So what if Canada hasn't won many medals, and one disaster after another has befallen his Winter Olympics? As a Vancouver columnist points out, at least his countrymen aren't loud, boorish Americans.
Pete McMartin is a columnist with The Vancouver Sun.
My Dear American Friends:
Before we start, and discuss how the Olympic Games have been going now that we’ve passed the halfway mark, I would like to ask one thing of you, and your great nation, which I have always admired. And I ask this with all due respect, and in the spirit of peace and cooperation our two great nations have enjoyed for these many years, other than that small matter in 1812, when you tried to invade us.
My request is this:
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Would you please piss off?
Your medal-winning thing? Getting a bit tiresome. We didn’t plan on spending $8 billion so you could bathe yourselves in glory. And by “plan” I don’t mean we just hoped to win the most medals or boast that we could win the most medals. We actually had a plan to methodically win the most medals — a Five-Year Plan, in fact.
It cost $117 million, most of which was apparently spent on stationery and business luncheons, and was called — and I am not making this up — Own The Podium. We now call it Blown The Podium. Or Own the Odium.
Not that we, as Canadians, care all that much. Because we, as Canadians, are nice and polite, or so we are told. We are told this mainly by Americans who, by contrast, are loud and boorish and can bomb with impunity any country they don’t happen to like. That week.
Things did not start smoothly at the Games. It seems that in its survey of suitable Winter Olympic sites, the International Olympic Committee forgot to ask one question, which was, “Does it snow where you are?”
Rain and record high temperatures washed away much of the snowboarding venue at Cypress. We did the only sensible thing we could. We trucked in snow 150 kilometers from a provincial park. Then we packed in a thousand bales of hay to keep it from washing away again. It looked like a setting for a barn dance.
Then there was the truly tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who, during a training run, flew off the track on a hairpin turn and died when he hit a steel support beam. Athletes had been saying for months the track, and that corner in particular, were dangerous and someone would die; even Kumaritashvili had expressed trepidation about the track.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee determined that it wasn’t the steel beam’s fault for killing the athlete; it was the athlete’s fault for running into the steel beam.
Then there was the Opening Ceremony, which, anyone in Canada will insist, was fabulous, despite the fact that one of the caldron’s four pillars failed to rise out of the ground due to a malfunction, leaving us with the first Olympic Tripod. An outdoor version of the caldron — with all four pillars — was caged behind an ugly chain-link fence. It was erected, presumably, to protect it from the anti-Olympic protesters who had smashed windows and disrupted traffic.
What else? Some 28,000 tickets had to be reimbursed because of lack of snow at the snowboarding venue. Buses broke down or couldn’t climb mountain roads, or their drivers got lost, and 99 new buses had to be brought in. The three experimental exhaustless “eco-Zambonis” broke down at the Skating Oval, making the ice unsafe. A cross-country skier fell into a gully during a warm-up.
Weirdest bad news item yet: A crew member on one of the cruise ships housing security forces was reported to have come down with leprosy. Officials are monitoring a nearby plague of locusts.
The story on the ground is a different matter. It’s too early to say whether these Games are a success or failure, but they have been fun. The weather turned and the streets are jammed with people. Visitors to Vancouver have raved about how well they have been treated and how nice and polite we Canadians are, when we aren’t throwing up on their shoes from drinking too much beer.
Even Team Canada’s defeat at the hands of a eerily lucky U.S. hockey team did not cause any blood to be spilled.
About that hockey game? Well, remember that War of 1812 I mentioned?
Which goes to show that the U.S. isn’t the only country that can beat another country at its favorite sport.