Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympic fever

I fell in love with Calgary more than 20 years ago.

It was shortly after my brother, Shane, returned home from an exchange program in Strathmore. His class had been White Hatted, an honour bestowed upon special guests to the city, and joined the ranks of KISS and the Dalai Lama.

I'm not sure if he ever realized the effect that visit had on me.

The pictures of mountains and the copy of the Calgary Sun depicted a magical place, so beyond anything I'd ever known in Antigonish, N.S.

And this was 1986, two years before Cowtown captured the hearts of the world by hosting the Olympic Winter Games.

Fast forward 24 years, skipping over one Stanley Cup championship, an incredible explosion to the economy and my arrival.

The Olympics are back in Canada, based in Vancouver.

Each time a Canadian wins a medal, the flame at the top of the Calgary Tower will be lit, sending our support across the Rockies and over to Vancouver.

Today, it honours Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., who captured silver last night in women's moguls.

Tomorrow, it will be burning bright for Kristina Groves, who claimed bronze in women's 3,000-metre speed skating, and moguls' Alexandre Bilodeau, the first Canadian to win gold on home soil.

Meanwhile, many of us who won't make it to Vancouver -- unlike lucky ducks Alex Ruiz, Jill Belland, Greg Hounslow, Danelle Wettstein and Wendy Peters -- will watch, sometimes breathlessly, and pound away on our keyboards.

Never before have the armchair quarterbacks had such a place to voice their opinion and express their pride in our nation and its athletes. Twitter is bringing a whole new level to the Olympics ... and boy, is it fun.

Of course, I'm now reminded how badly I need to clean off my screen.

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