For many, today is Valentine’s Day. A day reserved to overpay for flowers, scramble for restaurant reservations and rifle through the remnants of cards to show you care on this Hallmark holiday.
Let’s put that aside. Show you care everyday and let’s celebrate something else on February 14. Today is the first anniversary of the first gold medal ever won on Canadian soil. The day Alex Bilodeau came from the shadows and made history.
He was the perfect one to do it. A humble, soft spoken guy with mad skills. A brother with challenges waiting at the bottom of the hill, a smile as wide as the flags that were waving in the crowd. It was a bump and jump run not even lasting 24 seconds, but with every knee pop, the pulse of the country quickened. Our collective breaths held in mid air before flips and twists were landed.
Gold. For Canada.
What happened next was even better. As the spotlight around Alex grew, he grew with it, but stayed grounded. During our 26 hours at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, we walked along Georgia Street after arriving.
As he was ushered away, he saw Zacharie and stopped. He toussled my son’s hair, took the lanyard off around his neck and hooked it over Zacharie’s head – Canada’s gold medal winner had just ordained my son with a medal of his own. Sure, it’s just a simple CBC lanyard, but for us it is pure gold.
Later that ski season, the team would come to Calgary for the nationals. I brought Z to meet Alex Bilodeau again and get a proper photo and thank him for shouldering the pride of a nation with grace and dignity.
Jenn Heil was also there. She was supposed to have been Canada’s first. When you looked at the schedule of events, women’s moguls finished before men’s and Heil, a world champion, was supposed to be the darling of the games. But her moment didn’t come that day, she settled for silver and the stage was set for Bilodeau.
Talking to them on that warm spring day on the steps of Canada Olympic Park, home to the 1988 Calgary Games, was a special moment. To share Olympic stories with two great athletes and even more remarkable people was a very special moment.
So, on this February 14 reach out to your fellow Canadians and wish them a Happy Alex Bilo-day.
Images via Buzz Bishop. All rights reserved.