Yes, the wait in almost over.  Our Canadian athletes prepare to realize their lifetime dream of representing this great country we call HOME, in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi Russia.  Yes.  A lifetime of commitment, endurance, sacrifice and determination for the elite few that are able to find that perfect balance, and in so doing, earn the honor of wearing the Red and White on the world stage.  My heart swells with pride just saying those words.  


As Sochi Russia frantically prepares to welcome the world for the next 3 weeks, I can't even begin to imagine just what  the International Olympic Committee and Vladimir Putin have been dealing with since it was announced that Sochi would be hosting this great event in 2014.  Where to start?  How to start?  When to start? Who can help us to get there?  Just how many people does it take to put this show on the road? And at what cost?  And the list goes on and on.  Challenge after challenge every day.  For example, the Power infrastruture was dealt with in a 5 year strategy for increasing power supply to Sochi and surrounding areas.  According to the strategy, the capacity of the regional energy network would need to increase by 2 and one half times to meet the demands required.  The Transportation infrastruture required to support the Olympics includes many roads, tunnels, bridges, interchanges, railroads and stations.  At the Sochi sea port, a new off shore terminal allows for docking for cruise ships  with capacities of 3000 passengers.  At the Sochi airport, a new terminal was built along with runway extensions, and backup airports were built in 4 surrounding cities.  And don't forget Telecommunications.  $580million US dollars were spent on construction and modernization of  systems.  What about Security?  That final number will be unbelievable.  On the ground, there will be more than 40,000 law enforcement officials deployed in securing the events, and speaking in 4 languages.  They will be monitoring "Controlled" and "Forbidden" zones in and around Sochi.  Internal troops will be 10,000 plus strong.  And MUCH MUCH MORE.  


Stop for a moment and think just how much this world event would cost a country??  In October of 2013, it was estimated that the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games had topped $51Billion US dollars, which is  more than 4 times the initial budget of $12Billion US dollars.  Then the controversies.  The security concerns that hang over the events, the allegations of corruption leading to severe cost overruns, and the protests of anti-gay laws.  And the list goes on.  Vladimir Putin declared that "the Olympic Games in Sochi will be the safest Olympics in history", and he has remarkable demands to meet in that commitment.  


Upon saying all that, our incredible Braveheart athletes focus on their aspirations not on all the red tape.  As they leave their home country with emotions flying high and anticipation and excitement building daily, they begin to focus on the days ahead of them, and how they will unfold.  This is the first time the Olympics have been held in Russian Federation since the breakup of the USSR in 1991, and Sochi is more than happy to welcome the XXII Olympic Winter Games. The Opening Ceremonies commence Friday February 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM, and pre-show coverage commences at 9:00AM.  The games run through to February 23, 2014, when the gracious hosts will say goodbye to the athletes,  many visitors  and the XXII Olympic Games.  


So lets get our game face on, pull out our GO CANADA GO jerseys,  and get geared up for the entertaining time coming up.  When Hayley Wickenheiser leads the Canadian contingent of athletes into the Olympic Stadium in Sochi on February 7th, bundle up, sit back, relax and cheer on our beloved Canadian athletes.  In whatever sport our athletes represent.  Each and every athlete in Sochi will inspire us, amaze us and bring our great country together and make Canada a better place to live.  It is true.  Not every athlete will win a medal, not every athlete will perform at their best, and not every athlete will have a good  memory of Sochi 2014.  This makes my heart heavy.  To each and every athlete, parent, family member, coach, doctor, or friend of this elite group of gifted individuals, I would like to say THANK YOU for your representing Canada in this International forum, THANK YOU for your lifetime of dedication and ongoing commitment to a sport you love, and THANK YOU for wearing the Maple Leaf in Sochi Russia so that the whole world will realize what an incredible group of professional athletes represent such an incredible country.  


I can't wait to watch the Olympic Cauldron be ignited, and then patiently wait to watch the Canadian Flag rise above the crowd,  and hear "O CANADA" echo through the building as a medal is hung around the necks of our Canadian Warriors.  "WITH GLOWING HEARTS, WE SEE THEE RISE" over and over again.   So for the next couple of weeks, let's just Watch Winter and enjoy the ride!!!!!!


GO   CANADA   GO!!!!!!!!!

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