Just a month away from Sochi 2014. And we’re getting ready to go!

As some of you may know from Twitter and Facebook, this February 2014 Shirley and I will be travelling to Sochi to spend a week taking in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games!  Since January and February are pretty slow months for triathlon and run news anyways, you’ll notice a few more of my posts over the next few weeks will be documenting the leadup and our time in Istanbul and Sochi.

First of all, I’ll give you a little background as to why we’re travelling to Russia, of all places, in the winter.  A big part of why we’re going is to watch Gil Junio race for Team Canada in 500m  Long Track Speedskating.  Shirley and I will be travelling with friends and family to cheer him on.  If you don’t know who he is already, read about his story on his webpage here.

Secondly, any longtime Calgarian, at least the ones around before 1988, will tell you how much the winter Olympics mean to our city and our country’s national identity.  Around Calgary, the hallmarks of the winter Olympics are still everywhere to be seen.  At Winsport Canada (formerly Canada Olympic Park), the Saddle Dome, Nakiska, and at the Calgary Tower, you can still see pictures of Olympic heroes, the Olympic torch, and our mascots Hidy and Howdy.

So when the Olympics were announced for Vancouver 2010 almost a decade ago, it was a no brainer. My then girlfriend (now wife) and I  loaded up on tickets when the first set was issued two years before the games and set out for YVR in 2010.  We had the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the Olympics on our home turf and I’m pretty sure that it was at that moment that we became Olympic groupies.

We’re actually on a 3-Olympic streak now after we had a stopover in London in 2012 to watch an Olympic volleyball match.  This was actually on the way back from competing at the ITU Long Course Worlds in Spain a couple years back.

Of course these Olympics won’t be without their share of controversies.  I don’t need to detail them all here but I’m certainly not naive to the realities of what’s going in Russia.  My hope is that on the day of the opening ceremonies, athletes and supporters from around the world can set compete on the common platform of sport and fair competition.

In Vancouver 2010 I was overwhelmed by the sense of community and national pride that we as Canadians felt.  Its rare that we show our love for our country in overt displays because we’re so “Canadian”.  Our modesty as Canadians is part of what defines us.  But its important that we recognize that we can be modest while being a nation that celebrates greatness and achievement in sport and culture.  I believe that its things like that celebration of greatness in our national athletes that helps to inspire millions of others to pursue some of that achievement in our own lives.

If you need any proof, here’s my little story.  I raced my first half Ironman, Calgary 70.3 in 2010.  “I Believe” was still on high rotation on my iPod, along with some Eminem, maybe some Journey, and possible some B.o.B. and Haley Williams, and Lady Gaga.  Anyways, when the alarm went off to wake up at 3:30am and get ready to race, I already had the following video loaded on my laptop so I could watch it first thing when I woke up.

This February, wear red, support our Olympic athletes, and cheer hard.  We are Canadian.