I guess it would be accurate to say that I did not “believe.”
Prior to the arrival of the Olympics in Vancouver, those two weeks seemed offer nothing but time off from school and headline controversy after controversy.
However, the patriotism and enthusiasm for the games intoxicated the streets of Vancouver, and soon left every television set in Canadian homes was blasting the events of the Winter Olympics.
Prior to the infectious excitement, the cynic in me grumbled about the approaching Olympics, VANOC and the focus the games took away from our city’s rising issues.
I am not an overly-vocal sports fan, or even a very patriotic Canadian. I don’t have a Canada flag on my house or on my car. Truth to be told, I have never even had the interest to travel in my own country.
I don’t think I was alone in this.
But, as soon as the Olympic Winter Games sparked its first flame, practically in my own backyard, I couldn’t help but reach for the remote and religiously follow the events of the games.
Cheering for Canada on my couch, and even shedding a tear when Joannie Rochette won the bronze for figure skating, I felt a substantial swell of pride to be Canadian.
The overwhelming excitement has led me to come to the conclusion about what the games are really about: getting people to believe in the success of our country and our athletes.
As a viewer, the Olympic hype was no longer hyperbolized, but it was accentuated in heart-warming footage of a medal-winning Canadian athlete, finally achieving a life goal.
The Games brought thousands of people into the Vancouver’s streets to cheer for our team, and our athletes, infectiously spreading enthusiasm, and gratitude for Canada.
Canadians are renowned for being subtly patriotic.
But the experience, I think, of having such a successful games, held in the beautiful city of Vancouver, brought out the pride in our country in even the most reluctant.
Bars, homes and streets erupted into cheers and hugs when Sidney Crosby scored the gold medal goal.
But the Olympic games were not just about hockey. They were about bringing nations together while supporting their own countries.
Walking the streets of downtown Vancouver, that world was walking the same streets. Turning to the left and right, you would see a different country every time.
The glowing heart; of our national anthem could be seen everywhere, it was about national pride: wearing the red and white, or painting the maple leaf on our faces, waving the flag as high as we could for everyone to see, and singing the national anthem any time we could.
The Olympics were also about standing in lines with smiles on our faces, patiently waiting to get into Heineken House or Irish House or anywhere else there was a line. Some people even waited six hours for the 30 seconds of pure joy on the zip-line above Robson Square.
Out of all visiting countries, the Netherland and Russia took home the gold for visiting country team spirit. Waving flags, dressing head to toe in bright orange, they wanted to take pictures with every person they met.
Language barriers were no problem. Adrenaline-high on the rush of the games, everyone seemed to be saying the same thing: Let’s have a good time.
Waiting in line for over two hours to get into the Irish House seemed like 15 minutes, chatting with the Dutch in their bright orange sweaters and wigs, and taking pictures with all the new friends made. After getting inside, we shared a beer with every single person we met in the line.
The Olympic games brought the world together in a way that no one cared if the person beside them was from the United States or from China. It was about people having a good time and enjoying themselves while watching their country compete on the world’s largest stage.
When the 2010 Olympic Winter Games first came to Vancouver, my attitude towards the Olympics could be summed up in one word: indifferent.
I was cynical and skeptical about the games because there were a lot of unknowns. How much money was being spent on the Olympics? What would happen to the poor and destitute in Vancouver during and after the Olympics?
But, even with my skepticism, I wanted to support the athletes of Team Canada.
I love winter sports, especially hockey.
So with my conflicting feelings about the Olympics, Team Canada hockey jersies and Vancouver 2010 cowbells, I headed for Hong Kong for some much needed rest and relaxation.
More than 10,000 km away, I was sure I’d be insulated from the Olympics and my indifference would be kept intact.
How wrong I was.
I watched Canada win its first gold medal on home soil live and it gave me a sense of Canadian pride that I have never really felt before.
I returned home the day before the big gold medal hockey game and, immediately, I could feel the energy in the city.
The overtime goal by Sidney Crosby was probably the defining moment of the Olympics for me and probably for most of Canada.
Following the goal, CTV showed the reaction of the goal from across Canada: from Robson Street in downtown Vancouver to Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia to Yonge Street in downtown Toronto.
It was amazing to see what everyone had been talking about in the news for the past few days, how the Olympics had united the country and how proud we all were to be Canadian.
Now that the Olympics are over, I hope that that the wave of patriotism that has swept this country will continue indefinitely.
If nothing else, I’m sure we’ll find a Canadian way to express ourselves. The Olympics showed the world a side of Canada perhaps they have never seen before.
It gave Canadians an outlet to show the world what we are capable of and how awesome Canadians are.
Red spray paint, broken glass, long lineups and one dead.
There’s no question, as the city erupted into a magnificent state of chaos and high fives, the Olympic experience manifested from day one with the ferocity of a thousand hippos.
