Saturday, February 13, 2010


So many thoughts and emotions run through this post, as the 2010 Winter Olympics get underway, but paying respect to Nodar Kumaritashvili is the one that stands tall over all of the others. A young man lost his life in the interests of competition and everything in me rails against that tragic fact. Still, my guess is that Nodar would be the last one to want a pall cast over the spirit that drew him to olympic sport. I have not watched the film footage, and will not. I wish it had not been made public, but again, I suppose it is entirely possible that Nodar would have been okay with it. It comes down to respect again. But, respect for his family, respect for the right to free information, or respect for the process of learning from our mistakes to prevent future ones? I have no answers, just a heavy heart.

This is the picture that stays with me, his father (who coached him) and friends sitting in front of his home in Bakuriani. It is shown in this article in the Montreal Gazette by Phil Sheridan.

On Wednesday, I cycled as usual to work in North Vancouver, but it was quite different from my regular commute. The plan was to meet the staff and students of my school at a point on Marine Drive, to watch the olympic torch relay. I left early, but still found myself being high-fived, cheered, and generally encouraged by the many people who had lined the streets long before the runner came by. My own tiny but exhilarating taste of the thrill of Olympic fever.

There were quite a few decorated vehicles, with music playing, and flashes of red and blue along the street. Note the very green mountains in the background.

As the torch arrived, my heart swelled.
I spent a lot of time trying to find this torch runner's name, but in the end, have had to admit defeat. Still, I felt great admiration for him. Watching the pride and wonder in his face made me think of Yvette, of Turtle Gardens, in Topley B.C. She was also a runner, and her experience is documented at her web site, one that mostly tells the stories of the hundreds, if not thousands of dogs she and her husband, Dave, have saved. If you have a moment at all, it would be so appreciated if you could visit her site, go to the purple link a short way down the right hand side, and vote for her rescue. So many rescues are worthy, but she and the dogs could sure use the financial boost a vote win would give. But getting back to olympic spirit and respect, the fact that Yvette was chosen to be part of the torch relay signifies the great esteem that she is held in by the citizens of Topley. Many of the torch runners are salt-of-the-earth people who contribute untold amounts of time and energy to make life better for others.

My heart swelled again this morning, as television coverage included repeats of last night's opening ceremonies. My "tear-up" moment came when the olympic flag was carried into the stadium by distinguished Canadians, actor Donald Sutherland, Betty Fox, mother of fundraiser Terry Fox, race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, Olympic figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, singer Anne Murray, former lt.-general Romeo Dallaire, hockey legend Bobby Orr and astronaut Julie Payette.
There have been many naysayers over these olympics, and I hear their message. The cost, in the face of a world with so many injustices, cannot be ignored. Some feel that not speaking out against the olympics is immoral. I have come to the conclusion that working together to build a permanent olympic location, perhaps one for the summer games, and one for the winter, as I have heard suggested, makes good sense. This CGA article gives, I think, a balanced view of the economic pros and cons of olympics. But, in the meantime, the olympics are here, and the chances are good that I will never again have that experience in my home town. So many athletes have given every ounce of their energy and motivation to training. They have earned the right to be here, and I applaud them. So many others have given equal time and energy to the creation of the very best olympic experience they can build. As one of the teachers at my school said, "A lot of good people, really good people, have worked very, very hard to be a part of these olympics."

I stopped during my commute yesterday to photograph (with my little 10X Lumix) my favourite beasts at the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge. Okay, I confess. I don't love seeing them in red mittens, and I think they look beautifully regal without a necklace of flags. I guess it comes down to respect again. This time, for the differences in how humans perceive fun and pleasure. For me, the lions, unadorned, give a daily dose of warm pride that is difficult to articulate but often brings a smile from somewhere deep inside. For others, the mittens and flags will bring laughter as they take pictures in front of the lions. I find myself enjoying that thought, so in the end, as one of my friends has often said, "It's all good."

Last evening, as I rode from work, on the way to meet Bill at Topanga's for supper (Man, is that Black Bean/Eggplant Taco Salad ever delicious!!), I took five minutes to stand on the Burrard Bridge. It was one of the quietest rides I can ever remember. It seemed that everyone and his/her uncle was either at the opening ceremony or watching it on television. There were very few cars on the road, and I saw only one pedestrian, and one cyclist during the entire commute. Beams of light were crisscrossing the water, and I made an attempt to capture something of the spirit with my little camera. Not entirely successful shots, but here they are.

The criss cross affect. Just a small moment, but for some reason, a powerful one.

The final pictures for this post are from a walk on Wednesday afternoon in North Vancouver. A house finch,
and a Merganser. Her right side,
and her left. Pretty lady, with that ever-fascinating hairdo.
As always, thanks for taking time to read my blog. And, once more, my deepest respect and sympathy to the family, friends, countrymen and teammates of Nodar Kumaritashvili.


  1. Thanks for a very thoughtful blog. It is truly sad that these Olympic games have been marred by the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili.

    Some have said he was too young and inexperienced for that luge course. I disagree, it was a design flaw that obeyed Murphy's law.

    Your use of pictures and facts in this blog, written in a compelling style, suggest a talent for web journalism. Check these sites for info.

  2. Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death is a tragedy! Luge looks like such a neat sport, but also very dangerous at the same time. His death will cast a pall over these Olympic Games. RIP

  3. You informed fully and eloquently, Carol. The range of your photos and your sincere comments expresses the paradox, sadness and bittersweet feelings many must share.

  4. Hi Carol - Happy Birthday! I thought of you today as I went over the Lions gate to play a filed hockey game in North Van. When I saw those lions I had a giggle and wondered what you might think!

    Your post on the Olympics was poignant - thank you. And also thanks for your encouragement/understanding on my blog. Is life ever full right now!

    Love to you. Cristina

  5. Carol, all I can say thank you so much for this post. You have done outstanding job. My heart goes out to Nodar's family. Anna :)

  6. Carol you really do have a gift for sharing your thoughts and feelings through photos and writing. I feel blessed to have a friend like you.

    Love Dianne

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  8. Rather nice blog you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

    Sincerely yours

  9. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I can see that Nodar's life has left its mark on all of us.

    Fred the Dog, I agree with you about the design flaw, and I did check out those sites. Who knew such a thing existed? Thanks!

    Penelope, your post More Precious Than Gold summed up my feelings with the four heartbreaking and perfectly chosen words of the title. RIP, Nodar. You will not be forgotten.

    Thanks, Cristina and welcome back! I'm happy that you are finding some time to play Field Hockey. A full life is good. I just hope you can find a few moments to savour it!

    Anna, as a passionately devoted and loving parent, I know your thoughts and, as you said, "heart" have been with Nodar's family.

    So nice to get your comment, Dianne. I also feel blessed!

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