It would be an insult to those truly suffering around the world for me to say that Sweden losing 3-0 to Canada in the gold medal game last Sunday is the worst thing that has ever happened.
So, people who are truly suffering in the world, cover your ears: Sweden losing 3-0 to Canada in the gold medal game last Sunday is the worst thing that has ever happened.
I went to Portland with friends on Saturday, which meant that I would not be able to watch the game live at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and probably wouldn’t get to it until Sunday afternoon. Normally, I’d be very concerned about learning the result ahead of time, but the friends I was traveling with are all architects whose greatest contribution to any sports conversation we’ve had is that the NHL’s throwback uniforms look like they were designed by Wes Anderson.
Late Saturday night, after drinking most of the alcohol in Portland, I checked my phone for pre-game updates and found that Swedish forward Nicklas Bäckström, who is our leading scorer in the NHL and pretty fucking important to the team, had been suspended by the IOC for testing positive for pseudoephedrine.
Which is to say: Zyrtec. An over-the-counter allergy medication.
Bäckström had been taking Zyrtec for seven years, which never caused a problem with his NHL eligibility, but apparently the IOC saw fit to disqualify him for this infraction just hours before the gold medal game, ensuring there would be no time for an appeal or retest, even though his test was administered three days earlier.
Said the chief medical officer for the IIHF, hockey’s international governing body, “There certainly is no doping in this instance. He is an innocent victim, and we support him strongly.”
Add that to the injuries of Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin, and Franzen, and things weren’t looking good for Team Sweden. Which is not to say that Sweden would have won if they were healthy—even at full strength, Sweden’s roster pales in comparison to the Canadian squad (13 of the top 21 scorers in the NHL this season are Canadian, as composed to two Swedes, including Bäckström). It’s merely to say that on Saturday night, things weren’t looking too good.
The next morning, I avoided all phones, computers, etc., and drove home with my friends Kellen and Matthew. We stopped at Shari’s dinner, the Northwest’s answer to Denny’s, in Tukwila, and for reasons that are beyond me (maybe trying to do something nice for my body after the previous night’s drinking binge?), I ordered a plate of fruit for breakfast.
When my fruit plate arrived, it featured what I was told were two wedges of honey dew, as well as a dozen grapes on a few leafs of dry lettuce.
After I loudly exclaimed, “What the fuck is honey dew?!” for the twentieth time, Kellen graciously offered me some of his toast and hash browns, which calmed me down a little bit.
Outside Shari’s, Matthew pointed out an animal I’ve never seen before: a nutria. Or, in layman’s terms, a giant fucking rat. This thing was just hanging out on the lawn, nibbling grass, definitively proving the nonexistence of God. I’m not familiar with the exact breakdown of which animals signify which omens, but I doubt the sight of a river rat suggests good news is on the horizon.
When we reached Eugene, Kellen asked if we could stop at the market before he dropped me off, which I was more than happy to do, as my appetite had not quite been quelled by my fruit plate.
It was in the checkout line of Safeway, my basket loaded with fried chicken and potato wedges I would eat during the replay of the game I had by now convinced myself Sweden might have won, that I saw it: A college girl in a Team Canada jersey.
The jersey looked fresh, unblemished, but the design was old. Like it had been worn exactly once in the last four years: on the day Canada won the gold in Vancouver.
When I got home, I opened the game on the NBC webpage, but since NBC had conveniently marked the points in the game when each goal was scored—and by whom—it took about four seconds to see three Canada marks and none from Sweden.
As I closed my laptop and ate the saddest fried chicken ever, I tried to console myself with some of the good parts of The Olympics:
- Sweden finished tied with France for eighth in the total medal count, earning 15, in one of the best overall Olympics in the country’s history. An American friend pointed out that the US earned almost twice as many, with twenty-eight medals, to which I respond that, per capita, that means Sweden only wins 496-28.
- Sweden earned eleven medals in cross country, which tied them with Norway for tops. Beating the Norwegians in both relays certainly didn’t hurt.
- I have seen my future wife, and her name is Charlotte Kalla. The wedding may be a little while off, since she doesn’t know I exist yet, but if you’re reading this, Charlotte, I would like to point out that I can offer you a green card. If Charlotte is already involved with someone, I would consider betraying my country for Norwegian cross country skier Therese Johaug or Czech biathlete Gabrielle Soukalová.
- Watching the Russian hockey team lose to the US in the prelims and then to Finland in the quarterfinals was pretty great. I hated the Russian fans’ and athletes’ total lack of class throughout the games. (Also, Alex Ovechkin is a dick.) From the Soviet-era jerseys to the handpicked coach (a former star of the Red Machine), the Russian squad was built by Putin and co. to mimic the strength of the old USSR. And just like the old USSR, they were embarrassed by Finland. The first time around, it was in the Winter War, in 1939, when the Fins held off their Soviet invaders for a full year, often outnumbered 10- or 20-1, fighting tanks on cross country skies. The second time around it was on Russia’s home soil, at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Which was wonderful.
It’ll be another four years until I get to lose myself in this shit again, but until then, thanks to all the Swedes who made this a spectacular Winter Games.
Congratulations also to Team Canada. I hope your bus didn’t crash on the way to the airport.
And to Russia and Norway, as always, go fuck yourself.