The Olympics are over, and we in Canada can now go back to ignoring ‘big air’ and ‘half-pipe’ and even ‘mixed-doubles curling’.
The record book will show that this was Canada’s best Olympics ever. Twenty-nine medals in total (11 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze). That’s third overall. We beat the U.S. and the Olympic Drug Cheats from Russia. Hurrah for us!
But why don’t we feel like celebrating? Could it have something to do with hockey and, of all things, curling?
Curling is Canada’s game. Nobody knows how to throw stones like we Canucks. We’re the only country in the world where you can make a good living as a professional curler. We didn’t invent it, but we sure perfected it.
Our results? A gold in mixed-doubles curling (a bastardized version of the real game nobody seems to respect) … and nothing else. The men’s team lost in the BRONZE medal match, and the women – shudder! – didn’t even make the medal round. Perhaps even worse, the gold in men’s went to – shudder and wince – the Americans. Out of nine possible medal colours we could have won, our curlers brought home one, which is as many as the AMERICANS won in curling.
How could this happen? Well, it seems the world is catching up to Canada in curling, and we can thank ourselves for that. Anyone who wants to become a world-class curler knows he or she has to go to Canada to learn the game, or hire a Canadian coach. The Swedes came to Canada to learn, and a member of their team told The Globe and Mail about receiving rock star treatment in Canada. Sounds about right.
Curling is the only sport in the Olympics that Canadians don’t just hope to win, or think we can win, but expect – even DEMAND – to win. That’s why this one hurts a bit. As for hockey, well, it was a crapshoot. Without our deep well of NHL stars (thanks again, Gary Bettman), it was anyone’s to win on the men’s side. Normally, we turn up our noses at bronze in hockey, but not this time. It’s cruel to say, but at the Olympic you win a bronze, but you lose the gold. As for the women’s side, a gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada is as inevitable as the gun control debate in the U.S. after another massacre. It may be a long time before the rest of the world catches up. Unless, of course, other countries start sending their women hockey players to Canada.
Still with the Olympics, I learned a lot about Norway, starting with where it is. Also, I learned that Norway is incredibly rich, healthy, democratic, environmentally aware (hybrid and electric cars outsold conventional models last year) and, by all accounts, modest about it. They may have trouble maintaining that modesty with the results of these Olympics, a staggering 39 medals, easily the best of the games. It’s a little less impressive, however, if you take away skis. Of their 39 medals, 34 involved competitors wearing skis. Still, pretty impressive, especially considering that Norway has only 5.2 million people. Their Olympic team had only 109 members, which means almost 35% of Norwegian athletes took home medals.
Norway clearly has made winning Olympic medals a priority, especially in comparison to their Nordic neighbours. Sweden, with almost 10 million people, picked up just 12 medals; Finland, about the same size as Norway, a pathetic five. What about Denmark, you ask? Well, this country of more than five million people sent just 17 athletes, and have won only one Olympic medal – ever.
This week, I learned that the world turning on Justin Trudeau.
The prime minister, along with the wife and kids for maximum photo-op value, has been in India for an entire week. A week seems like a long time to spend in any country not your own, but Trudeau came prepared with trunks full of costumes apparently purchased at a Bollywood garage sale.
Trudeau and his family dressed in ludicrously over-the-top Indian garb, right down to curly-toed shoes (when he was wearing shoes; sometimes, he and the whole clan went barefoot). If you heard a strange sound this week, it was probably the sound of one billion Indians rolling their eyes. Trudeau was openly mocked by some in the Indian media and various online types, normally Trudeau allies. Even Trevor Noah on The Daily Show laughed out loud at the PM and his obsequious sucking up to India (and, more importantly, his Indian voting base back home in Canada). Speaking of that base, the worst gaffe of the Trudeau trip involved an invitee. It was revealed that the prime minister’s delegation included a guy named Jaspal Atwal, a Liberal Party activist from B.C. who also happens to be a former member of the radical International Sikh Youth Federation convicted for a 1986 assassination attempt against a visiting Indian cabinet minister (he was sentenced to 20 years, and, in classic Canadian fashion, served five). Atwal got as far as a photo with Sophie Trudeau before his past caught up to him – thanks to the CBC, which seemed to know more about this convicted terrorist than the prime minister’s own people did.
Clearly, Trudeau’s celebrity act is wearing thin on the international stage, where he has found his greatest level of adulation. Once the world starts laughing at Trudeau instead of admiring him, he may be in serious trouble on the home front, the only place where public opinion of Trudeau really matters.
Rev. Billy Graham, 99, ‘America’s pastor’ and the most prominent religious figure outside of the popes for much of the 20th century … Nanette Fabray, 97, multi-talented American actress and singer … Richard E. Taylor, 88, Medicine Hat-born, University of Alberta-educated physicist who won a Nobel Prize in physics in 1990 … Arthur Black, 74, former longtime CBC radio humourist and author.