Swifter, Higher, Tighter. (or, The seven per cent bonus)

Hey, so the Winter Olympics are over. Did you notice?

And Canada (who else am I going to talk about here?) set the record for the most gold medals won by a host nation, which is something I think the Canadian Olympic Committee was striving for (after the whole Own the Podium thing was deemed too unattainable, or maybe just too un-Canadian). Speaking of un-Canadian, The Lovely Wife and my offspring (including the one in utero) were in Florida visiting her parents and doomed to watching the American coverage on television and I did my Canadian / husbandly duty by sending emails when Canada medalled, and updating her on the curling scores (shut up). Upon her return, half-way through the olympic fortnight, we compared notes on views of the Olympics from both sides of the border, and she expressed shock that the Americans seem to think that the event is all about the hockey, but gradually started to understand their point of view, and that maybe they were right.

That's not to say that one event, or one game, is the crowning achievement of the entire course of the Olympics, but this gold medal is 1/14th, or 7.1% of our victories. It wasn't the first gold we won on home soil (thank you Alexandre Bilodeau), but it was the last. Maybe that's more historic, or at least as important as beating the Americans at "our game". For a lot of Canadians, hockey really is religion. Despite the professional leagues being increasingly international, we like to think that we grow 'em right up here. For local hockey fans, Sidney Crosby's winning goal in overtime was the cherry on top. But how would we have felt if Team Canada had lost in the gold medal hockey game? Probably still pretty good, but there would once again be that horrible feeling of "if only" niggling at our insides for four more years.

I think more realistically, Canada is pretty happy to be successful at the winter games because it's comparatively difficult for us to compete at Summer Games events, given that most of the planet has snow-free periods in their year, while a far lower percent of the planet has as much snow as we do. Sure, international travel makes it easy for athletes to train all over the world, but it helps if you've been doing whatever your winter-sport-of-choice-is since you were five. So when it comes to skiing and shooting, or bounding down a bumpy mountain at high speed, or streaking around a frozen oval with knives strapped to your boots, we're pretty happy with being pretty good.

Canada (or rather, Vancouver) got off to a shaky start with the games, with torches that wouldn't light (or you can't properly view them through the barbed wire chain link fence), a mountain that wouldn't keep its snow, and ice resurfacing machines that wouldn't do their job.  Newspapers from around the globe (ok, mostly British ones) derided Canada for its catastrophic games, though I have come to understand that this is partially because the UK will host the next Olympic Games, but even more that this is just in keeping with British media in general. So, in a word, phooey on youey. It all went forward, and all the medals were awarded.

Looking back, I think that Canada, and a lot of other nations, has a lot to celebrate. Sure there were medal hopefuls that didn't excel enough to wear the gold, and there were unforseen circumstances that derailed plans, but that's why we do this thing: to see who's the best in the world that day. Natural and man-made environments come with their own risks: icy hills, melting snow, rain, leaky roofs, mechanical breakdowns... it can't all go right. Right?

Let's celebrate what happened: The world, or at least the snowy parts of it, came together for two weeks and generally had a good time. And people at home got to ogle hot athletes in form-fitting attire (snowboarders notwithstanding) doing ridiculous things at ridiculous speeds. Swifter, Higher, Tighter.

Posted bythemikestand at 2:21 PM  

2 stepped up to the mike:

lauren_hewings said... 2:41 PM, March 01, 2010  

congratulations to Canada, and to all those who took part. the final was the first ice hockey match that I have ever watched, and i really enjoyed it. that will probably be the last one i see for another 4 years, but still.
and ignore the British media - they'll do the same thing to our own games in 2012. cynical gits.
cool olympic pics here btw: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/03/vancouver_2010_part_2_of_2.html

bicycle.boy said... 8:50 PM, March 01, 2010  

Olympic hockey is better than NHL hockey, in my opinion, because there were far fewer penalties called and far fewer fights. Actually, I don't think I saw a single fight at all, but I only caught snippets of hockey. I was far more interested in curling, speed skating, and death-defying hurtling down steep slopes.

The TV was on constantly at our house for 17 days. The next time I turn it on will probably be the summer of 2012.

Oh, and definitely concur on form-fitting outfits. Tighter indeed! :-D

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