February 11, 2011
Posted in BC Edition
Friday, February 11, 2011 /
By Hayley Wickenheiser /
Many times over the past year, my thoughts have turned to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. In some ways, it feels like only moments ago that we stood proud at centre ice. In many other ways, it seems so very long ago.
Of course, every Olympics has something special about it, but it goes without saying that the 2010 Games, in particular, has left an impression on my life that is unmatched.
As staff, volunteers and athletes gather in Vancouver to commemorate the one-year anniversary, it may be clichÃ© but inevitable that you will read many of these retrospectives because the nostalgia and energy is something we all want to relive.
Competing and taking home Olympic gold at home was, in a word Ð amazing. But, my memories are filled with so much more than hockey and what happened on the ice Ð especially now that I have had a chance to process the overwhelming variety and depth of experiences afforded to me and the others during those incredible 17 days. Vancouver is always a beautiful city but during the games, it was electric, virtually palatable; and many great memories were made.
My favourite moments range from the common to the very uncommon (read: quirky or fortunate):
Refereeing ping-pong games between Sidney Crosby, Shea Weber and some of the women from our team.
Playing street hockey with then Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean.
Hanging out in the parkade with a whole bunch of Canadian athletes on the last night of the games, celebrating the journey we'd all just completed.
Doing the Athlete's Oath and representing 2,700 athletes who had given blood, sweat and tears to get to those opening ceremonies. It was such a sense of pride that it overwhelms me even now to think how fortunate an experience that was.
Hitting the streets of Vancouver with the rest of the crowd only hours after we had won the gold medal. We just wandered and soaked it all up. To see, feel, hear and almost taste the pride first-hand was another reminder of why we grind our hearts, minds and bodies for four years at a time to get to this place. We were fortunate to be able to blend into the crowd, a luxury that wouldn't have been afforded the men's team. Perhaps that is one of the few perks of the lack of profile that is given to women's hockey.
Speaking of profile, while in the moment, it was alarming and frustrating, I can now applaud and appreciate the favour that Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee president, did the sport of women's hockey by suggesting the sport as a whole has a bench that is too short on a global scale.
It was due to those comments that the men and women involved in women's hockey focused on the substance and therefore opportunity of what was said. We chose not to see it as a criticism but a challenge and I think it is a challenge to which the men and women involved in female hockey have risen. We are making great strides, which include:
Inclusion of almost a full day of discussion around women's hockey at the World Hockey Summit this summer.
The recent appointment of Tanya Foley (and budget for her) to lead the development of female hockey globally Ð a position that didn't even exist at the IIHF until late this fall.
Again, increased minor hockey female enrolment.
Additional profile and media coverage of the sport nationally and internationally.
A renewed sense of global competition and, in some cases, commitments from countries to increase training dollars, and therefore competitiveness. (Though, I have to say that this is still an uphill battle in countries in which women may struggle for equality overall.)
The world of women's hockey is getting bigger and better by the day and I think at the next Olympics, we'll hear less and less about disparity of competition and more about the great skill that women from across the globe are bringing to the game.
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