Sunday, February 14, 2010

2010 Olympics: More Precious Than Gold

MANY OF US WERE ON EDGE last Friday, trying to keep track of the ever-changing destinations of the fleeting flame.

It was the day of Opening Ceremonies in the wee hours of the morning when torchbearers, including music legend and broadcaster Dal Richards, traveled through Vancouver City streets to be greeted by hordes of happy and sometimes confused spectators uncertain of the route.

Nearby, a few unconcerned and budding hockey players glided on the ice and enjoyed good-natured competition.

Bands, such as The Left, kept the mood lively with their spirited on-stage presence and upbeat rhythms.

The images of well-known and somewhat "creepy" critters stared down from a distant building. Although I could NOT warm up to these three musketeers, the Olympic Mascots were easy to find and hard to ignore.

Signs of patriotism were definitely in the air throughout the City ... even nesting in some people's hair.

Rain started to sprinkle on the excitement in the afternoon when I left Vancouver to watch the Olympic Ceremonies from the comfort of my couch. The event was all one could hope for … sentimental surprises, exquisite and powerful voices, gorgeous extravagant scenes and astonishing feats to thrill world audiences, including the cynics.

But these were bittersweet moments tinged with sadness. Weather worries and protesters took a backseat to the accident involving luger Nodar Kumaritashvili from Georgia whose death haunted the ceremonies. On reflection, in some strange way, it seems right that one pillar of the indoor Olympic cauldron malfunctioned in the finale. Symmetry was ruined when not all four facets rose to be lit, reminding us of our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and ultimately of the devastating loss of an Olympian youth.

Humanity does not achieve heartwarming and heroic moments without heartbreak. When we confront challenges and stretch ourselves we encounter both joy and sorrow. Our inherent passions and yearning for superhuman conquests co-exist with the undying determination to succeed that the Olympic flame is meant to convey. The historic intent of the torch has taken unusual twists over the decades. But it has never NOT ignited passion, especially when famed hockey player Wayne Gretzky lit the second caldron (seen in my photo above) at the City's waterfront. Amid the happy enthusiasm of 2010, we were left wondering what elements in our zeal to reach incredible goals cut short an Olympic champion whose life was more precious than gold.


  1. "More precious than gold" - oh how true! And, your reflection about the symbolism of the cauldron malfunction resonated as well. You have pointed out for me that striving for excellence can walk a thin line between passion and greed, with the loss of life and/or love being way too expensive a price for the mistake of stepping over the edge. But, we go on, as we must, and as the olympics will, learning from, and paying enormous respect to the innocent one whose life was sacrificed in the teaching of that heartbreaking lesson.

  2. Nice job on that last picture! It’s hard getting a good shot of the cauldron and around there because of the fence. Penelope and BJC, you said it well. There is no comparing Nodar to any medal or what stands behind it. Hopefully we learn lessons and make things better for athletes because of what happened. But the flame is about overcoming and yesterday - when Canada won gold - what a feeling that was!

  3. Honestly, Carol, I’m always amazed at the talent you have for sorting out a message. Thank you for taking the time to reiterate what I hoped but wasn’t sure had come through.

    Jose, thanks for stopping by with your comments. Luckily, I was able to score this fantastic photo of the outdoor flames even BEFORE they began to make it more accessible. I totally agree about the excitement about winning medals, including the gold. And now we have another one! How perfect that it should be male and female Olympians from both the East and the West of this great country!

  4. Beautiful pictures, beautiful words... I'm so happy you're writing, so happy you're blogging, and how did I ever miss the fact that you're a photographer as well? Wasn't I paying attention in the years before the blog?
    Wish I could have been in Vancouver with you for the Olympic moments, good and bad, happy and sad. Nomar's life was too a high a price to pay and yet the games had to continue or his death would have been for nothing. It's a big, bad, sad, confusing and yet exciting world.


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