Words Are Not Enough

Words are not enough to describe the last few days.

Our Canadian women and men laying waste to the Olympic hockey world. Our collective heartbeat thumping as one. Our hopes for gold doubly fulfilled.

We gathered as families, friends, colleagues, and classmates. We celebrated with strangers, commuters, bar hoppers, and barber shoppers. We arranged fake meetings, organized staff parties, and begged for Olympic-inspired class lessons; in hopes we could watch.

Hockey gremlins placed televisions in the strangest of places, as if inspired by the cleverest of Bell ads. Hockey addicts unapologetically stole looks at your laptop screen and bought permission with a shrug that said they couldn’t breathe without knowing the score.

Go Canada Go.

It didn’t come easy and we are glad it didn’t. Handwringing galore over our men’s lack of scoring was rudely overthrown by sheer panic in the women’s final. But while a goal post physically kept the team alive, it was the heart those women shared that downed this American dream.

For our men the final was not so climactic, yet the manner in which they played was equally dramatic. Mega-stars all, yet every one playing like a fourth line grinder, back-checking the Swedes into a ground chuck fit to become an Ikea meatball.

In the end, we can all name the champions we adore. Wickenheiser the ageless wizard. Toews the golden goal getter. At opposite ends of their hockey careers, each a multiple-champion, each surrounded by the same.

There are no words to describe them all.

McRib Fries the Tomato!

I love the fact that Mark McMorris has become the most followed athlete of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

He has now triumphed over Shaun White, aka the former Red Tomato, on both the slopes and the internet. Yesterday he was declared the most followed athlete as his broken rib medal-winning performance, combined with his made-in-Saskatchewan good looks, have proven too much for the once untouchable White. You may recall that White withdrew from the snowboard slopestyle event, declaring the course unsafe. McMorris, already suffering from a broken rib, took on the course and safely triumphed.

So now what for McMorris? It would seem the sky is the limit. No pun intended.

He could easily follow his dad into politics and become a provincial MLA….

He could sign with McDonald’s and do McRib commercials until he reaches old age….

He could start dating one of the teenaged groupies who brought him Timbits to his Toronto media interviews this weekend…. (Were they groupies or Tim Hortons marketing staff?)

He could apply for a trademark ruling on whether he or the Grey Cup champs are truly the best “riders” from Saskatchewan….

He could accept the honorary jersey I’m sure the Roughriders will bestow upon him at their home opener….

He should make sure he gets royalties from that same jersey as the Riders would sell your grandma’s green socks if they can make a buck from it….

He could ride off into the sunset, steering his BMW X5 through the prairie glow….

He best get ready for a wild trip.

Olympic Flame

Safe to say that whoever conjured up the “We Are Winter” headline for the Canadian Olympic Team’s current ad campaign should also get double duty as a weatherman. Many Canadians are shaking their heads at the cold, snow, wind, and ice that just doesn’t seem to stop. My fellow Torontonians are acting like hell has frozen over. But given that Rob Ford is still in power, that date doesn’t seem to have been reached yet.

Contrast your surroundings today with photos of palm trees from Sochi, and it’s clear to all Canadians that We Are Winter!

To keep warm, it’s time to fire up our Olympic cheer and support our athletes. Maybe due to 2010, or maybe I’m too close to my own industry, but it feels like the excitement around these Olympics is unprecedented for an “away” games.

At skiing this weekend, the clubhouse was flying every flag of the competing countries while my 11-year-old competed in a home-made biathlon. His snowboard instructors crafted a special course on the hills which featured a target shooting zone. My son didn’t win, but he didn’t fail his drug test either! All over the hills were kids, instructors and parents sporting Canadian flags, jerseys, jackets, even pants!

At dinner parties, barber shops, nail salons (my fave) and work, more people are wanting to tune in. Or have debates about how a kid from Regina can become a medalist in snowboard slopestyle. Yes it’s flat in the prairies, but Mark McMorris overcame that years ago, and a broken rib this week, to shine in this brand new event.

