By Todd Humber
Four years ago, Canadians shed their reserved skins, wrapped themselves in the Maple Leaf and went nuts during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.
We had a brash “Own the Podium” slogan, and our athletes paid it more than just lip service by winning 26 medals — including 14 gold, more than any other country. That put us on top of the podium as, traditionally speaking, the country that wins the most golds is considered champion.
Fast forward to Sochi, and Canadians have returned to their flag waving ways. This time, our athletes aren’t just owning the podium, they’re dominating it. Yesterday, for the first time in history, Canada was leading not just the gold medal count, but also the overall medal count.
Right now, Olympians are household names from Victoria to St. John’s — Men’s mogul champion Alex Bilodeau and silver medallist Mikael Kingsbury. Women’s mogul winner Justine Dufour-Lapointe and her silver-laden sister Chloé Dufour-Lapointe. Short track speed skater Charles Hamelin is just getting warmed up, and he’s already got a gold.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir danced their way to a silver as part of the very unusual team figure skating competition, with great individual performances turned in by Kevin Reynolds and Kaetlyn Osmond, among others.
This morning, we racked up two more medals — Dara Howell took gold, and Kim Lamarre won bronze in women’s slopestyle skiing. (I don’t even know what that is, but I look forward to watching it tonight.)
There are literally too many winners to list, and that’s a far cry from past games where we had just a handful of medals, and sometimes not even a single gold, to brag about.
So yah, I have Olympic fever. Even though I know the day’s results before I get home, we’re still tuning in to the CBC every night to watch the events unfold.
But the flag waving can go beyond just sports. Today is federal budget day, and Jim Flaherty is set to unveil a budget that some experts say is already balanced — though Ottawa won’t admit it today. Instead, it will likely surprise with a surplus at year’s end. Among G8 nations, only Germany is on a more solid financial foundation.
There’s rumours that Chrysler wants to sink about $2 billion into its minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ont. So perhaps manufacturing in the country’s critical industrial heartland still has a heartbeat?
Alberta never experienced a recession, and it barely touched Saskatchewan. Our banks remain stable, and the housing bubble hasn’t burst — at least not yet, anyway.
Add that all together and you get, well, not much really — just a couple random examples of Canada’s greatness. But how much evidence do we need, really, to adopt that Olympic swagger into our work lives?
A decade ago, it would have been laughable to suggest we could win an Olympic games. And now, we’re in the thick of it for the second games in a row.
In 1904, Sir Wilfrid Laurier famously said: “Canada has been modest in its history, although its history, in my estimation, is only commencing. It is commencing in this century. The nineteenth century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that Canada will fill the twentieth century.”
Maybe it’s just Olympic fever, but it feels like Laurier’s comments can be restated today. Canada used to have a reputation as a polite, friendly nation that didn’t make too much noise. We were always a little insecure, looking outside for approval.
But now? We’re world beaters. And it feels pretty good.
Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrreporter.com for more information.