Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Goal

What a finish to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics! Could anyone, including organizers and sponsors, ask for anything more than an overtime game in the gold medal game?

One of the toughest things to hear is "there has to be a winner and a loser", and I want to strike that comment from the record. The USA didn't lose the gold medal. They deserved the medal as much as Canada did through their play. It just plain sucks that an entertaining game like that has to end.

I'll say it here first: this is the best gold medal game ever seen since the NHL players began going to the Winter Olympics in 1998. This might be the biggest goal of this generation, moving alongside Paul Henderson's historic Summit Series goal and Mario Lemieux's 1987 Canada Cup goal in terms of overall history.

I'm not going to break down the game or comment on who did what and who was the best player or anything. I'll let other sites and blogs do that. The Canadians won, the Americans came so close, and we were treated to two weeks of amazing hockey. What I do want to do is highlight all of the achievements of the Canadian athletes here.

This site focuses mainly on hockey because that's what I truly have a burning passion for when it comes to sports. However, after watching the amazing performances by Canadian athletes, and a number of other country's athletes, over these past two weeks, you get a sense that sports brings the world together. Sure, there are rivalries between countries, but everyone celebrates in the realm of sports.

I want to use this space to highlight the achievements of the Canadian athletes over the last 17 days. There have been a number of amazing performances and achievements seen in these Olympic Games by Canadians, so I want to take some time to thank those who made these 2010 Winter Olympics memorable.

Without further adieu, let's take a look at the fourteen Canadian gold medalists.

Alexandre Bilodeau wins the first gold medal for Canada on Canadian soil in history. The 22 year-old dedicated his win to his older brother, Frederic, who suffers from cerebral palsy. This gold medal would be the first of many for Canada. Congratulations to the Bilodeaus, and to Alex for being the first Canadian to win gold in Canada!

The second gold medal came in women's snowboard cross. 31 year-old Maëlle Ricker of North Vancouver, BC raced to a first-place finish. She had previously competed in the 1998 Nagano Games and the 2006 Turin Games, but this was her best finish to date in the Olympics. Congratulations to Miss Maëlle Ricker!

The women continued the gold rush for Canada as 24 year-old Christine Nesbitt put the speedskating world behind her. In the women's 1000-meters race, Nesbitt raced out to a gold medal finish with a time of 1:16.56. The former hockey player turned to speedskating when she was 12 when she hung around the rink after practice in London, Ontario. The sport of speedskating appealed to the young Nesbitt, and she hasn't looked back. Congratulations, Christine, on your gold medal!

Canada continued down the golden path when the man with the turtle helmet broke through. Jon Montgomery, a 30 year-old auctioneer from Russell, Manitoba, sped down the Whistler track head first and into the hearts of Canadians. Montgomery earned himself even more Canadian love when he grabbed a pitcher of beer on the way to an interview with TSN's Jennifer Hedger, and drank a good portion of it on live TV. Congratulations, Jon, and enjoy the ride!

Three days later, an amazing performance brought Canada another gold medal. Tessa Virtue, 20, and Scott Moir, 22, put on a dazzling display of footwork, axels, and dance moves in winning the ice dancing event. It couldn't have happened to two nicer people who, according to both athletes, are best friends. The performance was fluid and precise, and they were rewarded for their hard work and obvious chemistry. In keeping this related to hockey, Scott Moir used to play hockey against American silver medalist Charlie White when they were kids! Congratulations to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir on their 2010 Olympic gold medal!

The next gold medal was secured the following day. 26 year-old Ashleigh McIvor took to the air and used her speed in women's ski cross to earn her gold medal. The native Vancouverite started skiing in the ski cross in 2003, and is currently ranked second in the World Cup standings. Congratulations on your gold medal, Ashleigh!

February 24 saw Canada claim one of its best days at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Heather Moyse, 31, and Kaillie Humphries, 24, in their Canada 2 sled raced to a 3:32.28 time, edging out the Canada 1 sled driven by Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown for gold. Moyse, from Summerside, PEI, and Humphries, from Calgary, Alberta, claimed their first Olympic gold medal as a team! Congratulations to Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries on their gold medal, and to Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown on their silver medals! Canada has the top-two bobsleigh teams at the 2010 Olympiad!

The next day featured the first hockey gold medal. Team Canada, behind a Shannon Szabados shutout and two goals by Marie-Philip Poulin, defeated their rivals in Team USA by a 2-0 score. The win gave Canada its third-straight gold medal in women's hockey, and fourth medal since 1998. Congratulations to the Canadian women's hockey team on your gold medal victory!

