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Monthly Archives: February 2006

We all know Cindy Klassen is going to carry the Canadian flag in tomorrow’s closing ceremonies. It certainly isn’t going to be Jerome Iginla…

Wow. 24 medals. I was quite worried early on that we might not even match 2002’s medal total. But in true fashion, we came through at the last minute, with another 4 medal haul today. We finished behind the United States, with only 1 more medal than us, and then, Germany, which won the Olympics medal count. Not too bad.

As with every Olympics, there were surprises, big disappointments, injuries, and some sweet revenge. Here are my random musing about Torino 2006.

Iron Woman: Cindy Klassen is a true Mennonite. At least, I think she’s a Mennonite. She’s from Winnipeg and her last name is Klassen, so one would assume so. Racing in 5 different events and distances would be more than enough for any normal human being. She is Super Woman. And she may be even more super in 2010…

Best Smile: Clara Hughes. This gal is crazy. Crazy enough to win both Summer and Winter Olympic medals. She obviously loves a challenge. Seeing her win today was inspiring. She was having one of those “pure joy” moments that don’t happen all that often. And her smile and energy was infectious. She embodied the true Olympic spirit. Hopefully she’ll stay around for 2010. And maybe they’ll add the Women’s 10,000 m to the Olympic program. She’d probably win…

Long Track vs. Short Track: Just in case you didn’t realize how deep seeded East vs. West rivalries are in Canada, look at speed skating. Most long trackers hail from Manitoba and west, while almost all of the short trackers come from anywhere east of Ontario. Weird…

Disappointments: Men’s Hockey Team. Enough said. Our snowboarders. Jeremy Wotherspoon and the men’s long track team. Our aerials team – these guys have been outstanding on World Cup circuits this year. What happened? Skiing, too. For a country that has a massive mountain range, it amazes me that we don’t have many quality skiers. What’s the issue? We’d better solve it before 2010…

Best fall: Jeff Bean. By a landslide. While attempting a freestyle aerial jump, he lost his skis in mid-air. He completed his stunt in the air and then landed on his butt. He came out unscathed. American networks have been airing this repeatedly for the past 2 weeks. It was definitely memorable.

Best fall that ended in a medal: Jeffrey Buttle. As Brain Williams said, “How can you win a medal with snow on your pants?” Well, with figure skating’s new scoring system, anything is possible. It’s nice to see that in this event for a change.

Cutest Olympian (Canadian): There were definitely a few. Because of the brainy girl in me, I’m going with Brad Gushue.

Cutest Olympian (International): Well, this is actually going to another Canadian. Dale Begg-Smith of the Australian moguls team. Plus, he’s worth something like $400 million. That doesn’t hurt…

Best re-enactment of “Cool Runnings” (minus a catastrophic crash): Pierre Leuders and Lascelles Brown, manning Canada 1. Having only received his citizenship a month before the Games, silver was sweet for this unlikely duo.

Most sportsmanlike: The Norweigan ski coach who gave Sara Renner an extra ski pole, enabling her and Beckie Scott to win silver in the team sprint. He should definitely get a medal of his own.

Team that is going to have the best party when it returns: Brad Gushue’s curling team. The Rock is rockin’ because of these boys. There’ll be lots of partying and those boys won’t be single for long (if any of them are…).

Best union of youth and experience: Again, the Brad Gushue curling team. With Russ Howard’s knowledge and experience, and the shot making of Mike Nichols and Gushue, a gold medal was always within reach.

Best recovery: The Shannon Kleibrink rink. These gals had it tough all week, with missed games because of someone sleeping in and sickness that ravaged half of the team. But they stuck with each other and pulled out a bronze medal. Gutsy.

Best surefire win: Canadian Women’s Hockey Team. They didn’t take Sweden lightly. They took it to them and brought home the gold. They never lost their focus during the tournament when people were accusing them of running up the score and then the talk of taking women’s hockey out of the Olympics. These girls stepped up and delivered when it counted.

Most overused phrase by a color commentator: “There’s a double available,” or any phrase with “available” in it by Mike Harris, color commentator for curling.

Best first name of an Olympian: Duff Gibson. Hands down. His name is Duf! What more do you want?

Best last name of an Olympian: Uusipaavalniemi of Finland. I don’t know how to spell his first name, but that doesn’t matter. Look at his last name. It almost rivals that of George Stroumboulopoulos (spelling??).

