The end of our trip to Alberta came far too quickly. We had spent the day driving through Banff and then driving through Yoho and then back through Banff and on to Calgary. When we rolled into Calgary in the evening, we found that our hotel was right across the street from the Olympic Park.
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. It was my first experience watching the Olympics and I remember staying up late every night to watch it on tv. These games saw 1,423 athletes from 57 different countries compete. The flags of those countries mark the entrance to the park. This would be the last Olympics to have teams from the Soviet Union and East Germany.
This Olympic year also saw the first Jamaican bobsled team. Coming in as the underdogs from a tropical climate to compete in a winter sport, they quickly became a favorite team of the games. Because of their limited experience they began to appeal to other teams for some of the equipment needed to compete. This led to a lot of created friendships with the athletes from other countries. They competed in both the two man and four man bobsled.
A few years later, Disney produced a movie loosely based on the team and their Olympic experience- Cool Runnings. This movie was happily received in pop culture with its parody version of the team and the soundtrack of reggae music. But there have been a lot of criticisms of the movie over the years for their inaccurate portrayals of the team and the games they competed in. The bobsled on display at the park is the one from the movie while the real one returned to Jamaica to stand as a tribute to those first athletes.
We walked to the viewing area where we stood watching all the young hopefuls make their way down their chosen slope. It was amazing that the different arenas were all in a line next to each other starting with the ski jump, then moguls, and on down to the snowboarding halfpipe. It was really fun to watch the different areas and see the skill and passion that is already demonstrated in these young athletes. It must help to get to practice on these slopes that once held the Olympics.
We were so glad of the chance to see the Olympic park and talk about the different sports, athletes, and games that we have watched over the years. But for me, I will always remember that first time watching the Olympic games in the winter of 1988.
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Thanks for joining me on this visit to Winsport Olympic Park in Calgary. May you always feel like you won the gold, no matter what place you take.