A not-so-celebrated Olympic event

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 06:00 am

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The lighting of the torch for the XXII Winter Olympics last week brought back pleasant memories of 1988 when Calgary hosted the event.

Who can forget Longviewís legendary Ian Tyson singing Four Strong Winds in the freezing cold at McMahon Stadium during the opening ceremonies?

While I didnít get to see those ceremonies, I was at one of event none of you saw. I went to the historic menís downhill in which the Swiss won the gold and silver medals at Nakiska.

It was those glorious pre-911 days with no security.

Myself and two friends arrived via bus to Nakiska, with a 12-pack of a Canadian refreshment. Of course, being among the irresponsible, single, nearing 30 male group, we goofed off and started looking for a place to watch after it started.

So we began chugging up the side of the course when skiers started going down the hill. Now for those who have only seen downhill skiing on TV, I have to tell you something.

The skiers go really fast.

Watching consisted of seeing someone zoosh by for a nano-second without having any clue what country the guy was from, let alone what his name was.

However, it wasnít the thrilling skiing that had my heart thumping. If you think going down the course is Crazy-Canuck like, try climbing up the stupid thing with four or five Pils in your bag.

By the time we reached our vantage point, I felt like I had just completed the 50km cross-country ski race. So we descended down the hill and when we arrived at the lodge, it was like hearing the opening Blue Oyster Cultís Donít Fear the Reaper ó the Swiss were deliriously ringing cowbells.

More Cowbells!

It was a tremendous scene and an amazing international experience which was then a very non-cosmopolitan southern Alberta.

While overjoyed with the near Swiss Sweep, many of the spectators were impressed with our hauling of cold ones up Nakiska. It was agreed we had swept the first Olympic Pil Hill climb. The event has never been officially recorded until now.

I guess it is time for me to do my Jon Montgomery impression and drink a full Pil while walking down the streets of Okotoks with happy fans.


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