Hold on to your hats and pins, there’s still three days remaining in the Canada Winter Games! On the final weekend, we will hear time and time again in nearly every corner of Prince George that “these are (were) the best Games ever”.

Politicians, host committee members, athletes, parents, volunteers, city residents and out of town guests will be polite, dignified and respectful in declaring the success of these Games. It’s actually a tradition during any closing ceremonies of a major sporting spectacle, to hype the historic significance of being the best ever.

Yes, these Games are more about up and coming athletes, like Emily Dickson (four medals, including two gold in biathlon) and Carolina Hiller (three silver medals in long track speed skating). In addition, the Games provide a spotlight for athletes not on the podium a chance to shine on the big stage. While all strive for a medal, most fall short, yet nearly everyone goes home further advanced than when they arrived.

The City of Prince George has been a gracious host. That was expected and to date delivered. The over 4,500 volunteers have been in full force (can anyone walk a block in P.G. without seeing a green jacket?), and most of the events have run smoothly. This doesn’t happen without years of preparation and dedication.

This begs the question- are the PG Canada Winter Games really the best ever or is it just a slogan to make residents feel good about their hometown?

Here’s my analogy. If I own a fancy restaurant with all the glitz, glamour, bells, and whistles but struggle to get patrons, something is ajar. Either the quality of food, the selection on the menu, the service, pricing or some other factor is amiss. If one wants to brag about the product, but hardly anyone bites (sorry about that) and the business struggles, then the steak never matched the sizzle. Yes, the paying public determines if a business, an event, a rally or any other extravaganza is a success; not a slogan, a catch phrase or a slick ad.

Here’s why Prince George has embraced the Games. ATTENDANCE! According to a CWG news release, merchandise and ticket sales have the 2015 Games tracking 25% ahead of planned earnings. The BCLC Centre Stage in Canada Games Plaza held crowds of up to 5000 on its peak night, when Alan Doyle performed.

Anyone can put a spin on numbers but let’s keep the focus where it should be, on the athletes. I have seen first-hand crowds flock in droves to watch these athletes compete in the vast majority of the 19 sports. Many of the participants have never competed in front of so many spectators.

By enlarge the public has not flinched paying either $100 for a Games Pass, $60 for a weekly pass, $20 for a single day pass, or a $10 or $5 single event ticket. In addition, those passes did not include entry to the Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony or Reserved Seating Hockey Events. In other words, the P.G. community has rallied by literally bucking up.

Indeed, the weather has been ideal, the students are out of school and it’s a one-time event so everything has been in place for success. Having said that, I have still been impressed at the high volume of fans that have not only watched high profile events like men’s hockey and curling, but wheel chair basketball, badminton, biathlon etc. Even target shooting and trampoline at CNC had the stands packed at times and the audience hooting and hollering. Yes, Lakewood Dental Kin 1 arena, for short track speed skating and figure skating, had the majority of the seats filled. And fans are not just quietly sitting with a hot dog and a pop. They have the dog in one hand, a pop in the other and still manage to be raise their pom-poms with loud celebrations and cheers.

Sure, many athletes and volunteers have helped fill the stands, but “John” and “Jane Q” public are taking up the lion’s share of the seats. Ordinarily going to watch ping pong (sorry table tennis) may not be high on the agenda, but at these Games it’s been a near priority.

Best Ever? Well, it’s not quite over yet, but the crowds are going to intensify further culminating with a sellout of close to 6,000 for Sunday’s Gold Medal hockey game. Remember, the public decides if your restaurant is desirable or if your event is worthy. Yes, evidence (fan support), not necessarily opinion, has suggested Prince George has accomplished its goal of raising the bar.

From the Quote Rack:

The Atlanta Braves’ B.J. Upton now wants to be known as Melvin Upton, Jr. Talk about a player to be named later.

Jack Nicklaus on Tiger Woods, “I think he’s struggling more between his ears than he is anyplace else.” Oddly enough, Woods seemed to start going downhill when he started focusing more between his ears than between his legs.

Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Michael Oher was recently cut by the Tennessee Titans. Michael took the news fine, but Sandra Bullock had to be escorted off Titan property.

Bill Walton gave some advice to Derrick Rose about surviving injuries. That’s like the Captain of the Titanic giving advice on surviving icebergs.

Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Two high school basketball teams in Tennessee have been disqualified and their seasons have ended when they intentionally lost their games. “You can do that?” asked the directors of the Houston Astros.

Sunday was the 35th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid. Today’s version of a Miracle, is when there are no Leafs jerseys thrown onto the ice after a home game.

Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)

And in case you missed it:

Three signs Johnny Manziel needed rehab:
3. Wanted to hear Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s latest album;
2. Thought a read option was an audio book;
1. Said the Stanley Cup is coming home to Toronto.

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat. His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller