Finding our mojo where we’d least expect…
If you were expecting a blog to discuss the importance of the Canada vs Russia quarterfinal taking place tonight, you will be disappointed. I don’t think any of you need a blog to tell you how enormous this game is. That being said, maybe I can show you that there are other reasons to be a proud Canadian right now:
Earlier in these Games I suggested the pulse of this entire nation rests on our men’s hockey team.
While I’m positive there is some accuracy to this theory, I wonder if I may have overstated it. When I woke up Monday morning to realize the 5-3 loss to the U.S. had not been a terrible nightmare, I was deflated to say the least.
When I went downtown to reacquaint myself with the never-ending party, I noticed everyone else was wilted too and the regular commotion, which had been the cause of my 24/7-adrenaline rush, was reduced to a sombre march of depression.
A country had literally waited years to put on the performance of a lifetime but, instead of living up to the lofty expectations, was seemingly faltering at every turn. Other nations were starting to use the opportunity to make fun of us and it was beginning to irritate a lot of patriotic Canadians. But no matter how awful our performance in the overall medal count was, we knew if we could just win men’s hockey we could save face.
Then our dream team lost.
And just to make sure the sword reached our vital organs, they were defeated by the worst possible nation.
No offense to the Americans, who are producing more and more unbelievable talent every year, but they shouldn’t even sniff the podium in a tournament where Canada, Russia and Sweden send their best. If these teams played over the course of a season or played a seven-game series, I’m positive that would simply prove itself over time.
But in short events like this, when everyone has a potentially great goaltender and some guys who can put the puck in the net, absolutely anything can happen and it did. Our “best of all time” paled in comparison to their “best of right now” and the result was that ugly mess we all witnessed.
But, while I’m sure the rest of the country found ways to put those terrible thoughts in the back of their minds and go on with their Monday-morning lives, Vancouver is not exactly the most ideal place to pretend sports don’t exist. A buddy of mine had flown out to see this crazy place for himself and I was showing him around downtown but I felt horrible for him because the vibe was just not the same.
Before Sunday, you couldn’t walk a block without running into some type of Canadian celebration and not many minutes went by without hearing the faint sound of our anthem being sung off in the distance. All of a sudden on Monday, the crowds were single file and mundane, while the regular annoying sounds of downtown – sirens, horns and bus engines – is all that was evident.
With a full week to go in these Games, I felt very worried and wondered how this broken city would recover.
Enter Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
My buddy and I had made the most of our day as best we could and then decided to meet up with Peshaunquet Shognosh – my new Anishnaabe brother (that’s Ojibwe for Ojibwe by the way) – at the Aboriginal Pavilion for some drinks. We were all still talking about how much we hate hockey and pretty much sports in general when these two dancers hit the ice for their big moment.
Now I’m not going to sit here and lie to the world by saying I was on the edge of my seat or anything. Hell, to be perfectly honest I didn’t really pay any attention to them at all because I was feeling pessimistic and was awaiting the mistake that landed them in fourth position.
Then when their score came in showing them in top spot with only two pairs left, I had no choice but to make this my top priority. Especially since my friend back home, who is a guy’s guy in every way, was texting me his approval and excitement by the truckload.
Well, by the time the last pair received their score to solidify the home gold, needless to say I was right in it with him. The quietest room I had been in since arriving in Vancouver had turned into bedlam.
Everyone was cheering and singing and hugging and high-fiving. The news reached the people outside and the crowd went crazy. The masses sprung to life and began waving their flags again and bellowing out O Canada for all of the lower mainland to hear.
The party was back.
And it was reaching the rest of Canada too. I received a text from a grown man back home, who I’ll refrain from naming, that read something like “My God, I cry a lot. I mean it’s ice dancing for Christ’s sake.”
Now I’ve definitely told you all of some pretty moving moments throughout my trip so far and I’ve tried to show you what an emotional time it is to be a Canadian but this one really got me.
Here was this nation in turmoil because we were losing the sport, which matters most to us, at a time when we are under the world’s spotlight and receiving less-than rave reviews, and yet we were happy. Ecstatic in fact.
Our heads held high again and our egos were strong. We were back to the proud, colour-showing Canadians we are so lucky to be and we were standing in the face of those trying to tear us down and shouting, “We’re No. 1!” with everything we had.
In the wake of the toughest hockey loss in recent memory, we had found away to break through the pain and show the world we’re not so easily knocked down.
And we did it thanks to ice dancing.
God I love the Olympics.