Best prospect for 2010: There are lots here, but Joannie Rochette, the young figure skater from Quebec, had a great Olympics, finishing 5th – the highest finish by a female figure skater since Elizabeth Manley’s silver medal-winning performance in ’88. She’s one to watch.

Best mouth that got shut up: Bode Miller. He came home medal-less. Serves him right. Chad Hedrick. He didn’t get his 5 gold medals. And Mike Modano. He obviously played way too long with Brett Hull in Dallas. Hull’s notorious whining has rubbed off on Modano… Notice they’re all Americans? And even though Sasha Cohen never said anything, I’m glad she won silver. What is with Americans and their female figure skaters? They don’t care about their other skaters – only their female ones. Actually, it’s not hard to understand why. Just look at who graces the covers of all of their magazines. It’s obsession with young, gorgeous girls. According to me.

Future politican: Cross country skier Chandra Crawford. When on the phone with PM Stephen Harper (it kills me to write that…), she told him to invest more money into sport because he’d get it back in health care. Good call…

Worst on-air interview: BC Premier Gordon Campbell with Al Rker of the “Today” show. He was so concerned with giving Al the token Canada hat that has graced the heads of all our athletes, that he forgot to talk about the Games being in Vancouver in 2010. Come on…

What Americans now think of us: Al Roker pointed out that in BC Canada House (or whatever it is called), where Vancouver is promoting the 2010 Games, there’s huge log in the middle of the building. It’s from Bella Coola. And Al Roker promptly let Americans know that in Italian, Bella Coola means “nice butt”. Oh, great…

Most hated team: Team Sweden – Men’s Hockey. I will throw something if they win gold tomorrow. Their coach basically said that he was thinking about throwing their last round robin game so that they could get an easier matchup with Switzerland in the quarter-finals. Sure, you can think that way. But to say it out loud? Why wasnt this punished? This undermines sport in every way. It’s ridiculous. And now Sweden could win the gold medal and be rewarded. I know Mats Sundin plays for Sweden, but so does Daniel Alfredsson. Go Finland…

And that’s it. It’s unfortunate that CTV will take over Olympic coverage in 2010. To me, the Olympics and CBC are synonymous. Plus, it means that Ben Mulroney and Seamus O ‘Regan will probably be correspondents, and I can’t take that. It’s four years away and I’m already queasy.

I did miss CBC actually having a STUDIO in Torino. It’s not the same when the athletes don’t come into the studio and review their winning performance with Brian Williams. Call me crazy, but I don’t mind him. He’s the Olympics man. Plus, he and Don Cherry and quite funny together. Terri Liebel on the other hand – go away. Ron Maclean is okay…

This was a great Olympics for Canada. Historic. Memorable. Inspiring. Only one more thing needs to go right: please don’t let Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan tip over in his wheelchair tomorrow when he gets the Olympic flag at the closing ceremonies tomorrow. That would suck…

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the Canadian women! Our women have dominated their male counterparts at these games, contributing 13 medals to Canada’s overall count, compared to 5 for the men. Well, 6 now, since the Brad Gushue rink is guaranteed a medal. And speaking of men and medals…

What a tournament put in by our Canadian Men’s Hockey Team. I haven’t seen that weak of an effort in an international tournament in quite a long time. Everybody talks about Nagano being a downer. What about this one? At least in Nagano they were in the semi-finals. At least they were able to score enough goals to get to a shoot out. Here we were blown away.

What was it that did them in? Lack of leadership. No motivation. These guys played without any committment. They did whatever they wanted on the ice, as if they were practicing. There was no “team”.

The excuse about not knowing the big ice surface is crap because they’ve won world championships and Olympic medals on it before. It’s not as if they suddenly changed the dimensions or took out a line.

Coaching? Possibly. Though it is odd that Pat Quinn got it done at the 2002 Olympics and the World Cup – with a lot of the same cast of characters. They certainly didn’t adjust their game plans at any time during the tournament, only juggling lines. The line juggling could be a factor as no one every really played as a unit long enough to gel. But hey – these guys are professionals.

And you can’t use the excuse of “no time to prepare or workout together”. No one else did either – except the Swiss.

It comes down to the players themselves. Jarome Iginla was nowhere to be found. His 2 goals came against Italy. Todd Bertuzzi contributed nothing, as did Chris Pronger – except penalties. Dany Heatley and Rick Nash couldn’t find the net. Vincent Lecavalier – pass the puck! Defensively, I didn’t think we were that bad. And Brodeur was the only reason we had a chance today.

