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Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies February 13, 2010

Posted by jessicraft in Admin Messages.
3 comments

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

A few things on the Olympics — I love the Olympics, and I love the city of Vancouver. The Olympic values – friendship, respect, and excellence – the engendering of pride in your country, fueled by healthy competition – even the bloody Visa ads every four years (right now – we are all tied) — I love. I’m able to overlook the controversy, the commercialism, because of the way watching my country compete makes me feel. And after my visit to Vancouver in 2008, I feel hard pressed to find city that is friendlier, more vibrant, and filled with more natural beauty.

Vancouver Skyline

I watched the Olympic flame in my community, met former Olympian Barbara Ann Scott, and partied with a friend of mine, who was one of the torchbearers! Decked out in Canadian swhag last night, I watched the Opening Ceremonies with friends, eagerly anticipating how anyone could possibly follow the amazing spectacle of China’s 2008 Summer Olympic opening ceremonies.

There were many things about last night’s ceremony that I enjoyed — watching the parade of nations coming into the stadium, punctuated by the sheer joy on the face of mega-Olympian Clara Hughes; the amazing fiddlers performing with Ashley MacIsaac; k.d. lang’s performance, stunning as always, of “Hallelujah”; was pleased with the choices of those carrying the Olympic Flag (Donald Sutherland, Terry Fox’s Mom Betty Fox, Barbara Ann Scott, Jacques Villeneuve, Romeo Dallaire, Anne Murray, Julie Payette and Bobby Orr), taking the Olympic Athlete’s Oath (Hayley Wickenheiser), the final torch bearers (Rick Hansen, Catriona Le May Doan, Steve Nash, Nancy Greene, Wayne Gretzky); and of course, the fantastic set and effects – the centrepiece transforming from the Northern Lights to the Rocky Mountains, with skiers and boarders floating through the air, the whales, the fields of gold beneath a floating boy.

There was also much to be desired, I am afraid. To me, the whole thing smacked of an event totally organized and coordinated by a government committee (which it was). For all of the desire we have to be seen as more than traditional Canadian stereotypes, nothing was done to show anything but. For all the talk of unity in the face of such amazing diversity, there was virtually nothing to show for it. Much as I enjoyed the performances, a “safer,” if you will, selection could not have been made. The very typical – west-coast natural beauty and aboriginal culture – east coast celtic-fiddling culture – and prairie provinces with LITERALLY a quote from W.O. Mitchell – to say nothing of Quebec, really, that I saw and their profound artistic cultural influence, to say nothing of the current Montreal music scene, and nothing representative of Ontario, really, either – where most of us actually live! I’m not even going to touch Wayne Gretzky on the back of a truck to the outdoor torch — that was probably the worst Olympic ceremony moment ever — Ridiculous.

Elements of the “slam poet” from the north were great, but totally deflated for me by the blatant rip-off of the Molson Canadian “Joe Canada” advertisement — it was uncalled for, and not necessary to focus on these “zed not zee” type of “what we are not!” identifiers. With so much that I enjoyed in it, every time those moments came out I just groaned in a big way.

Canada has so much to offer, Canada encompasses so much, to stick with the tried and true, right down to the lumberjack scarves on the athletes, made what were some great performances by talented performers ultimately disappointing. No disrespect to Anne Murray, but before she came out I literally thought “the only thing this thing is missing is some Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot.”

All of this said, I’m still in the Olympic spirit, still excited to see the competition begin – to watch the speed skaters, to watch the skiers, to watch hockey and curling.

On a final note, what an absolute tragedy in the death yesterday of the young luger – Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia.