We have been watching a lot of the Olympics this time around, and it has been great to see. From the outstanding opening ceremonies (kd lang had us about in tears; what an electrifying rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Halleluyah) to the unheard of 18 to zero blowout of Slovakia by the women’s hockey team, it has been quite a show. I don’t know how it looks from home, but from over here it is a wonderful showcase of Canadian talent and character: we look pretty good in the eyes of other nations.

But it was the men’s moguls, and especially Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal run that had us cheering. Before he came down the hill Canadians were sitting one and two. Then Dale Begg-Smith, the reigning world champion came down and took first. The irony is that Begg-Smith is in fact Canadian, and this was his home hill. Recruited by Australia, who has a very agressive Olympic program, he was competing for Australia. Now we are sitting two and three. American Bryon Wilson was next up and his run was good enough for second spot. Now we are sitting 3 and 4 with two skiiers left to go.

Next up was Bilodeau, who tore down the hill in an astonishing speed, nailing two awesome jumps in perfect form, and clearly taking the lead. The gold was one competitor away from being ours for the first time on home soil, an historic accomplishment. Only one competitor, A French skiier remained, and he made a mess of his attempt, giving us the gold. In typical Canadian fashion, Bilodeau’s first gesture was not to roar out his victory, or even turn to the adulation of the crowd, but to slap the French competitor on the shoulder for his effort. I read later that Bilodeau left a promising career path to the NHL to remain close to his cerebral palsied brother. How utterly Canadian.

There are things more important than gold medals: character, compassion, care for others; these things count in a life; they count in our reputation among the countries of the world. I am very happy that we have finally won an well-deserved gold medal. But I am even happier about the way we won it.

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