Canada, we are a country built on winter.

Call me a kid, but I can’t wait for the snow to fly – it brings the opportunity to go outdoors and play. The days are shorter but they bring with them the opportunity to go outside and skate, ski – downhill or cross country – and enjoy the crisp cool air and a bright sunny day.

I’ve always been a huge fan of amateur sport, the Olympics and the Paralympics, even as a kid I remember watching the Lake Placid Games on a tiny black and white television. Who didn’t want to compete with the maple leaf on their chest.

The opening of this Olympiad is a fantastic collision of personal and professional: I get to cheer on Team Canada (Canada’s Alpine racer Dustin Cook got his start where my boys race) and celebrate our trade ties with the host country.

FUN FACT: Canada exported more than $3-billion worth of goods to South Korea last year.

This year, we send our greatest exports: Our Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Nestled east of the Taebaek Mountains of Gangwon-do, Pyeongchang will become the first Asian city outside of Japan to play host to the Winter Games.

Narrowly missing their Olympic bids in 2010 and 2014, South Korea’s 2018 effort overcame Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, to be the host city.

While the capital city of Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Games, Pyeongchang will be the first ski resort town to host the Winter Olympics since the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

The 2018 Games feature 102 events in 15 sports, the most ever contested at an Olympic Winter Games. With Canada competing all sports disciplines, except nordic combined, our chances at winning a record-breaking haul of medals is extremely good.

33 medals, is the prediction from international data analytics company, Gracenote - including men's hockey gold.

Canada won hockey gold medals in Vancouver in 2010, and Sochi in 2014 with teams stocked with NHL stars, but for the first time since 1994, the men's hockey team won't include any current NHL players. Instead, the roster is comprised of a group of Canadian players from professional leagues overseas.

The men's hockey final will take place on the last day of competition.

The Canadian brand at the Olympics

No matter how many medals they bring home, our Canadian athletes always represent our country well, and Canada’s reputation in sports is heralded worldwide, but we are more than hockey, curling and skiing. Canada‘s brand is growing globally, and using it to your advantage can lend legitimacy to your company in international markets.

In a previous EDC article on “How to Fly Your Canadian Flag” we asked Edgar Baum, CEO and chief brand economist at Strata Insights Inc, about the importance of building your Canada brand. “If Canadian businesses are able to provide products of similar quality to their competition, having the Canadian brand associated with it makes a difference,” he says. “There’s a great opportunity here for Canadian companies to exemplify excellence.”

The same way Canadian tourists abroad are welcomed with open arms, so too is our business. Canadian companies are perceived as innovative and trustworthy.

In 2017, Canada won the title of World’s Most Reputable Country by The RepTrak study, the world's largest annual survey of country reputations, released by the Reputation Institute.

"A country's reputation has a direct impact on tourism, its exports and foreign investment", said Fernando Prado, managing partner at Reputation Institute.

In the six years of the survey, Canada has never ranked below second place.

Our athletes are our brand at these games, raising the profile of our country around the world.

Canadian athletes representing the Canada brand

Team Canada flag bearers, Tessa Virtue and partner Scott Moir have produced some of the most memorable moments in Canadian figure skating. They were also major contributors to Canada's first Gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympic games, in the Figure Skating Team Event that Canada won on Sunday, February 11th. 

First teamed up by Moir’s aunt Carol when she was seven and he was nine, they became the most successful Canadian ice dance team in history. Virtue and Moir were the first North Americans to win the Olympic Gold Medal for ice dance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, after their flamenco inspired original dance routine brought down the house, and their virtuoso free skate to Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. captivated the crowd.

At 20 and 22, they were also the youngest, and the first team to win a gold medal at their first Olympic Games.

They have also won four World Championships, three Four Continents Championships, eight Canadian Championships, and six Skate Canada International titles.

Virtue and Moir also hold world records for highest score in original and short dance, as well as combined total score.

The 2017-18 season marks Tessa and Scott’s 20th year as ice dance partners.

Marie-Philip Poulin-Nadeau is the captain of the 2018 Canadian women's national hockey team.

After realizing figure skating wasn’t her sport, a five year old Marie-Philip started playing hockey to be like her brother, whom she credits as one of her biggest supporters, and blames for knocking out one of her teeth when they were playing one-on-one in the basement.

As a 16-year-old rookie in the he Canadian Women's Hockey League, Poulin finished runner up in the CWHL Most Valuable Player after managing to lead all rookies in scoring with 22 goals and 21 assists, in only 16 games.

By 18, Poulin was a member of Team Canada that won the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver where she scored five goals and two assists - two of the goals recorded in the gold medal game in which she was the only scorer in a 2-0 victory.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Poulin scored two goals in the electrifying final against the United States when she tied the game with less than a minute remaining in the third period, and potted the overtime winner to give Canada its fourth straight Olympic gold medal in women’s ice hockey.

Marie-Philip enjoys the unique distinction of having scored the game-winning goal in both Olympic gold medal games that she has competed in.

Why cheer on Team Canada?

My family and I will be cheering all Team Canada Olympians and Paralympians as they compete. Because this is an opportunity to tell our story as a country how we can be higher, faster, stronger to get to the podium.

And when countries are looking for opportunities in trade, the Canada brand will be strong - making us a gold medal partner.