The last Olympic event Jim and I attended was the Finland v. Belarus hockey game. We picked it because of my Finnish heritage and because tickets were available 😉 Utilizing Craig’s list we scored tickets at face value, 10 rows from the glass, behind the goal – my favorite hockey watching spot.
The day before we had a blast watching the USA take down Switzerland 3-1 in some good old, NHL style rough and tumble hockey, so we were fired up for some more. The Finnish Fans were out in force with white and blue flags waving, hockey jerseys being sported, face painting and even blue and white wigs on display.
Directly behind us were a group of enthusiastic Finland fans. A combo of people who were Finnish but lived in Vancouver and relatives from Finland and over for the games. Jim and I got to talking to them by asking for translations of the things they were yelling in Finnish to the players throughout the game. Some were simple enough – “Come on Boys” – some were not. My husband’s favorite was something to the effect of “the Corpse is almost to the barn!” Chatting to them between periods, my husband let out that my great-grandparents were from Finland. Upon hearing this news, I was immediately inducted into the fold.
They even put Jim and I into some of their jerseys so we could look like true Finland fans.
Finland handily beat Belarus, 5-1. A bit eerie actually, as that was the exact score predicted by some interviewed Finns at the start of the game. While the game was engaging in itself for its non-NHL style – less crashing into the walls but way more penalties for minor, often overlooked offenses – the best part was connecting with the fans from Finland. The Olympics originally were designed to bring countries together in a spirit of fraternity. We felt that spirit the entire time we were in Vancouver, whether chatting to Canadians in line with us at an event, asking the volunteers for recommendations or route advice, or being embraced by the Finns. To me, that’s the joy of the Olympics.