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Final thoughts on Sochi

Upon leaving Sochi Monday morning, CBC’s David Amber tweeted out “So Canada completes the ‘Double-Double’. Gold in mens and womens hockey [sic] and curling. First time ever.”

I like David Amber. I do. We had a nice 45-minute conversation in October because I was looking into Syracuse’s journalism program – his alma mater. But that one tweet perfectly represented the set of horse blinders this country wears when it comes to any other sports.

Lest we forget, the lovely Dufour-Lapointe sisters went 1-2 in the women’s moguls, while Alex Bilodeau and Mikael Kingbury also topped the podium on the men’s side. Let me repeat. The men and women’s teams both won gold AND silver in the same sport.

By that nature, Canada actually completes a triple-triple, with a nice hint of Captain Morgan’s Silver Spiced Rum – it’s the best thing I could come up with that goes with silver.

Point is, unless you subscribe to whatever European ski network that airs the World Cup circuit, that double gold and double silver in moguls was almost mostly forgotten by the closing ceremonies. Maybe it’s the bad timing of having the event within the first two days of the Games, I don’t know.

But as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector pointed out in Sunday column at Sportsnet.ca : “We exercise anti-prohibition, changing our liquor laws overnight for a gold medal game with a 7 a.m. ET puck drop, a fact that no one – not even those folks who live to be concerned about the level of fun enjoyed by others – raise a voice against in protest.”

And I totally understand that. I’m not saying we should be on the edge of our seats watching Chloe and Justine fly down a hill, praying the judges don’t screw them like Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Winning double gold is a big, big deal. In any sport. Yet it seemed to be a bigger deal that two sisters topped the podium than the fact that in two days Canada became the best and second-best moguls country in the world. It didn’t even make it into Amber’s Tim Hortons metaphor.

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If there’s anybody who’s hoping for an NHL appearance in 2018, it’s the restaurant industry coast-to-coast. I’m waiting for somebody to check into how much the industry made over those two weeks, but I’m willing to bet that after the Olympics, the strike suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big hit on the Cellar anymore.

But if this Olympics has taught me anything, it’s further strengthened my argument that Fredericton is a really mediocre sports town. Aside from my usual bantering of how few local sports actually get decent attendance, the fact that I had to call around and ask bars if they’d be open on Sunday morning for the gold medal game is saddening.

I myself went to Boston Pizza. I first went to the Snooty Fox because my waiter the day before said they’d be open at 8 a.m. They actually smartly opened earlier and by the time I got there every table within a view of a TV was taken.

But aside from those two places and the Hilltop – and the Grad house but . . . yeah – there wasn’t really any other decent bar to watch it at. I caught the Canada-USA women’s gold medal game at the Cellar and it was awesome, as was the Canada-USA men’s game at the King Street Ale House.

But aside from Boston Pizza’s bar section, there’s really no good sports bar in this city. And even at Boston Pizza, it doesn’t feel all that welcoming to stand with a beer in hand if you can’t get a table.

But to wrap up these Olympics on a positive note, the there was a lot of good to remember in these games.

I challenge anybody doing a RAKnomination to outdo Justin Wadsworth. He’s the Canadian cross country ski coach who, after all his athletes were eliminated, helped out a Russian skier – an early medal favourite – by giving him a spare ski after his was mangled to the point of disrepair.

And then there’s Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt who finished in fourth place in cross-country sprint only four days after her brother’s death.

And how about Gilmore Junio, the Canadian long-track speed skater?

In a true act of just being a good teammate, Junio stepped aside to let fellow Canadian Denny Morrison race in the 1,000-metre long track race. You see, Morrison fell at the Canadian trials in December and failed to qualify for the 1,000-metre race. This after recovering from a broken leg the year before.

Morrison took the gift and skated to a silver medal.

Personally, I still think Junio should have carried the flag at the closing ceremonies. Maybe in PyeongChang, eh?

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