Sonny Davis

Today, I want to share with you a story written by Sonny Davis and found on the blog named: Sport At Its Best – There’s more to be gained than victory. Sonny is a tremendous wheelchair athlete. As I mull over my disappointment over the lack of television coverage and other media for the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, I realize I am also a part of the problem. For all of the energy and excitement I put into writing about my Olympic experience, I put none into sharing Paralympic stories and triumphs.

Sonny’s story is amazing and reflects a character I can only describe as determined. Sonny’s life has not always been easy as he deals with muscular dystrophy, but his attitude? Well, we could all take a lesson there. I hope you like his story and share it with others.

“Greetings. I go by Sonny Davis. A few years ago it was a personal dream of mine to become a Paralympian. At age 5 doctors diagnosed me with a neural muscular disorder called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. There is a degeneration of muscle and nerve present in my legs and my hands. I live a “walk and roll” lifestyle. Some days I feel good to walk and others I’ll take to the chair ergo: “Sonny and Chair”.

In sport, due to my condition, classification has always been a grey area for me. During my competitive years I never once met an athlete with Muscular Dystrophy. As far as my coach and I knew, I was the only one. This was a blessing and a curse, for my abilities far outweighed my disabilities. I have pushed wheelchair all my life. In spite of wasting and atrophy in my forearms and hands, I have developed great upper body strength and I can sit up soldier straight in a race chair. This is an important detail when classifying disabled athletes.

People are confused when they see me rolling in a chair one day and the next I’m up and walking with a cane. “It’s a miracle!” But to someone who is classifying me as an athlete and gauging my current stamina to my projected strength, this was, I imagine, a complete headache. Wheelchair athletics is divided into classes of skill and ability, like boxing is divided into weight classes. I raced in a variety of classes throughout my racing career. If I race in too high a class, I start off with the leaders, but my weakness for sprinting kicks in and I quickly fall behind. Too low a class, and I don’t feel particularly sportsmanlike. After a couple of years’ racing experience, my coach and I knew exactly where I’d be most competitive. Any hopes of making it to the Beijing Paralympics would solely depend on being cleared for that class by the qualifying judges.

Japan was my very first marathon. The competition was unbelievable. Athletes from all over the globe showed up to this world-renowned event and the good news was that I was finally given the classification I so desired to achieve. Now I just had to put my head down, do my best and finish the race.

I knew the finish line wasn’t far. The volume of the crowd peaked as I entered the stadium. Only three racers in my class were in front of me now. They worked together and took turns drafting each other the whole way. I had successfully pursued them and was about to receive the thrill of victory. The track was fast and I was determined to finish strong. Four hundred meters to go, feeling stronger than ever, I was now gaining speed to the right of the trio; I would overtake them on the first turn, or so I thought.

Suddenly, my front wheel jerked sharply to the side steering me right into the leader of the trio. Before I knew it we were all crashing and tumbling over one another. We must have looked like a pile of dying transformers. Damage sustained: right tire and fender bent totally out of shape, and just like that, it was over…but I wouldn’t accept that. I had come this far, the only thing left to do was push. I could hear the swell of the crowd, and could feel that some of those cheers were for me.

Athletes zoomed by me, finishing with ease and finesse. I had lost my speed, my rank, even the chair I was sitting in but not my determination. The finish line wasn’t beyond me, it wasn’t out of reach. With every push, I was a few feet closer. I could just hear the crowd yelling “GO! KEEP GOING!”

I accepted my fate, and the fact that thousands of eyes just saw me transcend embarrassment. But my poor, damaged chair had got me this far, I would let it end the race with dignity… or maybe it was my own dignity at stake. Then I realize I’m not alone, I am joined by a fellow Canadian, Dana Halvorson. He generously matched my pace, and for the last 50 meters, we rode side by side. Head held high, I crossed the finish line with my countryman.

