Whoever conceived of the concept of the holiday season satisfied every demographic. Need a new pair of oversized sunglasses and Ugg boots? Boxing Day’s for you! Need a night to consume grandpa’s “cough medicine?” Perhaps New Years can flick your switch! Or maybe you just want to kick it and go to church. Ever heard of a little thing called Christmas? But there’s one group of people who I have yet to mention—the über-Canadians, whose holidays are decorated not by shiny ornaments, but by the annual World Junior Hockey Championships.
“But who is this über-Canadian?” you may ask. Is he the man who chases his whiskey with maple syrup and shoots off a firework for each year since Confederation every July 1? Au contraire, mon frère, we must not confuse an über-Canadian with a patriot. Instead, to understand the über-Canadian is to understand the aforementioned competition, a tournament known simply as the World Juniors in the vernacular of the True North. The World Juniors are where the finest young hockey players in the world lace up their skates and exhibit the highest level of under-21 international ice hockey accessible to us. I say “accessible” because Canadians are willing to, and quite often do, travel as far as Pardubice, Czech Republic just to cheer the boys on. This year, by virtue of the tournament having been held in Buffalo, New York, the road-trip proved all the more manageable. Compared to American fans, who could have been counted on the fingers of a character on the Simpsons, the red maple leaf was on display in disproportionately large numbers. Among those fans could be found countless über-Canadians.
The über-Canadian is the one who, if not lucky enough to have found a ticket for the Canada-U.S.A. game, resorted to driving to Buffalo to watch Norway square off in a duel with Germany. But of course there were also über Canadians who were lucky enough to have obtained tickets to watch Canada play, which cost upwards of $200 even against a country such as Norway. Then Canada wins the game 9, 10, sometimes 15 to nothing, and the über Canadians celebrate and analyze a clumsy neutral zone turnover for the next 48 hours, which, God forbid, could have made it 15-1 and helped the Norwegians salvage an ounce of pride. After all, that would have been an über-Canadian tragedy. Pardon my speculation, but I can’t envision a group of Norwegian folk (or Americans for that matter) crowding the bars to watch the game and, frankly, caring. Be that as it may, our Canadians rarely give up that fatal goal, and we usually win the tournament, as our nine appearances in the last ten gold medal games demonstrates. This tendency to win the World Junior Hockey Championships each year is an enabler for the über-Canadian.
Then the Russia game happened. Until the third period, yet another happy ending appeared more imminent than at a Dutch massage parlour, with Canada up 3-0. And then, to return to our previous analogy, the Canadians blew it. Über-Canadians all over the country were left speechless, their egos bruised and their faith tested. On this rare occasion of having been embarrassingly defeated by the Russians, we finally have to ask the important question: Will the über-Canadians stick around?
Kevin Kaczmara is U2 International Development Studies and Economics student, and can be reached at [email protected]