Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is there life beyond the Olympics?

I guess we'll soon find out, lol. But right now, it feels like all I do is go to work, come home, submerge myself in the Olympics until some ungodly hour of the night, get up & do it all over again.

Since the Olympics began, not quite two weeks ago, there has been precisely one night that I went to bed before 11:30. More often than not -- thanks to the translation from Pacific Time event schedules to Central Time TV viewing -- I'm watching TV till 12 or 12:30. And did I mention that I get up at 5 a.m. on weekday mornings in order to get to work on time in the city by 8??

There's no figure skating on tonight. There IS a crucial Canada-Russia hockey game (& if you thought Canada-USA was a rivalry, baby, you ain't seen nothing yet). But I'm planning on crawling into bed no later than 9 p.m. If that makes me unpatriotic, so be it. A girl needs her beauty sleep.

I was talking figure skating with one of my coworkers yesterday. I said, "I can't wait for the weekend so I can sleep in!" She (ignorant of my personal reproductive history) gave me a "look" & said wearily (only half-joking, I think...!), "I hate you. My daughter (17 months old) keeps the same schedule whether it's a weekday or weekend."

Part of me thought, "Ouch!"

Part of me thought, "If you only knew. I'll bet you would be mortified that you said that to me."

Part of me thought, "So, only parents have the right to complain about being tired??"

And part of me thought, "Tough! -- There have to be some benefits to childless living." (lol)

*** *** ***

By now, everyone knows about Joannie Rochette, Canadian women's figure skating champion, whose 55-year-old mother died of a heart attack only hours after arriving in Vancouver last weekend to watch her daughter compete. Her short program last night was both perfectly executed and heartwrenching to witness.

Beverly Smith of The Globe & Mail -- one of the best figure skating reporters out there -- wrote a beautiful tribute to Therese Rochette earlier this week. She reminded me of a story that I first heard a few years ago:

Her mother was never more a part of her skating when Rochette skated to L'Hymne d'Amour, music suggested to her by [choreographer David] Wilson for the season after the 2006 Olympic season. Rochette wasn't sure that the music was a good idea until she played it for her mother.

Rochette was driving in a car with her mother, and when she put the CD in the car's player, she was astonished to see her mother begin to cry after she heard the first few notes of music. "I was shocked,'' Rochette wrote in a journal back in 2006. "I couldn't understand what was going on.''

Therese wept because she'd listened to the music many times many years ago, after a fiancé died in a car accident two weeks before their wedding, when Therese was in her early twenties and the two had had a long courtship....

... "It was HER song,'' Rochette said. After that, Rochette had to skate to L'Hymne d'Amour. She even used it as her free skate music at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin.

(The article includes the poignant lyrics of the song.)

The article also includes a fact I had not known before: Joannie is "an only child." Well, not quite. It seems she had an older brother who died shortly after birth.

The journalist in me realizes this is a story that needs to be covered -- and, in making the decision to continue to compete, Joannie has invited a certain degree of scrutiny. I realize that people are curious and want to know what happens. They want to wish her well.

But there's a part of me, perhaps the bereaved part of myself that still downplays my own lingering feelings of grief and loss in front of others, that wishes the cameras would leave her alone, and cringes at times when it feels like the coverage is becoming excessive. (Facing others after my baby's stillbirth was so horribly hard. I can't imagine going out to compete/perform in an arena full of thousands of people, not to mention millions more watching on television.) (But then, I'm not an Olympic-calibre athlete who's been training my entire life for this moment...) There is a fine line being trod here, between covering a story and preying on grief to boost TV ratings and readership. (And maybe I'm a little guilty myself, by writing about it here in my blog.)

But at the same time, there was no denying the love and concern and respect shown by the audience last night -- the virtual arms reaching out to silently embrace the young girl at centre ice and buoy her up as she launched one perfectly executed jump after another. I doubt there was a dry eye in that arena. (There wasn't in my house.)

"She is Canada's daughter now," someone wrote in one of the newspapers, and if there were gold medals for courage, I think Joannie Rochette should have one.


  1. Eesh ... I'm so with you about staying up too late watching the Olympics. I've been too addicted to watching it. And I truly think it's gonna be a toughy for me when it comes to the Hockey medal rounds; especially since I'm very patriotic but yet me love me some Canadian hockey too! What to do ... ??

    As for Joannie ... I agree, a beautiful short program and I truly do believe she is deserving of a medal, regardless of any circumstances.

    The only thing I'm reaallly bummed about is that I was SO used to getting both US and Canadian Olympic coverage (being in Detroit during the last set of Olympics). But now that CBC isn't showing any Olympics, I don't get any of the Canadian coverage. I used to LOVE seeing and hearing both commentaries ...

    Oh wow ... what WILL we do after this week?!

  2. Emily -- I generally prefer CBC Olympic coverage over CTV too. And I like to flip over to NBC once in awhile to see what they're saying, lol. But at least we have the choice. There was actually an article in the New York Times last week about Americans missing CBC coverage; you're not alone!

  3. I am also staying up far too late. Eesh. Last night D. and I were obsessed with the women's speed skating relay -- Canada totally earned its medal. The US? Not so much.

    What an interesting, sad story on so many levels. And it underscores how little we really know about our parents' lives. D's parents both were widowed in their early 20s after the deaths of their high school sweethearts -- one in a car accident (2 months before D.'s sister was born), the other due to scarlet fever.

    Sorry that your co-worker made that comment. But it's good that you could interpret it several ways.

  4. Lovely post Lori. Joannie is a beautiful skater - I agree, even without the background, she is a graceful, strong and talented athlete. I bawl every time I hear or see coverage of her performance.

  5. Thanks for speaking my mind on the sleeping-in issue. I agree with all of your views. These 4 different sides compete in me and each time a conversation gets up - I never know if I'll be happy or sad that I can actually sleep in.

    And thanks for the story about the Rochette-ladies. My tears were flowing freely just reading about it. I would have bawled my eyes out in the arena.

  6. I really haven't watched much of the olympics, its on too late here. I really miss watching the figure skating and haven't really followed much of it. Thank you for sharing that story about Rouchette.

  7. I saw that skate and it was beautiful. I was so proud of her - she showed true spirit and determination. Her mother would have been proud!

  8. I am stunned by her strength and courage to skate after her loss. It was a beautiful skate and she really is the true winner in my eyes.

  9. I loved reading the internal struggle of what you really wanted to say to your coworker! That's right, when you're child free you do get to sleep in (unless you have pugs)!

    I too was glued to my set during the olympics. Canada is beautiful. I've only been to Ontario to see the falls. I cried too during her skate. And I did want to see the US hockey team win (DH and I are big fans of hockey), but if we're going to lose to someone at least it was Canada!

    By the way I had my 2002 Salt Lake socks on during the games! I was in SL the summer prior to the games because I wanted to ride the bobsled (we were visiting my DH's uncle in WY). When we drove up to the track we found out they closed it a week earlier because they were afraid that it was getting ruined! I was so upset, that was the only reason we flew into UT!

    Currently my US Bobsled shirt is on order! 62yrs. in the making!


  10. Judging from the lack of updates, the answer is no, there is NO life beyond the Olympics...


  11. This is interesting:

  12. I am completely out of the loop as far as the Olympics are concerned, never really watched it. What a story though.

    And yikes about that comment you got. Just... yikes.