Sochi — All good things must come to an end.
I am on the road home from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Ten days ago, I started my Olympic journey, following a curling team and a sport I have grown to love.
As I travelled to Sochi last Saturday, I found myself reflecting on how I came to be on this road. Today, my thoughts turn to my experience here, the team and the family of Team Jennifer Jones (who – in case you have been living under a rock – is the women’s curling representative on Team Canada at this Olympic Games).
The team has performed beyond expectations. Even though they were among the favourites to medal, their short-term goal was to play well enough to make the play-off round.
The girls clinched 1st place on the weekend with two games still to play in the round-robin. And after watching their final win on Monday night – a meaningless game against Team Korea – I have a good feeling they will take their perfect 9 and 0 record and turn it into a spot on the medal podium.
And why wouldn’t I be confident? Last night, I had the honour of witnessing Olympic women’s curling history. Team Jennifer Jones (Team Canada) is the first women’s curling team to go through the round robin undefeated. In fact, only one other team has ever done that before, and that was also a Canadian Olympic Team – Team Kevin Martin – who accomplished that feat in 2010 at the Winter Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
I certainly haven’t seen anything in the past week that would lead me to believe that level of perfection will change now that I have left Sochi and the Olympic Park.
I made peace a long time ago with my decision to leave Sochi prior to the play-off round. I had other work and personal commitments that are as equally important to me and I wanted to make sure I had a few days back in Winnipeg before leaving again on Feb. 22 for the Canola Council of Canada convention and the Commodity Classic in San Antonio.
If all goes well on the trip home, I should arrive in Winnipeg in the wee hours of Wednesday morning just in time to catch the team’s semi-final game. A win and the team plays for gold, with a guaranteed silver. A loss in the semi-final will mean a battle for the bronze.
I want Team Canada to earn that gold medal. It would be the realization of their dream – one that has required significant commitment and sacrifice, not only from them but their families as well. I am pretty sure there are thousands of other Canadians who would like to see that dream come true, too.
Regardless of the outcome, they will always be Olympians. And now they can add to their list of accomplishments the first women’s team ever to go undefeated in round robin play on Olympic ice.
But off the ice, these women are more than “just curlers.” They are outstanding people with many talents, hopes and dreams, and lives yet to live. I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know them as people and to call them friends.
Team Jennifer Jones has represented the sport of curling, and our country, extremely well. I am so very proud of them and so thankful I was here to see them perform at their highest level (follow them on Twitter at @TeamJJonesCurl).
As I head home, what will I remember about Sochi and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games beyond the team that brought me here? Pretty much everything – the events, the people, the Olympians, the volunteers, the bus rides, the travel, the line-ups, the families and even the food!
The access to Canada House was a special bonus that really added to my time here and exposed me to events and people that most visitors to the Olympic Games do not have. On my final day in Canada Olympic House, I even got to see Canadian figure skating silver medalist, Patrick Chan and pose for a photo with the Stanley Cup!
I will also remember the fun I had sharing my Olympic experience with others through this blog. I hope those who have taken the time to read it have also enjoyed the Olympics through my eyes. I had not planned to write a blog before I left but I am glad I did. Thanks to everyone who has shared feedback and passed along well wishes during my trip.
This trip, unknowingly, started back in 2007 when I first met the players who make up Team Jennifer Jones. Who would have thought that encounter would lead me here?
I now leave Sochi and the team in great hands, with their families here to cheer them on and provide that never-ending support that is so important to all Olympians.
So, to Dawn, Jill, Kaitlyn, Jen and Kirsten (and to coach Janet Arnott and Connie Laliberte too) and to Larry and Carol Jones, Cheryl Lawes, John and Leslie Officer, Wayne and Jane Askin, Brent Laing, Devlin Hinchey, Mike McEwen and Trevor Wall – thank you for allowing me to tag along.
I will continue my cheering and love for this team from afar. And if, like me, you believe in the adage, “good things happen to good people,” you’ll find me shedding a few tears on Thursday morning when the 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medalists in women’s curling are crowned.
Good bye from Sochi!