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How To: Be Canadian During the Olympics

For Canadians, the Olympics are a time of celebration. We’re a country of (normally) level-headed people, for the most part, but when the Olympic Games roll around, we turn into proud nationalists with a serious competitive edge. We like the ones that happen in the summer, but really, our default Olympics are the ones that happen on snow and ice! Now, with the games officially kicked off, here are five characteristics of any good Olympic-watching Canadian.

*Disclaimer – this post is to be taken lightly, but not too lightly.

Showing off my 2014 edition gloves.

1. The Love of Gear.

It’s almost embarrassing how seriously we take our Olympic gear. Roots, a Canadian clothing company, once became Canada’s official Olympic gear designer. The clothes they designed were so popular that the American team wanted them for their next three campaigns – this, of course, spurred us then-12 year olds to believe the Americans were our copycats for a little while. To this day, you can still spot old school Roots Olympic gear on Canadians older than 25. Fast forward a few years, and Canada’s other major Olympic clothing outlet, Hudson’s Bay Company, has gone on to make the staple Olympic mittens. In 2010, the Bay’s leaf-stamped mittens for the Vancouver Olympics were so popular that they brought them back this year in an altered designed.

It may seem sort of shallow that clothing happens to make it on the list, but the fact of the matter is, we love anything with the maple leaf on it. Thus, an excuse to put the leaf on mittens, t-shirts, sweaters, or anything, is a good enough excuse. Personally, I don’t find it strange at all that I – and some others – will be wearing these mittens (pictured above) in above-zero weather – that’s how much we love our gear.

2. The Love of Hockey.

This one is almost shameful to list, particularly as many serious hockey fans might find it irritating. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch hockey during the year. I wish I was more of an NHL fan, that I sported my hometown‘s jersey, and that I knew the name of all the players. For a lifelong sports fanatic (who did previously thrive on hockey), it’s a strange feeling to be one of those ignorant outsiders to a sport and its current happenings, especially one that hits so close to home. Despite that, when the Olympics are on, it’s as though I’m once again 11 years old and never stopped watching. Did I also mention that in 2010, I went from hating to loving Sidney Crosby within the span of a couple of weeks? Yeah, I wasn’t the only one.

Sidney Crosby during the 2010 Games.

3. The Love of the Past.

I have to admit, I can be terribly nostalgic – and obnoxious – when it comes to talking about the Games.

“Remember in 2010, when we (Canada) won 14 golds, more than any other country, on our own soil?”

That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Let’s just say that Canadians are brought up on Olympic coverage, and that we get to know our athletes extremely well for mere viewers. For that reason, we can’t help but talk about them – and our past wins – as though we earned them ourselves.

4. The Love of Coverage.

This speaks for itself.

5. The Love of Pride.

Let’s be honest – Canada is the brunt of the joke a great deal of the time, mostly when it’s an American telling the joke. Considering this happens on internationally-popular TV shows (I have been called Robin from CBS’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’) and that there are nearly 10 times Americans as there are Canadians, you can imagine that we hear these jokes a lot. This coupled with the fact that we aren’t generally brought up to harp on about how great our country is a good reason why for 99% of the time, we cop a lot of heat. The Olympics are our reason to be more outspoken about the positives of our country, and wear our flag with pride.


Regardless of which country you’re representing/supporting this year or the unfortunate political and social problems brought fourth, the Olympics are a great time to support athletics, devoted athletes, and the spirit of sportsmanship!

Which country are you supporting? Does your country have any interesting traditions or quirks?

21 thoughts on “How To: Be Canadian During the Olympics

  1. Canada must be fun to support during the winter Olympics! I don’t get into the winter games too much, but I do like to watch a bit of skating and other random tearjerker moments. (Like Bob Costas on NBC, don’t know if you’re familiar with him.)

    I like those gloves a lot!

    And Canada might be the brunt of (dumb) jokes, but you’re not usually on the receiving of heated criticism (for good reason), so chin up! πŸ˜‰

      • Just listened to one of my NPR podcasts, Most-Emailed Stories, and they were going on about the Canadian-American women’s hockey rivalry. Seems they fight a lot. Fierce women, they are! πŸ™‚ You won the first round ..

