The Russell native is far from just a Manitoba story now. For starters, he single-handedly brought the pitcher of beer back in fashion.
I was watching his race at the Shark Club in downtown Van and after he did his thing post-race with the pitcher, the room abandoned their Heinekens and pitchers were suddenly the new thing. It was classic.
I spoke to Jon's mother Joan on her way to her son's medal ceremony in Whistler. She was lovely to talk to, as humble and proud as one would expect coming from a great town like Russell. She told me she had 25 friends and family to account for before they departed for the ceremony, and remarked that "It's really nice in this day and age to gather together for something good." Perfectly said Joan. You're awesome. As is your son. And town. You made our weekend.
"ö In a previous column I mentioned that of all the lineups in Vancouver, of which there are hundreds at all times, there is perhaps no lineup more stunning than the one to get into the Bay downtown to shop their massive Olympic super store. That observation now has some serious competition. There are two other lineups of note. One is found at any Japadog cart, a chain of Japanese hot dogs that basically serve the greatest food in the world ever purchased on a sidewalk. Bratwurst laced with Edamame beans, seaweed and Japanese mayo on a jalapeno and cheese smokie, Kurobuta pork dogs (the kobe beef of pork they tell me) with bonito flakes and Okonomiyaki sauce.
At any time of day, the lineup at a Japadog stand stretches at least an entire city block.
The other lineup I was unaware of until today comes courtesy of an insider I know living at the Olympic village. The lineup, which includes Canadian and international athletes alike, is to play Sidney Crosby at ping pong. Apparently Sid is good. Really, really good.
"ö I'd have to give the nod for most knowledgeable fans at these games to the figure skating crowd. They're fantastic.
You would think it would be the hockey crowd, but I've been at every Team Canada game so far and still the most common refrain and insight into the game is yelling "Shoot!" whenever we have the puck.
You're yelling "Shoot!" at Joe Thornton? I think you should know by now that Joe doesn't ever shoot. He passes. We averaged 44 shots on goal per game in the first week and Joe Thornton accounted for exactly 0 of them.
The figure skating fans are less likely to yell advice on how they think an athlete should perform, but are more than willing to tell you exactly what is going right and wrong for the pair in question or how certain moves are judged.
They're better than colour commentary on TV.
I have no idea what I'm watching on the ice besides the fact that I think the men in all the pairs competitions are super lucky, but the fans seated around me have me talking and watching like an expert.
Good people over there at Pacific Coliseum. Thanks for the insight.
"ö One of the greatest races in Canadian Olympic history is Mark Tewksbury's swim in Barcelona. He gave a rousing speech Friday evening at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights display at Manitoba's Centre Place.
The Tewk can talk. It was cool to meet him.
That same night I met Dr. Willie Littlechild, who admittedly might be the greatest athlete in Canadian history I didn't know about. Baseball, hockey, diving, you name it... Willie Littlechild excelled.
He has 45 university, national, and international championships to his credit, and is a multiple athlete of the year award winner. He might have the single greatest and most diverse sporting resume in Canadian history.
Do yourself a favour, as I did when arriving home late that night after meeting him, and read up on him. He's really something.
Ace Burpee is the morning man
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