But leadership. We didn’t have it. Nobody stepped up and took the team on their shoulders. There was no “it’s us against the world speech” which I though might happen with the Mighty One being crucified back in North America over supposed gambling infractions.

There was no heart, plain and simple.

This team will be very different in 2010. The boys should be embarassed. Very embarassed. And they should learn from this – as should Hockey Canada. You thought there was pressure to win this one, boys? Ha! That’s nothing in comparison to the hopes and dreams this country will be pinning on you when the games are held in your own backyard. That’s pressure. Get used to it. And just think – you don’t have the pressure of trying to become 3 time defending gold medallists.

Thinking back to the World Juniors, I’d like to see what Brent Sutter would have done. He took a mediocre at best squad and led them to gold this past January. Imagine what he would have done with this team? I don’t know…

All I hope is that we’re not starting another 50 year gold drought…

Two things before I get to my actual posting:
1. The Men’s Hockey team is finished. The can’t score. They can’t stop anyone else from scoring. And that’s that.
2. I have never seen so many 4th place finishes from the Canadian team. There have been 5 or 6 now. We are the world’s best fourth-place finishers. Isn’t that typically Canadian? To be close to the top, but not close enough to be noticed. Just close enough to go for drug testing in case we make it to the top. How typically, stereotypically Canadian…

To the subject at hand…

We are supposed to live in a world of political correctness. Aren’t we? Not according to American music books…

I remember the song “Indian Dance” from my ABC beginner piano books by Boris Berlin. But it was the late 80s and political correctness wasn’t exactly “in vogue” then. At that time I knew that “Indians” (Natives or Aboriginals these days) didn’t live in “teepees” anymore. They lived among me and the town near which I grew up.

The problem with people out here is that they don’t see anything beyond the Port Mann bridge. And if they do, they must live or have connections in Surrey. Woo hoo! Surrey (sarcasm implied)! People out here live in their own bubble. Unfortunately things are so close at hand, that people don’t have to travel far to get what they want. Malls, movie theaters, casions – you name it – it’s here. The only thing you might actually have to plan for is a Canucks or Lions game. That’s it. People are closed in. And therefore, closed-minded.

Take my piano student who played the “Indian” songs today. He didn’t know that they don’t dress in their ceremonial garb everyday. He didn’t know that they don’t live in teepees. He’s never seen a real, live “Indian”. When I explained that I lived around them and went to school with them all of my life, he couldn’t understand that. So, now he thinks that all “Indians” live in Saskatchewan, because I have no idea where they live in Saskatchewan. I tried to get him to understand that the correct term is “Native” or “Aboriginal”, but the music book said “Indian”, so that’s what it was.

But it is an American music book. And “Indians” in America don’t have the power their Canadian counterparts have. The power nor the publicity. In some ways their plight is more desperate than those of our Native people up. You can’t believe that the issues don’t exist up here. But down there, Native Americans are lost in the melting pot that is the United States. Lost without a single voice to plead for them.

This is not to say that I am a voice of authority on Native issues. I’m not pretending to be. I’m just stating facts. But when’s the last time you heard George Bush trying to get the “Native” vote, or any US political party trying to get it? It’s too small of a minority when compared to African Americans or Hispanics. Plus, they don’t play basketball or football. That would help, don’t you think? The only Native American sports figure I can think of is Notah Begay III, a PGA golfer (This leads me to an interesting survey. Did you know that the following NHL players are Métis: Darcy Tucker, Wade Redden, Dan Cloutier and Sheldon Souray? Fred Saskamoose, the first Aboriginal player in the NHL, went to school in Duck Lake, just 10 minutes north of where my family lives in Saskatchewan. Did I really know anything in this paragraph until the research I did 5 minutes ago? No.). But I digress…

The point is that even in Canada, a land that prides itself on its multiculturalism, we really don’t know anything about each other. We all live in our own little worlds, staying inside them unless push comes to shove. I can say that I learn more about what it is to live in a multicultural society everyday. In my studio, I have Korean, French, Korean-French, Iranian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean-Canadian, and Caucasian children. Some were born here, others weren’t. Some lived in the United States for a few years. Some are recent immigrants. But the nice thing about teaching music to them is that it’s a universal language. No matter what language you speak, “do” is a female deer, “re” is a drop of golden sun.

