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The most wonderful time of every four years

Feb 11, 2014 10:45 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games kicked off in Sochi, Russia on Friday morning, and I for one couldnít be much happier about it.

Winter sports help define us as a nation. Many of us take pride in the fact that we are willing to brave the winter elements, laugh in the face of the cold and create our own memorable experiences atop the snow.

Sure, this yearís Olympic Games wonít have the same intensity or the overwhelming feeling of national pride that comes with playing host to the international celebration of sport, but it will be sure to provide its share of thrills, upsets and more unforgettable moments added to Canadaís rich sporting history.

Iím a firm believer that these games will go off without a hitch Ė sure, the accommodations arenít up to par from a North American standpoint, but the games themselves will prove to be just as exciting as always. While a great deal of controversy surrounds these games, I know in my heart that the true spirit of the Olympics will shine through.

There is something truly marvelous about the Olympics. I canít think of any other instance where you would find members from countries with a litany of differences step onto a level field to enjoy the spirit of competition in unity.

Sure, competition is a big part of it, but I see the Olympics as a celebration of our global similarities, and proof that athletic competition is integral to a healthy human spirit.

The Olympics are the one time every four years that I find myself fascinated by obscure events like skeleton, bobsled, ski jumping or speed skating, and for the athletes of those sports that fly under the mainstream radar, itís a chance to showcase their passion, their dedication, and their national pride.

Flying over all will be the infamous Olympic flag, gracing the skies of Sochi until the conclusion of the Winter Games on Feb. 23. With five interlocking rings representing unity, presented in a five-colour scheme that includes at least one colour from every national flag on the planet, itís one of the most recognizable images worldwide.

The Olympic flag holds a close place in my heart, as my father, who served with the Canadian Forces during the Montreal Olympics in 1976, was given the Olympic flag that flew over the equestrian stadium. He in turn handed the flag down into my possession, and for the duration of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, that flag will hang from the rafters of Clancy Richard Arena.

The flag is simply too large to hang up on any wall in my apartment, so I figured it would better suited on display to the community, rather than just sitting in a closet.

My hope is that this flag will bring a degree of inspiration to our local teams and clubs throughout the month of February, as minor hockey progresses into provincials, the Junior Bís push for the playoffs, and the St. Paul Figure Skating Club prepares for its annual Winter Gala.

Go Canada Go.

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