The Vancouver Olympics have certainly had their moments. Here are my five favourites so far:
1. The Canadian women's bobsleigh triumph
Who would have expected that a sport like bobsleigh could generate such emotion? It was a joy to see Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, the two Canadian gold medal winners, dancing on the podium. Just as appealing was the obvious excitement of the two silver medallists, Canadians Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown, over their stunning success.
I never thought I would see a day when little-known women's bobsleigh teams would push millionaire hockey stars into second place in the hearts of Canadian sports fans. The fact that this occurred on a night when the Canadian hockey team defeated the Russians made it even more remarkable.
2. Jon Montgomery's walk through Whistler Village with a pitcher of beer in his hand
Montgomery, the Canadian skeleton gold medallist, has quickly become a media favourite. He's funny, enthusiastic, and so damn quotable. The Games got off to a rocky start with the death of a Georgian luger. Montgomery's victory and subsequent celebration helped turn the corner for many fans of the Olympics.
3. Joannie Rochette's emotional outburst after her short program in women's figure skating
It was an electrifying moment that will be remembered long after these Games are over. That's when it dawned upon people across Canada that Rochette just might win a medal.
4. Hayley Wickenheiser being interviewed with the entire Canadian women's hockey team after their gold-medal victory
Wickenheiser is one of Canada's greatest athletes, and she's never really gotten sufficient credit for her contributions to women's hockey. While the men get all the glory and the money, the women often toil in obscurity, only to get their moment in the sun during the Olympics. I'm glad that CTV invited the entire team on the set after the game.
5. The silhouette of Rick Hansen with the Olympic torch entering B.C. Place during the opening ceremony
There was a great deal of drama about who would light the Olympic cauldron. When I saw Hansen with the torch near the end of an emotional opening ceremony, I felt relieved and pleased that Vanoc had selected someone who had contributed so much to Canada beyond the world of sports.
Here are my five of my least favourite aspects of the Games so far:
1. The nationalistic media coverage
This took away from what the Games should be about: celebrating the achievements of all athletes regardless of their country of origin. At times, the nationalistic Canadian media coverage reminded me of what we've come to expect from American broadcasters covering the Olympics. I guess this is what happens when CTV replaces CBC as the host broadcaster. To be fair to CTV, maybe it was just giving Canadians what they wanted to see.
2. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's smarmy interview on CTV with host Brian Williams
Harper rarely consents to one-on-one interviews. I would have appreciated at least one question from Williams about why Harper felt it was necessary to shut down Parliament to avoid hearing questions about Afghan detainees. It was a lovefest, and clearly the prime minister was using this spot as an opportunity to link himself to the Games.
3. Premier Gordon Campbell acting like such a dolt during the opening ceremony
His rabid cheering stood in sharp contrast to the other dignitaries in the V.I.P box. It made me cringe.
4. The public's apparent lack of concern about the growing disparity between rich and poor in B.C.
I wish more people showed up at a housing protest at the Vancouver Art Gallery during the Olympics. The public is so caught up in the Games, and I fear that most middle-class and high-income people don't appear to care what's happened to the poor in this province. Nobody is paying attention to the Fraser Institute, the bankers, and the Conservative government's stealthy attack on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Next week, the federal and provincial governments will introduce budgets that will likely create more pain for low-income Canadians. And a significant portion of the electorate will probably yawn and go back to watching more sports on television.
5. Pie in the face of David Eby
I think the activists seriously miscalculated by smashing windows on the second day of the Games. This galvanized public support for the Olympics and turned off many people with concerns about such issues as police brutality (of which there was little during the Games), the lack of affordable housing, and indigenous rights. A few days later, one of the black bloc sympathizers tossed a pie in the face of B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby, which demonstrated a lack of tolerance for dissenting views. Even if you don't like what Eby has to say, it's immature, cowardly, and counterproductive to throw a pie in his face.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.