Cowboys and Indians, though? Well, that’s another story…

I have decided that I am going to be an Olympian. Yes I am. I’m going to be a curler. An Olympic curler. A lead or second, I think. Or a skip that throws lead or second stones. And I won’t yell. Too damaging to the voice. Instead, I’ll sing. “Hurry (on a nice high G) hard (up to high C)!” Can you imagine the looks on my opponent’s faces? And the commentators would fall silent. And I would be curling’s new rock star. Ha ha – rock star! Do you get the double meaning? If not, I refuse to help you.

I have decided that I’m going to give out some awards to wrap up this week’s posts. Here goes…

Weird commuter behavior of the week: To some guy on the SkyTrain, who on Thursday night proceeded to rub a cream all over his neck (front and back) and then – behind and in his ears. All together now: eeewwww… I’m pretty sure it was a medicated cream, because it smelled.

Best rant: My voice teacher in rehearsal today. Ouch (it wasn’t to me – thank goodness…).

Best upset: Sweden over the US in women’s hockey. I didn’t pick Switzerland over Canada because of this: the US women have never NOT qualified for a final in any international hockey tournement – ever. The fact that they were knocked off by Sweden means the tide is turning in women’s hockey, and it couldn’t have come as a better time, as throughout the week there were questions as to the validity of having women’s hockey as a sport when it is clearly dominated by two teams. Not anymore.

Best curling shot: The young Italian skip who drew to the 4 foot to beat Canada 7-6 in extra ends today. Them Italians can curl. See you guys in 2014. I plan to be there…

Best result of my cold: I got to school, said, “Hello” and was told I have the sexiest voice ever. I need to get a cold more often…

Best student behavior: A little boy who brought me a huge box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Worst rebuttal of best student behavior: I reprimanded the poor guy for not listening in class (as I reprimanded the rest of the class as well – I didn’t single him out), and therefore felt guilty taking the chocolates. The kids said I wasn’t fair. I ask you not to do something repeatedly, you still do it, I reprimand you – what’s not fair about that?

Worst thing to wake up to: When Mom was here, we shared my bed. I woke up in the middle of the night one time to find her laying almost on top of me. I was crunched at the end of my bed – I’m surprised I didn’t fall off. I shoved her off of me and went back to bed.

Worst dressed: Toss up between Rick Mercer in spandex and the duo of Matt Lauer and Al Roker in spandex. You choose…

Worst abuse of power: David Emerson. Yeah, he didn’t defect this week, but he’s still abusing his power, and therefore, he wins this category this week.

Hilarious commentators: Joan McCusker and Mike Harris, color commentators for CBC Curling. Why are they funny? Because they never agree and don’t care.

Most annoying person: Um, Joey Cheek of the US Speed Skating team…

Most overblown athlete: Bode Miller, US Skiing. No medals as of yet…

Best name of an athlete: Duff Gibson, Gold Medal Winner of Men’s Skeleton. The guy’s a 39 year old firefighter from Calgary. And his name is Duff…

Worst performance: Jeremy Wotherspoon. He is the Kurt Browning of speed skating. Dude, the 500m is YOUR race. Come on…

Best performance: By any of our medal-winning ahtletes.

Most overblown performance by a Canadian athlete: Sorry to do this, but, it’s got to be Jeffrey Buttle. He fell – repeatedly. We won a bronze in women’s skeleton and two silvers in women’s and men’s speed skating team pursuit, but we focus on the guy that falls his way to a medal. Okay…

Best movie: I finally saw “Crash”. See it.

Most directionally lost person: My brother. Poor Jeff. He kept thinking my apartment was on the way to the ocean. No, Jeff. Go up the hill…

Stupid injury of the week: José Theodore. Life sure isn’t getting better for this guy. He loses his starting job with the Canadiens, he doesn’t make the Olympic team, he tests positive for a hair growth substance (embarassing in itself in that the guy can’t grow a beard without drugs), and now he falls outside of his houes in Montreal and is out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his heel. You know, I feel sorry for the guy. Except that he’s a millionaire who will make money doing nothing for 6-8 weeks.

Cutest Olympian: Brad Gushue, Canadian curling. Hands down.

Worst performance by a team in the opening days of CFL free agent season: Who else? The Riders. They haven’t signed anybody yet, while the Eskimos locked up Tucker, the Ti-Cats got Josh Ranek, the Als got Sanchez back and we gave Scott Schultz an extension. What the heck is wrong with this picture? We need a QUARTERBACK! FIND ME A QUARTERBACK!

