From February 12, 2010 to February 28, 2010 the City of Vancouver and the resort of Whistler was home to the biggest sporting event the world has to offer and those 17 days are filled with memories I will never be able to forget.  I would have to rank the 2010 Winter Olympics as one of the best experiences of my life.  The 3 things that made the games so memorable for me were the athletes, celebrating with family/friends/strangers, and the unity shown by a nation: O CANADA!  Each of these 3 things ties in with the other and I can’t express enough gratitude to all of the athletes from around the world (especially the Canadian ones, couldn’t be more proud) because without their dedication to training and competition I wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity to celebrate with those that I love and sing our national anthem with people I don’t know.

National Unity:  It is so very rare that such a large group of people can be brought together by one event, and the 2010 Olympics did just that.  Everywhere I looked there was someone wearing a team Canada Hockey jersey, a Canada toque, or a Canadian flag draped around their neck.  Every time I walked down the street I could find at least a dozen people to give a high five while chanting Go Canada Go.  As amazing as these things were they were nothing compared to hearing the National Anthem being sung again and again… and I am sorry for subjecting so many people to hearing me sing, I gave it my best (there is a reason why I choose athletics over arts).

Celebrations with Family/Friends/Strangers:  I watched Olympic events from a number of living rooms/bars/outdoor screens with my sister, my girlfriend, my best friends, and complete strangers.  I went and saw great Canadian artists perform.  I saw the Olympic torch and cauldron.  I took some Swedish guys out for a Molson Canadian.  I witnessed people flying over my head at Robson square.  I soaked in all that Granville street had to offer.  And none of it would have been the same if it wasn’t for so many great people!

Athletes:  It was the goal of the Canadian Olympic Committee to Own the Podium in 2010 and did our athletes ever deliver.  Alexandre Bilodeau eased the tension of a nation as we awaited our first Gold and then melted our hearts as he embraced his brother.  Mellisa Hollingsworth bore all of her emotions as she gave it her all sliding face first down an ice track and on the same ice track Jon Montgomery slid his way to one of the most exuberant Gold medal celebrations of the games (pitcher of beer included!).  That same course also brought Canadians a Gold, Silver and Bronze in the last few days of the games in Women’s and Men’s Bobsleigh.

Over at Pacific Coliseum there were some incredible moments had on the ice for Canadian Figure Skaters and Short Track Speed Skaters.  Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were electrifying and amazing.  Joannie Rochette’s performance can be summed up with one word: courageous.  Hamelin and St. Gelais earned Gold and Silver respectively and seeing them cheer for each other so enthusiastically was just as special.

Cypress Mountain didn’t disappoint in the medal haul for Canada as we saw Jeniffer Heil capture Canada’s first medal after watching her Gold slip away to an American skier who skied a flawless final run.  It was ok though Bilodeau made up for it the next night.  Ashleigh McIvor proved why she was the best ski-cross racer in the world as she cruised to a Gold medal and Jasey Jay Anderson finally clenched the only world title that has eluded him.  Even though Mike Robertson is from the prairies he showed he knows his way down the mountain going elbow to elbow with the pack to earn a Silver medal.

The 2006 Olympics in Turin belonged to the long track speed skating team, but the Richmond Olympic Oval proved to be a difficult place for team Canada athletes to pick up medals.  Although they didn’t match the performance in 2006 they still took home 2 Gold, 1 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals at the ROO.  Clara Hughes snagged another medal to add to her summer/winter Olympic medal tally in a tremendous effort that she claimed to be “pure excellence”.  It took the Canadian men’s speed skating team 16 days to capture their first and only medal and they did it  in complete unison as they crossed the finish line to beat the USA by 0.20 seconds to win the team pursuit event.

Hurry Hurry Hard!!!  Cheryl Bernard’s rink was a shot way from claiming Gold, but had to settle for Silver.  Then the following day Kevin Martin, of Edmonton, and his team continued to dominate men’s curling by winning Gold and finishing the Olympics without a blemish on their record.

Finally over at Canada Hockey Place Canada proved to be the dominant force in both Women’s and Men’s Ice Hockey.  The Canadian women proved to be the class of the tournament as they earned their Gold medal by setting a new goals scored record and only allowing 2 goals against.  The Canadian men didn’t take quite the same path to the Gold medal as the women but did they ever do it in dramatic fashion with a shootout win over the Swiss, a loss to the US in the round robin, a decisive victory over the Russians, and an Overtime thriller against the US which saw Sid the Kid score the biggest goal I have ever witnessed.

These past 17 days have provided me with memories that will last a lifetime and inspirational tales to tell for decades to come.  Next time you are thinking of skipping out on a workout think of Sid the Kid going hard to the net, Bilodeau hugging his brother, Montgomery jumping on top of the podium, and Joannie Rochette meeting adversity head on, then decide if you really want to miss a workout.

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

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