For years, as muscular dystrophy claimed more and more of my arms and legs, I didn’t understand what my purpose was. I knew only that what I had to do, I had to do fast, while my body could still handle it. I wanted to do something great, and for years I thought it was to represent Canada as a Paralympian. To reach that goal, I competed in dozens of races against hundreds of people. I wore the Maple Leaf with pride when I won, with sportsmanship when I lost, and when my chair was twisted out of shape under several other racers in Japan, I wore it as a badge of honour.

In Holland in 2006 at the World Championships I received the results of yet another re-classification. Team Canada’s head coaches would appeal the decision twice and after the second time I agreed that the decision was not likely to change and the matter was dropped. I was now in the category with the big guns; faster, leaner, stronger, meaner. In a way I felt complemented. Everyone close to me knew there was no way I could hold up in a race with those old hats. I would be left in the dust. Ultimately I wouldn’t even get the chance – the Canadian roster was full in my new category and I was benched. And so ends my Paralympic dream.

Two years later I realized I had a second dream. I spent time away from the track to contemplate a Canadian figure I have always admired: Terry Fox, a master of persistence. Driven until the day he died. Whenever he was asked what kept him going on his quest to conquer cancer he would say, “I would just run to next telephone poll”.

He was a great inspiration to me. So I am taking a moment at this time in my life to rebirth a childhood dream and accept a new challenge. In the spring of 2010, I will begin the journey across Canada in a wheelchair. I will take everything that has helped me, all the research I have done and continue to do, my experiences and life lessons, the music I wish to share and the love I have received thus far in my life and give it all back, so people out there suffering or clinging to an idea of themselves, trapped in a prison of their own design, will know that there is a better way.

I wish to inspire at least one person, to help them see their life as a gift and to give that gift to the world unabashed. I will raise truth and awareness around Muscular Dystrophy; a name and a challenge that by embracing, I become free of.

In the spirit of Terry Fox and in the face of a wasting disease,

while I still can…

I will do more than I have ever done.”

Please visit Sonny’s website and support his effort to complete his Marathon of Freedom.

What’s Black & White and Read All Over?

I realized I have not posted my articles as published in The Globe and Mail (when you click on the link, scroll down a bit and the story is on the right side of the page). Going through the writing process, in Vancouver, was easy enough for me, once I got over the nerves and doubt, you know the little voice in your head that likes to, sometimes, rain on your parade? I do a lot of writing but it is not what I would call ‘journalism’. It is definitely creative fiction that I spend my time working on. Of that writing, I am quirkily, oddly and perhaps absurdly over-protective. I don’t share my fiction writing with anyone. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to think about sharing it or showing it to anyone.

There have been exactly two occasions when I have shared my writing. One instance – maybe 6 years ago – occurred when I let the husband read about 20 pages of a story I had been working on. Happily that went very well – his feedback was helpful and his comments very supportive. Biased, or not! Ever since then, though, he wants to see more of my writing and wants to know what is happening with ‘the girls’ from the bit he read. I don’t like that one bit. I find it invasive and uncomfortable. So silly!

The second occasion of sharing took place about 3 years ago. I had decided to take the plunge and join a local writing group. (This only after several conversations with a writer friend whom I trust and respect. His encouragement to ‘give it a try’ really allowed me to be a little more open to the group process.) The woman who started the writing group had become an acquaintance through the book group I attend. She is also a writer and had mentioned her group to me. I attended several meetings and managed to evade contributing my work for scrutiny. Of course, that only lasted so long and eventually I was asked. I felt too protective of any of the current projects I was working on so I opted to create a new piece to offer my group-mates. I was pleased with what I created but didn’t feel emotionally attached or invested in the piece. Well, come the day I had been worried about, I was a mess beforehand. I had physical pains in my belly and wanted to throw-up. Charming, I know. I even, briefly, thought about not going to the group meeting but that would be too sucky. If nothing else, I am a glutton for pain and punishment. Okay, maybe not a glutton but the tolerance level is absurdly, ridiculously high! (Also another genetic trait with the women in our family.) So, I went and gave out my work. With the meetings we would talk about projects we were working on and anything related to writing. Then, at the end of the meeting copies of work would be handed out to be read and critiqued at home and then brought back to the next meeting.

