Five years ago the Canadian Olympic Committee launched a $110 -million program called “Own the Podium”. The goal of the program was to help Canadian athletes top the medal standings at these Winter Games. Today is day 12 of 17 at the Olympic competitions, and Canada has 10 medals. We are in fourth place, behind Russia, Norway, Germany, and the United States. The United States has 25 medals.
But there is only one medal that really counts, and that is the gold medal in men’s hockey. And so as if it weren’t enough that our Yankee friends are collecting so many medals, they also had to go and beat our hockey team on the weekend. Not very sportsmanlike of them. Americans probably have a hard time understanding how demoralizing it is for Canada to lose to the United States at hockey. About 2 in 3 Canadians watched the game in which our boys went down to defeat. The loss was announced on the front page of every major newspaper in the country. Before the game, caribou were ritually slaughtered across the nation, and baby seals were clubbed on both coastlines. It was not enough. We still have a remote chance at a medal, but should we fail the picture will not be pretty. The federal government will probably declare some sort of multicultural day of mourning. Horrors.
If you watched the fateful game on Sunday, as I did, you know that in fact the Canadian team played well, and for most of the game was all over the Americans. The US won the game because of their goaltending, and we lost because of ours. I could not believe my eyes when Martin Brodeur went out for timbits and a double-double during game-play.
If we beat Germany tonight, and if we beat the Russians tomorrow, it is still possible that we will play the Americans again before this tournament is over. Or we could go down in ignominious defeat, leaving the podium and the gold medal to the good old U.S. of A.
If worst comes to worst, we can always take solace in the fact that we won the War of 1812. Nobody can take that away from us.