Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Sports Report

There is a large contingency of people from the Netherlands here to root for their formidable team of speed skaters. (It will take years to recover from the disqualification of Sven Kremer from the 10,000 meters.) They stay in hotels close to the Richmond Oval where the long track skating races are held because I don’t think they are very interested in any of the other events taking place. They turn out in all kinds of wonderful orange costumes and love to sing along with the Dutch ommpa band that plays during intermissions. I’m so glad they’re here, it’s such fun to attend the skating events with them.

The Russians have the best jackets around and seem so stern and exotic. They were very disappointed in the results of the ice dancing competition that Gene and I attended, I sensed that they felt their athletes were judged unfairly after hearing the reactions to the scores for the Russian teams.

But without a doubt, the most compelling story in Vancouver during these Olympic Games has been Team Canada and the hockey tournament. The Russians played Canada yesterday and it was all anyone talked about all day. There is a rivalry between the two teams because Russia beat Canada in the quarter- finals in the 2006 Olympics and then went on to win two World Championships. Gene and I were at a short track skating event and the hockey game was on the big screen between races so that the fans could keep track of the score. Now it’s on to the quarter-finals on Friday, the USA plays Finland and the Canadians play Slovakia.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver B.C.

What do you call someone who comes from the United States? Do you call them an American? When we visited Costa Rica people there called themselves American, they said we were North Americans. Now we are in Vancouver and North American seems to include Canadians. Belgians come from Belgium, the Dutch are from the Netherlands, and Argentineans are from Argentina. So what do you call people from the U.S.?

We’ve been in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics for a few days now and it is obvious to all that the Canadians are crazy about their Olympic athletes. They are wearing all kinds of Canadian branded sports gear; sweatshirts, hockey jerseys, gloves, hats, scarves, anything with the word “Canada” on it. We’ve been watching Team Canada play hockey in sports bars and the atmosphere is almost as electric as Super Bowl Sunday. Anytime the sports announcers mention a Canadian athlete winning a medal the crowds go wild. Even the foreign tourists are sporting the Canadian gear, shoot; I would wear one of those fabulous red Maple Leaf hats if I could find one.

We finally went to our first live event, curling, tonight and it was a blast. The evening began with a group of bagpipers leading the competing athletes into the arena. I thought we were going to have to stand for “O Canada” but I was wrong, the athletes went to their places and began their games without any further ado. Even though the Canadians are fanatically patriotic, that doesn’t seem to translate to the jingoism evident in U.S. sporting events. To me, it felt refreshing and civilized.