A few days after our writing group meeting, my phone rang. It was one of the members from writing group. She was calling about my piece. I took a big breath and waited for, I don’t know what, but I felt the need to brace myself. Well, what came next caused me a bit of embarrassment but was a tremendous (if short-lived) boost to the writing ego. The feedback I was offered was very positive and bordered on gushing. I don’t take compliments well so this is why I felt embarrassed. It was awkward for me hearing good things about my writing. Anyway, my critic made a literary comparison between my work and the work of a known, published author that floored me. “I have no response to that.” I uttered. I still don’t. The first person to guess to whom my work was compared wins a free book! Seriously. I know it is a huge stab in the dark, but give it a shot! I offer one clue – it is a male fiction writer. If you know me and know this story, you can’t play! Sorry!!

Since then I haven’t shared any fiction writing. I don’t truly understand what my resistance is all about so, if you have any ideas please send them my way! I suffered the implosion of my hard drive and lost 90% of all of my writing. It was the scream heard ’round the road the day that happened. Followed by the tears of anger at myself. I hadn’t done a recent back-up because I was either naively detached or cockily arrogant. I had never had any computer problems, ever, so I was blase about regular back-ups. I lost my entire hard drive that day, including 3 novels in various states of completion – 300+ pages, 170+ pages and 90+ pages – and many, many ideas in different stages of hatching.

When this happened I was so defeated; I didn’t write anything for nearly one year. It was a bad time in my small bit of the world for many reasons but the lack of writing as an outlet was an additional challenge to overcome. Now that I am back into writing mode. I am hopeful to complete a novel this year but don’t ask me about it, please! 🙂

My recent journalism experience has also tweaked an long-held interest so ‘things’ may develop in that area also. This type of writing does not feel as personal to me and I don’t have any qualms about ‘putting it out there’, the way I do with my fiction writing. Both styles of writing are wonderful and I like each of them for different reasons. Wherever the path leads now, I am enjoying this feeling of possibility!

Cool Moments #1

I experienced many very cool moments during my time in Vancouver. This is one of them:

While in line at the Vancouver airport, waiting to check-in for my flight home, I notice a couple join the line just a few people behind me. They stand out, to me, because the woman is carrying a bouquet that looks suspiciously, exactly like the arrangements the athletes are given during the flower ceremonies immediately following the events. The line moves along at a medium pace. I overhear someone ask the couple if they are holding ‘Olympic’ flowers. The woman holding the flowers replies “Yes.” That’s it, no more, no less. Well, thank goodness for curious Canadian travelers. The inquiring mind then asks who they know. It turns out they are the parents of American skier Andrew Weibrecht. He won a bronze medal in the Super G which was held the previous day. His dad has said nothing throughout this whole exchange and actually looks a little irritated but mom, well she is as proud as any parent could ever be and just needed a little bit more of an invitation to get all happy for her son. Her voice is very hoarse from all the screaming and the family, along with many friends and US ski team members enjoyed themselves late into the night. I am enjoying being on the fringe of this happy exchange until…I am caught grinning madly and tearing up a little bit. Okay, I had previously warned you that I am a world class sap. Should there ever be a Sap Olympics, I am there. I was imaging what it would be like to be Mrs. Wiesbrecht, watching her son finish his run and be in medal contention, then be confirmed as a bronze medalist? What a huge well of emotions that must be; huge enough that it spilled over to me and my own sensitive soul! 🙂

Mama Wiesbrecht sees me smiling at her while wiping the tears of the host-sap and asks me if I want to hold the flowers?? WHA-HA???? Absolutely I do. She hands the bouquet to me and I just stand there looking like, well, I don’t know what I looked like – probably like a gawd-awful snotty, red-faced mess (the women in our family are not pretty criers. I am not telling tales out of school, this is a well know and well documented fact!) but it sure made me happy and, for a moment, full of pride. It made zero difference that the flowers belonged to an American. I think any athlete strong enough to be competing at the Olympics is alright with me! I certainly do not possess the drive, focus and determination it takes to be a world-class athlete so I gladly take this moment to share a tiny piece of Andrew’s success. WOW!!

