2011Feb 23

SPAD Remembers the Golden Games: Vancouver 2010

One last look before the journey home

By: SPAD Blogger Brent Hurley

Just over a year ago on February 12TH, 2010 the 21st Olympic Winter Games began in Vancouver, British Columbia. This highly anticipated two week span would prove to be a culture changing and generation defining landmark in Canadian history. It was the first time the Olympics were returning since Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988, and Canada was ready!
While most of us were probably watching the opening day with family and/or friends in living rooms scattered across the nation, a van from Sudbury was tearing across this beautiful land with Vancouver in its sights. In true SPAD fashion, the van filled with Dana Bateman, Nicole Fraser, Reuben Greenspoon, and Shannon O’Reilly pulled out of LU immediately following a second year Accounting midterm and arrived in Van City just in time for the Opening Ceremony. They enjoyed a week of memories in BC, with special thanks going to SPAD alumni David Bedford who was the Canadian Olympic Committee’s (COC) Executive Director of Marketing and Communication for the Games, and also managed to help find a prime hotel for some of his former students.

SPAD Students at Canada House with Dave Bedford SPAd07

Besides the SPAD van, numerous other students made their way out to Vancouver to volunteer their services and expertise at this once in a lifetime event. Imran Gill volunteered for the entire Games at the main press centre and also was lucky enough to attend several hockey games, including a couple Canadian matches. Mike Latty and Vancouver’s own Alex Lea volunteered for a week at the mountain events, while also getting to attend a preliminary round hockey game. Olivia Instance, Michael Przybylowski, Lawren and Sean Carroll rounded out the SPAD students present in BC to take in some of the Olympic magic. Many alumni from across the years also attended the games and provided pictures and stories, so take a look in the SPAD Blog archives from February 2010 to see how SPAD covered the Olympics.
However, that opening day in Vancouver was anything but magical. The sole black mark on the Games came on that first day, when luger Nodar Kumaritashvili from Georgia died in a horrific crash during a training run. As athletes and fans mourned with the Georgians during this nightmare, a bright spot in the day was hopefully to come during the night’s Opening Ceremony. And while it was rich in Canadian history and traditions, the ceremony was highlighted by a malfunction with the Olympic cauldron’s “ice spiers” in BC Place. The very awkward moment seen around the world ended as Wayne Gretzky was transported to Jack Poole Plaza in the rain to light the official Olympic cauldron and cap off the ceremony. In one way or another, the 21ST Olympic Winter Games were officially underway.
While the opening day caused a stir for all the wrong reasons worldwide and even had Canadians wondering if we could recover to save our Games, the events got underway full force on day two. And as those events rolled along and those special Olympic moments began to unfold, the magic of the Games began to flood the nation. Canadians and our athletes seemed determined to overcome those opening day obstacles; refusing to let our Games be defined by problems. A sense of urgency swept across the country as the Games gained momentum and Canadians anticipated that first gold on home soil.

Freestyle skier and Turin Olympics gold medalist Jennifer Heil provided the first opportunity of triumph with a wicked final run in the women’s freestyle event. Sitting in first with only one skier to go, we all watched as American Hannah Kearney stole gold with an even more impressive run. However, the COC literally couldn’t have written a better script for Canada’s first home grown gold. The next night on February 14TH, 2010 who will ever forget watching Frédéric Bilodeau watch his younger brother, Alex, race and flip his way to the first ever gold medal won by a Canadian in Canada. Undoubtedly the most heart warming moment of the Games was seeing Alex rush over to hug his inspiration immediately after winning. Since then, Frédéric who suffers from cerebral palsy has become as big of a star as his golden brother.
After providing the heart warming moment of the Games, it was another French Canadian who provided a heart wrenching and incredible performance. After posting a personal best in the long program, figure skater Joannie Rochette learned that her mother had died from a heart attack shortly after arriving in Vancouver to see her daughter. Despite unimaginable shock and emotional pain, Rochette bravely decided to carry on in honour of her mother. An inspired and spine tingling short program almost brought down Vancouver. The whole world was applauding her heart and determination. Rochette realized her Olympic dream and honoured her mother with a bronze medal, in what is surely one of the most remarkable performances in figure skating history.

Imran & the Hockey Super Fan

But it wasn’t all just mushy gushy moments in Vancouver. Canadians were ready to stand up and showcase our strengths. We wanted gold… And gold we got. After a bit of a slow start, some impressive wins lead to a climb up the medal standings and a gold rush soon followed. Jon Montgomery dusted his way to gold in the men’s skeleton, followed by a march through Whistler with a pitcher of beer – true Canadian style. Charles Hamelin sped away with his second career gold medal in short track speed skating. The women’s hockey team won their third straight gold medal with a win over the Americans in the final. Unfortunately also on the ice, the women’s curling team let gold slip away, as Cheryl Bernard and company ended up with silver. But the next night, Kevin Martin and his crew wouldn’t be denied winning his first gold medal. That gave Canada a total of 13 gold medals, tying the record for most gold by a host country, with one last Canadian event to be completed.
Sidney Crosby would put an explanation point on a culture defining 17 days of adversity, perseverance, triumph, tears, and cheers that brought this country closer than ever before. In reality, the Games probably would not be remembered with the same fondness if the unspeakable had happened on that Sunday afternoon. All Canadians were captivated watching our flag raised to the top for a record setting 14th time by a host nation. It closed out the 21ST Winter Olympic Games, which will be remembered by all Canadians as simply the Golden Games. It was on that final day we all stood proud and united as Olympic champions.
Crosby’s goal was one of those moments that you will never forget where you were and how it happened. So SPAD, where were you February 28TH, 2010? For a walk down memory lane, check out the SPAD Flickr feed for many of pictures from the Games shared by students and alumni alike. You too can share your experience of the “golden goal” on twitter to @LU_SPAD.
Personally, I could be found in a basement in Sudbury, watching with a group of SPAD beauticians. If you weren’t in Vancouver, you wanted to be at 375 Wellington Heights…

That pretty much sums up the reaction felt across the nation. Congratulations and happy one year anniversary, Canada.

Leave a Reply