That’s it for this week’s awards. Congratulations to all of the winners. You win – nothing. Except the novelty and prestige of being mentioned on my blog. And with that, goodnight…

In bed. With the covers up to my ears. I don’t feel so great, but yet I’m sitting at my computer, trying to piece together today’s ridiculous crossword, wading through useless e-mails, listening to the re-broadcast of the Italy/Canada men’s hockey game from earlier today, all the while reprimanding myself for not being in bed right now. But I’m right beside my bed. Doesn’t that count for something?

I have come to the conclusion that I am incapable of relaxing. I can’t do it. I can’t sit still. I can’t have silence. I can’t meditate. Hell, I can’t even read a paragraph out of a People magazine without my thoughts wandering somewhere else in between Britney Spears exposés.

And what am I going to do about it? What I always do. I will stew about it, make a concerted effort to do better, and yet, go back to my old familiar pattern. That’s just the way I am. Moving on…

The weekend with Mom, Jeff (my BROTHER) and Jessica (his GIRLFRIEND) was splendid. Splendid. I never use that word… Anyways, we had a great time. The sun was out all weekend (a rarity in this part of the world as of late), we kept ourselves busy the entire weekend and ended up running out of time. We didn’t get to Gastown, Chinatown, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Science World, BC Place, GM Place, Canada Place and many other places. And then there was Grouse Mountain…

I hate heights. I hate gondolas/trams/SkyRides – you get the picture. Going straight up a mountain on a little tram that sways when you hit the towers was not fun. Not in the least. Scariest 12 minutes of the year so far. And then there was the ski instructor that my family and I befriended on the way down. Once again, I was scared. Very scared. I couldn’t look up. I stared straight down at the floor of the tram, terrified that if I looked, the tram would fall. He laughed at me the whole way down. Too bad he wasn’t cuter and too bad he wasn’t much more than 19 years old, otherwise, I might not have been alone on Valentine’s Day for the 23rd year in a row (now that’s a record I challenge anyone to beat). But that was my weekend. It was terrific. I can’t wait until the next time the Hamm family ventures out west, because next time we’re heading for the Island.

On to other pressing matters. The Olympics. We’ve got to win 18 more medals in the next 10 days or so, otherwise, my medal count will be a little off. So will the COC’s. And we’re screwed going into 2010. But, as Scott Feschuk says in this week’s Maclean’s: “there’s a bright side if Canada’s medal haul is modest. With our athletes enduring distresssing defeats with great frequency on international TV (see: Perdita Felicien), we would as a nation be more likely to obtain sympathy sex from kind-hearted foreigners.” I thought it was funny…

But what is it with Canadian athletes? It’s as if there’s some complex ingrained into our head that we’re not good enough. We can’t do it. We can’t take the pressure. I understand. I’ve been there. Well, not in the Olypmics, but I understand the pressure to perform. The biggest enemy is always yourself. Your own negative pattern of thoughts, which are often your own inner beliefs coming to the surface. It sucks. It’s awful. But it’s also Canadian. We are a self-deprecating country. We make fun of ourselves all the time for being the “little guy” in world affairs. The underdog. But can’t the underdog be the top dog sometimes? Not all the time (that would be the American way), but some of the time. Like in hockey. Why can’t we carry our “we are the best” attitude into other sports? We should be winning medal after medal in speed skating. Only 2 so far. We should have great skiers – we’ve got two provinces full of mountains. But one medal. People say it’s money (the COC), some say it’s our programs (see: Australian mogul gold medallist Dale Begg-Smith who’s actually Canadian). But I think it’s attitude. We have it in hockey. But not in anything else…

The Dave Emerson affair continues on out here. I’m amazed at how upset people are. Well, it’s still only a fraction of people that care, but it’s better than no one. Nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change. That’s the Canadian way.

Well, it’s 9:25 and I’m nowhere near the end of my crossword puzzle, I’m done going through my e-mails, the Italy/Canada game is over and I’m still wishing I were in bed. Maybe I should head that way. Or not…


Jeff and I are on some road in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. We happened upon the road while Mom was at the quilt shop. We figured we had a few minutes, and decided to go exploring. When we finally went to get Mom, she had been outside for a while… Posted by Picasa

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