On Scene

Hockey and national pride
February 26, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon

Friday, Feb. 26


The Canadian ego received a much-needed boost with the women’s hockey gold medal victory over the Americans on Thursday. Walking past CBC Vancouver in the waning minutes of the third period, it was neat to watch CBC’s TV news anchors (they’re broadcasting from the sidewalk during the Olympics), watching the game televised by CTV though the window of the restaurant next door

We had five-minute wait for a table at a restaurant two blocks from GM Place and were seated in time to watch the medal presentation to the hockey teams. Hayley Wickenheiser got the loudest round of cheers of all Team Canada players. When the anthem was played, people in the restaurant stood and sang along. Pretty cool.


Vancouverites seem to be recovering from the bashing the city and the Games were receiving in the British media for a couple of weeks. What many here don’t realize is that this is the British media on their best behaviour. As an institution, they treat everyone and everything with total disdain, reserving their most venomous barbs for their own fallen heroes. In a turn of events, there was much consternation in Britain when Vancouver radio and TV stations started phoning their British counterparts, demanding an explanation.  Apparently this had never happened before and the Brits were quite taken aback by the cheek of the provincials.


No matter how much we may bash Toronto and all other things east of the Rockies, Vancouver suffers ever so slightly from low self-esteem. There is a rush to proclaim the city and everything about it as “world-class”, as though we need constant reassurance that we do belong at the ball. Invariably, as the local media work their way through the thousands of Olympic visitors and athletes from all corners of the world, the closing question will be a variation on “How do you like our city?” Do you like us, do you really, really like us?    


We took an après-dinner stroll up the Robson Street pedestrian mall – thousands and thousands of people on the street, lots of street performers, live entertainment until midnight at three large venues downtown. It’s hard to spot anything but the maple leaf and all things red and white in the crowd. A few Russian jerseys and the occasional USA, but it really is the maple leaf forever.


Notice that Vancouver Police are bringing their mounted squad horses into the downtown core by trailer and parking them out of sight. They’re not really hidden, but no one seems to take any notice as they come through. BC Ambulance has four extra ambulances parked on the street outside the downtown station, just in case. 


It somehow seemed a kinder, gentler crowd.  Maybe that’s what women’s hockey does to people. The men’s semi-final is on Friday evening.  Am I old enough to come downtown for the game and stay up late after it’s over? 

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