Vancouver 2010 Olympics: Golds Won, History Made, Fun Had

by Ed Lau on March 1, 2010

These last two and a half weeks have been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of different things. I’ve lived in Japan. I’ve lived in London. I’ve been to a World Cup tournament. I’ve seen some of the world’s biggest bands on the world’s biggest stages. The Vancouver 2010 Olympics have been as awesome…if not more so and it all happened here…at home.

It didn’t start well. There was the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. A hydraulic malfunction left our cauldron incomplete. There were all kinds of problems with the weather, the accomodations, the long line-ups and soon, we realized that we wouldn’t meet our lofty expectations when it came to medals.

But something crazy happened. The city of Vancouver, which has never been the most exciting place in the world, came alive. The party started right after the opening ceremonies and never really stopped. In fact, it only got louder, crazier and more awesome as the days went by. I didn’t actually get tickets to see any of the events in person but regardless, my Olympic experience has been just as incredible. I watched events in the streets, in bars, at event venues on big screens with the thousands of Canadians pouring into the city. I laughed, cheered, cried (if you didn’t get a couple tears in these last couple weeks…) high-fived, hugged, and took pictures with people I didn’t actually know. It didn’t matter. If you wore a maple leaf or some red and white, we were family…bound by shared support for our athletes.

Thank you, Canada…for being the greatest place on the planet. Thank you, Vancouver. This has been the best party ever. I’m thankful I was part of it.

That isn’t to say that everyone from elsewhere wasn’t awesome as well. Everyone from around the world, you made the party so much greater bringing a little bit of your home to ours. The obvious hit for me was Heineken House, which was the site of the Dutch party for the last couple week. It felt so familiar after the first couple times there, as the Dutch are as friendly as they are awesome.

Whether it was getting smashed and singing along to Da Coronas’ smashing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody or singing/dancing along to the best song ever for reasons I still don’t understand, Heineken House was always a good time. The things that happened were always epic…although I’m sure I REALLY shouldn’t be telling some of the stories.

There was fun to be had everywhere from the Saxony House out in Stanley Park, the Swiss House on Granville Island…or heck, just hanging out with out-of-towners who were gracious enough to have their picture taken with or of by the thousands of crazy Canadians.

Thank you, world…for coming to our home. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last two and a half weeks as much as I have.

But as great as the party was, this was about sport. There are those in the world that don’t see the value of sport. Sport, along with music, art, and other things of the sort have the power to bring people together. It has the power to inspire and digs at that part of our hearts that realizes there’s something much bigger than ourselves. The athletes know this. They weren’t just there to win for themselves. They were there to win for us. They were there to win for Canada. They know it even if others don’t…that we are all Team Canada.

Again, that doesn’t mean athletes from elsewhere didn’t also put on a great show. Those US hockey teams? Amazing…they played every bit as hard and could’ve won if the puck bounced slightly differently. They have nothing to hang their heads about and I think most Canadians saw it as well. I mean, I’ve never seen a largely Canadian crowd chant U-S-A! before and yet, it happened. That’s how good you guys were.

Yu-na Kim, my god, that routine was gorgeous enough to bring tears to a beer-drinking, loud and shouty hockey fan. Shaun White proved that a man can fly and you crazy Norwegians, I can’t imagine curling now without wearing those pants.

Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian but our athletes transcended their sports. Our humble, gracious athletes showed us a part of themselves and shared with us their amazing stories. There’s Alex Bilodeau, the mogul of the moguls, inspired by his brother who is afflicted by cerebral palsy. Doctors told him he wouldn’t walk past the age of 10 but so many years later, he stands and cheers for Alex as loud as any Canadian.

There’s Joannie Rochette, who lost her mother just days before she was scheduled to skate. However, she found the courage to skate and win a bronze and a roaring ovation from the fans. I was at Holland Heineken House that night and despite the party atmosphere, the beer, and the raucous cheer that erupted for her, there were few dry eyes in the place.

There was Jon Montgomery, who injected fun into the games by just being awesome, chugging a pitcher of beer after he brought home Olympic gold and proudly waving our flag through the streets of Vancouver. He’s just one of many athletes that brought so much to the games by just being themselves, by just being Canadian. I mean, Maëlle Ricker was just being Maëlle Ricker and that giggle monster personality would’ve been awesome even if she wasn’t the first women to win gold in Canada.

