charles Hamelin (Gold), François-Louis Tremblay (Bronze) - 500m Short-Track Speedskating

Men's Short-Track Relay

Men's Speedskating Team Pursuit

Jesse Jay Anderson - Giant Slalom Snowboarding

Men's Curling

Men's Hockey

Pictures via CBC