Cheers, tears and beers 3 mars 2011

Cheers, tears and beers

by Beckie Scott

It began with a dog pile of teammates the minute they crossed the line. Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey, the newly crowned men's team sprint world champions, were tackled and given the world's biggest bear hug by eight waiting teammates while head coach Justin Wadsworth ran laps around the jubilant heap of bodies, shouting like an overexcited Chihuahua.

From there, the celebration moved north to the wax cabin, where 10 wax technicians and support staff hugged, laughed, cried tears of joy and started cracking beers. When the beer ran out and the buses were loaded, the party migrated down to the central plaza of Oslo for the medal ceremony, where we watched our boys collect their gold and cheered them on for one last time that day.

With a huge Canadian flag hoisted high on a ski pole (of course!) leading the parade, the little cluster of teammates, coaches and staff from Canada then hit the town to celebrate the historic day. Everywhere our singing entourage went we heard "Go Canada!" and "Way to go Canada!"

Picking up various supporters such as long-time sponsors and friends along the way, our little group grew in numbers, and spirit too. The euphoric mood was contagious, and when a spontaneous dance party - red toques bobbing in unison - broke out in front a one-man band playing "Summer of '69" in the plaza, it was fantastic.

The tremendous triumph of the day had created a halo of joyful jubilation around the team, and a moment to celebrate for so many who work so hard behind the scenes. This is what it means to be a team, and it's why being a contributing member can be such an extraordinary experience on days like this. Team Canada - this one's for you.

Norway's Queen of Ski
If you've been reading my blogs, you're probably starting to get the sense by now that Norwegians take their ski racing pretty seriously.

The royal family (King Harald V and Queen Sonja) have not missed a day of racing yet, and race winners earn not only their medal, but a trip up to the royals' seats for a congratulatory handshake as well.

In keeping with the theme, it should come as no surprise that Harald's father (King Olav V) was well known for his athleticism and love of cross-country skiing. He is the only known king to have jumped off the Holmenkollen ski jump, and he's forever immortalized here in the stadium with a large bronze statue of him and his trusty poodle out for a ski.

There is another kind of royalty here at these Nordic world championships, though, and I think it's safe to say we have already crowned a queen.

Norwegian great Marit Bjoergen collected her fourth gold medal of these world championships in Thursday's 4x5 km relay race, making her the most decorated Norwegian woman in skiing history (no small feat as her predecessors were some pretty amazing ladies) and something of a phenom.

At 30 years old, Bjoergen is a racer who never seems to falter or have "off days" and when she's in good shape (as she is now) there simply isn't anyone better.

The rumour swirling here is that Marit is planning to try and win every single race she enters at these world championships (a total of 5). If she does, well ... move over Queen Sonja.

We're in the home-stretch now of these world championships, with just a couple events to go before the grand finale - a 30 km (for women) and 50 km (for men) classic mass start marathon.

As it is a weekend, the crowd levels are expected to be record-breaking. I have no doubt from what we've seen so far that that will be the case, continuing to make this one of the most extraordinary world championships ever.

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