We, as Americans, have plenty to be proud of through the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, not only for the most overall medals earned, but for some of the inspiring stories that came to light through the competition.
Coverage of the Olympics always includes medal counts and tallies of gold, silver and bronze, and it's easy to cheer for effervescent athletes like Apollo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White.
While the Olympic Games are of course, a competition of countries, the event is also a convergence of cultures, and the chance to shine a well-deserved international light on our neighbors to the north.
The Canadian people are known for their friendliness, humor and hospitality, and for their long friendship with the U.S. The 2010 Olympic Games gave sports fans around the globe the opportunity to cheer for those wearing the Maple Leaf, even when competing against our own beloved red-white-and-blue-wearing athletes.
Who could watch the women's figure skating finals without an ache in your heart for Canadian favorite Joannie Rochette? Her mother suffered a fatal heart attack just hours after arriving in Vancouver. She would not get to see her daughter compete in the Olympics, after what must have been years of watching her skate while supporting her dream.
Rochette battled through grief and tears to win the bronze, earning the respect of millions, far beyond the Canadian borders.
No matter what language you speak, your political or religious beliefs, we can all relate to the thought of losing a parent, and the struggle to pay tribute to your family while coping with such a devastating loss. Her story transcended nationality and eclipsed sport. Fittingly, the courageous Rochette was given the honor of carrying her country's flag for the closing ceremonies, giving the world one more chance to embrace her.
It was easy for Pittsburgh Penguin fans to cheer for the Canadian hockey team when our own Sidney Crosby scored the overtime game-winner in the gold-medal final. The country that gave us hockey deserved to have arguably the world's greatest player earn the honor for his homeland.
Going into the games, the Canadian people were aching to see their athletes earn gold at home. That was after hosting both the 1976 and '88 games without hearing their national anthem played a single time for a first place finish.
In 2010, they heard the strains of "Oh Canada" 14 times, after taking more gold medals than any other nation.
Canada boasts thousands of miles of pristine snow-covered mountains, crisp clean air, awesome wildlife and amazing athletes. The country loves its sports, especially all things winter, and it showed through every aspect of the Games: ceremony, competition and community.
Our neighbors to the north boast friendly, patriotic people who did themselves, and their country . proud.
Goodman can be reached at Kellie@bedfordCountyChamber.org.