Tales from the West

Ed Smith
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Some memorable moments from the wonderful Olympics.
Canada was playing Denmark in women's curling. After two ends, the score was tied. One of the veteran play-by-play commentators announced with a great verbal flourish: "And so, after two ends, the score is 2-2 with Canada still in the lead."
In the women's Super G ski race last Friday, one of the competitors lost her balance and took a horrendous fall. Falls were many in all the ski events. It's a wonder serious injuries weren't more numerous. Anyway, after this particular skier had fallen and was lying still on the snow, the woman commentator gave voice to the concern everyone was feeling.
"Oh ! That was … was …" There was a long pause while she struggled to find words that would convey the seriousness of the situation - "… not nice."
We are watching long track speedskating. These competitions are so intense that the announcers sometimes get carried away. This particular Canadian skater wasn't doing so well, but the play-by-play felt the need to say something positive about him, which was a marvelous intention but, in the context, rather out of place. As the skater fell farther and farther behind, the announcer made this observation: "He is certainly an excellent technical skater."
This prompted a statement from Number One Son: "Wonderful. He's skating a technically very slow race."
We've seen some wonderful performances by Canadian athletes: the dance pair Virtue and Moir, and the continued excellence to date of our curling teams. The performance that moved me the most, however, was that of Melissa Hollingsworth, who was so upset because she thought she let her country down and wound up making us doubly proud.
Tuesday, The Canadian Press issued a news alert. In it, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee said he was much afraid that Canada would not, as they had been claiming for months, "own the podium" in these Olympics. In other words, we "probably would not" get more medals than any other nation.
Now, there's the surprise kick in the guts for the month.
The reason he gave was that he thought it unlikely we would catch the United States in medals won. At the time of writing, the US has roughly 97 times as many medals as Canada. We have a better chance of catching North Korea in the development of nuclear weapons.
I don't blame the athletes for the "letdown" from the COC predictions. I blame the COC - the coc-eye'd group that was making all these crazy predictions in the first place. They created, at the same time, totally unrealistic expectations for Canada as a whole, and what must have been unbearable pressure for the athletes concerned.
Premier Danny Williams has made some bold and innovative moves since he took over a few years back. Taking down the Canadian flag was one. Try to match that for sheer audacity!
In the last Winter Olympics, he outdid himself. In fact, he almost outdid me. When Brad Gushue was going for gold in men's curling, our Danny closed the schools so that students could go home and watch the game. That was really something.
In the first Canada-Russia hockey series, I did something similar. I put several TVs in the gym so that students could sit around and watch. I have no doubt but that the Premier remembered that and said to himself, "If he could get away with that, so can I. After all, I'm premier and he's nothing."
What it means, Sir, if I may be so bold, is that great minds think alike. Just to add to that thought, I, too, would have gone wherever at that time I could to get the best treatment for my health problem. And that's nobody's business but your own. God bless you.
You should know I'm leading up to something here. Any chance you could nominate me to the Senate? No, no, that's not it - I'm just a-funning. But I do have a brilliant idea for you in keeping with the two bold moves you and I have made and I've described above.
You know how late these games are running, Premier? Perhaps you haven't noticed, you being sort of preoccupied with other things, but when it's prime time in Vancouver, we're already into the next day in Newfoundland and most of Labrador. What's late evening for them is early morning for us.
That would be fine if you have the willpower to turn off the curling after the fifth end with the score tied, or the figure skating before the top Canadians have skated. You with that kind of willpower will go to bed before midnight and be up fresh as a daisy the next morning. There are those of us not built that way.
Other Half, Number One Son and I are three of them. We have suffered the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat up to the closing bell. Accordingly, next day we have been bleary-eyed and weak-kneed. The weak knees haven't bothered me because that's the way I'm built. The rest of it has left me very much a broken man.
Anyway, Premier, here is our proposal. We do not feel the extreme east of this land should suffer simply because the extreme west is living in such a stupid time zone. We suggest that you announce a full day's holiday at the end of the Olympics dedicated to those who have lost so much sleep that they cannot ever hope to regain half of it over the next two lifetimes.
Let the holiday apply to everyone and everything. Shut the place down! Bring 'er to a complete halt! Let there be rest and re-creation for 24 hours.
That can be one way we feel that we are sharing in the wonderful Olympic experience.
That, and the loss of our tax dollars!

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Canada, Denmark, United States North Korea Newfoundland Vancouver Springdale

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