I don’t even know where to begin. A whirlwind trip to Vancouver for the Winter Games was one of the better weekends I’ve ever had. Sleeping in a rented Jeep Commadochero and bombing all over the city with a map in one hand and a camera in the other, was furious and intense, marvelous and stunning.
Red and white was the color to have, everywhere I looked I saw a maple leaf or someone singing “O Canada”, it was almost like a television advertisement on Canadian pride and patriotism. They were loving the Olympics and it was a great epidemic.
Sat through some horribly cold rain to watch the women’s snowboard parallel slalom, weathering my poor decision on wearing the wrong clothes to the mountain. Loved it all, nonetheless. We were lucky to have seats sitting right behind the athletes section so we got to watch teammates cheering their countrymen down the hill. Countrywomen, in this case. Austrians are no joke when it comes to snow sports. They brought flags and giant bells that clanged like Sunday morning, it was a raucous spectacle. Everyone was good natured but competition by country is something far deeper sense of intent, something my small-town arse has never seen.
Back through town and hitting bakeries and cafes, taverns and shops, zig zagged through downtown Vancouver and down to New Westminster and then around the water back up through the city, Hastings, Robson and Granville were pretty much the big streets I remember. BC has certain left turn lanes which threw me off and I don’t think I drove like anyone but the absolute tourist I was, not knowing which way was up. It was great fun.
Turned out that the Canadian men’s hockey team beat Slovakia to land a shot at a gold medal against the US team. We decided to stick around town one more day to watch the game in Canada, where it belonged. It was the away game of my lifetime, so far. Hockey and Crown Royal is all I know about Canada. I did see a lot of public art, great architecture and a wonderfully huge array of cultures all living in the same city, but all in all, hockey is what happens in Canada. The pinnacle of union and arguement, and the pinion that keeps it all together. Hockey rules in Canada.
There isn’t a watering hole within a gunshot that isn’t loaded with locals donning the leaf and seething for a gold medal. I’m wearing a red, white and blue Triumph motorcycle sweater and trying to keep my head down and just watch the game. The last thing I need is to let anyone know I’m pulling the US. I truly respect and admire the Canadian team and am super excited to be in BC for the games but I can’t not root for the Americans. The girl and I were the only Americans in the place and it felt secretive and exhilarating.
Our guys played well, underdogs and all, we handled our end and owned the boards for much of what I caught, (I had started drinking beer since the whiskey was doled out at 7/8 ounce per shot) but eventually the game was slipping away by the third period as they had 2 goals to the Americans’ one. And then the insanity happened: 24 seconds left in the final period, the US slaps in a goal to tie the game. I’m sitting in a Canadian bar during the gold medal hockey game with 24 seconds of me trying not to soil my pants, hiding my crazy joy from these packs of hockey fanatics thirsty for blood. But I think they knew. I was barely contained to my seat, the Sleemans was putting heat in my skin and I was fearlessly stoked. We just tied the game and it silenced the whole joint, all I could hear was the ringing in my ears because I knew across my country everyone just jumped out of their seats and screamed something though I didn’t dare do such a thing. There’s a difference between being courageous and being a boor.
Overtime proved gracious to the Canadians and they won in splendor, their star player delivering his legacy for generations, their victory was deserved and it really wrapped up the games nicely. Cheers to Brenden Morrow. The US team put up a fight that no one believed they could and that stands for something as well, and silver isn’t just the first loser. It’s also a heckuva conductor and makes smashing dinnerware. And it kills werewolves. Too bad I didn’t have any for the subsequent urinal conversation with the towering Canadian who muttered, “Good thing we won, right, buddy?”
Talk about a pee chill.