Amen Corner

For anyone not well versed in golf, Amen Corner describes the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes of August National golf course, home of the Masters. They’re a particularly difficult stretch of holes, and if you come out clean, the tailors start scrambling to get your measurements for the Green Jacket (a wearable trophy).

I mention Amen Corner, because this weekend at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics presented a very similar challenge to Canada’s Olympic team. Sadly, I’d say we came out of the weekend, ummm, about 8 over par.

I don’t mean to be an armchair athlete. I appreciate how tough it us to perform under the microscope of 34 million mitten-wearing hosers. And I know how tough the US and German teams are. It’s just, I hoped the law of averages would lead us to more than 1 silver medal over 48 hours.

The Hamelin brothers really deflated me. 2 chances to win a medal in a final heat of 5 skaters. In the words of my friend Jeff, “they skated a masterful 500 meter race. Problem was, it was in the 1000 meter event.”

Denny Morrison and Manny Osbourne-Paradis also got to me, pulling out a lot of excuses and finger pointing for their poor performances. Uncharacteristic of both athletes, and quite un-Canadian.

Melissa Hollingsworth was tough to watch, putting in a disastrous 4th run to slide right off the podium. Her coach was there at the bottom, handing her the Canadian flag in an anticipated celebration of a medal. She held it up with a forced smile, but might as well have used it as a kleenex.

While we’re talking about the track, one of our 2-man bobsled teams actually crashed while in 3rd place. This despite all those extra runs they had as part of the Own the Podium program.

The Canadian men’s hockey team folded to the Americans, forcing a sobering cup of coffee down the throat of all party-primed Canadians. From my point of view, we hit a hot goalie. Better now than in the playoff round.

And toughest of all was Chris Del Bosco, Skier Cross Athlete for Canada. He took a tight line on the second last jump looking to upgrade his sewn-up bronze. Instead, he ended up blowing up and landing in a crumpled heap within a stone’s throw from the finish. Still, I like that he was going for a better medal, because, in his own words “3rd is alright for some people.” Chris Del Bosco was really going for it, and I credit him for that.

This is a really verbose entry, but I’d just like to say this. There’s been a lot of debate about the Own the Podium initiative. Though I like the program in theory, I wish they didn’t give it such a brash name. To borrow from adspeak, it was a blatant overpromise. We’re talking about podium domination while other countries are just going out and doing it.

Yes, we have some medals. And yes, there have been some great performances. But we won’t be threatening the Americans, and probably not the Germans either. We probably won’t match our Torino numbers, marking the first leveling off on our graph of Winter Olympic progress.

As for this “there’s too much pressure at home” talk, that didn’t seem to bother the Australians in 2000. The cacophony of  cowbells and clapping should give you the extra 10 in 110%. I’m trying to stay positive, I’m trying to stay supportive, but so far too many of our athletes have taken their cue from the 4th pillar in the opening ceremonies, failing to rise to the occasion.

I might go to the Shark Club and try to get ruffied. I just want to forget all about this weekend.



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