Welcome to the first (of many) blogs I will be doing exclusively for the Curling.ca website for the next year. Why a blog? Seems that after you win a silver medal, people are interested. They want to get “between the sheets” and find out the details – what we do and why we do it! So enjoy!
The three questions I have answered numerous times since the Olympics ended are: What were the Olympics like? How has your life changed? And what’s up for Team Bernard next season?
What were the Olympics like? This is a tough question for my first blog, as I am now trying to describe the indescribable. Surreal is the very first word that comes to mind – exciting, unbelievable, life changing, amazing! I remember talking to Gerry Peckham after our first game and I will never forget his words. “We never have, and we never will see anything like this again in the history of curling.” And I think Gerry has been to every winter Olympics since curling became an official sport.
You play your entire career for this chance and then you get that chance and think what in the heck have I gotten myself into? Well there was no turning back. But funny thing was all the work we had put in over the past 4 years with our coach (Dennis Balderston), our sports psychologist (Penny Werthner) finally just clicked. We had created the perfect storm – at the exact moment in time when we needed it. We were calm, we were having the time of our lives… hell I have been more nervous giving blood – we just didn’t feel the pressure – we were loving every moment! But wow, it was a long moment.
I have been asked what I did at the Olympics…what sports I saw…well as unexciting as this sounds, I saw the Olympic Village (and yes there are bowls full of condoms), I saw the curling venue and I saw our hotel. Oh, and thanks to Paul Webster I saw the gold medal hockey game!!!
One of my good friends is a ski cross racer and we happened to be lamenting about our long Olympics and that we hadn’t seen anything. She put us in our place. “My Olympics are 23 seconds long… yours are 10 days – what do YOU have to complain about!” I didn’t complain much after that.
I do get asked about the gold medal game – so I will address it now. I have made my peace with my team and coach – they know that I would have done anything in my power to make either one of those shots to win that game for them. Disappointed? Who wouldn’t be? But having the perspective we did this year helped us not only play better, but we saw the sport as a game, not a job or what defines us. And this perspective also helped me realize (after many sleepless nights) that we didn’t lose gold. We won silver and made each other, our family, our friends and our country very proud.
How has life changed? The biggest thing now has to remember the medal like you do your cell phone! It’s become a running joke around our house. Where is the medal? Do you have the medal? Did you hide the medal? Can I take the medal to work? Can I take the medal to school? (That was a resounding no!) A month back we decided that we have to put the medal in the safe in our basement when I am not taking it to schools & speaking engagements – so I lock the medal up one day in the safe (that I never use). Couple days later, I need to take the medal – so down to the safe I go. Put in the combo, once, twice, third time is a charm and the safe lock seizes up. Guess it’s some security feature in case you are a thief trying to get in…well I am expected in 1 hour at a school assembly with 500 kids, that want to see this medal! Half hour later Terry (my spouse with unbelievable patience) goes down and puts in the right code and I now have the medal!
I have lost it in my vehicle (rolled under the seat) and have hid it in the house only to realize that I don’t remember that exact hiding spot (that’s a 40+ age thing).
The other big change is that you can no longer be anonymous. That’s been the toughest to get use to. And people seem to like to hug you – it’s been disconcerting at times… complete strangers hugging you in the Safeway or on the street. A new staple in my wardrobe is a baseball hat and dark glasses!
We took Connor (my stepson) to Japanese Village the other day because his marks were so good in school. He loves it there. When the Japanese chef had finished doing his thing, he quietly leaned over to me and said in very broken English. Are you the curler? I said yes, I do curl. He shakes his head violently.”No, no…you are the Olympic curler right?” I nodded. He then left and there was a flurry of activity in the back and 10 of the chefs and the manager and the waitresses all came out. “May we please have picture with you?” They were so excited and proceeded to explain that they watched the entire Olympics curling in the restaurant for the entire 10 days.
So all of it is great, people are so excited for you – giddy to touch the medal and so excited to talk about the Olympics and the excitement it created! Competing in the Olympic Games on home soil was a great gift, not only for the athletes, but for our family, support staff and every Canadian who had the opportunity to watch.
What’s up for Team Bernard in 2010/2011? That will be for the next blog…stay tuned.