‘BoniBlog – O Canada, what a night!

John Iaboni represents Sports Media Canada at the Vancouver Games, working with AIPS to support and assist world media covering the event.

At just past 11 p.m. Friday night, the Gabriola Press Conference Room at the Media Press Centre was oozing with super stardom. There before me were the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, Ashley MacIsaac, k.d. lang, Donald Sutherland, Rick Hansen, Nancy Greene, Measha Brueggergosman, Garou … I mean, like, how real was that?
Only a short time before, they were part of the Opening Ceremony; now they were together on a platform, all ecstatic to have participated in quite a night for Canada.
Okay, so the night wasn’t perfect. A malfunction to one of the poles during the lighting of the temporary cauldron inside BC Place Stadium prevented Catriona Le May Doan completing her portion of the lighting.
But the pro that she is, she stood by the side, torch raised and celebrated with the 60,000-plus spectators when Gretzky, Greene and Steve Nash accomplished their tasks.
Then Gretzky left the stadium on a pick-up truck and was paraded to the waterfront where he ignited the permanent outdoor cauldron.
In a private chat with The Great One, he told me he was so sworn to keeping the secret he’d learned about on October 2 that he didn’t even tell his Dad, Walter.
“He kept saying ‘are you sure they haven’t asked you to carry the torch, even for 100 yards?’ And I kept telling him ‘no’. I know if I had told him, the whole world would have known!” Gretzky said before bursting out in laughter.
Joined by Hansen during our chat, he told Gretzky how proud he was to have been on the same stage with The Great One, Greene, Nash and Doan at BC Place Stadium for the night’s final phase. Look, it was emotional to see Hansen carry the torch into BC Place Stadium for these Olympics. It was a huge symbolic gesture commemorating his Man in Motion World Tour that began on March 20, 1985 at Vancouver’s Oakridge Mall and ended at BC Place Stadium on May 22, 1987.
Gretzky, accompanied by three of his children, daughter Paulina, sons Ty and Trevor for this post-ceremony media conference, admitted to being a little tired and with good reason.
“We were rehearsing at two in the morning for the past couple of nights,” he said. “But it was worth it … we all had a great time together.”
For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed the Opening Ceremony and felt it captured all Canadians from First Nations, to Anglophones and Francophones. The chance to privately hear what it meant to Gretzky and Hansen put a perfect finish to a memorable night.