There’s Olympic legend Clara Hughes, who is the only person to win multiple medals in both the summer and winter Olympics. However, more importantly, Hughes recognizes the importance of these games. A few days ago, she was quoted as saying something like if you measure the success here in medals, you’re crazy. Well, yes, the medals helped but this whole thing…it was about so much more than just winning.

There’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who’s great story of being partners since they were kids and how much they and their parents sacrificed to represent Canada made me want to watch figure skating. I can’t tell you how pumped I was to watch them skate, cheering as loud as I could in a sport where the fans are traditionally well behaved. It seemed like Scott agreed with me…cheering so hard that he shredded his flowers while waving the Canadian flag. However, he’s only second when it comes to celebrations…a spot occupied by Marianne St-Gelais, who cheered with such energy after watching boyfriend Charles Hamelin take gold after being shut out in his previous races.

And who could forget our amazing hockey teams. Our women’s team that showed us not only how to win but how to party. Personally, I had no doubt that our ladies would be taking home the gold as they have in the previous two Olympic games. They’re world class players and only the Americans have a team to rival them. After their victory, they caught a lot of flack from prudes and soccer moms saying they shouldn’t be drinking and smoking cigars. People, they won Olympic gold…they can do anything they want. It was amazing to see how many people come to their defense, drowning out the nutjobs.

Our men’s hockey team came into the tournament with monstrous expectation being, on paper, the best team in the tournament and perhaps in history. When they were a bit shaky in the round robin, you could hear the entire country groan. There wasn’t a single person in the country that wasn’t at least a little worried going into the gold medal game against the Americans after a nailbiter against a very good Slovakian team despite destroying the Russians just mere nights ago. I was among those slightly disappointed with Sidney Crosby for having a slightly disappointing tournament. But like all of our athletes, he and Team Canada rose to the occasion. They played their hearts out, played til they had nothing left. There’s nothing more we could ask of them.

The city erupted when we won that game…quite literally. I’m not kidding…there’s even a video taken from across the river downtown that proves my point. We let the world hear our pride. Despite some thinking we should maybe keep it down a bit, there was no way anyone was going to take anything away from the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

If that was a bit too long and you didn’t read, in short…thank you, Canadian athletes. We, your country, wanted you to be heroes. You…you were so much more. Thank you.

in Current Events,Entertainment,Photography,Tech and the Net

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Will March 2, 2010 at 3:57 am

damnit ed…great piece
HHH was awesome for sure, De Coronas rocked the house, but VanVelzen was the real highlight for me as with the “unknown” moments

and Crosby was disappointing but really, there wouldn’t be anybody else BUT Crosby to score what will be forever engraved into Canadian history. This moment in time, at exactly 2:58pm Vancouver Time is when the entire country jumped in unison and jumped again the moment we say Scotty leap onto the newly crowned Golden Boy

aside from hockey, Jon Montgomery did it for me as my favorite moment that doesnt include the hockey

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VicTse March 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

really well done Ed!!

HHH will be forever remembered, especially our “gold medal story.” There were so many great moments, and I’m surprised theres no mention of Canadian curling, Martin and company was just so dominate and watching the celebration when they won the gold was almost as good as when Men’s hockey won gold.

Overall the Olympics was awesome, I was always proud to be Canadian, but the Olympics made me uber proud, and theres no other feeling like it.

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Jenny N March 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

excellent summary!

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AJ March 6, 2010 at 1:58 am

Excellent, excellent write-up, my man. You’ve covered all the bases here, highlights to the highlight of our lives.

Like I’ve already said, we’ll be chasing the memories for the rest of our lives.

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DaveO March 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Stellar re-cap and wicked party pace you kept up throughout – hoping we can keep this vibe alive and keep the funtimes rolling. This Olympics was enhanced by our ability to spread the stories from the streets to the fans around the world – there was so much more to this event than made it on TV and because of fan coverage – millions more around the world could live vicariously through us from their couches – wherever they were. Could we have just one more week?

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Pcumming March 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Just so you know, I am one soccer mom who totally supports the womens hockey team. How can we praise John Montgomery for chugging beer on TV and criticize the hockey players? That demonstrates a total double standard & I think most women would see that.

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Chris March 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm

wow must have been awesome to be there and see and experience it all. Some great pics as well

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Darrell | Article Rewriter June 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Absolutely the highlight of the Olympics was seeing Iggy pass Sid the Kid for the winning goal. I was like fricken jumping up and down when the men’s team won the gold. I am proud to be a Canadian.

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