A telling story I saw unfold this week was when the Canadian biathlon team uniforms were held up somewhere in Russia, almost causing our team to compete in perhaps more natural gear (I made that part up). But the President of DHL Canada jumped in, summoned his troops, and soon the delivery was in the hands of team officials, and our athletes were attired in a more appropriate shade of red!

As the games unfold, Team Canada is only going to get hotter and more stories will emerge. So from chilly Creemore today I say – GO CANADA GO!

Black September

The masked man on the balcony still haunts me to this day.

I don’t know whether these are real memories, real time wounds, slashed in my then seven-year-old brain. Or are they a cumulation of painful reminders echoed through news clips, books, and digital articles I have been subjected to for years.

When I press my eyelids closed to forget, they are met with the stinging of my salted tears. The memory of being so frightened that somehow that masked man on the TV set was going to come hunting for this scared seven-year-old boy, thousands of miles away. The memory of asking my parents if this marked the return of a Holocaust-like situation.

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Olympic Gold: Lessons from the 2012 London Olympic Games

I didn’t plan to blog three times about my London experience. Sorry if you have heard enough! Hopefully, third time is the charm?

But the more times I have recounted my holiday to people the more I realize what a wonderful professional experience the Games were. I cannot exaggerate what a magnificent demonstration of event management they were to behold. In fact, event management is not a lofty enough title. This was brand management. This was client fulfillment. This was satisfying your customer. This was delivering on your value proposition. This was brand experience personified.

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Games and Frontiers: European Vacation Stirs a Range of Feelings

My blog needs a vacation. It’s feeling slighted.

It knows I’m on vacation. Last week the Olympics, this week Normandy.

Don’t side with my blog by calling me spoiled. It can see my entire family is on vacation. It doesn’t need new allies.

My blog is feeling treated like a dog. It should feel worse, because my dog is also away, at a friend’s cottage. How does that work?!

By coincidence, my sister is on vacay right now as well. On the West Coast, California style. Her husband used to play football with my buddy Rico. He’s chilling on the East Coast, Hampton Beach style. There is no deep connection here. I’m just trying to make sure my blog feels as crummy as possible. Even if I have to resort to entirely random connections.

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Cheer to the End

Words escape me.

With powerful memories of the Vancouver Olympics and Whistler Paralympics still fresh in my mind, l booked a trek to the London Games. Yes, I’m incredibly spoiled.

I write to you from Olympic Stadium at this very moment.
The appropriate words to describe how I feel are far beyond my writing skills or even my fictional powers. In part because I was worried that after spending all the time and money to get here that it wouldn’t be as amazing as the 2010 Games.

Silly me. It is unreal here.

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Entitled: Levelling the Playing Field for Canada’s Female Athletes

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

I highly doubt when the United States Congress brought the act into legislation in 1972 that it expected to be responsible for helping build the female sport system in Canada. But it has.

The original premise of Title IX was to ensure that women had the same access to competitive sports as men in terms of access to leagues, coaches, facilities, instruction, etc. That would be my technical interpretation of the bill. But the emotional interpretation would be to allow girls to play sports, just like boys.

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Give Your Everything

On Monday I was privileged to play a very small part in the Toronto launch of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s new brand campaign.

Sown from the creative blood, sweat and tears of the COC’s Derek Kent, Rob Pashko and their AOR Proximity, the new campaign delivers on its promise to be athlete-centric and genuine to the movement. Many an Olympic campaign holds out the same promise – to be athlete-centric – but all too often drop the relay baton between idea and execution.

But aided by the creative brilliance of director Henry Lu (of Nike “Just Do It” fame), this is not your “father’s Canadian Olympic campaign” to bastardize another old, actually ancient, advertising tagline. The campaign is not only about the athletes, but it’s also about their intensity, passion and relentlessness to represent their country. Continue reading “Give Your Everything”