2010 Winter Olympics Round-up

Oh, Canada — well done!

The Winter Olympics went out with a bang in Vancouver last night — OK, that’s not exactly true. The Winter Olympics went out with quiet pride, self-deprecation, giddy hockey fans and a rock concert last night, because, after all, it is Canada.

The 2010 Games were a success for Canada no matter how you measure them. The host country racked up a record 14 gold medals, won the hearts of the world with the figure skating performance of Joannie Rochette, and weathered even the most tragic and bittersweet moments with courage and aplomb.

The Olympics are a funny business these days, aren’t they?

Back in the BCs, when they were nothing more than a pile of naked Greek guys crawling all over each another like a box of wrestling puppies, the Games were all about asserting city-state dominance. When Pierre de Coubertin gave them a modern kick-start in 1896, he was thinking international cooperation — but you know the story: World Wars and the Cold War, and the Olympics became a kind of stage for international intimidation.

Things are different now, in large part because the Internet and McDonald’s have made the globe considerably smaller.

Most liberal-leaning people like to think of themselves as citizens of the world — and yet, there is an inexplicable pride that wells up inside almost all of us when we see someone draped in our own country’s flag, singing our country’s national anthem, spilling tears on top of a gold medal.

In America, at least, the Olympics killed in ratings this year. It seems that everyone in the country tuned in every night. Some people watched out of sheer patriotism. Some people watched for the athleticism. But I think most people, like me, watch the Olympics because they want to see the triumph of the human spirit.

Every athlete from every country from every continent overcame something to get to the Olympics. And those stories transcend borders.

So here’s to every woman who medaled in the 2010 Winter Games — and to the disproportionate hotness of female Olympians.

Next page: photos, photos and more photos!