O(lympics) Canada!

Posted by jswt | Posted in Canada - Vancouer, General | Posted on 06-03-2010

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So I’m packed and ready to resume my role as JetSetWhiteTrash, but I thought I’d be a good idea to look back on the past few weeks where I had the opportunity to play tourist in my home town during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

In the years leading up to the olympics, I was rather neutral about the whole thing – I knew it’d be great for Vancouver, but there were a lot of negative issues being ignored, cost overruns and some shifty dealings.

But I remember it first settling in as to what it meant when I was in Geneva back in December, and I started to realize that it was bigger than Vancouver. Every time I’d see a TV, they were showing Vancouver. Every time I’d open a newspaper, they were saying something about Vancouver. Walking through airports and malls and venues, there’d be posters showing Vancouver. Everyone I spoke to, when they found out where I was from, was asking me all sorts of questions about Vancouver.

It was then that I realized that no matter what issues we might have with the olympics at home, they were coming, and the world was going to be arriving on our doorstep shortly.

The event itself overlapped for a week with Chris’ tour break, and we both just kept ourselves clear to make the most of the events and see what came to us… We also had some good old friends of mine from DC stay with us for that first week, which seriously added to and helped encourage our own sightseeing and touristiness of it all.

Pretty much every night we’d end up downtown in the throngs, revelling… hi-5ing… drinking… singing… cheering… and it was unbelievable. Our regularily no-fun-city was giving everyone the respect to go out and enjoy themselves, and everyone was making the most of that gift.

Canada is not usually anything more than a politely patriotic place – I mean aside from sporting events, the national anthem is rarely heard (even on most July 1st/Canada Days). But something about this event woke people up and made them realize they were so proud of where they came from, and who we were as a country, that they literally erupted into song. You heard people singing everywhere – on the trains, in the bars, on the streets, in the mall… It was unprecedented, surreal, and rather marvelous to experience.

We went into the whole thing only having some tickets for some long track speed skating, but whether it be karma, luck, or an openness to extreme possibilities, we ended up having a pretty full schedule of awesomeness: Medal ceremonies, hockey games, closing ceremonies, skating, superultra hair metal madness with Steel Panther. Chris even got a ticket to the mens moguls event where Canada won it’s first gold medal on home soil (and got us to some late night party with some of the canadian team).

In the end, Canada walked away with the record for most gold medals, and more importantly to us as a country, the gold medal in hockey — which symbolically stamped success upon the game

I think the most important thing that’s going to come out of this olympic experience for me is the hope of what it means for Vancouver – that we’ve for the first time realized that we’ve got a collective spirit that we’re proud of, that living in our city makes us part of something unique, and that we’re about to experience unprecedented growth that’s going to take us to a metropolitan level.

We’ve never actually *celebrated* as a city before… We’ve gone downtown to watch some fireworks, but that was a “get in, get out” type deal. We’d never been given a chance to just hang out and party… But now, we’ve not only taken the babysteps needed to be comfortable partying with our neighbors, we’ve all reailzed what a fantastic sensation it is to come together as a group and be part of the whole… (of course, say the festival goers and hippyfolk, but… that vibe you got the first time it all clicked — the masses just saw it, for most, their first time).

Similar to what Expo86 did for the city, we’ve just stepped up onto the world stage, and it’s going to be interesting to watch how we step up as a city, because the world has now seen Vancouver and the fantastic smile we flashed back to the world.

As I felt last year when I realized the world was coming to Vancouver… this is bigger than us now.

The secret’s out…
And it’s going to be an interesting wave to ride.

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