I wish I had a photo to show you – I don’t. I hope you can appreciate how cool this moment was for me and take a moment to learn a bit about Andrew. His mom is a righteous lady. Oh, and to all the people who have been slagging the bouquets – they are beautiful, unique and made to withstand. Also, they aren’t overly feminine and are certainly handsome enough to be presented to the male medal winners!

February 17th – The Excellent Adventure Continues

Today is the day I have most been looking forward to. We have tickets for the Men’s 1000 metre speed skating event at ‘The Big O’ – the Richmond Olympic Oval. I cannot wait to see this sport up close and gain a better feel for the speed at which the athletes actually skate. First up, though, is an editorial meeting. I spoke with my editor, Neil Campbell yesterday and he told me during the call, he had a new idea he wanted to go with for this week and he would tell me about it at our meeting today. Of course my interest is piqued as I wonder what Neil has up his sleeve. Jeff and Joey have decided to head out early this morning in order to visit Stanley Park and The Vancouver Aquarium. I find myself wishing I had more hours in the day. I have been so immersed in my Journalism Dream there hasn’t been time for much else. Jeff and I talk about returning to Vancouver so we can enjoy more of the bounty the area has to offer.

10:00 am – John, Stacey and I head downtown, to the Waterfront Centre to meet with Neil. I have decided, in my mind, that Neil’s idea is to feature John’s photos more prominently with less space for my writing. I hope that to be the case because John is so talented.

11:00 am – we are waiting for Neil who is a bit behind schedule. He arrives about 20 minutes late and we get down to business. His idea? To have me write a narrative piece for this Sunday’s special edition, rather than the journal entry style he had prepared Geoff (the other writer) and I for ahead of time. I am excited about this change, but then I am put on the spot when Neil asks me to “In ten seconds give me your thesis on these Olympics.” Wha-ha?? Crap! I scramble and come up with something that vaguely passes for a thesis. John backs my idea up and the support is appreciated. Neil likes the idea and makes a couple of suggestions to help flush the idea out more fully. John doesn’t get nearly as much focus and is told to “keep doing what you’re doing.” I think we had both expected a bit more input or direction from our editors but, being both very independent, having a lot of leeway is very nice for John and I!

12:00 pm – Meeting over, John and Stacey head off early to Richmond to do a bit of exploring. I take some time to have a slow lunch and scribble some notes, working out different angles and making reminders of facts I need to check out later.

1:00 pm – I hop on the sky train for the ride out to Richmond. As we get further south on the sky train a tremendous mountain comes into view. It is Mount Baker and it is absolutely stunning. With the stunning views of mountains and ocean, it is very easy to understand why so many people call the west coast home.

1:45 pm – I exit the train at Aberdeen Station. It is about a 2 km. walk to get to the Oval but the walk is right along the water on a path that has been created on the dyke. It is a stunning walk. Float planes are landing on the water, the mountain views are awesome (in the truest sense of this word) and it is a clear, beautiful day. I pause for a moment to admire the scenery and, out-loud, I pronounce “WOW!!” A couple of fellow speed skating goers sort of smirk at me but I ask them “How can you not appreciate THAT?” They continue walking on and I decide they must be from the area and are blase about their surroundings. That or, they are either Tibetan or Nepalese?? But still!

2:00 pm – I join the line-up that has formed at the Oval. I have heard the doors will open at 2pm. I want to get in early because the athletes will be warming up and practising and will enjoy watching this for awhile without a throng of screaming people around me. The facility is beautiful but I have heard, for the skaters, this is slow ice. I love the sport but have no idea what makes the ice slow or fast. Another bit of information I will have to research. Right now the men are out on the ice and, HOLY CRAP!, do they ever fly around the rink. If this is the speed in practise, I am now even more pumped to watch the heats for the actual event.

