WHISTLER, B.C. – The often wonderful Canadian spirit at these Olympic Games is the best part of them and the happiest example for these eyes – the best example of Canadian spirit witnessed at 10 Games – arrived in the wee small hours Saturday morning.
Jon Montgomery, fresh from his gold medal in a captivating skeleton competition – a bauble that assures Canada will not go zero-for-Whistler – was paraded through the top end of town, his helmet under one arm and a small armada of RCMP officers trying to keep him moving forward. He high-fived the fans, who screamed and gave him the rock-star treatment.
A woman slipped out from a bar with a beer for Montgomery and not just any beer. An entire pitcher of beer. He happily chugged away at the pitcher while the flashbulbs popped and he continued advancing and mixing enthusiastically with the fans.
It was truly great stuff, unscripted and joyful, and he made his way to the outdoor stage where one of the host broadcasters interviewed him, while thousands of fans packed in behind him, whooping it up as he went over his gold-medal run. He seemed to be having the time of his life, which he absolutely deserved to do, and every face in the picture was beaming, except maybe the guy in the background holding up the large banner that read “Investigate 9/11.’’
It looked like a scene in a sports movie and if Hollywood ever comes calling, this young man could surely play himself in the movie. Except it was the real thing, spontaneous and heartfelt and as memorable as any off-field piece of Canadiana I can remember at an Olympics. Here’s to it – and him.
Here’s one more of those Whistler moments. Riding up the chairlift to the ski hill for Saturday’s Super, you tend to get packaged on the four-person seat with strangers. So you make acquaintances on the five-minute ride up. This day, it was a fan from Ottawa and a young teenager, a local, who was talking about his high school here and its ski and snowboard teams.
The thought struck: Would there be any high-school sports team in the country that would be tougher to make than the Whistler ski and snowboard team? Everybody seems to be perfectly at home on skis here, which seems natural enough. Little kids look great on their skis and snowboards, extremely talented. The teenaged talent pool must be outstanding.If there’s a tougher team to make, at least in theory, I can’t think of it.