Are we satisfied with silver?

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — All hail Jenn Heil for her performance on Saturday at Cypress Mountain.

Second best in the world is nothing to sneeze at. But in freestyle skiing, of course, the ‘world’ consists of a relatively small handful of rich, northern countries. But, hey, you could say that about any sport at a Winter Olympics. As my great track and field buddy Cecil Smith used to say, there’s no synchronized swimming in Africa. And you can interchange synchronized swimming with freestyle skiing, luge or biathlon.

But Heil deserves to be content with her silver medal. She did win silver, not lose gold, because she didn’t crash and burn, or choke under pressure. Her final run Saturday was solid. It’s just that the run by American gold medallist Hannah Kearney was superior.

That being said, Heil’s comments since her Saturday performance have been gracious, magnanimous and enthusiastic. And kind of frightening.

It seems The Beast is back. And we don’t want The Beast.

And there’s nothing scarier at an Olympic Games (perhaps other than a trip to Cypress Mountain) than The Beast — Canadian athletes who are happy with disappointing performances.

Until recent years, The Beast reared its ugly head all the time: If a Canadian athlete didn’t win a medal, that’s OK, as long as you tried hard and enjoyed yourself.

Thankfully in recent years, there’s been a change of attitude, the likes of Donovan Bailey in Atlanta and Myriam Bedard in Lillehammer and even Jenn Heil in Turin four years ago comes to mind. Second place was not good enough. They were there to win and damn the politically correct goal of competing and being a good sport. Being a good sport is great, to a point.

That’s why Heil’s gushy comments, post-silver medal, have thrown some of us for a loop.

“All I can say is that this is really a celebration for me,” the Spruce Grove, Alta. native said Sunday when asked about her silver medal. “It’s so amazing.”

The last thing the Vancouver Olympics needs is more of The Beast. The Beast accepts disappointment.

Do you think if it was an American or Australian athlete, defending her Olympic title on home soil, that they’d be as over the moon? They’d be ticked.

My all-time favourite athlete was Montreal’s Victor Davis, an Olympic swimming gold medallist and world-record holder who absolutely refused to accept losing, once causing an international stir when he kicked over a chair in front of the Queen at the 1992 Commonwealth Games.

After finishing second in a race at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, he dove into the warm-up pool and remained submerged for such a long while that people began to fear he wouldn’t come up again. But he charged back later and won a gold.

Heil should be more like Victor Davis, even if just a little bit.

Her silver is marvelous, but she had a chance to win Canada’s first Olympic gold medal on home soil. And defend her gold medal from Turin — here at home in front of thousands of supporters at Cypress, and millions more on TV. She didn’t, yet she feels really happy.

Heil didn’t fail us, or herself. But shouldn’t there be a little more disappointment?

All hail Jenn Heil.

But down with The Beast.

Remember — in Vancouver, Canada is supposed to Own the Podium.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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