Those of us Vancouverites who haven’t been inconvenienced by traffic, road closures or the noise of tens of thousands of rejoicing maple-leaf clad Canadians are weeping into our Wheaties that the Olympics are over. Sure the Paras begin in a little while, and I have first hand experience through Para-dressage riders what an awe inspiring and just plain inspiring bunch they all are. But let’s face it. We just had the biggest party Canada has probably ever hosted, and even if some people aren’t physically hung over (though if you are one of my friends you probably are) they are almost certainly feeling the anti-climax that is not unlike arriving home after a horse show with nothing but cleaning the horse trailer to look forward to.
I am still dumbfounded that Canada’s Own the Podium program actually worked. And we did dominate the gold medals after all. Can you believe it? Especially those of you who think we all live in Igloos and get around by dog sled in the winter with nothing to entertain us at night but knitting wool socks by candle light? The space of time between Sidney Crosby’s sudden death goal and the end of the closing ceremonies will remain in my memory with a little golden halo of pure happiness around it. How could anyone be in a bad mood or get in a domestic dispute when your countrymen and women have just shown you how TOTALLY AWESOME it is to be able to say you know the words (well, some of them) to the same anthem? I know. I’m gushing sentimental mush all over my reputation as a cynic. But sheesh that was special. I’m not ashamed of being proud. I think most Canadians are over that little oxymoronic attitude, at least for now.
Things have of course continued to happen in horsey land. I’ve been told Ali Buchanan finally ran out of patience/steam/masochism and has resigned from DC’s new pyramid-scheme High Performance committee. I haven’t had verification from the horse’s mouth, but as his name no longer appears on the list of names on the DC site, I’m assuming it’s more than a rumour. And speaking of the list of names on the HP committee, it looks like a flashback to the last decade. The term ‘old guard’ comes to mind. They finally got around to naming a chef d’equipe for the WEG dressage team. You may or may not recall that the WEG criteria originally set a deadline of July 1 2009 to name the chef so that he or she would have ample time to prep for the (volunteer) position and all its attendant responsibilities. That date was stroked out and replaced, oh around July 2, with July 10 – a date that was subsequently also stroked out in red, with no replacement. It only took them another EIGHT months to appoint Gwynne Rooke, whom I believe had said way back last spring she’d be up for the role yet one more time. As for the scrum for team positions, things are proceeding at a pretty sedate pace. No one at last weekend’s CA CDI in Burbank made the magic 66%, though Wendy Christoff did get a 65% and change, which is countable as long as she also has scores of 67 or above to end up with a 66% average.
Things are ramping up for the eventers and jumpers too, with the Nations Cup in Welly World this weekend and the eventers galloping the mothballs off at horse trials in preparation for Rolex. We should see at least 6 Canadians run Rolex this year, which I for one will be watching on line – not on FEI TV of course but on the live streaming provided for us poor North American saps who last year thought our FEI TV subscriptions would include Rolex. We are in a black out zone for Rolex. Actually, I’m planning on letting my FEI TV membership become history when it expires this month. I can’t comment on the live World Cup dressage coverage because I’ve been either sleeping or working when the Western European League competitions have been going on – but they have got absolutely zero on demand footage of the shows which I, like other people from this side of the Atlantic would have greatly appreciated. I do not count interviews as coverage, FEI TV techies, and I seriously doubt anyone else does either. But I don’t think the FEI is going to be getting less Euro-centric any time soon. Case in point: the recent formation of the European Equestrian Federation – with none other than Germany’s Hanfried Haring as its president. Herr Haring also just happens to be on the FEI Board – you remember him, he was the one who supposedly witnessed atrocious things in Hong Kong and was implicated in the subsequent cover up. But HRH decided to put him back on the Board. Hm, Board of FEI, president of European Equestrian Federation. Can you say ‘conflict of interest’?
But back to happier times. Here are a couple of photos taken during that enchanting afternoon between the gold medal men’s hockey game and the closing ceremonies (yes, the giant beaver balloons were silly, but so are Canadians, even when we win medals). The reason Jan and I don’t appear together in one photo is because we only splurged on one team jacket at Costco.
Canadian team jacket: $99. Canadian flag patch for dog’s coat: $3. Getting to be a Canadian as Canada celebrates the greatest sporting event in the country’s history: priceless.