I spot Canadian skater Jeremy Wotherspoon on the track and get excited. He is an incredible athlete and this event will be his last. After the Olympics he will be retiring from the sport. I am also happy to see Canadians Denny Morrison, Francois-Olivier Roberge and Kyle Parrott on the ice, along with Apollo Anton Ohno and Shani Davis, both from the USA. Davis is very focused and while the other competitors take a moment to exchange a few words or pat on the back, Davis is in his own zone.

4:00 pm – the event is about to get underway. It is a packed house and there are hundreds of Dutch fans and, much to everyone’s delight, with Dutch skaters comes a Dutch marching band called Kleintje Pils. Yup! Who knew?? They are a small band (in the realms of marching bands), just twelve members but oh they are mighty! And hysterical; especially when they break out with Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Again, I ask: who knew??

The event gets underway and there will be 19 pairs to skate and best time wins. This fact is astounding – each competitor gets one chance to do their absolute best to win the gold medal. That’s it; all of their training, hard work and preparation is channelled into slightly more than one minute of time! ONE MINUTE! Shoot. In hockey and baseball the teams play best of seven games. There are some distances in speed skating that do qualification heats but it must be some kind of athlete and person who pours themselves into the 1000M event! I love this event. I get so excited and nervous watching each pair. It turns out there are many family members of the Canadian speed skaters sitting right behind us. I meet Jeremy Wotherspoon’s aunt, parents, girlfriend’s parents and the mother of women’s speed skater Anastasia Bucsis. Anastasia is only 20 years old and this was her first Olympics. Her race went yesterday and she placed 34th, but her mom is about as proud as a parent can get. Wotherspoon’s family are lovely and I particularly enjoy chatting with his aunt.

As the pairs continue on, the times are getting faster and faster. The announcer tells us that, heading into the corners, the skaters can hit speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour. Okay, I knew they were going fast, but 60 km/hr??? They almost could fly, with the right equipment. Shani Davis is in the last pair and he is heavily favoured to win. He is paired with Korean skater, Joon Mun. Two Canadians, Wotherspoon and Morrison are in 13th and 14th place, so we arae out of medal contention but they were fantastic to watch and appreciative of the support from the crowd. Right now the time to beat is 1:09:12. This was set in the 16th pair by Korean Tae-Bum Mo. his pair-mate, Chad Hedrick clocked in at 1:09:32 and is sitting in second place.

Davis and Mun are at the starting line. You can feel the excitement and nervousness in the air and I am glad to not be the only one anxiously watching the event unfold. The starter adds to the nerves and he moves in slow motion, or at least speaks in slow motion. I assume this must be a standard for competition but it is hard to get used to the “REA…………..DY”. The starter goes off and the men push hard. It is edge-of-the-seat exciting. People are screaming and Davis and Mun are going at a great speed. Going into the last lap, though, Mun has lost some steam and falls behind Davis. The last 200 metres are all about Davis as he cruises across the finish line in 1:08:94!! Woo hoo!! What an amazing end to another amazing day.

Photos by John Fearnall. Check out his site: Good Noise Photography. He rocks the camera rather spectacularly!

February 16th – Hockey Day!

This is going to be a busy hockey day. We have another set of tickets for Molson Canadian Hockey House, where we will watch Canada’s men’s hockey team play Norway. We also have tickets to attend Men’s Hockey – Russia versus Latvia, woo hoo, and tickets for that night’s Victory Ceremony where The Barenaked Ladies will play after the medal presentations have finished. All three of these events are happening very close to one another so there will be some switching around as Jeff and Joey take turns hanging out with me.

