Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Vancouver Olympics and the Canadian Character

The Three Rivers Hockey Team 1902. Hugh Blair of Flo in the City, my novel based on the letters of left.

In my last blog I wrote that I felt the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony was a bit too brash on the part of Canadians. Too "Ra Ra We're Great." Too chauvinistic. Too American-style. I wasn't sure why I felt that, perhaps because of the death of the Georgian luger earlier in the day and the fact the shocking manner of his death had etched itself into my memory. (Or perhaps because I am a mother and my son is 21.) It seemed to me that if you invite the world to a big party you don't go on and on about how great you are.

Well, our cocky "Own the Podium" slogan seems to be backfired a bit with this luge tragedy. The Guardian in the UK wrote a nasty front page article, suggesting Canada's desire to 'own the podium' was not becoming a host nation at the Olympics, impolite and, perhaps, even the cause of this death. Canada Under Fire for Luge Death

I believe that putting the blame for the death directly on the luger was a big mistake made by our officials - as well as a cop out, designed for short term gain (by lawyers) but destined to bring long term pain and perhaps a nasty legacy for these Olympics.

Why else do we watch the Olympics, but to see, on occasion, the little guy. from, say, a former Soviet territory, win? In the past, our team was made up of 'little guys' and underdogs. The Soviets and the US had all the robo-gladiators. And we loved when they failed, didn't we, just because they were so damned cocky.

Anyway, here is a bit out ice-skating from a 1909 magazine. The Nicholson women did their winter dating on the ice rink. Skating is, indeed, a very Canadian pastime. Read Marion's 1908 dating diary, from Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Excerpt from The New Skating, Youth's Companion Magazine, November 1909.

"Skating includes speed skating and hockey, thoroughly commendable ice sports, skilful, lung-filling eye hand and leg training sports, absorbingly attractive to young America, who loves a game, loves competition, that can be tangibly and fairly measured, loves to 'get there' before somebody else. But you do not dance 'to get there' and dancing too has its attractions for some. Few girls can play hockey; all boys do not wish to; and no boy or girl can both play hockey and skate gracefully on the same flat hockey skates. Besides, exclusive or preponderant indulgence in hockey tends to dull the sense for good form and incapacitates graceful movements. Finally, many skating clubs do not allow for hockey playing at all."