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A gold medal experience

Canada is playing the U.S for Olympic gold, and the only way of knowing the score is when the co-pilot provides an update over the PA system and the loud hum of the 20-seat plane. The past 10 days have been spent in Corner Brook visiting family, skiing, eating and coming down with a bad case of Olympic fever. Im cracked about all who skated, skied and skeletoned, and NEED to be watching the battle for hockey gold. Instead, Im on a small aircraft with no bathrooms, let alone in-flight TV. Who knew when the trip was booked two months ago that the return flight would coincide with the most anticipated puck play since the 1972 Canada-Russia series. Its one-zip for Canada before the tires leave the tarmac. Somewhere between Grand Falls and Gander, I guess, the co-pilot announces its two-nil. Yes! I yell to myself. Before our descent into St. John's, were told that, unfortunately, the Yanks have scored. From the collective sigh, it appears Im not the only one consumed by the game. In the terminal, its on many of the TVs in the departure lounge. People are gathered around the screens watching, clutching fists at ever American rush and grimacing at every shot. They are even listening to it in the washrooms, as the game is piped over the PA. Outside the baggage pickup, a large crowd has gathered at the tourism kiosk, where the game is being shown on a large screen. Our ride home has e-mailed and said he might be late picking us up if the score is close. A one goal lead with three minutes to go explains why hes not there yet. So, we join the anxious throng and watch the clock tick down. Everyone is on edge as they wait to celebrate. Then, of course, Parise slips one by Luongo to tie it in the dying seconds. The crowd deflates like a balloon popped by the sharpest pin. As it disperses quickly, one person is overheard telling a City Wide cab driver to get him to the hotel as fast as possible. With overtime about to start, we settle in expecting itll be some time before our ride shows. But a few minutes after the face-off, he breezes through the automatic doors. He had left his house when buzzer sounded on regulation time. We load the car and head home, hoping to catch a bit of hockey history wanting to see another Canadian gold. En route, I fiddle with the FM dial to see, if by chance, we can pick up the game. Somewhere around 87-point something, play-by-play announcer Chris Cuthbert is heard trying to say something over a loud crowd. Either the U.S. or Canada has suffered a sudden death. Unable to wait another second, I check Facebook and see a friend had already posted CROSBY! Canada had won. My reaction was as much relief as it was jubilation. Although I didnt get to see the game live or on TV, it was good to experience such a Canadian moment with different people at different times and different ways...on a plane, in an airport bathroom, around a tourism kiosk, and in the front seat of a car. To me, that shows the breath of what Canadas win meant to Canadians. It also shows what the Vancouver Olympics had come to mean. The Feds might have been under fire for the Own the Podium program, but I think its results helped give this large country a huge dose of pride. And after the recession, the war in Afghanistan, Haiti and everything else thats been going on, we needed such a golden lift. Hopefully, we can sustain it for a while.

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