First on the agenda though, right after breakfast, is buying a new camera. Our other digital camera broke on the 14th and we went without one yesterday. That was not good! Luckily, my step-dad, Tom, had recently purchased a new digital camera and had done his due diligence. We exchanged a couple of emails and chatted about pro’s and con’s on the phone. We know which camera we are getting, the Fuji FinePix F70EXR, and head out to the nearest Future Shop. It is in the opposite direction of downtown Vancouver, in Surrey. We take the sky train a few stops south-ish and enjoy a phenomenal view of the mountains to the west. Absolutely stunning!

As we are walking toward Hockey House, I hear a faint roar and then our national anthem. Ooh! I get excited and comment to Jeff we have won something, but are not sure what we have won. When we left the hotel, women’s luge, speed skating and snowboard cross were all underway. It is only once we arrive at Hockey House that we discover that Canada’s Maelle Ricker has become the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal on home soil by placing first in the snowboard cross event. I am absolutely thrilled!

Jeff and I head to Hockey House at about 2:00 pm. Joey is off on his own, exploring Vancouver. When we arrive at the event there is a bit of pandemonium going on. Today we are in the general admission area of the tent. John and Stacey arrived a little before us, but we find them easily. Or rather, we find John easily. Stacey, it turns out, is in a line-up. Apparently, a group of people with Bell Canada have just vacated their celebration area and it is being cleaned up and staff will allow the general admission riff-raff in. I find Stacey in line and join her – offering whatever back-up I can provide. We are in line for only a short time when a Hockey House staff member drops the rope and lets us in. YIKES!! People get very pushy very quickly. I hear a man behind me shout “Take it easy everyone, we don’t need anyone getting trampled!” I agree my sensible friend, I completely agree. Stacey and I quickly get to an empty table but, before we sit down, we are told by a slight orangutan of a man, as he sweeps his arms broadly, he is saving ten (10!!!) seats and we can’t be here. What? We don’t argue it and move along to the next open table. The same thing happens again, this time the dude is saving for 6. We go through the same situation three more times and finally, frustrated, give up on the table area and are lucky to find seating for 3 on the banquette chairs. This has been a very poor display from Canadian fans and Stacey and I are really bummed out by giving in to the ape-ish men and not standing up for ourselves more. John and Jeff join us and we will take turns sitting and standing. It really isn’t a bad situation as we are happy to be here but, geez people, some manners would not hurt you!

We are settling in, enjoying a beverage, when Maelle Ricker’s winning performance is shown on the giant screens. The crowd erupts and it is mayhemic. In a sea of red and white, people sport Canadian jerseys, hats, flags, temporary tattoos and face paint. It is amazing to see this outward display of patriotism.

Next up, on the giant screens, the Canadian men’s hockey game. Today, Canada is playing Norway. The first period is really solid and Norway does a good job holding off the Canadians. During the 1st period intermission, we are surprised by comedian Shaun Majumder, known not only for his stand-up comedy but also for his co-hosting gig on This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Majumder does a blistering bit about Sidney Crosby, the number 87 Crosby’s #), his nemesis Alexander Ovechkin, the number 8 (Ovechkin’s #) and how, using a complicated bit of follow-along this all computes to mean gold for team Canada! Majumder has done this routine before but I am gob-smacked at how he keeps it all straight in his head, especially given the speed of the delivery. Bottom line? 87 minus 8 equals 79, which on the periodic table of elements is the number for, you guessed it, GOLD!

The second period of the hockey game starts and, once again, the fans are riveted. The pace is faster coming out in the second and, in short order, it is 3-0 for Canada. Every goal brings out crazy screaming and chanting from the crowd in Hockey House. Roberto Luongo is in goal for Canada, and while Norway isn’t afforded many scoring opportunities, screams of “Looooooooooo” shake the rafters in a show of not only Canadian spirit but also of Vancouver pride for the Canuck homeboy! Some of the surrounding fans have noticed me scribbling away in my notebook and Mike finally asks me what I am up to. He then notices my media pass and lifts it closer to his face to read. A-ha! Seeing “The Globe and Mail” printed on the badge he and his buddies get excited and want to know if I can write about them in the paper? Apparently I now have 4 new friends. I point out John, holding his beautiful camera and suggest he could take their photo! It was a good deflect, I think! Sorry John! They are actually great young guys and by the end of the game we will be close pals.

