Beijing 2008… Top of the Lists

beijing2008.jpg I suppose I should say something about the Olympics. Like many of you, I’ve been watching, some. I won’t comment on the medal standings and the Americans’ fondness for counting either gold medals or total medals, whichever works better for them. Being Canadian, medal standings is not a particularly good topic at the moment anyway… I guess we’re storing it up for the home showing in two years. Our athletes are actually doing very well… breaking records, setting personal bests and all that… but the level of competition is really strong so far. I do have to hand it to the American men’s relay swimmers, though. I think they’d all had a cup of tea by the time the rest of the field arrived. Well, not tea, being American, but probably a Starbuck’s half-caf grande ventichino machioso with a single scoop, extra froth. With a Joel Osteen quote on the cup.

Olympic Observations: Finishing

Well, I guess we Winnipeggers are pretty proud of our girls on ice these days. Cindy Klassen racked up 5 medals for skating at these Olympic games (6 career Olympic medals), putting her on a short elite list of decorated athletes. Not only that, but Clara Hughes managed to push past even Klassen to clinch the gold in the women’s 5,000M. Maybe there’s something in the water (Winnipeggers have been saying that for years) — or in the ice, as it were. The suspect ice would probably be an outdoor 1/4 mile speed skating oval in Winnipeg, named a while back after Susan Auch

These two seem to get it right off the ice, too. Klassen is vocal about her faith, while Hughes celebrated her victory by giving away $10,000 of her hard-earned non-bonus money. Good on them.

Olympic Observations: Hockey

How about that Canadian Women’s hockey team? We’re all pretty proud of them back home. Turns out that powerhouse player Haley Wickenheiser was basically playing with a broken wrist which was put into a cast after the gold medal match. And she still pulled off the MVP award; I’ve seen her called the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey, but personally I have a better opinion of her than that. Wayne’s too American-NHL now.

Olympic Observations: Hats

Okay, I get that the toque is about as Canadian an institution as hockey itself… but seriously, what’s the deal with those pointy hats they have the Canadians athletes wearing at the medal presentations? Huh? They look stupid. At the Salt Lake games, the Canadians were the best-dressed nation, thanks to Roots… not that I’m exactly opposed to the HBC getting the job, but Roots is now outfitting the American Olympic team and the Canadians have stupid-looking pointy hats. At least Jennifer Heil had the sense to remove hers when receiving Canada’s first medal at the Torino games… and she looked a lot better without it. Of course, maybe it was that Heil smile. Way to go, kid, you made it look easy… but now my four-year-old has decided to be an Olympic skier when she grows up.

Olympic Observations: Skeleton

Suppose you’re selecting the sport in which you’re going to compete in the winter Olympics, and they run through all the the options with you.

“Here’s one,” they say, “where you hurl yourself down the icy part of a mountain and fling yourself onto a little metal thing with skiis — more like skates, really. You hit about 120 miles an hour down the mountain, it’s pretty cool.”

“Uh, what’s it called?” you ask.

“Skeleton,” comes the reply.

“Yeah, right. What else ya got?”

Olympic Observations: Women’s Hockey

How about that Canadian Women’s Hockey Team, eh? After trouncing the Italian team 16-0 and perhaps showing some mercy while they were at it, they’re presently 2/3 through with the Russian team. The Russians are making the Italians look a lot more credible than people had thought… which is another way of saying to upcoming challengers in the tournament: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”