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By Rick Vandekieft



Where you one of the many Canadians that functioned on very little sleep over the last two weeks of February? As the sun was setting over London Ontario, it was rising on the other side of the world, specifically in Pyeong Chang South Korea. Sonn after we were finishing our dinners, athletes from Canada and 91 other countries were getting ready for a new day on the rinks and the slopes. Over the span of those two weeks, 2,952 athletes would be competing for supremacy in 105 events.

Canadians in record numbers were burning the midnight oil as they watch our athletes go for the gold (and bronze, and silver) at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

It seems that every Olympics has controversy and these games had their share. Firstly, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) announced that the Russian athletes had been suspended from the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, Russian athletes who had no previous drug violations and a consistent history of drug testing were to be allowed to compete under the Olympic Flag as an Olympic Athlete from Russia.

The next controversy in the lead-up to these Games was the ongoing tensions between the United States and North Korea. This led to security concerns, with some countries threatening to skip the games unless their safety was assured. In January 2018, after their first high-level talks in over two years between the North and the South, North Korea agreed to participate in the Games along with South Korea.

Once the games began, there were, as usual, some faint cries of unfair judging and one-sided refereeing. But when the closing ceremony ended with the extinguishing of the flame on Sunday February 25th, the games were heralded as a wonderful success.

The 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics were also a great success for the Canadian Olympic athletes as they posted the best medal haul ever by a Canadian winter Olympics team. Our athletes brought home 29 medals, a third-place finish behind Norway with 39 and Germany with 31. Yes, we expected more from curling and men’s hockey but as the saying goes, “You can’t win ‘em all!”

Performances on the ice and on the snow are what it’s all about, well, what it is mostly about. The athletes are wearing the red and white, representing Canada on the ice and snow but also away from the competition.

We did have an incident of poor sportsmanship and the pudden-head actions of Canadian skier David Duncan who was arrested for car theft and impaired driving.

Despite these embarrassments, the Canadians preformed famously, with class, as Canadians are known for everywhere. They represented us well, as we knew they would.

And then there are others that continue to amaze us beyond the standard Canadian way.

When you think of an ambassador, do you picture someone who is an official envoy? Someone who represents us to others around the world? The obvious ambassadors are those accredited to live and serve in a foreign country as the resident representative of our own government, or, someone such as our nearly appointed Governor of Canada, Julie Payette.

In addition to those “official’’ ambassadors, there are those people who are known, without national appointment, but just project such a positive image of Canada.

I am sure there are many of the Canadian Olympic participants that fall into this category though I want to single out (or double out) Canadian figure skating super stars, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.



Since they won Olympic gold in 2010 at the Vancouver Games, Tessa and Scott have been Canada’s ice dancing sweethearts. If Canadians weren’t already head-over-heals in love with Tessa and Scott’s skating, they certainly are now.

Scott further endeared himself to a group of Canadians that are more interested in shooting and scoring on the ice than they are dancing on it. In the Women’s Gold Medal hockey game, Canada vs their arch rival the American’s, there was, what is being touted as a Canadian Heritage Moment in the making. There is Scott Moir holding a beer and yelling at hockey referees in that gold medal game.

Cameras captured the Olympic champion jumping from his seat with his beer in hand, raising his arms in disbelief as Canada received its third consecutive penalty in the first period.

Scott is alleged to have said, “Are you kidding me? Wake up!”



At 6:45 on Monday, February 26th, after 24+hours of travel, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir arrived home at the London airport. My four-year old granddaughter had become a super fan over the last few weeks and spoke only about Tessa and Scott when the subject of the Olympics came up.

I thought it may be fun for her to be at the airport when the couple arrives, maybe get a glimpse of them as they passed by. About 200 others had the same idea but thankfully, my wife, Karen, insisted, “If we are going, we are going early!”, so we did, and were one of the first half dozen to arrive. (Yes, that’s us up front.)

The crowds were growing as was the excitement. As the arrival time neared the crowd broken out into an enthusiastic “O-Canada”.

Through the windows separating us and the departure lounge, we could see Scott and Tessa and coming and stopping, taking pictures with someone in the departure lounge and then coming are way again, nope, stopping, more pictures. After 20 minutes they came through the gate…to another high-volume O-Canada.

Their smiles matched those on the faces of the hundreds there to greet them, but, the media got to them first, as we were behind a barrier and they weren’t. After the interviews they looked toward all of us. Expecting a smile, a wave and a quick exit through a side door, I was only partially correct. There were those signature smiles and waves but not the quick exit.

Instead both made their way to the crowd, Tessa going directly to my Granddaughter for a chat. (I don’t think she has stopped smiling yet!) Scott started with the group to my right visiting chatting, autographing stuff and snapping pictures with every single person while Tessa did the same with everyone to the left.

Regardless of the L O N G day of travel, being greeting by several hundred while on the way to London, they spend time with everyone who had come up to welcome them home.

As Scott passed me, I said, “Thanks Scott, you guys are the best so great of you to take time with everyone” and he replied, “It’s an honour”

What can we say? Canada loves Tessa and Scott and, in my opinion, they are the best possible Ambassadors of Canada!