Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final thoughts

Yes, I realize that I am publishing this before the men's gold medal hockey game or the closing ceremonies even begin, but - for me - this is as it should be. Yes, I'll be watching the hockey game (after "The Sixth Sense"), but then that'll be it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the games. This will be my fifth post on them, and - if you have read the others - you already know what I liked most, what I found amusing, and what grated a little on me.

Rather than repeat myself, I thought it might be interesting to publish something a little different. And so, without further ado, here are my takes on ... ...

Pleasant surprises ... Not only watching (Via this wonderful link that Tammy sent me. Had to use it, because I was mentoring at the bridge studio Thursday evening, and was unable to view his performance live. Thank you, Tammy!) Evan Lysacek's gold medal-winning performance in men's figure skating, but realizing much later - during an interview with Bob Costas - that his hair did not naturally look like that, all plastered down, thank goodness. What a good-looking man! Adding to the pleasantness of my surprise was the calm and gracious manner in which he answered Bob's questions, including the one inquiring as to whether or not he intended to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. He replied (with a little wry grin on his face), "I'd like to, but I'm not sure they'll let me into the country!" (This comment, of course, a direct referral to Evgeni Plushenko's - not to mention the Russian premier's - very public criticism of his not performing a quad. I was a little surprised, actually ... glad, but surprised, to see the Russian perform in the gala yesterday.)

Another pleasant surprise was the amount of medals - and they started coming early! - the US won in the Alpine events. Unheard of, I think! Congratulations to all of our athletes who sacrificed, trained and worked so hard to compete in them. We appreciate you. I appreciate you!

Shocking things ... I don't know who was not shocked at the very unexpected turn of events in the men's speed skating event - 1500 meter, wasn't it? - when the skater from the Netherlands, easily on his way to Olympic gold, was mis-directed into the wrong lane by his coach and - rather than win the event - was subsequently disqualified. Since then, I have been searching for a word to describe this catastrophe. I have failed.

A Vancouverite's view ... Go here to read what Jo has to say about the Olympics being held where she lives and what she's been able to observe and take part in. Be sure to keep scrolling down to at least February 13th, where she talks about the opening ceremonies, which is one of my favorite posts of hers. Another of my personal favorites is this one, where she writes extensively about the White Bear People and the Spirit Bear. Fascinating stuff!

[I would like to add a comment or two about the gold medal winners' deportment during the award ceremonies. In my opinion, it is completely unnecessary that they sing - forget lip synching! - their national anthem. Is that how they got there, because they could sing their national anthem? No! They got there because of multitudinous hours of self-sacrifice, training and dedication to their sport. I can understand an athlete's inability to fully take part in the ceremony. I can only imagine - unless they've been in that position many times before, and very few have! - the euphoria they must be feeling and the blurriness of all the splendiferous activity going on around them. My most sincere hope is that someone has been recording this event for them, and they can relive it later when things have calmed down a bit. Standing at attention, perhaps with hand over heart, should be the maximum requirement. But, again, that's just my opinion.]

An epitomization of the best in all of us (we can only hope!) ... NBC has done a magnificent job showing us what our neighbor to the north - Canada - is all about, but in all of these really wonderful segments there is one thing that keeps screaming itself aloud - over and over - in my mind. The people, Goldenrod, the people!

And then yesterday, I was privileged to view - in its entirety - the premiere showing of Tom Brokaw's extended (30-40+ minutes) piece on the small town of Gander, in Newfoundland, and the part this extraordinary community had to play in the aftermath of early 9/11/2001. I am not the first blogger to write about this, no sirree. Check this site out for confirmation.

What a glorious piece! They broke for commercials a time or two during its airing, and I really didn't make note of the opening time (didn't know how long it would be!), so I can't tell you for sure how long it actually is from start to finish. I'll tell you one thing, tho ... ... it's well worth your time to view it (taping it, if possible, for future enjoyment) in its entirety.

So many heroes ... ... the airport controllers, who expanded from 3 to 14 (!) in a manner of minutes and landed (I forget the actual figure, but it was astronomical!) all of the diverted planes without incident. "It was an emergency," the chief controller said. "We train for events like these." ... ... the local bus drivers, who were on strike at the time, coming back to a man to assist in transporting the thousands of stranded airline passengers around ... ... the two local drugstores, who filled for free medicating prescriptions that had to be left on board with the checked luggage ... ... the thousands of townspeople (and those in surrounding communities) who quickly volunteered to step in and offer food, lodging and emotional support.

So many wonderful personal stories ... ... the stranded couple who actually met, married and then honeymooned there ... ... the parents of Kevin O'Rourke (sp? - cannot find the original article), a NYC fireman who was at first listed among the missing and later confirmed dead ... ... a passenger on Delta 15, who was instrumental in obtaining pledges for the citizens of Gander (who would not accept monetary contributions while the stranded passengers were there) in the amount of $15,000 (US) .. those monies were intended to establish a scholarship fund for graduating students in the area .. that fund has increased, btw, to nearly $900,000. (!)

There's a pretty fair writeup about Tom Brokaw's piece here, if you'd care to read further.

I'd just like to close by saying, "Thank you, Canada, for your hospitality and warmth during these past two weeks. I cannot imagine having a better neighbor!"


The Bug said...

Dr. M commented on Lysacek's hair too - glad that his "natural" look suits him better.

I actually like when the athletes know their national anthem & sing it. We were saying that all of Canada must have practiced theirs leading up to the games - EVERYONE was singing it. Really cool to me. Especially since, although this was an athletic event, it was done for the country of the athlete. Just my opinion :)

We enjoyed the closing ceremony a lot - they poked fun at themselves about the defective 4th leg of the torch. And William Shatner, Catherine O'Hara & J. Michael Fox - fun!

I haven't seen the Gander piece - I'll need to go check out the link you have there.

Goldenrod said...

Interesting that a man should make the same comment about Lysacek's hair! LOL

I like it, too, Bug, when the athletes know their national anthem and are able to sing it during the award ceremonies, but what I was trying to emphasize here was that I can understand how they might get caught up in the emotions of the moment and not be able to do so.

A very exciting end to the Olympics, that gold medal hockey game. I was able to watch most of the third period and all of the overtime. Lots of records set ... both individual and country ... GREAT games!

I caught Michael Fox's part in the closing ceremonies, and was completely captivated and mesmerized by the fact that he did not appear to be incapacitated by his disease. THAT, to me, was the highlight of the whole thing.

If you check out the link I gave you for Tom Brokaw's piece on Gander, Bug, you'll note that it has since expanded to upwards of 20 pages now. :)

One can only hope that it will be repeated - with advance notification - by NBC at some future date.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed the Olympics. Usually us Canucks are restrained in the patriotism area. About time we showed our pride more. Americans certainly know how to do that.

I for one think both Canada and the United States are lucky to have each other as neighbors. After all we could have Russia or Iran.

Great post. Come on up and visit us.

Goldenrod said...

I visited your country a few times years ago - mainly on canoe trips to Ontario (Superior/Quetico and Algonquin), but I've never been to Manitoba. Beautiful part of our world, particularly Quetico!

Agree about us being mutually lucky, Steve.

I wonder if the streets of Vancouver have thinned out yet? :)