The past two weeks in Vancouver have been a wild demonstration of unfettered patriotism and drunken delight — oh yeah, and of superior athletic performance.
For the first time ever, I have witnessed people from across Canada truly unite under the influence of two colours and one flag.
For those two Olympic weeks, nothing else seemed to matter. As long as you were drinking beer and cheering for Canada, you belonged.
By day three, I’d lost my credit card, partied with a millionaire, wore a beer tray on my head at the Heineken House courtesy of a Dutch bartender, slept on a bathroom floor, missed a day of work, witnessed an Olympic protest and pondered the merits of fascism.
Strangely enough, I wasn’t sure how it all fit together.
What was the Olympic dream?
In the second week, when America defeated Canada in game two of men’s hockey, a fleeting wave of panic rolled over the red-and-white homeland, like a realization that its national identity could indeed be mortal.
But it was a divine fallacy solved by fate and Sydney Crosby in the gold medal game between the two rival teams.
The universe can be enigmatic sometimes, but it never lies.
The gold medal in men’s 2010 Olympic hockey is the answer and solution to any existential question or identity crisis any Canadian with a hangover may have.
At least for the next four years.
Now I truly know what Canada is all about.
The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver turned out to be about much more than sports. It was about national pride.
In all of my 18 years living in Vancouver, I have never experienced such Canadian patriotism. And quite simply, I loved it.
Walk down the streets of Vancouver and you were bombarded with Canadian patriotism. Strangers in bright red jerseys and red woolen mittens gave out high fives and hugs simply because they were Canadian and proud of it. That, or the fact that they were drunk out of their minds: one or the other.
Canadians have been criticized for not having an identity, and therefore not really having a sense of patriotism. But in the two weeks of the Olympics, I learned what being a Canadian means.
It means hockey.
I knew it was important to Canadians before the Olympics, but now I know why. It’s our game. And really, it’s not just a game, but rather a competition of cultures.
You could tell whether we won or lost a game just by walking outside. There was a dark cloud hanging over the country when we lost to the U.S. in the quarter finals, and the most insane, positive energy when we won our gold medal against the U.S.
It also means music.
In the two weeks of the Olympics, I became proud of Canadian music. Seeing incredible acts like Sam Roberts, Arkells, Dan Mangan, We Are the City and Marianas Trench, made me realize what talented Canadian artists we have in our country.
It is about feeling Canadian.
Many times before Vancouver 2010, I think Canadians sometimes looked for inspiration and identification through other countries. Now we know why we don’t have to.
It may sound like I’m dramatizing the importance of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but something great happened in those two weeks.
The country came together, and we got re-energized, re-inspired, re-introduced to Canada.
I can confidently say that I now know what Canada is all about. And I love it!
For the past two weeks Vancouver has been host to one of the largest parties in the world, and now with the Olympic high over, and the screaming and the frenzy and the painted faces and the flag capes moving out, the hangover is just beginning to settle in.
Finally, there is a moment to breathe, and a moment to take in this historic moment that we all just witnessed.
It was a whole new level of Canadianism.
How the hell did we manage to do this?
Credit the Own The Podium campaign or VANOC and the IOC, but the single greatest reason for Vancouver’s massive success was the local people.
No one forced thousands upon thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets of downtown to embrace the Olympic Games — we chose to do that.
There wasn’t any memo in the VANOC guide that said we were required to high five every stranger we passed by. Or to walk around with “free hugs” signs and maple leafs plastered on every inch of our bodies — we chose to do that, too.
It seems that for the first time in decades, Canadians have rallied together in a strong patriotism and Vancouver became electric.
What else could harness people to burst out into the national anthem on the platform of a SkyTrain station at one in the morning? Or cause a group of Dutch visitors in bright orange jackets and hats to join in, humming the tune?
Of all the medals won, records broken and hardships overcome, it was that unexpected thrilling Olympic fever that really made the 2010 Winter Games what they were.
The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic games were two weeks of fun and excitement, as well as memories to last a lifetime.
The defining moment of the Vancouver Winter Olympic happened Sunday just after 3 p.m. Pacific time. The immense pressure and expectations were fulfilled as the next great Canadian hero, Sidney Crosby, scored a goal 7:40 into overtime to win the gold medal game in men’s hockey.
To put it bluntly, if Team Canada had lost to the United States, many people across the country would have considered the games an epic failure.
Would the games have been a failure, though?
As I was watching the events on television, I couldn’t help feeling inspired by our Canadian athletes.
So yes, I would have been incredibly disappointed if Canada had lost Sunday, but I wouldn’t have remain inspired by the performances of the rest of our athletes.
There was Joanne Rochette skating in the women’s short program and winning a bronze medal two days after her mom died of a heart attack; Alex Bilodeau winning the first gold medal for a Canadian on Canadian soil while his older brother Fredric, who suffers from cerebral palsy, cheered him on; and Kevin Martin and the men’s curling team banishing the demons of eight years ago in Salt Lake by finally winning gold in men’s curling.
