Register Tuesday | June 25 | 2019

The Myth of Canadian Grit

Canadians have all got heart

Well, my good friend Beckie Scott redeemed herself slightly this morning. She and Sarah Renner got the silver medal in the cross country skiing sprint relay. Sprinting, it seems, is more Sarah Renner's event, though it was Scott who saved the day, so to speak, when Renner broke one of her poles (How do you break a pole? Are they made of glass?) and fell behind. Scott used her powerful behind (obviously not made large from sitting around eating potato chips) and poles that didn't break to get Canada back into the lead pack. In the end, she got out-sprinted by a Swede, but it seemed like the two girls were happy with their second place finish.

Maybe they learned a lesson: there's no such thing as leaving nothing to chance. For all the hiding out, isolation, serious-faces, and devastation after her 6th place finish on Sunday, it was a broken pole (I don't claim to know for skiing-as certain fine readers are fast to point out-but it seems to me that's just a bit of bad luck) that was their enemy. But, even with that, they managed to win a medal. The Swede looked so strong at the end that it seems unlikely Scott could have out-sprinted her anyway.

What got in my shorts was what Sarah Renner said after the race. Something about not needing ski poles if you've got heart-of course Canadians have all got heart. Well, I lived in the far north in Russia, and let me tell you, it wasn't heart that got me through it. It was mukluks and a rifle. Renner missed the point entirely. It wasn't heart that got them a sliver medal: it was all the preparation that they did, all that isolation, the focus, all that stuff. So, as soon as they break a ski pole, all that goes out the window? My sarge used to say: You gotta be good to be lucky, and you gotta be lucky to be good. Maybe the Canadians were lucky it was Sarah Renner who broke the pole and not Beckie Scott. Terry Leibel pointed out that it was a Norwegian coach who gave the Canadian the pole. I wonder if he would have been so generous with the iconoclast Scott. (thanks to my editors for that word-iconoclast-it means someone who goes against traditional values. Now you see why I grump towards her. I like my traditional values.)

Anyways, heart. If heart is not giving up, then it seems to me if you're gonna go to the Olympics, you'd better have some. I mean, you don't go all that way-on my dime!-and pack it in. Why do Canadians have more heart than the rest? We certainly aren't winning any more medals than they are. I bet there are some Finns, Germans, Americans, Italians out there who are pretty sure they've got heart, too.

So they say they're working hard and they're gonna be the best, and they fail. Then they get a medal cause the coach of another team was nice, and that's heart? Check your heads, girls.


Ok. I guess I've been getting some responses to what I've been writing here. My editors tell me I need to be more focused. Have a point. So here is my point. Like I've said from the beginning, I don't like that these people are spending my tax dollars to go play in the snow in Italy. It's nice when they win medals, but what good does it do? They say it makes kids exercise. How does two weeks of watching television all day encourage exercise? I'm over the hill, but anyway, my job means I've got to be outside running around chasin' bears and what not with stupid Americans. It's not for old folks like me.

But what else? It's good to let us know that some black man with pig tails "lost his chain." Advertising. So that when the kids eventually do get outside, they'll be wearing the right clothes, and the right chains. There are a lot of big companies out there who are using these athletes to sell, sell, sell. It's not like in the 50s, when you had to be an amateur. So it's not like these are really people out there having fun. They are professionals, and they act like it. So why should I be all excited for them when they win? They are supposed to win. That is their job. If they were just in it for the love, then it would be much easier to celebrate. But when they take the attitude of win-at-all-costs (especially when I'm the one paying the costs!), they have to expect criticism if they don't win. They can't fall back on the "I just love to play" excuse. If you just love to play, then do it on your own dime.

One last thing: George Karrys, a former Olympic medallist in curling, took offence to my words on his sport yesterday (he sent me an email). So I said to him, if you think curling is so great, come up here and show me. So, this afternoon, Mr. Karrys himself, is going to have a one-on-one curl-off with yours truly. I'm going to start on the beer now, to get ready. I'll have a report for you tomorrow morning.

See you soon,

Donald S. Thompson