February 24, 2006
Calgary's Glorious Games: 1988 - Calgary, Alberta
By GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media
Looking back at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, we are left with many positive memories except for one - it was the second time that Canada hosted the Olympic Games (1976 in Montreal was the first time) without winning a single GOLD medal. To this date, we remain the only host country to suffer that distinction.
But there were many positives like the Battle of the Brians in figure skating, the close rivalry between gold medal-winning Brian Boitano of the US and silver medallist Brian Orser of Canada.
And which Canadian wasn't thrilled by the silver medal showing of Elizabeth Manley, who finished second to Germany's Katarina Witt and had the satisfaction of defeating the German star in the free skate.
We mustn't forget Canada's ski queen, Karen Percy, the double bronze medallist. And how can one forget the entertainers of the Games, the Jamaican bobsled team (whose performance led to the making of the Hollywood movie "Cool Runnings") and Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards of Great Britain in the ski jumping? He turned out to be the personality of the Games - not for his ski jumping ability, which was minimal, but for his willingness to be photographed with pretty girls in plus 22 degrees Celsius weather. Mind you a few days earlier, Calgary welcomed the Olympians in minus 28 degrees Celsius.
To that date, Calgary organized the best-ever Olympic Winter Games. What's more, it turned a $ 48-million profit and left a legacy fund of some $150 million, plus all the Olympic facilities which helped Canadian athletes to prepare for this year's Games in Turin, Italy.
It is obvious that the $200 million investment provided by then-sports minister Otto Jelinek was one of the rare times government money was well spent.