Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vancouverites celebrate Women's Hockey Gold Medal

Although the rest of those in our world harbouring interest in the Winter Olympics may well assume the games are about various and sundry sports involving sledding, jumping and the like, Canadians know there is only one winter sport that counts:  hockey.  People can jump into the air, purposefully falling for a full seven stories, ski as fast as they please, spin on ice wearing little nothings that hardly suffice for bedtime, or skate in circles to their hearts' content, but when it is all said and done, Canada will evaluate the 2010 games on its performances in hockey.

Men's hockey, truth be told.  But increasing numbers of Canadians are thankfully enthusiastic supporters of women's hockey as well.

Not wanting to spend $750 to get two tickets to the Women's Hockey final (as did two very dear friends), I instead joined other tightwads in watching the entire game on one of the many large screens outside.  Those of us who got to sit, sat on outside stone-cold cement steps , in my case with only boxer shorts and jeans pretending to provide insulation.  It was a long sit, an uncomfortable sit, a cold sit, but we had a great party (and did not need a bank loan).  The Zip Line ran overhead, whizzing screaming daredevils from one high point above us to another, city blocks away.  The fans were so Canadian, so utterly polite, but also so very knowledgeable about the game, quietly moving their bodies in rhythm with the women weaving complicated patterns on the ice.  The crowd appreciated every nuance, every effort, going from absolute silent terror to ecstatic jubilation.  The game's result was never in doubt (there is a God, Canada must therefore win), and the game followed the fore-ordained plan, which was an enormous relief to all (including the RCMP on the sidelines).  After the Canadian players received their gold medals, we sang the national anthem as darkness fell.  We then moved away slowly, feeling history had been witnessed before joining the thousands walking on Robson Street.  I was chilled to the bone, having been downtown from 9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. (with a lunch break at Le Crocodile, my little reward).  The blue lights were fun to photograph, but probably matched the colour of my hands.