I’ve got it. I wasn’t particularly excited for the 2010 winter Olympics heading into it, but as soon as it kicked off, I started watching and was addicted right away. I knew I would watch hockey, but didn’t really care that much about the rest of the sports.
So why the sudden interest? We’re actually good at a lot of stuff this time around. While we’re not doing as well as we had hoped, we are doing much better than any previous Olympics. Watching Canadians doing well on a global stage is always fun to see, but to see that so many Canadians are competing for medals, it’s truly inspiring.
There’s been an outbreak of national pride in Vancouver and it’s been spreading across the country.
The games did get off to a very rough start with the death of a Georgian athlete setting a somber tone to start. The follow-up included poor weather conditions and ravaged courses all around. The venues were in a world of hurt. But as the days have worn on, the athlete performances have really taken the spotlight.
The significant emerging criticism seems to be regarding the Own The Podium program. Some are suggesting that “we” have sunk all this money into our athletes and we’re not “owning the podium”. I think that’s a pretty black and white perspective on things. My response is that perhaps we’ve underestimated how much it costs to “own the podium”. Sure we’ve sunk millions of dollars into supporting our athletes, but here’s a secret that the critics might not be aware of. So is everyone else.
We’ve had some bad breaks. Two or three of our top skiers went down to injury in the months/weeks leading into the Olympics. Our best male skier is not skiing and we still placed 5th in a couple of events. You have to figure that if our best guy was out there, we’d have a couple more medals.
Trying to win the games is a daunting task. It means winning medals in sports like short track and long track speed skating which are dominated by Denmark and South Korea respectively. Unseating countries which take a national pride in a particular sport is not an easy task. Their skating is our hockey.
Honestly, from the outside looking in, it looks like the Own The Podium program has worked well. Critics seem to be assuming that winning the Olympics is simply a money issue. That if we sink in a given amount of money, we can win. It doesn’t work that way. Even if it did, the amount of money we’ve put into it isn’t enough to dominate the Olympics. It does seem to be enough to significantly improve our performance though. To me, that’s great. It might not be what we were hoping for, but you have to admit that it’s been pretty impressive so far.