Sure, I’ll remember where I was when Sidney Crosby scored “the goal,” because for my generation that is our Paul Henderson moment. And I am a hockey fan after all.
But I will also be able to recall where I was when Bilodeau was presented his gold medal and O Canada was played for the first time on Canadian soil at the Olympics.
Or what I was doing when I found out that Clara Hughes won a bronze medal in her final Olympic race ever.
The Olympic Games gave me the opportunity to witness great acts of patriotism as well as a newfound respect for what our amateur athletes go through to win for our great country.
From coast to coast to coast, Canadians are feeling a little more national pride after the closing of the 2010 games.
I have to admit, I was rather reluctant to jump on the Olympic bandwagon in the build-up to the games.
I tended to side with the voices that were calling for more social housing over the cheers to spend millions on the games.
And let’s be honest: once the games started they didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Lack of snow, poor weather, the tragic death of the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili and the technical difficulties at the opening ceremonies did nothing for my enthusiasm towards the games.
The protest, which turned to a riot on Feb. 13, beckoned my journalistic side to venture downtown. Arriving post-riot, I was quickly drawn into the massive celebration of the games and Canada.
Vancouver was transformed into a truly global village, people flooded the streets from all over the world.
It would have been hard to not get excited.
As Canada’s medal count rose and the gold medal men’s hockey game drew closer, the patriotism and energy in the city was undeniable.
I was an Olympic convert. I cheered for Canadians during every event I watched. I even got excited about figure skating and totally stoked on curling. When Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime during the men’s gold medal game I could hardly contain my pride.
We had won our most coveted prize and Canada was on top.
The Olympics brought passion to Canada, which is something I think we have been missing. They brought pride in our athletes and our identity. They showed the world what Canada is really like and topped it all off with a healthy dose of the self-deprecating humour that we are so famous for.
Maybe the Olympics have succeeded in bringing the world to our country.
The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games were a shining, golden success in every sense of the word.
They may have started off with their share of problems but a strong finish by Canadian athletes, especially the men’s hockey team, has given Canadians across the country something to be proud of.
We always knew we loved our country, but it was never more apparent than the 17 days that the Olympics were in Vancouver.
The lasting affect of the games has permeated the core of all Canadians.
It wasn’t just Alexandre Bilodeau winning Canada’s first gold medal on home soil.
It wasn’t just Joannie Rochette’s courageous performance just days after the passing of her mother.
It wasn’t just the Canadian men’s hockey team winning gold over the United States.
It was all those things and more.
The city of Vancouver, and the country as a whole, was alive with Canadian patriotism for 17 days and I was lucky enough to be part of it for a few of them.
Sunday’s hockey win may have been the crowning moment of the games.
Hockey is part of our national identity and winning the gold meant so much to us.
Sitting in a restaurant downtown Sunday, as Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner and the streets flooded with Canadian fans, was surreal.
It wasn’t limited to downtown, either.
It stretched from sea to sea, Vancouver, British Columbia to Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and united a nation.
Whatever your opinion was before the Olympics began, they have no doubt changed.
I hope, the Olympics have started a trend where Canadians can show the same kind of patriotism that Americans do all the time, rather than hiding it away bashfully for fear of being likened to the United States.
Thanks world for coming, but we would like some time alone with our gold medals now.
What just happened?
The long-awaited creation and permanent entrenchment of an accurate and patriotic Canadian identity is what just happened.
The 17 days of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games achieved what 142 years of being a country could not: a sense of belonging among Canadians, a connection between east and west and most importantly, a clear definition of what and who Canada is.
As I got carried away in seas of red and white Cowichan sweaters that clogged up the streets of Vancouver every day I ventured downtown, I realized for the first time in my life that I am proud to be Canadian.
I’m not a sports fanatic, but I cried along with the thousands of others present as Joannie Rochette skated a bronze medal performance just days after her mother died.
I’ve hardly watched hockey, but I sat on the edge of my seat and shouted at the TV screen as Team Canada played Team USA in overtime.
I am one for fashion, but despite that I wore my two-fingered woolly Canadian mittens with an awkward sort of pride.
Sure the buildings, Canada Line and other infrastructure built to accommodate the various Olympic events are wonderful spinoff benefits of having the games in Vancouver. And the worldwide promotion of our city and the millions earned in revenue are great, too.
But having the games in our hometown, more than anything else, has given us the right to be patriotic, and the desire to show the world that we are Canadian.
And why shouldn’t we be proud?
There’s nothing wrong with beer, hockey, being a little chilly once in a while and cute furry little creatures.
And the fact that a country with the population size of the state of California can dominate the gold medal count on an international level is nothing to scoff at.
What just happened was the awakening of a fiercely-loyal, fiercely-patriotic and highly-competitive nation that has finally been brought together as one.
Watch out world, we are Canadian.