We ARE More
February 13, 2010 7 Comments
Where does one start? It’s all too surreal honestly.
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster… with plenty of highs and lows.
So to get the worst out of the way…
I was on my way to work yesterday to the Athletes Village when the Georgia luger/Olympian crashed and was killed during practice at Whistler Sliding Centre. I couldn’t understand why – from the time I left my apartment, where the city was abuzz with excitement to … the grim feeling upon entering the Village. It was eerie.
It didn’t take long before I understood why the office was filled with Georgian delegates and the IOC was in a mad rush. All sporting devastated looks. This is TRAGIC. Beyond words. Yes. There have been deaths at the Olympics before. But not since 1992 has there been one at a Winter Olympics.
You quickly learn that with athletes – while they are all competing for their respective countries for excellence and gold – when in the village – they are all one. EVERYONE felt the loss. Flowers came flooding in for the Georgian Olympic family. Delegations Chef de Mission sharing their sadness and condolences because – it could be any one of them and theirs. They were all one family. Reality could be seen on everyone’s faces.
It broke my heart to see John Furlong trying to keep it together. It was heart-wrenching for me. And while the Games must go on… the honour they gave our lost comrade was beautiful and fitting at the Opening Ceremonies – the respect they gave to the Georgian Olympic team showed we all felt the loss.
The reality is… it was human error, not course error that led to this young man’s death. True – make no doubt about it… this is the hardest and most challenging AND the fastest course ever made for the sport. 12 wrecks have happened in training so far – but to have some go over the wall like that is RARE. The track is built within regulation. In light of the loss, extra precautions have been made to the course… but I can’t help but note: when plummeting down an ICE hill with curves, twists on your back – albeit a mad mad rush – if you loose control over your sled – chances are, the damages to your body will be deadly, if not irreversible. I admire the sport. But I wouldn’t dare try it. This isn’t like when we were kids sliding down our wintery slopes on crazy carpets!!! Far from it.
I can just imagine how such a tragedy will impact the rest of the lugers competing. How such loss will be hard to shake off and focus, especially at the point of impact. I only pray that this is the only loss we have during the Games. One – is already too much.
Another less than stellar moment… was as I call it – the hydraulic ‘wardrobe malfunction’ that meant one of the strange looking cauldron’s didn’t get light. I will admit… I do not like the cauldron thing they had. I couldn’t help but wonder if the designer of it smoked pot. The damn things looked like a bunch of dubbies coming out of the floor to be lite up. Perhaps appropriate for this hippie province full of pot smokers… but damn. Really? And then they made a replica of the cauldron that was light up by the great Wayne Gretzky in honour of Jack Poole, who led the way and the bid for the Olympics here in Vancouver. Do we really want to honour the man with a bunch of doobs? Meh… who knows?
And then there are the PROTESTERS. Oh god. About 200 protesters decided that since they couldn’t stop the Opening Ceremonies and perhaps didn’t get the coverage they felt they deserved… decided to take their protest to the downtown core. Fine and dandy. Free speech and all that democratic bullshit they are entitled too… until: they started to destroy cars, transit buses, businesses and intimidating pedestrians. All to intice the police. They WANT to be able to say the police were violent with them. They want to be able to blame VANOC and Vancouver for what they feel is a police state. Nothing to do with what they are actually protesting. Hey – my take is this: protest all you want. Break the law, vandalize and bully non-protesters – you fuckers deserve to get your asses thrown in jail. And for the record: no protesters were hurt in the clashes with the police. No. But our police however, several of them were injured by the shit they’ve had thrown at them. Yeah. Brilliant. Earlier in the day – they also forced the Torch Relay to detour from its scheduled route… taking away our opportunity to salute and honour our Vetrans, who gracefully stood outside in the rain, at a memorial, waiting fort their turn with the torch. That was just wrong. On all levels. You could hear them on TV newscasts claiming victory for that. Pathetic.
But on the flip side… because there is always a flip side to everything…
The Opening Ceremonies were perfectly – Canadian. True. Far from flashy events seen in the US or even Beijing. But we aren’t … flashy! It was subdued and graceful. It had its moments of brilliance (and not so brilliant moments…. True…. But hey… That’s Canada!). Seeing the whales blown water and the Sacred Groves scene made me shed tears. K.D. Lang sang perhaps my most favourite song of all time, and a Canadian song to boot – Hallelujah (The link isn’t that of the Opening Ceremony performance but this is still her version of it… breathtaking – it brings tears to my eyes all the time). I’ve loved her rendition of the song for a very long time and when she sang it… all I could do what hold my breath… and waited to exhale… Sheer beauty. Watching the building erupt when team Canada entered – exhilarating. All of us watching it from the Village, burst into applause, cheer and some tears. And I will admit it – the Americans… looked pretty spiffy in their Ralf Lauren gear. I had the privilege to take their picture before they jumped on the bus to the Opening Ceremony and they were electrified.
Funny during the dress rehearsal… I kept my cousin in giggles as they had the stand ins’ walk the country flags around the stage. All I could do was relate each flag to the food and drinks I’ve had in my lifetime!
MEXICO – thank you for guacamole, mole and salsa…
PORTUGAL – thank you for the sausages, buns and GREAT wine…
RUSSIA – thank you for the vodka…
ITALY & GREECE – oh well shit now… just THANK YOU for it all!!!
And the night went on like that… until all countries had entered and we had an 80 course meal pass in front of us.
But perhaps my most favourite moment – and there were many – was the spoken word portion of the event that told the world what we Canadians are about. More that the sum totals of our history. Thank you Shane Koyczan.
Now I know many didn’t care for the arrangement of our great national anthem. Sigh. I’m torn. She sang it beautifully. Some say it’s an embarrassment. I don’t know. I wouldn’t as far as saying that. Certainly not a highlight but you know… I won’t diss it. I simply can’t.
Oh and I called it amongst the co-workers. I predicted the Great One (NO – NOT OBAMA) would light the final cauldron… and true enough… driven thru the Vancouver rain (poor guy) in the back of an open truck… the guy struggled to hold on a few times… but Wayne Gretzky did indeed… light the wierd looking doobie cauldron.
Walking around in Raincouver… people are FINALLY spirited. National pride has FINALLY taken over our city, our province, something that the rest of Canada has known for a while now. People are stopping me and wanting to talk to me when I am in uniform. They want to show me they know facts about the Games… or how their neighbours third cousin is a volunteer and do I know them??!! It’s cute. I’ve played tour guide in a city that I don’t know my way around still. I’ve been an ambassador to my town, my city, my province and country. Been thanked profusely as well. Taken random strangers pictures for them so they can have proof THEY WERE THERE!!
My heart is full of pride and love. And yet it is all very bittersweet. Surreal honestly. I feel oddly fragile and strong at the same time. I guess at the end of the day, I feel – Canadian. And it is a very proud time to be Canadian.