Opening Notes

Opening Notes

TANYA DAVIES March 9 1998
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

TANYA DAVIES March 9 1998

Opening Notes

TANYA DAVIES

A bid to turn Olympic gold into cash

The Canadian Olympic athletes returned home last week, some victorious, others not. The men’s hockey team—which came a disappointing fourth—landed in Vancouver, where only 40 fans were waiting. But for the longand short-track speed skaters, it was a different story. The athletes, who won nine of Canada’s 15 medals, were met by hundreds of fans and journalists as they started a whirlwind cross-Canada tour that touched down in Vancouver,

Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. The crowds were eager to meet all team members, but the longest lines were for medallists Catriona LeMay Doan, Susan Auch, Eric Bédard and Marc Gagnon.

“So far the reception has been amazing,” said gold and bronze medal-winning longtracker LeMay Doan, 26, who patiently signed autographs. “I think I will have to shorten my signature, though, maybe just initials!”

The winners hope their medals will turn into corporate bonanzas, both for themselves and their sport. “I would like to get a big corporate sponsor,” said short-tracker Bédard, 21, who captured an individual bronze and a relay gold. “But it’s not easy in

were awarded on a per capita basis, Canada’s final standing would only slip one spot. But some of the smaller nations would move up into the top 10, while Russia (3), United States (6), Japan (9) and Italy (10) would be bumped down.

THE PER CAPITA RANKING, WITH THE OFFICIAL MEDAL STANDINGS IN BRACKETS: 1. Norway (2) 6. Canada (5) 2. Finland (8) 7. Germany (1) 3. Austria (4) 8. Sweden (16) 4. Switzerland (13) 9. Czech Republic (15) 5. Netherlands (7) 10. Belarus (17) SOURCE: THE WORLD ALMANAC 1998

this sport.” Gagnon, who weathered individual disappointments to share in the relay gold, is sponsored by General Mills, and was busy signing boxes of Cheerios printed with his image. “I grew up looking at athletes on my cereal boxes but never thought I would be one,” says the 23-yearold, laughing. “I feel that I have made it.” Auch, the veteran of the team, has a more down-to-earth view of their fame. “People seem to forget about the Olympics pretty

quickly,” says the 31-year-old silver medallist at both Nagano and Lillehammer. “So you don’t get your hopes up on sponsors.” The majority of the team members are young enough to be contenders at Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002—and that will give them at least one more go at the Olympic pot of medal and corporate gold.

No honors in math

A pop quiz: take one math test, have Grade 12 students from 22 countries write it, and score how well Canada does. Such a seemingly easy question has led to a multitude of answers from various newspapers. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study also included the United States and European countries. Canada was represented by Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick. Based on three tests—math, advanced math and physics—a total

mean score was awarded. The winner was the Netherlands, with 55.9, then Sweden, 55.5, and Iceland, 54.1. Canada, 52.6, was seventh, but The Toronto Star used a margin of error to rank it fourth—along with seven other countries. The Globe and Mail wrote that New Brunswick was the only province below the international average score of 50. The Star had New Brunswick at 50.1. The Canadian Press ranked Canada second in the advanced math test, while The New York Times found Canada just average. Sometimes the simplest math is the hardest to do.

Play it again, Jean

When Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Finance Minister Paul Martin met privately earlier this month at 24 Sussex Drive, aides thought it was a budget-planning meeting—until they heard a deep booming sound. Chrétien was playing Love Me Tender on the trombone he was given by the Liberal caucus as a Christmas present. The Prime Minister reportedly hopes to play with a band of MPs at the party convention later this month. He might also consider teaming up with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who happens to enjoy singing Love Me Tender. A diplomatic duet.

Not fond of Bond

He may have been good enough for Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but not for a knighthood.

Sean Connery, 67, the Scottish actor who turned the fictional British spy James Bond into a global hero, had been slated for knighthood on the New Year’s Honours List. But Tony Blair’s Labour government decided to scuttle the nomination—precisely why remains a matter of debate. It may stem from Connery’s support for the independent Scottish National Party, or that he lives as a tax exile in Spain and the Bahamas—or the 1965 interview with Playboy magazine in which he defended the occasional use of “an openhanded slap” in certain domestic situations. Last week, he publicly acknowledged the “stupidity” of those remarks, but expressed anger that British politicians might be using them out of context. “What I don’t like is the turn everything’s taken now,” said Connery, who has been married to his wife, Micheline Roquebrune, for 23 years. “When they drag up something from the past, about my violence towards women that I have attempted to answer in so many ways.” The original Bond is feeling both shaken and stirred.

Reviving a musical hero

African-Canadian pianist, composer, conductor and educator R. Nathaniel Dett was never a household name in Canada— but that may change. Born in what is now Niagara Falls, Ont., in 1882, Dett studied music at various U.S. universities, including Harvard. He went on to perform concerts for American presidents Herbert Hoover and

Franklin D. Roosevelt before his death in 1943. Now, his name and musical works are being honored with the creation of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the first black professional choral ensemble in Canada. “Usually, when you see a group of black singers, the general assumption seems to be it’s either a church or gospel „ choir,” says Brainerd Blydeni Taylor, 44, the artistic directord conductor of the Toronto-based I ensemble. “I think it is time that « we put together a choir that É seeks to explore the full range of choral music by Afro-centric composers.” Blyden-Taylor was joined at last week’s launch by supporters and board members, including jazz singer Molly Johnson and jazz pianist Joe Sealy. National auditions will start in mid-March for the 20-member choir. Their debut is scheduled at Dett’s birthplace on Oct. 3. “The Americans claim Dett as their own,” says Blyden-Taylor. “But as a secondgeneration Canadian, his roots were here.”