February 26 saw the Canadian men's speedskaters take their spots on the podiums. Charles Hamelin, 25, raced to a 40.981-second victory in the men's 500-metre short track event over the other competitors, and claimed his first gold medal of the day! Congratulations on that gold medal, Charles, but we aren't done just yet with you!

Hamelin joined his teammates - brother François Hamelin, Olivier Jean, François-Louis Tremblay and Guillaume Bastille - in earning another gold medal. The Canadian men's speedskating team raced through the men's 5000-metre relay to a time of 6:44.224, just ahead of South Korea. Seen here on the left with the women's speedskating team, the Canadians made up for a few earlier losses in the Olympics with this gutsy performance. It won't be the last time we mention the Canadian speedskaters today, though. Congratulations, gentlemen, on your gold medal!

Speedskating brought another gold medal to Canadian soil on February 27. The men's team pursuit speedskating event saw Canadians Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky, and Denny Morrison earned a gold medal with a 3:41.37 sprint against the United States. The three men pushed themselves to the limit in winning the event, and they truly deserved the medal! Congratulations, gentlemen, on your gold medal win!

Canada added their 12th gold medal later in the day on February 27. Jasey-Jay Anderson, 34, raced Austrian Benjamin Karl in the final of the men's parallel giant slalom in snowboarding, and finished 0.35 seconds ahead of Karl to earn the gold medal. The Montreal-born athlete showed some serious speed and control in the foggy conditions, earning a gold medal. Congratulations to Jasey-Jay on his gold medal!

And February 27 remained golden for Canada when men's curling wrapped up. Called the "Michael Jordan of curling" by US curler John Shuster, Kevin Martin led Team Canada into the gold medal game without losing a game during the preliminary round. In the final against Norway, Martin built an impressive lead by aggressively curling, and downed the Norwegian men by running them out of rocks in the tenth end. With the 6-3 victory, Canada successfully defended its gold medal in curling! Congratulations to Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert and Adam Enright on their gold medal performance!

And finally, we get to the last day of February, and the biggest day for Canadian sports at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada's men's hockey team squared off against Team USA, the winner taking home a gold medal. Jonathan Toews and Corry Perry staked the Canadians to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period before Ryan Kesler got Team USA on the board. Late in the third period with goaltender Ryan Miller on the bench, Zach Parise tucked home a goal past Roberto Luongo with 24 seconds remaining, and overtime loomed. However, Jarome Iginla found Sidney Crosby alone at the bottom of the faceoff circle on the right side of the American net, and Crosby's shot found a hole past Miller for the goal. With the 3-2 overtime win, Team Canada claimed their second gold medal in the last three Olympics, and brought home Canada's 14th gold medal of these games!

I also want to congratulate the other twelve athletes and teams who brought home medals as well.

Silver medalists include Jennifer Heil (women's moguls); Mike Robertson (men's snowboard cross); Marianne St-Gelais (women's 500m short track speedskating); Kristina Groves (women's 1500m speedskating); Jessica Gregg, Kalyna Roberge, Marianne St-Gelais and Tania Vicent (women's 3000m relay speedskating); Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown (women's two-man bobsleigh); and Cheryl Bernard, Susan O'Connor, Carolyn Darbyshire, Cori Bartel, and Kristie Moore (women's curling).

Bronze medalists include Kristina Groves (women's 3000m speedskating); Clara Hughes (women's 5000m speedskating), Joannie Rochette (women's figure skating); François-Louis Tremblay (men's 500m short track speedskating); and Lyndon Rush, Lascelles Brown, Chris Le Bihan and David Bissett (men's four-man bobsleigh).

26 medalists came from Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, including the 14 gold medalists. Canada made history by breaking the old record of gold medals won by a host country when they surpassed the ten gold medals set by Norway in 1994 and the United States in 2002. Canada also led the Winter Olympics with the most gold medals, becoming the first host nation to do so since Norway in 1952. And with the men's hockey gold medal today, Canada sets the record for most gold medals by one nation in a Winter Olympics with 14, breaking the marks set by the former Soviet Union in 1976 and Norway in 2002 with 13.

