A week from today, the Sochi Olympic Winter Games will begin.
Canada will send 221 athletes to the Olympics, which is the largest Canadian team ever to go to the Winter Games. One of the team members, Ben Coakwell, is from Moose Jaw and will participate in the four-man bobsled team.
But so far, leading up to the Olympics, it’s almost as if we’ve been hearing more about controversies about the country than the sporting events.
We’ve heard about the funding and how critics have accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of mismanaging the money.
The facilities were criticized for the hazards they could pose. Russia’s policies on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights have been another hot issue.
Last week, The Globe and Mailran an editorial, “What the Sochi Olympics say about Russia.”
It stated that for “all its modernizations and its pretense of embracing free markets, the Russia on view in the weeks before the opening ceremony is a repressive, violent and intolerant country that is also now in the midst of a terrorism crisis. Mr. Putin, it seems, is getting the Olympic Games he deserves.”
However, the Olympics have always served as a way to showcase the host country and bring all sorts of people together.
With the Sochi Olympics clouded by controversy and doubt, it’s important we don’t forget the heart behind the Olympics and that’s the people.
This week, I came across an article called “Russian Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014: 10 Amazing Facts About The Most Expensive Games Ever” on FinancesOnline.com by Alex Hillsberg. It focused more on memorable people stories.
Interestingly, the article said the Sochi gold medal has 516 grams of silver and six grams of gold.
The Winter Olympian with the most gold medals, with a total of eight gold medals and four silvers, is cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie of Norway.
The only athlete to win a gold medal at a Summer and Winter Games is Eddie Eagan, who won light-heavyweight boxing gold in the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games and a gold in the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Games in the four-man bobsled event.
There are 12 new events at the Olympics, including the women’s event in ski jumping.
That, to me, is a big deal because for a long time the sport has been male-dominated. In this day and age, it’s great to see gender equality in yet another sport.
A lot of us might have preconceived notions about what Russia is like.
We might think it’s a cold, barren wasteland or who knows what else. Like anything, though, we shouldn’t judge or give into stereotypes.
For instance, the article said Sochi is actually a “subtropical resort town known as the Russian Riviera where temperatures, even in winter, rarely drop below 12 (Celsius).”
It added events that require lots of snow would be held in a mountain resort, Krasnaya Polyana.
Those are just a few facts included in the article.
So yes, there is controversy, but there is no place that doesn’t have its share of controversy and scandal.
The Olympics are so much more than that.
They’re about the good stories, about the athletes involved and the achievements won and tried for.
We can’t afford to lose the true spirit of the Winter Games.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.