Submitted by Mark Reynolds
From deflated to elated: the expectations of this past week’s triumphs were realized.
In a way, Canada did “Own the Podium” by winning the most gold medals of any host country in the history of the Olympic Games.
Of course, the biggest triumph of all was Canada’s gold medal over those other guys. The outpouring of unbridled national pride was truly moving — and noisy. People gathered anywhere there was a television — some even peering through the windows of restaurants and coffee shops already overflowing with hockey-crazed patrons. Then it happened — Gold!
A red wave of jersey-covered, flag-waving fans surged into the streets. Car horns were honking for hours as vehicles loaded to the rafters with screaming fans drove down every street of the city and outlying communities. I headed for the hills somewhere between the end of the hockey game and the start of the closing ceremonies. The last stop of my Olympic experience was to view the Olympic Cauldron before it was extinguished later that evening. There was lineup more than an hour long to take a photo from the viewing platform, but I managed to snap a couple by holding my camera above the fence line. Game over – no gold medal for me, but almost as good were the strangers on the street who thanked me for my contribution. One thing is for sure, if I never see another porta-potty it will be too soon.
Speaking of gold medals, did you know that no two medals were exactly the same? They were designed by native artisans to depict our Canadian community. Five native drawings for the five Olympic rings were developed and made into a single pattern. As each medal was cast they were imprinted by a section of this original drawing. Recipients of these medals also received a scarf with the complete drawing on it so they can match up the pattern on their medal with the applicable section.
Another item that was as rare as gold were those red mittens. Before the Olympics started you could buy any amount of Olympic clothing and souvenirs from your local Bay or Zellers. I tried one more run at the local Bay store to see if I could buy a couple pair of red mittens for an out-of-country friend. No luck. While chatting with the clerk, she said The Bay gets several letters a day with an enclosed cheque requesting the almost extinct red mittens. What a marketing windfall of these Games.
The closing ceremonies were a hoot. Beavers and flying moose; blow up Mounties and huge wooden hockey players and I knew about it all before it happened. My “confidentiality contract” wouldn’t allow me to spill the beans so the best I could do was to watch the ceremonies on television and “predict” what was coming next to my captivated family.
Canada learned a new word: Zorb. These giant glowing transparent spheres will be a prominent fixture at the Sochi 2014 games and signify the Sochi Universe. Each member of the audience received their own Zorb snow globe. My big souvenir was the purchase of a Russian ball cap with its cool red scrolling on the brim.
So thanks for letting me share my Olympic experiences with you. As the throngs of people in their euphoria, party into the night here in Vancouver, I will gladly sip into my comfy bed and sleep for a week. Cheers!
Mark Reynolds is a former Ponoka resident living in Vancouver. He was a volunteer with the Olympic Winter Games and filed regular reports for the Ponoka News.