February 2020 marks 10 years since the 2010 Winter Olympic Games descended upon Vancouver and changed Canadians forever.
While the Games didn’t get off to the best start, with no snow on the mountains, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili tragically passing away in a crash during training, and one of the mechanical arms of the Olympic cauldron spectacularly failing to raise during the Opening Ceremony, the mood started to shift as Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first gold medal on home soil in the men’s moguls.
By the end of the Olympics, every single Canadian was high on euphoria and pride for their country. Canada won 14 gold medals, more than any other Winter Olympics (up until that point), and we had received the most medals by the host country at a Winter Games. To make it even better, we received our 14th gold medal from the men’s hockey team – the most Canadian way to cap off a wonderful Games.
As a post-secondary student at the time, I had time off of school to be able to take full advantage of and take in the Games. Every single day, I journeyed into Downtown Vancouver to check out what was happening in the city. For a city often nicknamed “No Fun City”, Vancouver was definitely alive and fun during the Olympics. While I never went to see live events, I took in absolutely everything that I could, including attending athlete autograph signings, going to view the Olympic medals, and watching events from outdoor screens in the city.
The last day of the Olympics though, was the most magical. It was a once-in-a-lifetime day that you would regret if you didn’t partake in the festivities. At this point, Canada had won 13 gold medals, and we were looking to beat the record by winning the upcoming men’s gold medal hockey game against the USA. Everyone was decked out in red, white, and giant Canada flags, anxiously waiting for the game to start. During the game, which I watched on an outdoor screen in Downtown Vancouver, Canada flags waved all around and “O Canada” was even sung twice during the game.
When Canada won in sudden-death overtime, the nation erupted – quite literally. Everyone high-fived each other, sang the Canadian national anthem while dancing down the street, and waved their Canadian flags maniacally all through the evening.
To continue fuelling the nostalgia, here are some great Olympic quotes from international media shortly after the conclusion of the Games:
“You’re gorgeous, baby, you’re sophisticated, you live well… Vancouver is Manhattan with mountains…” – The New York Times
“Vancouver is a city unlike any other. Wherever I look, I see water or mountains – or both. And everyone looks so healthy.” – The Daily Telegraph
“Vancouver looked gorgeous on TV… NBC’s shots of Vancouver’s downtown and waterfront, and aerial views of Whistler ski areas, provided a media boost no marketing campaign could have delivered.” – The Seattle Times
“Thank you, Canada. For being such good hosts. For your unfailing courtesy… For reminding some of us we used to be a more civilized society. Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.” – Brian Williams, NBC News
“The Olympics went into overtime Sunday. It was perfect. No one wanted the Warmest Games to end. Warmest weather. Warmest hosts.” – The Miami Herald
“Make no mistake, Canada’s people were the stars of these Games…” – Chicago Sun Times
“Why can’t we be more like Canada? They host the Olympics like they mean it. They smile… But most of all what they have is a kick-ass national anthem…” – The Huffington Post
“This is the nicest city I’ve ever been in.” – The Los Angeles Times
“These were the best Winter Games ever.” – Salon.com
“You can’t stage a better Olympics… In the end, it’s the people that power the movement. The Canadian people pushed these games back from the brink of disaster and right off into history.” – Yahoo.com
“Seoul’s citizens were wonderfully fanatical in 1988 and Sydneysiders were pretty hyped up in 2000 but the Vancouverites… set the standard for Londoners for 2012.” – The Daily London Telegraph
Like reporter Ted Chernecki said, “It’s amazing how 14 gold medals, 2 in hockey, could change the mood of the city.”
There was also a hilarious story about Air Canada (published on thestar.com on 09 March 2010), which I’ve quoted below:
VANCOUVER – Canada’s largest airline has learned it sometimes has to take a back seat to the country’s biggest sporting passion, ice hockey, the head of Air Canada said Tuesday.
The airline was forced to delay a flight from Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games because passengers watching the end of [the] gold medal final on airport televisions ignored repeated calls to board.
“We incurred a flight delay for a reason Air Canada had not yet encountered in over 72 years of existence,” chief executive Calin Rovinescu told a business gathering.
The Canadian fans were rewarded for their delay, as the nail-biting end to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics saw Canada beat arch-rival United States 3-2 in overtime.
And this is my favourite summary of the 2010 Winter Olympics:
Everyone who had the chance to experience the 2010 Winter Olympics first-hand has had much to pass on, to tell, myself included. While I no longer live in Vancouver or Canada, I am forever grateful that I did live there in 2010 and that I got to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event that was the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
If you experienced the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, what is your favourite memory? If you didn’t, what do you wish you experienced? Let me know in the comments!