Sports Talk

Some 22 years after Calgary hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988, the world stage moves to Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics starting Feb. 12.

Some 22 years after Calgary hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988, the world stage moves to Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics starting Feb. 12.

While most of us will focus our attention to men’s and women’s ice hockey and curling, many – especially those with British Columbia roots – will follow other sports to watch the competition from familiar facilities and scenery.

For local people who watched the 1988 Winter Olympics on television or in person, the upcoming Olympics will no doubt bring back many memories.

Like a long deep cold snap, the Olympic Torch Relay over the past several weeks has truly gripped the nation and sparked passionate pride for Canadians who are touched by this great journey of Canadian spirit.

Although many experts and Canadians are expecting a healthy harvest of medals, including several gold medals, we don’t need to be disappointed when our teams or athletes finish lower than we expect.

All that is required is that all competitors do their best, even if they don’t win a medal.

Even as host country, Canada will definitely not have the overwhelming home-base advantage in many sports, including hockey.

Canada is no longer the runaway kings – and queens – of ice hockey with many other winter-abundant countries participating in the Olympics.

Followers of the National Hockey League, especially, know that most of the league’s superstars don’t even have a Canadian heritage.

Like all athletes and fans know, winning is all about peaking at the right time and for team sports, having the right chemistry and effective combinations of players with a spirit of teamwork.

However, when someone competes at the universal level, everyone is a winner and champion, from coaching staff to athletes and officials to organizers.

While this will be the first world event in Vancouver since Expo 86, the Olympics seems to have created more issues than Expo.

Expo 86 was a great learning experience while I was living in the Fraser Valley, I have been following the lead-up to the Olympics on television and in newspapers with great interest as a born British Columbian.

Cost over-runs, labour disputes and displacement of some poor people from residential apartments aside, Expo had a more positive impact than the Vancouver Olympics,

Although it is higher profile because of the television coverage, the Olympics is a more elite event and more expensive for people to attend and spotlights only sports, with some culture.

Expo 86 didn’t have all the street closures and was a strong showcase of international culture, history and educational opportunities.

Both the Olympics and Expo, however, serve separate roles with different costs.

O, by the way.

“Let the Games begin.”

May the best team – or athlete – win.