Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Come on, Canada!

Before I get too far into this, the following should be remembered: I love the Olympics.

Having said that, I have to say that from what I've seen from Canada this time around, I'm not impressed. I will admit that my viewings have been limited. I was in Tucson for 4 days this past weekend helping my parents move out of their 900 sq foot apartment into their 1300 sq foot PAID FOR house! So wonderful! Anyway, I arrived in Tucson on Friday afternoon and eagerly watched the Opening Ceremonies. We then got the move underway on Saturday and the new house did not have cable until Monday morning when we left to return to NM. So I basically hadn't seen any competition until I got back home last night.

I've been rooting for Canada as we've led up to the 21st Winter Olympics. Canada is such an incredible nation and invaluable ally to the United States. We share so much more than a long border. Canada does not get the credit it deserves either from the American public or on the international level. I wanted things to go off without a hitch so they could impress the world with their planning and creativity. I also wanted them to compete well, especially since during the two previous times that they had hosted the Olympics, they had never won the gold on their own turf. However, in the few short days since it all got started, the following has occurred in Vancouver (in descending order of negative severity):
  • Poor Weather - I know I can't hold Canadians responsible for this but it certainly isn't contributing positively to my opinion
  • Torch Lighting Snafu - As magical as the Opening Ceremonies were on Friday night, I think everyone felt so bad for Canada when, during the culminating moments of the event, there was trouble with the highly anticipated torch lighting. The reason this snafu isn't further down on my list is that the four torch lighters (of which one was my predicted Wayne Gretzky!) did improvise and the torch did indeed get lit. That doesn't change the fact, however, that the torch apparatus did have some technical difficulties, quite the embarrassment with a global audience. Bummer.
  • Richmond Olympic Oval Ice Surface Delay - On Monday, the men's speedskating 500 meter event was to be held in this venue but experienced a significant delay, thus throwing off many schedules, when the ice was in an unsatisfactory condition (read: sloppy mess). Nevermind the fact that that Olympic ice should be perfect at the time of an event. It should be no problem to quickly resurface it with a zamboni, right? If you agree, you'd be right except for the fact that the zamboni broke down. No problem again! There's a backup! Wrong! The backup broke. Don't worry...there's a third. Crap. It's broken too. How a city could build a $178 million venue and not be able to guarantee at least one working zamboni out of three is beyond me. Thankfully, they worked it out somehow, just not before suffering the disapproving glares of the world....and me. - Feb 17 Update: This happened AGAIN today!
  • Poor Design of Downhill Ski Run - During the women's downhill event, including the finals, numerous athletes fell, some while coming around a particular turn and some while attempting to land some course jumps. Falls are falls and they happen. But when that many falls occur, to the best in the world, it means the course was not designed well. This is further proved by the fact that before the next events at that site, the planning committe shortened the course to reduce skiers' speeds and lowered the final jump that so many women had fallen on. Not too little but definitely too late! - Feb 19 update
  • The Death of Georgian Luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili - It's a possibility that all athletes, especially those of high speed sports, have to keep in mind. A serious accident can result in severe injuries and, in the case of this young competitor, even death. 21-year-old Nodar was participating in a training run the morning of the Opening Ceremony and lost control when coming around the last turn. He flew off his sled, over the the wall and collided with an exposed steel support beam. It should be stated that the emergency team responded with impressive swiftness and he received excellent care after the accident. That doesn't make up, however, for the fact that the incident was most likely preventable. This is, of course, being debated right now. For months, many had been saying that the track had been built to be very dangerous. Some athletes have even admitted to being afraid of it. The steel support beam should also have been padded due to its proximity of the course. Olympic officials have now raised the height of the wall that Nodar flew over and padded those support beams. All lugers will also start each run from the women's start which makes the track shorter and should help keep speeds down. I only wish that such forethought could have occurred before losing the life of a young man before he even got a chance to officially compete on an Olympic level, every athlete's dream.
There's good news for Canada: it's only Day 4 as I write this. There's plenty of time for partial redemption. Between what I saw at the Opening Ceremony and yesterday when the first every Canadian gold was won on home soil, Canadians are showing impressive spirit. Here's hoping that it continues and that the rest of the Games foster a fair and competitive spirit, national pride for all, opportunities for athletic excellence, and above all, safety.

Like I said before, I love the Olympics.

Rest in peace Nodar Kumaritashvili, Olympian.

Keep It Real!

1 comment:

  1. Don't get discouraged; curling began today.

    But then if they screw that up, too, I swear there will be murders.