I am grateful for hockey. Not a regular declaration on my part. I usually consider hockey a game of thugs putting more effort into harming one another than handling the puck, but on Sunday, after the Canadian women showed us fearlessly how to win gold, the Canadian men did the same.
I was alone in my basement cheering while Casey and Finnegan slept (obviously not hockey fans) and I stood and sang O Canada while our flag was raised. And I watched cheers from crowded bars and gathering areas across the country where Canadians were united in the glorious joy of victory. It was a lovely sight to see the high fives and the cheers and the hugs and the complete elation.
Having said that, my proudest moments during the Sochi Olympics were when our cross-country coach Justin Wadsworth ran out with a spare ski to help the Russian skier cross the finish line when his ski had broken and he wasn’t going to be able to finish the race. Or when our speed skater Gilmore Junio stepped aside to let his team-mate have a shot at a medal. Or watching the Canadian athletes cheer each other on in other disciplines. Those were the highlights for me.
I am always grateful for the grace required to accept the agony of defeat with a smile. I am grateful for Olympic rules that don’t allow for brutal hits from behind or fighting in hockey. I am grateful for a small country like Norway showing us all how its done with their brilliant showing that took them to second place in the medal standings. I am grateful for the sacrifices all athletes make to be the best versions of themselves no matter where they stand in the rankings when all is said and done.
And I will be grateful when the media coverage stops looking for apologies from those who don’t get gold when expected to, when the media doesn’t tell us at every opportunity that Sidney Crosby hadn’t scored a single goal until the last game. I will be grateful when the Olympic powers to be don’t look the other way when human rights violations are rampant in the host country.
But I am most proud of our beautiful Canadian flag that waved in the stands, and wrapped our athletes and flew high on many occasions. Lucky us to be Canadians, lucky us to have that maple leaf flying above us.