Day 5 – Air Maelle (for my sake, pretend it’s pronounced may-ill) It’s a pretty lame play on an otherwise nice-sounding name, but there was nothing lame about Maelle Ricker’s performance today (let’s forget about her first run) as she carved her way to a gold medal in women’s snowboard cross in front of her hometown crowd (literally. Ricker was born in West Vancouver and grew up shredding the hills at Cypress.) I was at the mall to pick up some hardware for my board and caught the final, a race in which Maelle led from the start and was really never in jeopardy of losing.
Of course, that’s what announcers were saying in 2006 when American Lindsey Jacobellis, appearing to have the gold medal wrapped up, attempted a method grab on the final jump and ended up bailing and costing her the victory. Ricker, the top-ranked female in the world, made no such mistake on her way to the finish line, grabbing first place and dulling the disappointment of Canadian fans, who had hoped to see two medals materialize from the event. Ricker’s teammate, third-ranked Dominique Maltais, crashed in both of her qualifying runs, ousting her from the semi-finals.
Ricker’s victory brought a huge cheer from the mall’s “Olympic Station” where I was watching the event. There are several more stations set up around the mall, complete with projection screen TVs, Canadiana, and bleachers for shoppers fans to sit on. It’s a wicked thing to see how much work not only the Olympic organizers themselves have put into these Games, but also regular businesses and citizens as well. The unifying spirit of the Olympic Games has most definitely taken over Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Already, the National Post has said that national pride is at extraordinary levels in the streets of Vancouver, and having spent the past four days downtown, I can and do most definitely concur.
Of course, things got ridiculous at 4:30 PM. One guess as to what happened at that exact time. I watched the puck drop from inside a Boston Pizza, where at 4:30 the dining room and bar were both packed with white-collar workers who had no doubt called it a day an hour earlier than usual. No matter though, because their bosses were right there with them, exchanging the suits and blouses for red and white as we prepared to cheer on the team that, in all honesty, makes or breaks these Olympic Games for the entire nation. It is not for no reason that the 2006 Games in Turin, at which Canada won a national record 24 medals, are still commonly referred to as a disastrous Games for Canada because of the men’s hockey team’s dismal seventh place showing. Hockey is Canada’s game (at least to Canadians.)
There would be no need for upset this night however, as Team Canada routed the overmatched Norwegian team 8-0 thanks to a well-balanced attack and solid goaltending from Roberto Luongo. The result leaves a lot of fans satisfied that the team is starting to gel and that 2010, Year of the Tiger, might also be the Year of Redemption.
The weather is still gorgeous.