Thanks Vancouver, the Games were a blast

March 1, 2010

OLYMPICS-ICEHOCKEY/If it wasn’t magic from Sidney Crosby, what was it? A flick of the wrist from the world’s best hockey player, the dreams of 33 million Canadians were made real and the Winter Olympics ended with the flourish they deserved.

 El Sid, The Next One, Sid the Kid, #87 … If anyone was going to find a way past Ryan Miller in overtime, and give Canada gold number 14, somehow you knew it was going to him.

The Games are over, after a closing ceremony full of deliciously funny Canadian self-deprecation. As chief organiser John Furlong said, the hockey win over the U.S. will live on for generations in Canada. For the rest of the world, I think the Games as a whole will be remembered pretty fondly too.

Here are a few things I will treasure from my time in Vancouver:

1. The warmth of the welcome from the people of this city blew me away. Vancouver is as laid back as a Californian snowboarder, and if I occasionally found myself spitting feathers at how it could take five minutes — FIVE MINUTES — to prepare a cup of coffee, or how two beers — TWO BEERS — could possibly cost 20 dollars, including two types of sales tax and tip, well, you know, that probably said more about me than The Couver.

2. Hockey. Who knew that 200 feet of ice could be the stage for such an electrifying occasion, and I don’t just meant the final against the United States. Hockey has that mix of athleticism, skill and spite all great sports need and if it wasn’t for the terrible music they play at the slightest provocation — I mean, the Banana Boat Song? Ob La Di Ob la Da? Please … — I could really get into it.

3. Snowdudes. The various types of snowboarding and freestyle skiing seem intent on outdoing each other not only in the gravity-defying invention of the jumps and the organised mayhem of their races, but also in just how casual the athletes can be in their reaction to triumph or disaster. ”Awesome” is about all they say when they win, while spectacular falls and lost medals are greeted with a shrug of the shoulder. Totally sick, man. Ill.

4. The athletes and their stories. Shaun White, Sid Crosby, Kim Yuna, Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn came into these Games as established names and faces and all came away with gold, yet some of the best stories came from among the formerly unknowns. Joannie Rochette and Petra Majdic were among those to perform heroics and the courage they showed will be remembered for a long time too.

5. Mittens. Who would have thought $10 red mittens could be made not just fashionable, but the Must Have item for an entire country. You were no one in this city if you didn’t have the mitts and Vancouverites queued round the block at the official merchandise store in town to get kitted up in Go Canada gear. What will London do to match that in 2012? Brown corduroy jackets with patches on the sleeve? There’s a marketing opportunity of a lifetime here, people.

6. Curling. No, only kidding. But hey, you can’t expect to love everything about a Games…

PHOTO: Canada’s Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the U.S. during overtime in their men’s ice hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol

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