Monday, March 1, 2010

Oh, Canada....

The flame is out. The Games are over.

And Canada is really, really loud right now.

There have been horns honking non-stop since the end of the USA-Canada hockey game. I can hear whistling, bullhorns, cheering, whooping and hollering - and about every 15 minutes, there’s a chorus of “Oh Canada”.

Man, Vancouver is gonna be a mess tomorrow morning. And by mess, I mean, there will be a few beer cans left on the street by careless Americans and sloppy Russians, because even in their drunken revelry, I’m sure these very polite Canadians are still picking up after themselves.

It was a phenomenal games. But wow. What a roller coaster. I spent as many moments with happy tears in my eyes as I did with tears of sadness and grief. I still can’t watch a video of Joannie Rochette without a heavy heart and a lump in my throat.

I’m completely spent.

Was it easy? No. Was it fun? No.

Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely.

The USA-Canada game today was a nail biter – but it ended the way it should. I’m an Olympic fanatic and before today, I couldn’t name a single player on the USA men’s hockey team. I guarantee that every Canadian knows their teams starting line-up by heart – and they might even know what size boxers they wear. They’re that intimately familiar with their team.

On the broadcast they mentioned that something like 4 million people tuned in just to hear the announcement of the team. Keep in mind Canada only has a population of 4 million and two. The two that missed it were ice fishing and forgot what time it was.

This was Canada’s game. It’s right that they won.

America would have celebrated for about ten minutes and then moved onto something else. Canada will cherish that game forever. After the game ended, people were hugging each other all over the IBC, the hollering and cheering went on forever and when “Oh, Canada” was played, you could hear people singing all throughout the cavernous IBC.

Everyone in the research and dot com room was standing and applauding Canada’s win. And, what has become completely standard for me in this Olympic games, I got a little teary eyed.

Of course I did. Because I would cry at an exceptional Canadian bagel right now.

I think I’ve enjoyed the Canadian moments as much as the American ones in Vancouver. There’s such an ecstatic, joyful vibe when Canada does anything that you can’t help but get swept along with it.

I love the way they celebrate their wins, their country and each other.

One of my favorite Olympic commercials has been a commercial for a nutritional sponsor of Canadian skiers. The narrator talks about their food products and how they’re powering its athletes to gold - at the end he says, “We’ll take some credit – but not too much. After all, we are Canadian.”

I love it.

I just love it.

At the start of the games, Canada’s “Own the Podium” program looked like a huge mistake - every time I heard journalists talk about it or saw anything with that saying on it, I kind of cringed. It seemed like a program destined to fail. When you say you want your athletes to "own the podium", you basically set up that anything less than gold is a failure.

How incredibly unfair to the athletes.

The first couple of days were pretty dismal for Canada, there were one or two high points but mostly, disappointments. (and on top of that, the massive gaffes)

The worst disappointment being the loss of the hockey team to the US. I think that was the one and only night that I went to sleep without hearing the rowdy crowds on the streets below.

That loss just sucked the air out of the Games for Canada.

But the tide changed when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance gold. They became the first North American team to win the ice dancing gold medal and I believe the youngest team ever to win. And they’re just so dang Canadian! You look at them and you love them. So wholesome! So adorable! So funny! So sweet!

Seriously – very Canadian.

When Scott Moir was belting out “Oh, Canada” on the podium, the entire country sang along. And that moment was a turning point for this Olympics for Canada. I don’t know if it’s because the Canadian fans suddenly saw, ‘hey, our athletes CAN do this’ or if it was more logical and maybe Canada’s best events were yet to come – but ahh… there was Olympic magic in the air after that night.

Sidebar – it must be noted that Sweden has the best knit hats ever.

This morning, CTV (Canada’s version of NBC but with a way faker fake fireplace) had Donald Sutherland on as a guest and it was bizarre to hear that legendary voice chat causally about curling. He compared it to chess.

That’s so odd – I compare it to beer pong. Ways Donald Sutherland and I are different, I guess.

Anyway, they were trying to get Donald, or Donny as I call him, to make a prediction on the USA-Canada hockey team and Donny kept demurring, finally saying only “may the best team win and if the other team is best, I hope they lose”.

Ahhhh, Canadians.

You’re just too adorable for words.

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