Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today we are set for a very busy day. We headed out first to the Richmond Oval for the women’s 5,000 m speed skating. We decided to drive as we had to be back downtown quickly for the Canada-Russia hockey game. We found a brilliant parking spot only a block from the oval – a substantial upgrade over the 1.6 km walk from the train station. Even better, the parking was free! What we didn’t anticipate was the long line-up of fans to get into the venue. We arrived almost 30 minutes before the start-time only to find a line up at least three blocks long! After clearing the security check and grabbing pepperoni pizzas for lunch, we found our seats. The third pair of eight was already on the track and anticipation was starting to build for the two Canadians in the final three pairs.

Race times were getting better and better with each group and then it was time for Clara Hughes. She got off to a fantastic start and all of her split times were better than those that had raced before her. At the conclusion of her race, she was in first place with four skaters to go. Next up was Kristina Groves. She quickly fell off the pace and was never in contention for a medal. The German skater in Kristina’s pair finished with a better time than Clara Hughes, bumping her into second place with two skaters to go. The final pair included the world record holder from the Czech Republic. She blazed around the track to win the gold medal, leaving Canada in third place with a bronze. This bronze medal ties Clara Hughes with Cindy Klassen as the most decorated Canadian Olympian (they have both won six Olympic medals) and she is the only Canadian to have won medals at both the summer and winter games. Well done, Clara! 

We raced to our car following the event to get downtown in time for the Canada-Russia men’s hockey game. We sat down in Canada Hockey Place with about 20 minutes to go. Once again, great seats – first row of the balcony. The place was electric and way louder than the Canada-USA game a few days before. The crowd erupted into “Let’s Go Canada!” when the teams came out and play began. Canada completely dominated the game from the get-go and the first period was the best first period of hockey I have ever seen. These guys are seriously good! With Canada up by several goals, the tension eased from the crowd and the party began, with the fans getting more and more excited as the clock ran down. As the third period reached the mid-way mark, the whole building started chanting “Where’s Ovech-kin?” followed by “We want Sweden” and then, “We want the Gold”. Guess we never anticipated that Slovakia would be our opponent in the semi-final! When all was said and done, Canada won 7-3 and the Russians were sent home. All is well in the world again!

Following the game we rushed over to BC Place to attend the Victory Ceremony. As we sat down, Clara Hughes was given her bronze medal. It was awesome to be there to see it. Following the medal presentation, we sat back and enjoyed an hour of the INXS concert. They were really good with their new Canadian frontman.

The concert ended and we headed for our car to get to the airport and collect our two little guys, Devon and Logan, who were flying in from Calgary under the watchful eye of Kelsie Fraser – thanks Kelsie! Big thanks too to Sarah Wilson for watching them while we were here earlier in the week.

As we were walking to our car, we received a text from some friends who were having dinner at a restaurant and they had spotted Wayne Gretzky, Craig MacTavish and Chad Kroeger from Nickelback. As we read the text, we realized we had just passed the restaurant. We headed back to find our friends and do some celebrity spotting. Our friends had already left but we did run into Wayne, Craig and Chad. I contemplated a photo for the blog but thought better of it since they were all having dinner. We left and headed out to the airport.

Picked up the airport gang and headed home. It was a great day. One of the best so far. The crowds are back on the streets again and the noise level is cranking back up. Given all the medals Canada won today (gold and silver in women’s bobsleigh, silver in women’s short track, bronze in women’s speed skating) and the fact that Canada sent the Russians home in hockey, I would vote February 24 as the new Canada Day! Did I mention that it tried to rain all day but never really did?

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