Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Truly Canadian Olympic Games Moment

I have been really enjoying the Winter Olympics.

To the point of distraction.

Staying up far too late watching skiing and ski jumping and moguls and snowboarding and half pipe and speed skating and figure skating and dance skating and …

.. and curling

.. and hockey.

The one point of these Vancouver games that I anticipated was "how would they light the Olympic Torch?" – that big mammoth glorified gas fireplace that sits above the city for all to see for the duration of the game – only to be snuffed at the end with the remainder of the flame shipped back to Greece to be stored like Lord Stanley's Cup.

"Where would they put it?", I wondered.

"Why up in the mountains – on Whistler –so high it would shine down on all like the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles", I answered myself.

You should worry when you answer your own questions – or so they tell me. Especially me. I am usually giving myself bad information.

But my answer made perfect sense - to me.

"So how would they light it?", I countered myself again.

Well let's see.

In Atlanta – they had Muhammad Ali light it. That was a wonderful scene – the great Ali in heroic fashion mastering his challenges to ignite the flame.

Moving - In true American style.

In Barcelona they had an Archer stand at the bottom of the great arena – and the last runner of the torch lit the end of the Archer's arrow – and he shot it up into the sky – landing in the center of the caldron – and igniting the Olympic flame!

Legendary – in true Spanish flare!

In Beijing – the entire upper wall of the arena depicted scenes from all across China – and a runner ran all the way around the huge electronic banner and lit the flame at the end.

Honorable – in true Chinese tradition.

So how would Canada do it?

"I know, they could have a ski jump above the torch, and a ski-jumper slide down the great ramp – floating as only a ski-jumper can – and land inside the torch to ignite the flame - but who would we sacrifice at these games? You couldn't survive that, could you?"

But Vancouver trumped my expectations.

Vancouver selected Wayne Gretzky – the Great One – old 99 himself – to be the lighter of the torch.

The Great One was selected above others such as Terry Fox's mother – the young man who ran across Canada after losing a leg to Cancer – to raise awareness of Cancer across our entire Country – only succumb to it before he could finish his quest.

He is truly our greatest Canadian ever.

If Terry Fox were still with us – I would hope he would have had the honor.

"So what would the Great One do? Light a hockey puck on fire and shoot it into the torch? That would be really cool."


Ya see, here is what they did.

They got a yellow pickup truck.

And they gave the Great One the torch – and they made him stand up in the back of the pick-up.

And then – in the pouring rainy mist that only Vancouver can muster year around – they made old ninety-nine hold that torch up and they drove him through downtown Vancouver – to the hidden location of the great Olympic Torch ...

(which weren't on no mountain at all - it was locked up tight downtown - so no one could snatch it)

... and they unlocked the gate so he could get in, and he walked over to the torch and lit it.


In true humble and modest Canadian fashion.

Oh my.

I kept waiting for the pick-up truck to pull into a Tim Horton's donut shop to get an extra large double-double for the trip – or maybe stop at the beer store to grab a two-four of Labatt's or Molson's.

The Olympic Beer Run tradition would have been started right here in Canada.

Now that's Canadiana, baby!

I do love my country so very much. And in a way – I do think The Great One's lift in the back of a pick-up was a fitting tribute to our mighty land of hosers.

Bob and Doug McKenzie would have been prouder than punch.

And we all have another wonderful Olympic memory.

So for all the wondrous - and disastrous – things that have happened in these 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada …

The lighting of the torch is still the highlight of the games to me.

I plan to talk about if for a long, long time.

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