Winter Olympics Journal

March 1, 2010 2:20 AM

Horn signals end of Games for me


On Day 17, the final day of the 2010 Olympics, I finally had my fill of crowds. While standing in the midst of a packed crowd of hockey crazies in Whistler Village's main square, watching the gold-medal game, it got to be too much.

After the first period, I left, starting the 20-minute walk home. Approaching the village's outskirts, it got quieter and quieter. Traffic, foot and vehicle, was practically at a standstill. Everybody in town, save for the crossing guards, were watching the game.

Then I heard the horn. Not a car horn. An old-world-sounding horn.

I looked down the street, and walked into a Ricola commercial. A Swiss-looking guy had the long-stemmed, wooden alpenhorn propped on the sidewalk corner. He'd blow it in one direction, then the other.

I approached, and asked (politely), what was up.

The horn-blower's friend explained. Another buddy of theirs had left his hat on one of the Olympic buses. With hundreds of buses in the Olympic fleet, chances were slim they'd find it. They were waiting on the corner for him to hopefully bring back some good news.

They were blowing the horn because "we want to give him good energy," said the friend.

Pivoting the horn in one direction, then the other, allowed you to hear the sound bounce off mountains on either side. I stood and listened. Sure enough, the mournful sound bounced back from the snow-covered range, in full view now that the weeklong fog had lifted.

It was cool. On the final day of the 2010 Games, it was like my own dignified, simple closing ceremony, minus the crowds. Fine with me.

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