  2. the winter Olympic Games is a good example of how different nations are, and how different their traditions and cultures are.

    i don’t support any team because Winter Olympic Games looks foreign to me, as if it happened out of the Spain’s bubble… Spain when we mention the only word Hockey we mean both Field Hockey or Roller Skate Hockey, never Ice Hockey……but i am fully aware of the passion and support of Canadians towards Ice Hockey, so i hope Canada wins, jaja!

    i imagine that you look at these Games as proud as i look at the World Cup of Football or the European Cup/Champions League…….same passion and pride over different sports.

    • You’re definitely right – the Winter Olympics are our World Cup. By the way, I just watched a Spanish snowboarder (Queralt Castellet) in the snowboarding final! So, you definitely have some presence at these Olympic Games. It would be a shame to not even look at them at all!

  3. Queralt Castellet? never heard of that guy! he does look Catalan by name…..maybe he is only interested in participating, and does not care about defending and fighting for Spain, jaja!

    yesterday i watched what i call Dancing on Ice where the Russians and Ex-Soviets are simply the world’s best dancers and they always win gold medals.

      • a woman? sometimes with Catalan and Basque names you don’t know if one is masculine or feminine.

        yes the Russians and Ex-Soviets are very disciplined, and as i have heard they train very hard with cold temperatures inside old buildings/training centres with no heating because their budget is low and poor, so those bad circumstances make them the world’s toughest people on ice i think.

        i’ve seen many winter sports that are totally unknown to me…i hope your country Canada do win gold medals, at least they win Hockey on Ice and Final Jump Skiing or whatever it is called, i mean, a person skiing along a long lane with a high and long jump at the end.

    • Yes, a woman! To be honest, she was really good – if she hadn’t messed up on her last landing, she could have finished in the top 3. Also, she lives in New Zealand, so that makes her even more interesting! She’s from Sabadell, by the way.

      I’m not really sure what the conditions are in Russia, but I’m sure we, the Americans, and some other countries do have better facilities in general. The Americans probably spend the most money on the whole prep part – there’s an article around somewhere about the economics of the olympics and how that plays a big role in medal count.

      The type of skiing you’re talking about is ski jumping! We’re better at other events, I think. Hockey is definitely our event to lose (not to sound like a jerk, but it’s true). That doesn’t mean we don’t have extremely fierce competition, though – the US, Norway, Finland, Sweden, etc all have amazing hockey teams and any of them could take it this year!

      • great that a Spaniard is good on ice, jaja! she must be the only one!

        i know nothing about how north americans prepare Olympics, but everyone knows the hard conditions at training of Russians and Ex-Soviets, and that makes them the best, at least the best at winter sports i am thinking about right now.

        i used to think that Canada was powerful at Hockey on Ice, but you say now that it is an event to lose, why? are Canadian teams or National Hockey League worst than Norway, Finland or Sweden teams/leagues? unless i am wrong i’ve always thought that the NHL is the world’s best domestic league.

    • Haha, I actually just saw Javier Fernandez perform (he’s a Spanish figure skater from Madrid). He’s won a lot of different competitions – you should take notice! Spain has 20 athletes at these olympics, so there is definitely a presence. I don’t think Spain is the least involved in the Winter Olympics at all, so it’s incredible to me that Spanish people generally don’t care about them.

      I don’t really think Russians/former Soviet Union countries are the best at winter sports. πŸ˜› There are other countries that are better at most events. The Russians are great at the summer ones though, mainly for gymnastics.

      When I say “event to lose”, I mean that we’re expected to win. It’s an English idiom. The NHL is probably the best hockey league in the world, with tons of American teams having Canadians (some with Canadian captains, like Dallas Stars!). As kids, we’re raised on hockey the way a lot of Spaniards are raised with football, which is funny because we’re also raised on football but hockey wins out with the teens!

      • now it appears that we are powerful on ice, jaja! (just kidding) πŸ™‚

        well as you say we don’t care generally about winter games because lots of sports are unknown and looks as being from afar… is like asking a common Spaniard to sit down with beer in hand and watch Nascar!

        yes Gymnastics is what i did mean by saying that Russians and Ex-soviets are the world’s best athletes.

        thanks for that English idiom i’ve just learnt!

        oh i had no idea that Canadian kids are raised on football, i mean real football with round ball, not rugger..

    • Actually, this year, you are! Javier’s doing really well.