We saw some amazing individual performances as well. Clara Hughes became the first person in history to win multiple medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics as an individual after she captured a bronze medal in the 5000-metre speedskating event. She won two bronze medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as a cyclist while winning a gold medal in 2006 in the 5000-metre speedskating race and a bronze medal in 2010. With her medal at this Olympiad, Clara Hughes ties teammate and friend Cindy Klassen as the most decorated Olympic athlete in Canadian history with six medals to her name. Congratulations on an amazing Olympic career, Clara, and enjoy your retirement from competitive cycling and skating!

We witnessed tragedy strike these games in a couple of ways. Before the Opening Ceremonies had occurred, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili had a horrific spill on the Whistler Sliding Center on his final training run. Kumaritashvili didn't survive the crash, and his teammates wore black armbands during the Opening Ceremonies in memory of their fallen teammate. All my best goes out to Kumaritashvili's family as they work to cope with the loss of a son, brother, friend, and athlete.

We also saw the mother of Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette suffer a fatal heart attack just days before her daughter was to skate. Rochette pledged to go on as a way to remember her mother, and you could see the tears welling up in her eyes before her first skate. The bronze medal she earned in Vancouver will undoubtedly be a tribute to Therese Rochette, and Hockey Blog In Canada passes on all its best to you and your family, Miss Rochette.

Without a doubt, outside of these two terrible tragedies, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics were nearly perfect from a TV viewer's point of view. Granted, NBC had a few people up-in-arms over their consistent non-coverage of men's hockey when Team USA was doing so well, but they stated their reasons for this, and they were logical. CTV, TSN, and Sportsnet provided amazing coverage in Canada, and there wasn't really a lot to complain about in terms of personalities or coverage. Everyone was professional, and staff from all three networks seemingly cooperated and enjoyed the Olympic Games for the spectacle that they were.

It's truly a feeling of pride when I say that the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics felt more like Canada's Olympics. From the support of fans across the nation to the various regions of the country that the athletes hail from, nearly every corner of this country was well-represented, and every Canadian should be proud of what the athletes, organizers, and volunteers accomplished over the last two weeks.

I know I am. And isn't that the goal of the Olympic Games?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Jim BC said...

What a game. What a finish. I'm wondering where this game, this goal will sit in the Canadian history books. Bigger than Henderson in 1972? Bigger than Lemieux in 1987? Who knows?

Kudos to the US team who weren't even expected to medal let alone lose in O.T. in the gold medal game.

Teebz said...

It was truly a game for the ages, Jim. An amazing effort by both teams, and this will probably rank as the best game of 2010 by far.

Sage Confucius said...

It was a great game. I was glad I got up to watch, even if I am no almost asleep at my desk. All worth it.

I applaud Crosby for the scoring the winning goal. I am really starting to hate that little punk. LOL I do think it was a bad goal for Miller though. How does he not have his stick down there? Granted, I don't actually play hockey but isn't that where your goal stick is supposed to be? Covering the gap between your knees?

It was still a wonderful game played well by both teams.

Nathan said...

The University of North Dakota hockey family is probably about as proud as Canada is right now. First the Lamoureux twins bring home silver for the US womens' team while providing some highlight reel goals (Jocelyn's against China may have been the best goal of the Olympics). Then, on the mens' side, Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews were each their team's best forward, both scored in the Gold Medal Game, and both were named to the all tournament team with Toews being named top forward of the tournament.

Hopefully all four will represent their school...I mean country...again in 2014, with a few others that didn't make it this time - like T.J. Oshie.

JTH said...

Team USA's deserved to lose for not putting the Luongo kryptonite on the team (Dustin Byfuglien). said...

Nice photo of Crosby's game-winning goal in the gold medal game! There is so much to say about the gold medal men’s ice hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics. First, as an American, I am disappointed with the outcome. However, I was impressed that the USA was able to force overtime. The game-tying goal was exciting to see, and I honestly didn’t expect the USA to score it. Luongo played very well in goal for Canada, but I am shocked Miller got the Olympic MVP Award. Giving the award to a player who lost the gold medal game is unusual, but he did keep the USA in the game and had a stellar tournament overall.

Congratulations to Canada and I am at least glad the men did not celebrate in the same fashion that the Canadian women did when they won the gold medal. I am also happy that this game did not go to a shootout. That would have been an awful way to decide this game and the gold medal winner.

brad said...

i appreciate the posotive comments about ...givivn them due credit and all. being from port huron..we're practically half but its good to hear remarks from hockey fans who are not ignorent and plain love the game