Submitted by Mark Reynolds
Let’s just keep taking it on the chin like good little Canadians, eh?
But our hockey team lost to the USA — how can we live that down?
We have smiled through the disappointments of our favoured athletes as they almost make it to the podium. We have seen their heartbreak played out in the international media; their potential not realized on the day that it counted. We are still proud and elated with the four gold, four silver and one bronze medal count (Feb. 21), but can’t help feeling a little deflated that we stepped out of our comfort zone and announced to the world that Canada would “Own the Podium.” In the world of sport anything can happen.
As I write this our Canadian ice dance team, Virtue/Moir, sits in first place going into their final skate — and then there are the Canadian women’s and men’s curling teams that are doing so well. We still have unrealized triumphs, but whatever the outcome, we will keep smiling. I was talking to an athlete from Poland the other day and when I asked him if he was enjoying Canada he said that the thing he would remember the most was that everybody here was smiling. He said in Poland “not so much smiles.”
Canada did reach their goal to win a gold medal on home soil. At the B.C. Place Stadium victory ceremony, the reception for our first gold medalist, Alex Bilodeau (men’s moguls) went beyond smiles; it erupted in near pandemonium as Alex stepped onto the podium to receive his gold medal. The sell out crowd gave him a standing ovation that lasted for minutes. What a thrill.
While riding the Sky Train home, I noticed some American tourists buying hockey tickets from three women’s hockey players from Switzerland. The buyers wanted the Swiss players to autograph the tickets until they realized that no one had a pen. Being the ever-so-helpful Canadian host, they were delighted to see my big blue “Smurf” arm produced a pen from my pocket and present it with the flair of a magic wand and the unspoken words of “Your wish is my command.” More smiles were had by all.
Meanwhile, over at Transportation, security procedures are now down to a routine. Police use mirrors to view the undercarriage of each vehicle entering a security bubble at a venue. The serious faces of police during the first few days of the Olympics, has given way to a more jovial attitude. This prompted one of the volunteer drivers to ask a police member of the search team if they’d found anything yet to which the response was “Not yet, but we’re still looking.” More laughter.
Another happy moment was when a group of 45 new Canadians from 24 countries took the oath of citizenship at a special ceremony during the 2010 Olympic Games.
The ceremony included special guests Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, Olympic pairs figure skaters, and Dave Guscott, the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s executive vice-president, celebrations and partnerships. Held at the Government of Canada Olympic Pavilion, the citizenship ceremony celebrated the many attributes Canada is showcasing during the Games, including diversity, inclusiveness, perseverance and national pride. With Glowing Hearts!
The sun continues to shine here in Vancouver and everything and everybody seems to sparkle in its glow. The Inukshuk patch that I pass every day on my way to B.C. Place continues to grow. The sunshine just seems to inspire people to build more and more of these rock figures on the shore of False Creek across from the Athletes Village. A business opportunity has presented itself to one man who says he will build you your own Inukshuk for a small “donation.”
Throngs and throngs of people flock to this area near Science World. The Russian, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec Pavilions are located nearby. It’s such a party atmosphere although I must say that I don’t have anonymity when I try to relax and enjoy it. That blue outfit of mine is a “question magnet” with tourists from everywhere asking directions. Worst place to try and relax — a park bench near Canada Hockey Place just before a game. One humorous encounter occurred when a young man of native Indian descent stopped to admire my Vancouver 2010 ball cap. I laughed when he tried to convince me that it was the custom to trade a gift to a new friend. He didn’t get my ball cap but his wife snapped a photo of us for a memory moment.
Perhaps he is the one who set up the impromptu red mitten sales on the lawn outside the arena – the only catch – the price was double the $10 retail asking price. Ahh the entrepreneur spirit – ya gotta laugh. Sales of the $20 mitts seemed brisk when I walked by.
As the daylight wanes, the warmth of the sun gives way to the chill of darkness. One of my assignments was to sit atop a lifeguard-type deck chair and marshal spectators to their destinations using a megaphone. This is a really fun job with some tourists enlisting me to take their picture from my vantage point. My supervisor who hails from Perth, Australia came to check on me. Concerned that my hands might be getting cold, she offered me some instant hot pockets to put in my gloves.
I called down to her that I really didn’t need them because I was from Ponoka. She called back, “What’s a Ponoka?” She didn’t really wait for an explanation but I am convinced she knew that Ponoka must be cold.
What was she thinking — we’re Canadians, eh.