There is much to ponder in the horse world right now, but I just have to talk about how much fun it is to live in the city where the Olympic Winter Games are taking place. No, I’m not joking. It really is a source of great pride among the populace. Of course it’s not pride for anything I or millions of Vancouverites and Canadians have actually done. No, I’m talking about that unearned swelling of the chest and tear ducts that feels so good, but is entirely based on luck of where we happened to be born. In my case, I guess I can take a tiny sliver of credit, since as soon as I finished high school and had a choice of homes I beelined it south to Vancouver from the horrendous cold and cultural black hole where I grew up in northern BC. But even that is pretty pathetic a claim to legitimacy compared to the REAL and EARNED pride of the athletes, the torch bearers and the organizers. Well, some of the organizers. I’m trying to ride the wave of emotion from watching the torch relay and opening ceremonies, and seeing not one but two gold medals come Canada’s way in the first few days alone. But I must admit it’s impossible to ignore the SNAFUs and bad luck that have become a trademark of these Games.
Prior to the tragic accident that killed the Georgian luger in training last week – before the Olympics had even begun – there had been only three athletes killed in Winter Olympic Games history. Not what you would call an auspicious start. I can’t even begin to imagine the courage it took other lugers to then hurtle down on their sleds, even on a slightly shortened course. Our troubles didn’t end with that fatal event, though. There was a little matter of erectile disfunction of the props during the lighting of the cauldron in the opening ceremonies. Thank goodness the Ozzie director was a quick thinker and went with plan B which he had to think up in the 30 or so agonizing seconds as four of Canada’s greatest athletes stood with torches in hand and waited with fading smiles for the giant arms of the cauldron to rise from the floor. Other than that the opening ceremonies were truly awesome – I suspect more so for those of us who call BC and Canada home, because the essence of who we are and where we live was so inspiringly represented. And what a finale to the evening: Wayne Gretzky’s ride in the back of a pick up in the pouring rain to light the outdoor cauldron was so quintissentially Canadian that the only thing that could have topped it would have been for the driver to be drinking Molson Canadian (this is not an endorsement for drinking and driving – I’m just saying). Perhaps the Aboriginal thing was a bit overdone and Karel May-esque, but heck – if it ensured that no one felt marginalized or forgotten, it was worth it and then some.
Speaking of Aboriginal, here is a true story about our torch relay experience last Thursday. In its final day before reaching the opening ceremonies, the torch went nearly past our back yard as it made its way to UBC with a detour to the Musqueam Reserve, just down the street from us. The Musqueam band is one of the wealthiest in Canada, thanks to the fact that they own some of Vancouver’s most desirable real estate. They are also what I guess you’d call the true host culture to these Games. So as my husband Jan, our wiener grande Chorizo and I waited for the big moment when the torch would pass, Jan did what he always does when he finds himself with two free hands: he lit a cigarette. A Native teenager on his way home bummed a smoke from Jan and as Jan lit it for him the young fellow complained about having to walk home from school because of the torch relay. So not everyone was feeling the love after all. The torch really did get around the country though. The publisher of this blog, Jennifer Anstey, snapped a photo of the torch as it made its way down her street in Ontario:
No, that is not Dan Ackroyd running beside the torch bearer. We sure could use some of that snow!
Some of the problems we are having are out of our control – things like the mildest winter on record, a severe shortage of snow exacerbated by torrential rains on the local mountains, and lousy visibility at Whistler. But a crapped out Zamboni at the speed skating oval? Our bad all the way. There is more than a pinch of irony in the fact that the greatest hockey loving nation on earth had to halt the competition for hours because there was no back up zamboni at the venue. It would be roughly equivalent to Andre Agassiz coming to play tennis with one racquet – and one ball. I haven’t been watching or listening to the Games today, so don’t know what further cock ups have come our way – but I have to admit the British media aren’t completely without basis in their shock and outrage at Vancouver’s hiccupy Olympics. At least our logo is cool – London’s looks like a swastika.
Oh well, the good thing is the sport show goes on regardless, providing sensory overload for millions of TV viewers. I’m going to keep enjoying the greatest athletic show ever to happen in my backyard, as well as some more of those unearned goose bumps of pride. But perhaps Ziggy would have been an appropriate mascot for Vancouver 2010. You remember – the Ziggy who appeared on greeting cards that catered to pessimists with captions like ‘it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black.’ Oh, yeah and just one other beef: if I hear Catriona Lemay Doan say ‘lactic acid’ one more time during the speed skating, I’ll scream. Oh oh oh one more. Our grammatically incorrect Olympic anthem with the chorus “I believe in the power of you and I.” ME! It’s ME not I! If you don’t get it just take out ‘you and’ like my highschool English teacher taught me.
In other news, the equestrian world continues to inspire creativity on the World Wide Web. My pal Mike Matson sent me something he thought might be of use in one of my freestyles. Take a look at this dressage rap and not-so-veiled reference to British supermodel turned dressage rider Katie Price:
And here is a link to a very fun (if anonymous – you know how I normally hate that) blog that makes my pokes at the FEI look like a feather’s tickle: