A decade long journey has finally brought the arrival of the 2010 Olympics to Vancouver. This past Friday the opening ceremonies officially kicked off the 21st Winter Olympics in our fair city. Canada has previously hosted two Olympics, Montreal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988. I have always watched the Olympics on TV but I have never attended a winter or summer Olympics event. I always imagined that living in the host city provides a very unique perspective. It is not just a 2-week event it is a decade long event that has its ups and downs. There were some significant cost overruns that got their fair share of international press and as you can imagine the construction seemed relentless at times. I admit that I did grumble a bit while commuting to work. But, in the end our city has been transformed: new highways, rapid transit lines, convention centers, sporting facilities, technology infrastructure and much more. I am not going to provide commentary on whether I think the Olympics provides the ROI required to justify such a commitment by a host city. Quite frankly, I don’t really know. But what I do know is that a I am huge supporter of sport in Canada and I think it is a worthy investment by both our government and more importantly corporate Canada. But I digress…back to the Olympics.
I attended the opening ceremonies this past Friday and as I watched the athletes parade into BC Place stadium I couldn’t help but think about the years of dedication and commitment these athletes have poured into their sport. Like Vancouver, the Olympics for them is more than a 2-week journey, it is a life long passion that has and will shape who they are even when they have retired from their sports. The ceremonies left me with immense pride for my country, city and athletes. I have said to almost all of my friends and family that I am surprised how outwardly patriotic we have been over the past month. Dare I say we have a hint of the “American vibe” going on. Flags are flying, chants of “Go Canada Go” and a sea of red and white swag on just about every person walking down the street. If you are not from Canada you may not understand this but our country has had a long internal conflict with ourselves when it comes to defining our identity. It is not that we don’t love our country but we struggle to articulate what makes Canada Canada; and, even if we feel we know we never want to talk about it too loudly. We are humble and at times afraid to say what we believe. For many, the now famous Molson “I Am Canadian” ad campaign gave Canadians something to rally behind without having to say it themselves. Yes, a beer company provided a voice for Canada. Sad but true.
If you attended or watched the opening ceremonies you probably heard Shane Koyczan’s “We are More” slam poetry rant. If you don’t know who Shane is don’t worry. Nobody else in Canada did either! That was his coming out party and Canadians, along with the rest of the world, seemed to love what he had to say. It had the “I Am Canadian” vibe to it but thankfully it wasn’t a beer commercial this time. Here is Shane delivering his poem during his audition for the 2010 games. The version he did in the ceremony was better in my opinion but this will refresh your memory a bit.
There were a few highlights from the ceremony that really stood out for me. The first was the initial short film projected on the big screen showing the most amazing aerial footage of Vancouver, Howe Sound, the Coast Mountain range, the Squamish Chief, and several scenes from around British Columbia. The footage was capped off with a wicked individual snowboard sequence starting from a remote mountain peak, down a steep face of fresh powder, culminating in a live jump through the Olympic rings into the stadium. The footage of Vancouver and its surrounding ocean and mountains resonated with me in a big way. As an avid back country pilot I see our amazing province from this vantage point on a regular basis and it was exciting to see it shown to the world. The second highlight was K.D. Lang’s amazing “barefoot” performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Both performer and writer define Canada’s diversity in their own unique ways. Lastly, the biggest highlight for me was the one minute of silence for the Georgian Luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili , who lost his life only hours before the opening ceremony. I know this highlight may seem strange but there was something very moving about 65,000 people in complete silence for that long. Believe me….it seemed much longer than one minute. If you want to watch the entire opening ceremony you can check it out here.
The icing on this cake is that on Sunday night Canada won it first gold medal on home soil. Alexandre Bilodeau squashed the jinx that has haunted Canada since Montreal in 1976 to win the men’s mogul competition on Cypress Mountain which overlooks the City of Vancouver.
So what does any of this have to do with Indicee? Absolutely nothing! It isn’t very often that your city gets to host an event like the Olympics and I felt I needed to do something very “un-Canadian” and brag about it. Vancouver is an amazing city and being a business leader in this city makes me proud to be building Indicee here. We have a long history of creating business intelligence software in Vancouver, both Crystal and Indicee started in Vancouver, and I believe it differentiates us and helps shape our culture. I recently commented in an email to the company that we have team members that participate or compete in just about every possible outdoor sport conducive to Vancouver: skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, hockey, back country skiing, kiteboarding, surfing, rock climbing and several more. I think we could create our own Olympic team! I wonder if I can convince the International Olympic Committee that Indicee is really a country that deserves a spot in the Olympics. I will let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, tell me what your favourite (that’s Canadian by the way!) Olympic moment has been so far?
Photos credits: Snowboard Ring Jumper – REUTERS/David Gray, Cauldron – Matthew Stockman/Getty Images