Les Jeux d'Hiver/The Winter Games

I'm compelled to write down a few thoughts about the past 17 days as I have been immersing myself in the Winter Olympics much more than I have in any previous Games. Thanks to Shaw for offering a sweet deal on cable just before the Olympics started. Some highlights:

FIGURE SKATING: I very nearly decided to become a figure skater after watching Shen Xue Zhao Hongbo fly with such power and finesse. Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue gave me goosebumps too when they took gold and more so when I learned they had been skating together since elementary school.

BOBSLED: Canadian women took both gold and silver in their event and then we took bronze in the 4-man. There was a picture in the paper today with one of the bronze medalists without his shirt on and you'd think he was a power lifter.

SKELETON: Jon Montgomery rocks - an auctioneer from rural Manitoba decides that he wants to go the Olympics and so he moves to Calgary and does the skeleton and wins the gold medal! I was pretty choked that Melissa Hollingsworth bombed the event as she was favoured to win Gold. I teach her cousin and she was pretty choked too.

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING: Those short track races are crazy awesome and I don't get it one single bit. The Korean skaters were ruthless, great skaters, but ruthless. One race, the men's 1000 m final, there were five competitors and two of them were Canadian. I thought, "well, we've got to get at least one, right?" The odds were pretty good. The Hamelin brothers got 4th and 5th in that race. Pretty disappointing. It was the only day Canada didn't win a medal too. They redeemed themselves later on in the relay by winning Gold (the older one picked up another Gold too).

SPEED SKATING: Those thighs! Mercy! And Stephen Colbert was dynamite! "Thigh Five!"

FREESTYLE SKIING and SNOWBOARDING: Qu├ębecois Alex Bilodeau dominated the moguls for Canada's first gold of the games. The fact that he had his older brother who has cerebral palsy cheering him on was pretty sweet. The ski-cross races were akin to the short track races, except with a bit more elbow room: very exciting! Canada snagged some golds there too.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Despite the heartbreaking finish of Devon Kershaw in the 50 km race (he finished fifth, 1.6 seconds behind gold). His interview after the race almost made me cry. 2 hours of hard racing and nothing to show for it. It was tough to see Norway's Marit Bjoergen win her third Olympic silver too.

CURLING: Well, I watched more than what a sane person should watch of curling over these two weeks. I have to say, Canadians can curl! The women's final between Sweden and Canada did not turn out well. Skip Cheryl Bernard made serious errors ends 2, 10 and 11 which cost them the gold. Kevin Martin's crew won 11 games in a row for gold.

HOCKEY: Two gold for Canada. Two silver for United States. Two bronze for Finland. I think it worked out nicely, though the Slovakian team deserved a medal - they had the most heart out there. My sister got to watch the women's final live with her husband. Punks. Canadian men's team delivered some great games, but way too close to the edge for me. My pastor preached on the Canadian Men's Hockey Team and even made it onto CBC's The National on Feb 24. This is his article in the Vancouver Sun.

The Own the Podium slogan rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, I want Canada to win medals, but ultimately, it's the country who puts the most money into its athletes that will win. I didn't see Kazakhstan and other former soviet republics dominating (if you put all the former soviet republics together, they still won only 21 medals when they used to dominate the games under the USSR). I'd love to see a greater camaraderie between nations in helping less fortunate athletes train and work with better equipment - a more equal playing field so to speak. I appreciate that we've never dominated an Olympic games before, so it's fair that it was our turn.

I was amazed at how fast Wikipedia updated after events were won and at the speed times and scores were posted online as they were posted live on TV.

Overall, I think it was the best Olympics I've ever watched.