Monday, Feb. 27, 2006
Dear Diary:

Et tu, Canada?

It took a while, but the healing has begun. I would, of course, be talking about Dordi Nordby's heartbreaking last rock loss to Anette Norberg and the evil Swedes, who ultimately took women's curling gold at the Turin Olympics.

That loss pushed Dordi and the Dordiettes out of the race for gold and left them to duke it out with the Canadian women's team for the consolation prize of bronze. The bronze medal game was a bitter disappointment to me. It was as if Dordi had left all her fight back on the ice with the Swedes. My Canuckistani countrywomen trounced her soundly.

It is hard not to be bitter.

There are three wonderful moments from these games that I do cherish, though.

The first is the amazing act of sportsmanship by Bjørnar Håkensmoen, Norway's cross-country ski coach, which allowed Sarah Renner and Beckie Scott of Canada to win a silver medal.

Renner's pole broke in the middle of the sprint. Håkensmoen handed her his pole and she was able to finish. Without that random, senseless act of kindness all the years of training that those two women had sweated through would have been for nothing.

He said the Norwegian team decided the night before the race that they would hand over skis or poles to any team in need.

"We talked about it at our team meeting the night before," Håkensmoen told the Toronto Sun newspaper. "We are a country which believes in fair play."

A country that believes in fair play. Yep, Norway, the country that was expected to take gold in that race, helped one of their fiercest competitors. I love it that amidst all the glitz, all the pressure to win and to keep those sponsorship buckazoids rolling in, someone decided that fair play counts, too.

Wow.

The second moment came when I read that the province of Newfoundland closed all its schools the day that Brad Gushue's team was competing for the gold medal in curling so every child in the province could watch.

Gushue's team was the first team from Newfoundland to win the right to represent Canada in curling at the Olympics. He won Canada's first men's Olympic curling gold. It was a big thing for a "have not" province, a province that suffered many years with a foundering economy after the collapse of its fish stocks.

When he won, did Gushue do some big, arm pumping, "We're number one, we're number one" dance? Nope, the first thing he did was call his mom, who couldn't come to Turin because she's fighting bowel cancer. Every child in the province got to watch their biggest sports hero quietly affirm the importance of family above everything else.

The final moment was seeing my neighbour Clara Hughes after she skated the race of her life and took gold in 5000 meter speed skating.

Instead of using the platform that the win gave her to crow about her success, she used it to raise money for Right to Play. Canadian Olympians don't get performance bonuses such as Joey Cheek of the U.S. got, so instead she emptied her personal bank account and challenged other Canadians to donate as well.

I know Clara and I know she's not rich. She and her husband Peter drive an old pick-up truck and the furniture in their home here is all second hand. Giving that $10,000 away was a very big deal.

I get very, very verklempt when I see athletes such as Clara, Joey Cheek and Johann Olav Koss use the prestige that sports give to publicize and help worthy causes.

So yep, those are my three golden moments. What were yours?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 219.58 miles. 10 per cent rubber duckDuckage! There was a time I ate my stress. Now I burn it off in motion.


Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers



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