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Olympic flame sparks pursuit of outdoor fun

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Olympic flame sparks pursuit of outdoor fun

By Jane Muller

The flame of Olympic fever has been ignited for those of us who get drawn into the games, watching as many events as possible. Despite the fact that our best male hockey players won’t be there and the line-up reads like the “who’s that’’ instead of the “who’s who” of the sport, there will be plenty to cheer about.

The announcement of the lackluster team was followed by the anticipated unveiling of the opening ceremony flag bearers. My enthusiasm for the event was rekindled when I heard that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, eight-time national champions will lead the Canadian team into PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. The pair was thrilled with the honour.

No doubt their respective families are also elated, just as they must be when sharing all of the skaters’ successes. Imagining how the parents of Olympians feel has been a part of my Olympic experience, especially since becoming a parent myself. The swell of emotions as one of our own stands on the podium and receives a medal is in part fuelled by those crowd shots that include the family celebrating along with the athletes.

The Winter Games can also fuel a desire to be a “winter athlete”. As the word game suggests, getting out into the snow can be fun. Unless there’s a cold weather alert, enjoying the snowy season is a matter of wearing the appropriate cold weather clothing and heading to an outdoor ice rink, toboggan hill, park, hiking trail or conservation area.

Associate editor Christine Davis has created an outdoor to do list for Family Day. There is a variety of activities for families being offered on Monday, Feb. 19 in the midst of the Olympics that run from February 9 to 25.

Admittedly, it’s our men’s hockey team that attracts the most viewers during the Olympics. Since our team – or anyone else’s – won’t include the NHL’s finest, there may not be 15 million Canadians watching the gold medal match as they did in 2014. Our women’s team has plenty of fans and more will jump on the bandwagon if we face off for gold.

Credit for the popularity of the event has to be given to the outstanding performances from players like Hayley Wickenheiser, whose 23-year career included four Olympic gold medals and seven World Championship golds. At her retirement in 2017 she was the Olympic tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 18 goals and 51 points.

Increasing numbers of girls are suiting up for hockey and women are giving “hockey mom” a new meaning, taking to the ice themselves. Our feature in the Tween section this month features women who have joined the ranks of centres and goalies and wingers in the name of fun and recreation.

Consider the Olympics your golden opportunity to embrace winter outside. Go Canada!