Olympics Day 17 – Oh Canada, what an ending!
A day unlike anything I’ve ever lived through, or am ever likely to again. February 28th, 2010 will be a day, a memory, that I carry with me for the rest of my life, and I know I’m not alone. Millions of Canadians, and billions of people around the world will have memories of today and that is a wonderful and stunning thing. Alright, from the beginning, since that would be logical and if I don’t let logic guide me tonight then all that will result is tears and they don’t show up so well on the internet.
The morning was simple. We had breakfast at home (potato pancakes… mmm…) and then tried to go to a pub to watch the game. But it was already 11:30am and the pub we wanted to go to was full, and so was the False Creek Yacht Club and Nu! So we decided not to fight it and just watch the Canada-USA men’s Gold Medal Ice Hockey game from home. And what a game! Canada came out strong and went up 2-0 but the Americans fought back and tied it in the last minute of play in the third, sending us to overtime! It was tense, stressful, approaching traumatizing even, but then Sidney Crosby scored in overtime and won Canada the Gold Medal!
Where were you when the goal was scored? Where you somewhere that the world erupted around you?
I was at home with family and friends and we went wild, but we certainly not the only ones. The city cheered all at once. I could hear it, literally. If I stayed quiet for just a few seconds I could hear boats, voices, whistles and horns all cheer for Canada. And as fantastic as it was to hear the whole city (and I really suspect, the whole country) raise its voice all at once it was more amazing to understand how long this went for. Actually, without exaggerating, it is now at least 6 hours after the Gold Medal Game ended and I can still hear people cheering (and I’m writing from the pantry!). It is loud and obvious that in this city, this region, this country – we are proud! We are patriotic and for the first time in my memory (and I’m assured by others, their memory) that Canada has had such an outpouring of pride and elation. It is simply amazing.
And as good as winning the Gold Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey was we then had to get ourselves to BC Place to watch the Closing Ceremonies. Yes, I got to go, along with my Mom, Jo-Anne and Justin. Just the walk over was a treat. People were randomly high-fiving in the streets. There was singing, cheering, hooting and hollering. There were smiles everywhere and excitement. And there were a lot of people heading to BC Place so it was pretty wonderful.
We quickly got through security at the stadium and had to head straight into our seats to make sure we didn’t miss any of the audience participation training. We got suited up, taught how to use our props and as much as I wasn’t ready for the Olympics to end I was looking forward to the show. And what a show it was!
It started simply, by poking fun at our own errors, as Canadians so often do. A Cirque du Soleil clown emerged from the floor by the three standing legs of the Cauldron, he looked around, wandered over to where the fourth leg should be and plugged in the power so the fourth leg would rise to join the Cauldron finally. The Cauldron in BC Place wasn’t lit at this point (they couldn’t keep it going during the Games as it likely would have taken the roof off the place before they were ready for it) but then Catriona Le May Doan got her chance to light the whole Cauldron, after missing out on her leg during the Opening Ceremonies. It was fantastic!
Everything happened so fast but each moment also seemed like a lifetime. We sang ‘O Canada’ as our flag was raised. We watched as the flags of all of the nations that competed entered the stadium, and then the athletes, all mixed together, no longer separated by country. We watched as the Medallists in the Men’s 50km Cross-Country race got their Medals (what a Victory Ceremony for them!). We thanked the athletes, the volunteers and the Host region for their hard work, fair play and excitement. And then the Olympic Flag was lowered, and passed on to Sochi, and then it was their turn for a show…
They had the symphony playing in Moscow at 5:30 in the morning so that they were participating live with us in Vancouver. There were ballerinas, glowing people in large plastic bouncy balls, fireworks and welcomes. Sochi made sure that we all know that we are invited to join them in 2014 and they did a beautiful job of it.
Speeches came next, John Furlong was funny and inspiring, as he has been all along. And then the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, declared the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics closed, as we all knew had to happen, but I cried and boo-ed along with the rest of the crowd. I was not the only one not ready to have the Olympics end. The Cauldron went out, and the Olympic Flame ended its time in Vancouver. I’m crying now just thinking of it. I guess I’m still not ready.
As sad as the ending of the Games is, the show, the party that we put on to celebrate the Closing continued to be wonderful, and for me at least, hit spectacular! ‘I am Canadian’ – Catherine O’Hara, William Shatner and Michael J. Fox spoke to us on how they are Canadian (sorry, I won’t recount it all here but it involved making love in canoes and reaching the final frontier, sorry). And then the ‘Made in Canada’ started, with giant Mounties and table hockey players (with Gold Medals around their necks), beavers and moose. There were dancing voyageurs in canoes, lumberjacks, Mounties, hockey players and maple leafs. Michael Buble sang ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ from the top of a giant Mountie hat. It was spectacular and over the top and frickin’ hilarious! The evening ended with a concert including artists like Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, and Alanis Morissette. Fireworks closed the show, both inside and out (I’ve yet to see all of what happened outside of BC Place but what I did see looked magnificent!). And then it was time to come home.
The crowds were still jubilant on our way out. There were still cheers, and whistles and high-fives on the streets. From a distance we saw the last of the fireworks at LiveCity Yaletown. I’m so happy that the Closing Ceremonies were such a party or I would be nothing but morose, instead I am a bit melancholy but mostly I am proud. I am proud of what we offered the world with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I am proud at how wonderful everything was. I am proud to be Canadian.
And I am proud to be writing about and volunteering at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. I hope you’ll join me and cheer on our athletes, athletes from all over the world. Thank you merci to all of you that read my posts. It’s been wonderful to have you share this journey. And though part of the journey is done… there is still more to come.