Vancouver 2010: There’s People Out There Turning Hockey Into Gold

26 02 2010

My home computer is awaiting replacement so I could not provide my raw reaction to the USA/Canada gold medal game last night. In short, I cried, a lot.

My heart broke for Team USA.

My heart burst for Canada.

My heart lifted for female athletes everywhere.

My heart lifted for humanity, who am I kidding.

After Canada and Team USA took turns steamrolling the field, it was not entirely surprising that the gold medal match ended with a score of 2-0. The Olympics, as pertaining to women’s hockey, was something of a repeat of the 2009 Four Nations Cup except 4 more teams got to be part of the festivities. Canada beat Team USA back then 6-1, so 2-0 is indeed an improvement but failing to score twice on 5-3 power plays spells doom when Canada is displaying an elite level of performance. Plus Canada had something that Team USA didn’t. And no, it wasn’t home ice advantage.

My Dad loves to tell the story of Franz Klammer. As he rises to the narrative, he notes that Klammer, an Austrian, was competing in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. As a result, his country didn’t hope for a gold medal. They didn’t expect a gold medal.

They demanded a gold medal.

And history was made on a mountainside in Innsbruck.

So it went on Olympic ice on February 25, 2010. Canada demanded a gold medal, and they got one.

If I wasn’t already a teary mess at the end, when Team USA was awarded the silver medal and the Canadian crowd chanted “U-S-A”, well, I lost it for sure.

Me being me, at the end of it all, I didn’t see winners and losers, or gold medalists and Not Exactly.

I saw heroes.

And when Julie Chu stood crying on the medal stand, I wished I could play the part of Pat Summitt, grab her shoulders, look her in the eyes and say “you keep your chin up.”

Yes, I am crushed for Team USA. Gold was the goal, and as the TV announcers repeatedly assured the viewers, in time Silver will be recognized as a noble achievement, but for now, tears, failure, loss.

But here is the silver lining: I have no doubt that Canada appreciated the win. Not just the team, but the country. There was no talk of “yes, but it really doesn’t count unless the men win Gold too,” or “aw, that was just the ‘chick medal’.”

These athletes are representing us. Their achievements matter. A victory by Team USA is a victory for the USA. A victory by Team Canada is a victory for the Canada. I will have more to say about the broader implications of this in a future article, but for now I will simply say that I was very pleased to see a large step in the direction of honoring the achievements of all people, rather than dismissing or belittling those accomplishments in the name of gender or other perceived barriers to equality.

As for all of the athletes involved in the 2010 Olympics, you are redefining the possible.

I applaud you all.

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