We take a bit of a wander about during the intermission at the end of the second period. There is something going on in every corner of the tent. First, though, I head to the washroom where I am absolutely stunned by a site never before seen by my eyes: a huge, snaking line-up for the men’s loo and wide open space for the women’s washroom!! Hallelujah sisters! I have witnessed a miracle. I have also witnessed some pretty clear marketing strategies here at Hockey House. All of the servers working the floor are lovely young women. I do, finally, find some male servers working the bar and acting as managers. Really? I think, but I guess the higher-ups at Molson feel people (read: men) drinking at Hockey House want to be served by these beauties. It was a bit more balanced in the VIP area. I also can’t help but notice the Hockey House Hostesses – everyone notices the hostesses – in their skin-tight ‘jerseys’ they are hard to miss! Jeff gets his picture taken with them, just to show the boys at work what his week was like away from work. I am sure it will go over well!

The third period starts and Canada comes out hard scoring very quickly. We notice, in our little corner of Hockey House, a very amorous young man. Every time Canada scores he gets a little more loving towards his date. I suppose I don’t need to note he was drinking heavily and, by the third period was quite drunk. After Canada’s 5th goal, our hot young stud (HYS) splays himself all over his date. She looks slightly uncomfortable but finally relents and they start smooching pretty heavily. Well, soon enough another Canadian goal. A hat-trick for Jerome Iginla. The crowd erupts and chants of ‘oh-lay-oh-lay-oh-lay-oh-lay’ followed by heavy stomping and “Go Canada Go” shouted in unison. It is incredible. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice HYS…he has now lifted his date up and they are basically having sex with their clothes on. Yikes! John snaps a great photo of them and our little corner of the world is greatly amused and slightly disgusted.

While I risk being viewed as un-Canadian, at this point in the game (it’s 7-0 for Canada), I am feeling very badly for Norway and, in particular, their goalie. I imagine it must be very hard being at the wrong end of a big loss. I would just want to take my marbles and go home. I respect the effort of the Norwegians even though a win, at this point is impossible. When the final buzzer goes, Canada has won 8 – 0. Confetti cannons blast the tent with paper sprinkles while the crowd goes mad. The entire building shakes with the incredible loudness of stomping, clapping, screaming, whistling and shouting. CA-NA-DA is chanted for many minutes and it is a very celebratory time.

7:00 pm – The game over, it is now back to live entertainment. Shane Murphy and his band takes the stage. They are terrific – a blend of bluesy rock with a dash of island rhythm thrown in for spice! Shane has a great personality and he enjoys taunting the crowd with the opening riff from Lynard Skynard’s Sweet Home Alabama. He eventually relents to the cheers and plays the song but, with a twist. He makes up his own lyrics and it is very amusing.

8:30 pm – we leave Hockey House and head across the street to attend men’s hockey – Russia vs. Latvia. I am really looking forward to seeing Ovechkin (I know! I know!) as well as all of the other NHL’ers on the Russian team. Out of a 23 man roster, 14 Russian players are in the NHL and several are former NHL’ers. I think it is going to be a great game. Our seats are fantastic – so close to the ice! I am surprised by the large Latvian contingency out to support their team. The game is a good match though the final score, 8 – 2, is not a great representation of how hard the Latvian team worked. The fans for both teams – fellow Russians and Latvians – were so enthusiastic but again I am impressed with the appreciation and support being shown by our fellow Canadians. Each event we have attended has had a great display of good sportsmanship from the crowds and it has been terrific showing this side of our nation to the world.

Photos (except for the the picture of Maelle Ricker and Hockey House Hostesses) courtesy of John Fearnall; an amazing photographer and all round good guy! Check out his site and prepare to be WOW’ed!