      I think many of the sports are practiced in Spain, though. Almost all of my Spanish co-workers go skiing or snowboarding very often in the winter. Lots of Spanish kids go skating, too. Some of the other sports are less common, but that’s normal anywhere as with the summer olympics, where lots of the events aren’t practiced in daily life in most of the world. Spain isn’t really as hot as it likes to think it is. πŸ˜› You do experience winter, at least in the center and up north!

      • because you live in Madrid you may have friends who go skiing or snowboarding, but that is not usual if meaning the whole of Spain….i imagine that you mean roller skates with children, right? i have never seen a person skating on ice in Spain because i think that there are no ice stadiums, courts or fields with a floor made of frozen water, however, i do see children with roller skates along a sea promenade.

        i live in Murcia so i talk about what i see round me and about the things i’ve been raised with, so i don’t pretend nor is it my intention to speak for the whole of the country.

        i do agree that Spain is not as hot as people, mostly foreigners, do think…..this is one of the unreal stereotypes that make me fume, along with flamenco and bullfighting….you haven’t got to travel to the centre and north to experience cold, in Murcia it is really cold during many a winter mornings ere break of day, jaja!

    • Murcia is a south-eastern city in Spain, so I’m sure it’s quite different from Madrid, Granada, San Sebastian, etc. All of the major cities in Spain are so unique and distinct, so it’s even hard to compare them. Interesting though that you haven’t really heard of kids ice skating much in Spain, though, because lots of my students (kids) tell me they go ice skating or skiing fairly often in the winter time. For a country that people tend to picture as more on the warm side, a surprising amount of people partake in winter sports! I like it personally, it definitely isn’t the stereotype that people have of Spain. Also, Madrid isn’t as hot as I thought it would be – winter does last quite a while, and while it’s more mild compared to “real” winter nations, it’s cold enough to have to wear a jacket for much longer than one would expect.

      • i don’t mean the city of Murcia but the region itself….it is a region with divergences, and temperatures are different, the more you get close to Castilla the colder temperatures you feel, and they can be chilling before break of day, then after sun is shining up there you feel warmer.

        i live in small town along the coast, and certainly it is really cold sometimes….i was made for a warm climate and a sun shining, that’s why i would die of cold if i lived in Madrid, Burgos, Leon, Siberia or the North Pole.

        i don’t really know what you mean by “my students go ice skating”, do you mean there is an ice stadium in Madrid that is home of some team with a low division consisting of kids?, or do you mean there is just a park with an icerink where parents may take their children at weekend?

        of course you may be right if you mean a park with an icerink (i imagine there may be one or two in Madrid), but as i said before i see kids with roller skates here in Murcia, and i don’t even know if we have an icerink or even Ice Hockey teams, i think not.

    • In December, there are outdoor skating rinks in Madrid. There are also a couple of indoor ones, with a few other ones just outside of the city from what I’ve been told. It’s really not that unusual for kids to go skating in the winter.

      • thanks! that is exactly what i was thinking of…..some icerinks where kids and parents with children take them to enjoy for a while…certainly as you say it may not be unusual in Madrid, but it is in Murcia…..please note that i take the difference between roller skates and ice skates seriously.

        thanks for allowing me to express my opinion without censorship, for taking time to reply even to just disagree..your blog has become one of my three favourite ones with interesting blog posts….now i take my leave, for i must buy my daily and forced Coca-Cola ere Mercadona gets full of people…have a nice weekend!

  4. Really fabulous post! And I love the stats in #4 – Coverage. I’m in Italy and we get about 8 hours of free coverage daily and only if an Italian is competing. The other day I was watching the pairs figure skating just as the Canadian team were about to lift off into glory they cut away to bobsledding! Now, I haven’t anything against bobsledding but come on…their routine was just about over! Oh, and the fact we are not getting any hockey coverage hurts my Canadian roots. Love your mittens, my sister also sent me a pair

    • Thanks, Jennifer! The lack of coverage in Italy would be a nightmare to me. I know what you mean, though! It’s as though they’re trying to show as little of Canada as possible, but the commentators here constantly mention Canadian athletes, so it’s a little weird. The best, though, is how they get all “okay, that’s enough” when the French or German athletes are on screen. I guess objective journalism isn’t an issue!

      Those mittens are great, aren’t they?

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