That. Was. Freaking. Incredible.

In reference to the ice dancing gold medal won by Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir tonight: I would just like it recorded that I was there. Well, watching on TV, anyway.

Close enough.

And it was… a gold medal performance. Grace, trust and unity absolute. Only the second Canadian gold medal performance, as it happens, that I have ever watched start-to-finish — the first being the men’s hockey team victory in Salt Lake 2002. Were I not to have been there, I would be required to hand in my citizenship.

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It has been a very Canadian Olympics, thus far. That is, time spent fretting over failures — athletes and organizers alike — has outstripped rejoicing over victories by, oh, three-to-one or so. Today, officials formally conceded that the brash ‘Own the Podium’ program would, ahem, not be clocking us thirty-odd medals after all. Sorry about that. You think we were maybe a bit arrogant, about the whole thing? Yeah, maybe we were… but hey, we’re still doing good, right? Right?…

…and so on. It does not help that the breakout success story of these games is the USA. Watching a string of poised, confident, medal-wearing Americans shake their heads and smile indulgently at us is the most peculiarly Canadian of experiences: pleased and proud to be noticed, while at the same time writhing in agony over the need.

Thing is, I’m not sure if Owning the Podium in reality wouldn’t mean sacrificing too much of what makes us… well, us. Whether we are not better off as we are, so desperate to do the right thing, so accustomed to being overlooked that we are still wide-eyed at the very idea of hosting the world. But now that they’re here — hey, the beer’s cold and the party’s hot. And when the medals do come (which they have, after all) it is, very literally, the best feeling in the world.

It is because of our ultimate refusal to beat our chests that we are enjoying this Olympiad to the full in our own way; down on the streets of Vancouver, the bars of Whistler, and community centres across the nation. Let the media carp about technical issues and sniff at delays — yes, yes, we broke the cauldron, it rained the first couple days, and the chain-link fence around the outdoor flame was a stunning failure of imagination.

Meanwhile, the real Olympic spirit is quietly sliding under their radar… wearing a red-and-white scarf.

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