Finally, it was flag-raising night for Canada at the Olympic Village. Our stirring national anthem boomed from the speakers Wednesday evening, out over the dark waters of False Creek to the glittering lights of a myriad downtown high-rises.
Close to 200 toque-wearing athletes and team officials joined in, oblivious to the cold, persistent rain, as the red maple leaf rose slowly up the flagpole.
Were those tears or raindrops I spied in the eyes of young mission staffer Alison Brazier? When I asked, she said only: "It was emotional."
Native and Indo-Canadian drummers then came on, and their raucous beat got everyone moving. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean bounced merrily up and down. Prime Minister Harper slightly moved his head a few times.
The Ottawa odd couple was standing in the midst of the athletes. That's what democracy looks like at the Olympics. Politicians and other VIPs are kept off the stage, forced to stand in the rain like everyone else.
VANOC boss John Furlong was also there, as were Premier Gordon Campbell and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. All hatless, all kept far from the mike.
That belonged to the effervescent, irrepressible Sandra Oh from beautiful downtown Nepean. Ms. Oh, in addition to having a piece of my heart, is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Sideways, which one hopes is not the direction our athletes are headed during the Games, particularly the skeleton crew.
She emceed the ceremony with so much pizzazz, the national anthem might have been Oh Canada, instead. "Your time has come," she shouted at the Olympians, evoking huge cheers in response.
"You're at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. ... Although it's cold, our team here is smoking hot," a raucous Ms Oh said. The resulting whoops and yells were nearly loud enough to drown out the drone of a helicopter circling overhead.
Despite the rain (hello there, February), it was a chance for Canada's athletes to cavort and frolic and laugh and boogie with the mascots and pose for pictures and link arms and get psyched about the Olympics and yes, relax, for one more night before the intensity of competition begins, with the expectations of a nation resting on their well-honed shoulders.
Nothing could dampen their smiles.
I asked half-piper Mercedes Nichol if she worried about the days ahead.
"Not right now, no. Not yet. After the Opening Ceremonies maybe. But not yet. Not tonight. It was amazing. I didn't feel the chill at all. I didn't even know it was raining."
Oh Canada Oh!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Oh Canada Oh!
It's all about the Olympics in Vancouver for a while now... Here is an article from CTV about Sandra attending the welcome ceremony for the Canadian athletes:
Oh Canada Oh!
Sandra Oh News
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