With just two days to go until the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, there’s been a decided lack of excitement surrounding these Games, at least until now.
In fact, ask most Canadians to name five individuals making up Team Canada and you might get Elvis Stojko, Kevin Martin, Catriona Le May Doan, and, uh, uh, what’s her name, that female curler.
Still, while Canadians are not known for wrapping themselves in the flag, or getting caught up in the hoopla leading up to a major event, rest assured all that will change when the Games actually begin—and someone sporting a Maple Leaf is in the running for a gold medal.
Team Canada, comprised of 156 athletes, is aiming to win enough medals to finish third overall—a lofty goal from the 15 medals for fifth-place achieved at the Nagano Games in 1998.
But we certainly will have our chances, with strong medal hopes in men’s and women’s ice hockey, curling (Martin and Kelley Law), figure skating (Stojko, and pairs Jamie Sale and David Pelletier), and speed skating (Le May Doan and Marc Gagnon).
Quite a change from 20-25 years ago when we were lucky to come home with five medals altogether, one of which might have been gold (remember Kathy Kreiner in 1976 at Innsbruck).
Sure, the Olympics have lost their lustre over the years, given all the doping and bribery scandals, the advent of professional athletes competing in ice hockey, and all the security threats sparked by terrorism.
In the end, though, nothing stirs national pride and unity quite like watching our athletes, no matter where they may hail from, strive to be the world’s best—even if just for one week.
When we watch Chris Pronger of Dryden strap on the blades for Team Canada, we’re reminded, too, that the Olympic dream is there for anyone to live—just ask Fort Frances native Chris Lindberg, who helped Canada capture the silver medal in ice hockey in 1992 in Albertville.