O Canada it's time to ski, skate, snowboard and bobsled on guard for thee.
Finally the cold financial climate of Japan, with its scandals and self-doubt, will be overshadowed by something that will flourish in the frigidness the XVIII Winter Olympic Games. And as 150 of the best Canadian athletes unite in Nagano from today until Feb. 22, there are plenty of golden, silver and bronze issues lining the Japanese Alps even before the half-clad sumo wrestlers and the world's largest sing-along choir open the Games tonight.
GOOD GOLD If the CBC's coverage for these Games are anything like Atlanta '96, all 240 scheduled hours should be a pleasure to watch. Unlike America's often biased, theatrical look at the Olympics, Canada showed a strong representation of every country.
Also, the Great White North has never had so many chances to win gold. Newly-recognized sports like curling, snowboarding and women's hockey are expected to win precious medals for Canada along with a suped-up men's hockey squad (thank you, National Hockey League) and strong chances of winning bobsled, figure skating, speed skating and freestyle skiing events.
SLIPPERY SILVER With plenty of onus on avoiding the commercialized look that was so dominant in Atlanta, it is up to the Nagano Games to fix the Olympics' tarnished image of Nikeness. Unfortunately, ever since the International Olympic Committee allowed the National Basketball League's millionaire superstars to make a mockery of the Olympic sport in '96 in favour of high ratings and advertising revenue, the incentive of bringing Wayne Gretzky and friends to this event has a similar commercial flavour. It may be fun to watch Canada destroy countries like Italy or Japan, who lack NHL-calibre talent, but replacing competitive amateur hockey players with pros to seemingly help garner ratings, is hardly an innocent image for the IOC to have.
BRUTAL BRONZE The thought of figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding meeting head-to-head on Fox to discuss why Harding's ex-husband tried to break Kerrigan's kneecap just prior to the '94 Lillehammer Games is about as appetizing as eating yellow snow. But when they reunited on last night's program entitled "Break the Ice: The Women of '94," in exchange for $100,000 each, America proved once again it deserves the gold medal for reaching new lows in Olympic tabloid coverage.